There has been much talk in recent years about the prospect of a so-called ‘progressive alliance’ coming together to lock the Conservatives out of power. During the Brexit era commentators such as Neal Lawson and Polly Toynbee excitedly speculated on the electoral success a cross party coalition comprising Labour, the Liberal Democrat and Green parties could enjoy, based on their shared mutual values. Zoe Williams claimed of such a tactic: 'when it works, it often looks more like a landslide' while Caroline Lucas wrote an article titled 'progressive alliances are the future of British politics.'
So as the dust settled on this month’s local elections Mr S was intrigued to see how such high minded rhetoric would fare up against the cold realities of executive power. To the consternation of Labour politicians first in London and then in Lancaster, the Greens have walked away from potential pacts with left-leaning parties to – in the words of one irate frontbencher – 'jump into bed with the Tories.'
The Greater London Assembly contests were followed by a Lib Dem-Conservative-Green carve up of the committees to hold Sadiq Khan to account after the collapse of eleventh hour talks with Labour. It prompted Len Duvall, leader of the London Assembly Labour group, to moan: 'They’re betraying the very people who put them in City Hall, and they’re betraying their progressive values.'
— Cat Smith MP 😷💙 (@CatSmithMP) May 17, 2021
Disappointing news from Lancaster City Council that the Tories and Greens have joined forces to end the Progressive Alliance.The Green Party have walked away from the formalised Progressive Alliance of Labour, Green and Liberal Democrats to jump into bed with the Tories.
— Richard Johnson (@richardmarcj) May 17, 2021
The Greens and Conservatives have joined ranks to overthrow the Labour-led administration of Lancaster City Council. Disgraceful. pic.twitter.com/xqHnSccXAP
Following their success in these elections, the Greens have even taken to giving triumphalist interviews to the Guardian – the paper that did more than any other to herald such schemes – appearing to pour cold water on reviving such dreams. Co-leader Jonathan Bartley dismissed a suggestion that the party should revive its 2019 electoral pacts with the Liberal Democrats, boasting 'We’re a very different party to the Lib Dems' that 'We’re moving from being the biggest small party to being one of the big parties' and 'there are no no-go areas for the Greens.' Clearly that includes now forming pacts with their much-disliked Conservative opponents.
Once it was David Cameron who claimed ‘Vote blue, go green’. After these local elections the new mantra seems to be ‘Vote green, get blue’.