Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Calls to Explore Labour-Green Alliance.

with 14 comments

Vote Green - New Forest Green Party

In last week’s local elections was the Greens achieved good results, gaining 99 councillors and representation on 18 new councils. The Greens are now the third largest Party in London and Bristol is on the verge of soon becoming a Green City with Green councillors increasing their representation on the Council from 13 to 24 and becoming the joint biggest party. The Greens now present a challenge to the other political Parties and especially Labour who, many note, are 15 points behind the Tories in the national polls.

In Suffolk on the County Council, “Suffolk’s Green councillors will once again unite with Independents and Liberal Democrats in the Suffolk County Council chamber – but have now become the official opposition group to the Conservatives.”.

The following indicates the Greens do not always wish to work with Labour.

The Greens, Liberal Democrats, Independents and West Suffolk Independents have been grouped together at the county council for the last four years, but had not been the formal opposition group as Labour had been the largest single opposition party to the Conservative administration.

But after a strong 2021 local election in which the Greens tripled their number of councillors from three to nine, the group has now confirmed it will be re-uniting once again with the four Lib Dems as well as Independent Richard Kemp and West Suffolk Independent Victor Lukaniuk.

They take over the official opposition role from Labour, which saw its numbers reduced from 11 to five in last week’s polls.

East Anglian Daily Times.

This is one indication that the Green Party, in all its regional diversity, is not always a natural ally of Labour and the left.

Some leading Greens are now calling for a national alliance of the left and talks with Labour.

Yesterday, the ‘I’.

Labour should stop ‘standing in the way’ of a left alliance, says Green Party co-leader Sian Berry


The co-leader of the Greens told i opposition parties need to learn to find common ground to work together against the swell of Tory support in seats in the Midlands and north of England


Green party co-leader tells Keir Starmer: my door is open for talks

After Green gains in local elections, Jonathan Bartley invites Labour leader to discuss progressive alliance.

“We have been governing with Labour and the Lib Dems in councils; we have reached out to Labour. The ball is in the court of the Labour party – we are always ready to talk,” he told the Guardian in an interview. “Will Labour ever be able to form a government on its own? That’s a legitimate question to ask.”


Any formal coordination would require the approval of Green party members. Bartley said: “The first step is to talk. We have not even reached that stage yet.”

Sources in the Labour party have suggested that the party has not definitively ruled out the idea of some form of cooperation in future, but nor is it under active consideration at present.

The Green party made a net gain of 91 council seats in the local elections, taking its national total to a record 444. It has a role in running 18 councils, including Brighton and Hove which it controls and Bristol where it is equal with Labour, with the possibility of more as hung councils work out compromises in the coming weeks.

The party took seats almost equally from the Conservatives and Labour: 45 of its seats were won from Tory incumbents and 49 from Labour, with a further four coming from the Liberal Democrats.

Then there is this…

And this: A progressive alliance between Labour and the Lib Dems would strike fear into the Tories

The ‘Progressive Alliance’,

This Wikipedia entry indicates why many on the left are sceptical about the idea.

During the 1980s, calls for an alliance of parties opposed to the policies of Margaret Thatcher grew during a period where the Thatcher government inflicted a number of defeats on the labour movement. One of the key figures arguing for such an alliance was the historian Eric Hobsbawm, whose article “The Forward March of Labour Halted” suggested that the working class was not powerful enough to secure the implementation of socialist policies and that cross-class alliances were essential for progressive politics. These sentiments were particularly widespread in the Eurocommunist wing of the Communist Party, and the party’s theoretical journal Marxism Today, although they were also widely influential within the soft left of the Labour Party.[2]

This feeling was never translated into political reality.

The idea resurfaced:

Green Party politician and academic Rupert Read (NOTE: there many many reasons to be sceptical aout Norwich based Read alone..) has described the tactics of Labour and the Liberal Democrats in the 1997 general election, when they focused on attacking the Conservatives rather than each other, as a precedent for a progressive alliance.

The idea of a progressive alliance was mooted[6] in the run-up to the 2015 General Election. For example, the phrase was used by Nicola SturgeonScottish National Party leader, Natalie BennettGreen Party of England & Wales leader, and Leanne WoodPlaid Cymru leader.[7]

NOTE: The More Borders SNP currently has little interest in the idea

The idea was also proposed[8][9][10] in the run-up to the 2017 General Election and after the 2016 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, in which the vote to leave the EU (“Brexit“) was won by a majority of over 1 million votes. The concept of building cross-party alliances, with the asserted aim of working together to ensure the best possible future for the people and country,[11] was debated at a public meeting entitled “Post-Brexit Alliance Building”[12][13][14] held on 5 July 2016, hosted by Compass. The idea has become linked to opposition to a “hard” Brexit.

This came to nothing.

A progressive alliance, which cannot but be a move to the centre, and negotiated between parties rather than based on the labour movement, that is trade unions, is full of ambiguities, and rent with local rivalries. That the Greens can ally with the Liberal Democrats in Suffolk, the party that was in national coalition with the Conservatives, illustrates the limits of what being ‘progressive’ means.

The Greens often claim to be Beyond Left and Right, but the “sorry saga of Brighton Council”  Greens took control of Brighton council – only to then put through a cuts budget Tom Armstrong 

The Green Party has in recent years been under pressure from the so-called “9/11 Truth” movement – and it’s no surprise that some “truthers” are among the party’s rank and file. Even it has been 23 years since the party’s most infamous member, David Icke, left the party, there are still plenty of people who hold frighteningly similar views.


In 2012, leadership candidate Pippa Bartolotti made this comment:

“I questioned the wisdom of having a Jewish Zionist ambassador in Israel and stated that their loyalty was a matter for the FCO to investigate. The vice-consul was called Levi. From the university of life I have learned that Jews often have a conflict of interest in matters relating to Palestine.”

Written by Andrew Coates

May 16, 2021 at 10:51 am

14 Responses

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  1. Labour are too busy falling out with themselves to be able to agree with another party. Might have been a good idea for the disillusioned outcast Left to form a Green alliance, Thelma Walker, Jeremy Corbyn, et al. but I can’t really see the post-Blairite neoliberals wanting to do that, or vice versa.


    May 16, 2021 at 12:07 pm

    • I support this, but given the Boris wants to attack our right to vote without costly ID, just to begin with, I cannot see us getting PR which would make the basis for serious co-operation possible:

      Andrew Coates

      May 16, 2021 at 1:24 pm

    • Corbyn is a ‘saint’ but he’s never shown any inclination to turn his back on his Parliamentary salary. Thelma of course was rejected by the electorate of Colne Valley before finding he ‘courage.’


      May 16, 2021 at 7:10 pm

  2. That would be the Greens who went into coalition with the Lib Dems and Tories in Leeds in the 90’s to form a governing coalition to keep out the biggest party, Labour and now we have their little arrangement in London. And don’t get me started on the Lib Dems. chameleon politics.


    May 16, 2021 at 1:28 pm

    • Ipswich: Face to face with the realities of coalition

      John Harris. 2010.

      What do you get when you cross a Tory with a Lib Dem? Cuts, cuts, cuts

      The county town I visit for tour stop number eight: Ipswich, where a partnership of Conservatives and Lib Dems (with 19 and seven councillors apiece) has been running the borough council for five years. To hear some people talk, all that stuff about a new progressive wind has been rather drowned out by swingeing cuts and doctrinaire free-marketry..


      I could add that the renegade Labour turned Liberal, Lib Dem group leader, Andrew Cann, has retired from politics. These days the Liberals have still got a couple of councillors….

      Andrew Coates

      May 16, 2021 at 1:39 pm

  3. If there is one word I’d love to eliminate from the political lexicon entirely, it’s the word ‘progressive’. What the hell does it even mean? Anything which develops over time is ‘progressive’ – including all degenerative diseases. ‘Progress’ is certainly not always desirable – it all depends what is progressing, and in what direction. If political groups are going to work together or pool their forces, it needs to be about advancing concrete policies on which they agree. ‘Progressiveness’ isn’t a concrete policy – it’s an absence of any.


    May 16, 2021 at 2:19 pm

    • Knowing the CPGB in the old days, I recall them using the word progressive for fellow travellers of the USSR.

      Andrew Coates

      May 16, 2021 at 3:02 pm

      • Yes. I recall the 1960’s Daily Worker / Morning Star referring to everyone faintly sympathetic outside the Party as being part of the wider ‘progressive forces”. There were even adverts urging us to pop into local branches of the Co-op to buy “Progressive Jam” – i.e jam made and bottled by actually existing socialists in places like Romania and Bulgaria.

        David Walsh

        May 16, 2021 at 4:52 pm

  4. Corbyn is a ‘saint’ but he’s never shown any inclination to turn his back on his Parliamentary salary. Thelma of course was rejected by the electorate of Colne Valley before finding he ‘courage.’


    May 16, 2021 at 7:10 pm

  5. Yes – the old CPGB had its teleology, based on the assumption that October 1917 represented the dawn of a new age in human history, and that ‘progress’ was, necessarily and by definition, all flowing in our direction, towards the strengthening of socialism around the world. That assumption became harder to sustain after the end of the 1970s, and after 1989-1991, it was shattered. Things continue to progress and develop, but I can no longer see a reason to ascribe any positive value a priori to the term ‘progressive’. I gave up using the term years ago… 😉


    May 16, 2021 at 9:36 pm

  6. Great blog post.😎 😀 2021-06-21 05h 14min

    Stevie Amis

    June 21, 2021 at 10:15 am

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