Election 2017: Green Party stands down in Ilford in latest tactical bid to oust Tories

May Bulman
Green Party's move is designed to increase chances of Labour MP Wes Streeting holding on to seat: Evening Standard

The Green Party has pulled out of a seat in Ilford North in the latest tactical bid by the party to oust the Conservatives in the general election.

It is hoped the move will channel more votes to Labour’s Wes Streeting, who has represented the constituency for the last two years after beating former Tory MP Lee Scott by just 589 votes in 2015.

It comes after it emerged Ukip would not be standing in order to divert support to Mr Scott.

The decision marks the latest tactical move in a drive towards forming progressive alliances across the country.

Discussions between Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party are taking place in at least 25 constituencies on ways to vote “tactically”, with enthusiasm for the idea having gained momentum at a local level since the election was announced.

The Green Party has already agreed not to stand a candidate in several constituencies where other progressive parties stand a strong chance of beating the Tories.

The Liberal Democrats have also shown willingness after deciding not to contest the seat currently held by Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas in Brighton Pavillion.

Labour activists in a number of constituencies have meanwhile defied their national party, which opposes such alliances, by deciding they will not back candidates imposed by Labour and instead divert funding to Labour candidates elsewhere, in order to increase the chances for progressive candidates who have a better chance of winning.

Mr Streeting has pledged to support the Green Party with their drive to lower the voting age to 16 and support proportional representation, and has said he would “put pressure on the government to deliver a Brexit deal that works in the interests of the whole country, not a privileged few”.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Waltham Forest and Redbridge Green Party said: “Given the circumstances of this election and Mr Streeting’s undertakings to us, Waltham Forest and Redbridge Green Party members have voted not to stand a candidate in Ilford North in the coming General Election. We are instead recommending to Green Party members and supporters in Ilford North that they vote for Labour’s Wes Streeting on 8 June.

“Mr Streeting was one of the few Labour MPs to back the Electoral Reform Bill proposed last year by Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas. He has given us an undertaking that he will stand by his commitment to a fairer voting system, which includes lowering the voting age to 16.

“Mr Streeting has also promised us that he will work tirelessly to put pressure on the government to deliver a Brexit deal that works in the interests of the whole country, not a privileged few.”

In light of the party's decision, Mr Streeting said: “I'd be proud to have the support of Greens at this election to defeat the Bluekip alliance of the Tories and Ukip.”

The Green Party's 2015 Ilford North candidate, David Reynolds, meanwhile said: “We are sorry that this means that Green Party members and supporters in Ilford North will not have the opportunity to vote Green on this occasion.

"When proportional representation is introduced, these kinds of deals will no longer be necessary”.

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