While I can completely understand the fears about Theresa May’s re-election with a huge majority, the Green Party’s obsession with “progressive alliances” risks sending it backwards.
Firstly, it was always completely unrealistic to expect Labour, the country’s main opposition party, to want to join an alliance with the Green Party rather than put forward its own candidates everywhere.
Secondly, talk of a progressive alliance has played such a dominant role in the Greens’ campaign that If you put “Green Party general election” into Google news nearly all the results are about the party not standing and saying ‘vote for someone else’ rather than about promoting the candidates who are standing.
The 22 races where the Green Party has pulled out have received vastly more coverage than the 467 who are standing which is just bonkers.
The Green Party should have realised that political parties going around saying vote for other parties rather than vote for themselves was bound to be so newsworthy that it would obliterate all other coverage.
I can completely understand why the Green Party wants to avoid certain seats this time. In fact, there is absolutely nothing new in this. The party has never fielded a full slate in any general election. We left many constituencies uncontested in 1979, 1983, 1987, 1992, 1997, 2001, 2005, 2010 and 2015.
However, in all of those elections we used to concentrate on getting people to vote for our own candidates and manifesto in seats where we were standing, rather than publicising votes for Labour and the Liberal Democrats in seats where we weren’t.
Call me old-fashioned, but I think parties tend to do better when they tell people to vote for their own candidates.
Furthermore, I would never have retained my seat on Lewisham council for 12 years and successfully handed it on had we not built up consistent voter loyalty, yet how can you build up support from one election to the next if your leader is on telly all the time encouraging voters to back other parties?
My scepticism about this progressive alliance business will probably see me branded as a tribalist. But nothing could be further from the truth.
In my 16 years as a London Assembly member I worked with other parties to challenge and scrutinise both Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson, I liked that cross-party co-operation and enjoyed working with others, and where we had common cause it made sense to work together.
But publicly calling for votes for other parties in an election is beyond ridiculous and is overshadowing any other message the Green Party wants to try and put out about the reasons to vote for the 467 candidates who have stayed in the race.
The Greens are in real danger of writing themselves out as a serious choice for voters through such widespread endorsement of tactical voting.
The likelihood is we will end up with not only a massive Tory majority and a shattered, depleted Labour Party but we also end up with the Green Party going backwards as it passes up the opportunity of promoting its own policies and its own candidates in favour of a doomed tactical voting campaign that has dominated over anything else the party is trying to say.