Basically the Green Party candidate for Bristol North West, Sharmila Bousa, has announced that she will step down from local campaigning with immediate effect, allowing the Labour candidate Darren Jones to be the main challenger to the current Conservative MP.
This electoral pact is not the result of give-and-take we normally see – Green stands down in ‘X’ constituency if Labour stands down in ‘Y’. Rather it is the result of a sustained ongoing local discussion that resulted in the Labour candidate endorsing key policy commitments by the Greens. Quote:
After several weeks of discussion between the two candidates, agreement has been reached on working together as part of the General Election campaign. This ground-breaking agreement, unique in Bristol political history, increases the prospect of electing a progressive pro-European, pro-electoral reform MP for Bristol North West.
Agreement has been reached around three key policy commitments:
(1) As a pro-European candidate, Mr Jones will call for a referendum on the final Brexit deal if it is rejected by parliament – giving the British people the choice of which direction their country takes, once the alternatives can be clearly seen.
(2) A commitment by Mr Jones to campaign and vote for electoral reform, including the adoption of a truly proportional system of representation for UK General Elections and other local and regional elections. This will include actively campaigning to change the voting system so that the make-up of parliament and other elected assemblies more accurately reflects the voting patterns of the UK electorate.
(3) A commitment by Mr Jones to regular meetings with Bristol Green Party representatives during his term of office to discuss issues that are of particular concern to the Green Party. These include: improving air quality, increasing the levels of social rent housing, developing renewable energy schemes, expanding energy efficiency programmes, protecting the environment, and reducing inequalities.
In return for the above agreed commitments, the Green Party candidate Sharmila Bousa will step down from campaigning in Bristol North West. This means the Green Party will do no freepost leafleting, make no Bristol North West specific hustings appearances, do no doorstep canvassing and no delivery of election leaflets during this General Election campaign in the Bristol North West constituency.
Ms Bousa commented:
“My decision to step aside from active campaigning has not been taken lightly, however I live in the heart of this constituency and I know that people here want the progressive parties to work together. I believe that this is an exceptional election called in exceptional circumstances, and its outcome will have an exceptional impact on our futures”
Yet again the Green Party has proved itself to be the most innovative and forward thinking political party. Credit too to Labour’s Darren Jones for breaking away from Labour’s top-down coercive party machine and having the courage to engage in real dialogue with a competing parliamentary candidate; that’s a rare achievement in a party much less given to respectful dialogue with smaller parties. By contrast the structure culture of the Green party is more decentralised, autonomous and radically democratic.
This achievement suggests that the future of any progressive alliance is less about high level party dealmaking over who stands in which constituency, and much more about developing relationships of trust at the local level.
Big question: if Bristol North West can do it, why can’t we in Cornwall?