The case for an anti-Tory electoral alliance | Letters

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Theresa May campaigning in Dudley in the West Midlands at the weekend. Unless progressives unite ‘the Tories will walk over all of us’, says Christopher Clayton. Photograph: Getty Images

Martin Robbins’ acerbic attack on progressive alliances (Tactical voting to beat the Tories: does the maths equal a coalition?, theguardian.com, 20 April) is both misinformed and misleading. For a start, he assumes that any alliances would be the only tactic used to beat the Conservatives when that’s clearly absurd. It’s self-evident that parties on the left need to win more votes off the Tories, and alliances would simply make the immensely difficult task of overturning the Tory majority a lot easier. According to analysis by Compass, progressive alliances at this election could help Labour win up to 29 Tory seats – and help them defend vulnerable ones too. They could allow the Lib Dems to pick off some Tories in the south-west and it would give the Greens a chance to topple the Tories in places like the Isle of Wight. With Ukip now planning to stand aside for Tories like Philip Davies and Jacob Rees-Mogg, it’s more important than ever that progressives think again about how we might work together in a handful of places too. Though the polls are not looking pretty right now for the left, let’s not forget that the Tory majority is small – and a lot can happen in seven short weeks.

It’s crucial also to remember the context for such alliances. A crumbling NHS, a jilted generation of young people being let down and a hardline government pursuing an extreme Brexit. For us, proportional representation must be central to this project, because our hugely undemocratic electoral system is so stacked in the establishment’s favour that the Tories can win a majority on just 24% of the eligible vote. To crack open our politics we must hack the system – and respect the fact that no single party has a monopoly on wisdom. So rather than talking down the idea of working together, let’s stick to the facts. Unity between those who want to topple the Tories is our best bet of a more progressive politics in Britain, let’s not squander this opportunity.
Caroline Lucas MP
Green, Brighton Pavilion

• In the article by Gina Miller (Wanted: MPs who refuse to write Brexit blank cheques, 22 April) and the Saturday interview with Alan Johnson (22 April), both urge a cross-party approach to decisions about Brexit. Gina Miller urges MPs of all parties to reject any negotiated deal that does not match up to our current terms. Johnson urges Labour to work with other parties in the national interest. What is immensely encouraging is that people are now unifying about the same message. There is also evidence that when it becomes apparent that we are heading for a hard Brexit, there is a real possibility of a major change in public opinion.

In the recent pamphlet from Open Britain, New Partnership, New Challenge, YouGov concludes, after a major study into the motives of those who voted leave, that “Brexit voters were unanimous that leaving the EU was a cost-free option. We cannot yet tell whether there will be a public clamour to reverse last year’s referendum result. But the evidence we have of the views and expectations of Brexit voters, the mandate they thought they were giving the government and the potential for disappointment, all suggest that the possibility cannot be ruled out.”
Dick Taverne
Liberal Democrat, House of Lords

• Former Liberal MP Michael Meadowcroft (Letters, 22 April) claims that Labour’s acceptance of the Brexit referendum result knocks on the head arguments for an electoral alliance against the Conservatives, and conjures up the fantasy that if all remainers unite behind Tim Farron and the Lib Dems, Theresa May can be blocked. This is irresponsible nonsense. The Lib Dems, who struggle to escape from fourth place behind Ukip in public support, have nothing to say to the vast swathes of anti-Tory Britain that voted leave, nor to the majority of those who voted remain but are not fanatical about the issue. Their attempt to mine the remain 48% for a few per cent of votes, from the small minority who refuse to accept that the referendum decided the issue, is a niche marketing exercise aimed at rebuilding the parliamentary Lib Dem party. If on the morning of 9 June they have 20 MPs rather than the current nine, they will regard it as a success even though Theresa May has a three-figure majority and the Tories have won scores of seats by majorities smaller than the Lib Dem plus Green vote.

Just as Nick Clegg and David Laws spent 2010-2015 parroting Tory claims that Labour, and not the bankers, had created the global economic crisis, the Lib Dems are now once again badmouthing Labour – the only party with a realistic chance of defeating Brextremist Tory candidates in most constituencies – because it won’t paint itself into their corner of trying to overturn the referendum result. When will we learn that if progressives do not unite to elect the front-placed anti-Tory candidate in each constituency – whether that is Labour, Lib Dem or Green – the Tories will walk over all of us?
Christopher Clayton
Waverton, Cheshire

• Members of the Green party claim to want a progressive anti-Tory alliance but their number-one target seat is Bristol West (Greens target youth, 21 April). This seat hasn’t been Tory for 20 years and is currently held by a progressive, pro-Europe Labour MP, Thangam Debbonaire. Some Green members have even suggested that this excellent local MP should stand down in favour of the Green candidate, who lives over 30 miles away! If they are really serious about keeping the Tories out, they should get behind Thangam and concentrate their resources and energy on fighting Conservative-held seats.
Rosemary Chamberlin
Bristol

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