4 November 2016
* Greens stand aside in by-election but look forward to wins in 2018 local elections
* Green party co-leader, Jonathan Bartley, urges Labour to join 'progressive alliance'
The Green Party will not field a candidate in the Richmond Park by-election and are urging Labour to follow suit. Both Richmond & Twickenham Green Party and Kingston Green Party have decided not to stand in the constituency, and are backing a progressive alliance against the regressive alliance around Zac Goldsmith. The decision from the Greens comes after a group of top Labour MPs urged their party not to stand to give the best chance of beating Goldsmith. They have also begun discussions with the Liberal Democrats about how to best secure a non-Conservative run council in the area in 2018.
The Green Party's democratic structure means that all decisions about whether to stand are made by local parties. The final decision for Richmond Park was made last night at a meeting of Kingston Green Party. The Green Party insists that they will stil be campaigning in the by-election, and will distribute literature across the constituency explaining their decision and their intention to stand for local elections in 2018.
Responding to the local parties' decision, Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party, said:
“This is no normal by-election. A regressive alliance of the Tories and UKIP are working together to re-install a pro-brexit MP who just ran a racist campaign to be Mayor of London. The decision not to stand has been made because a majority of local party members believe that a win for a non-Conservative backed candidate would be a blow to the Tory’s hard brexit, and dent their damaging plans for post-referendum Britain. Ultimately we think Britain is better off with fewer Conservatives in Parliament but that doesn’t mean for a second that we won’t be fighting to win local elections in the area in 2018, or that we won’t stand in the constituency in future elections.
“Of course we have big policy differences with the Lib Dems – and I joined many others in marching against the coalition government – but they are simply the only chance we have at this moment to narrow the Conservative’s majority. I’d now urge Labour to join us in forming a progressive alliance against the forces of Conservatism and narrow-mindedness. Chances like this don’t come about very often – so let’s use this opportunity to kick back against the Tories.
Andree Frieze, who was the Greens selected candidate for the seat, told her local party she was keen not to contest it, a decision agreed on Thursday night with Kingston Greens. She said: “I believe, wholeheartedly, that I am the right person to do the right thing – for the people, for the planet,”
“Realistically, however, I am not going to win and my standing could allow Zac, yet again, to be the wrong person representing our community. Furthermore, by not standing and helping a non-Tory backed candidate win, we have the chance to seriously dent the Conservative’s majority.”
In a statement after their meeting, Kingston Green Party said:
"Following the decision taken by Richmond & Twickenham Green Party not to field a candidate in the Richmond Park by-election, Kingston Green Party has decided not to stand a candidate either.
"Kingston Green Party continues to support the goal of a Progressive Alliance in 2020 to defeat the Conservatives and bring about a fairer voting system. We trust that the gesture of standing down in order to defeat Zac Goldsmith will build confidence in the possibility of a Progressive Alliance.
"We welcome the fact that, in the last 24 hours, local Liberal Democrats have given a commitment to open discussions over possible alliances for local elections in 2018.
"Kingston Green Party calls on Richmond Park Labour Party to follow suit in the hopes of defeating Zac Goldsmith and building towards the Progressive Alliance in 2020.
"Following the by-election, we will continue campaigning to build a strong Green voice in the borough of Kingston and nationally."
Richard Bennett, Chair of Richmond & Twickenham Green Party, says: “Desperate times call for bold measures and I am very pleased that we have reached this decision in the national interest.
“We welcome local Liberal Democrats recognition that in the 2018 council elections they need to work with us, including standing with us in a progressive alliance in some wards, to ensure people get the best chance both of Green Party representation and of a council not controlled by the Conservatives.”
“We hope this approach breaks the mould of old adversarial politics and sets us on the way to a better democracy – as people from all parties have been calling for – with a more representative Parliament and Government. Now it is down to the Labour Party to step up to the plate. Moments like this don’t come along very often – but they require the will of all parties involved to realise their potential. Let’s not waste this chance."