Tories, Greens and Lib Dems form unlikely alliance on London Assembly

·4-min read
City Hall London (Ross Lydall)
City Hall London (Ross Lydall)

The Tories, Greens and Lib Dems have formed an unlikely alliance on the London Assembly in a deal that will dramatically reduce Labour’s power on committees.

The Conservatives now dominate City Hall’s committees - which hold Sadiq Khan to account - after an extraordinary deal was done with the Greens and Lib Dems. Two Tories have also been elected to the leadership posts on the London Assembly.

The three political parties said they tried to secure a four party agreement for chairing committees based around the proportion of seats each group has on the London Assembly.

Their plan would have allowed Labour to chair five committees, the Conservatives four, Greens one and the Lib Dems one in the first year of this administration.

The three parties claim that Labour walked away from an agreement “at the eleventh hour” and refused to chair any committees.

However, Labour blasted the Greens and Lib Dems for “getting into bed with the Tories” and accused them of forming a “coalition” and “betraying their progressive values”.

It means that despite being the largest party in City Hall - with 11 members - Labour will not be taking up any chair and deputy chair positions. The Tories will now chair six committees, the Greens three and the Lib Dems two.

In last week’s election, the Conservatives won nine seats, the Greens three and the Liberal Democrats two. It means no one party commands a majority on the Assembly.

Labour lost one of its 12 seats in last Thursday’s elections but crucially retains a “blocking minority” of more than a third to prevent Mr Khan’s annual budget being overturned.

A photograph showed a jubilant Green leader Caroline Russell and Tory leader Susan Hall celebrating their deal with the Lib Dems.

In a blog, Ms Russell claimed Labour initially tried to block the Greens from chairing the Transport Committee and in the end “refused” to chair any committees when they did not have the votes to “impose their preference”.

Fellow Green colleague Sian Berry stressed that it was a “one time vote” to divide up the scrutiny work. She said normally all the parties all vote together.

Meanwhile, Conservative Andrew Boff was also elected to the role of Chair of the London Assembly and his Tory colleague Keith Prince was made Deputy Chairman.

One London Labour party source was not happy that the party did not strike a deal with a smaller party and told the Standard: “They’ve done over the Mayor’s office and they’ve done over themselves.”

To view this content, you'll need to update your privacy settings.
Please click here to do so.

A Labour Party source confirmed the major sticking point was the transport committee and added: “They all sorted out their preferences and sorted out each other but decided they weren’t going to listen to Labour about their preferences.” It was also suggested that the mayor would now face “stiffer opposition”.

Tory leader Ms Hall said Labour members had “abdicated their responsibility to hold the Mayor to account” and added: “Instead of agreeing to a fair deal on the Assembly’s committees, ensuring all Londoners’ views are represented, they’ve refused to chair a single one.”

Green Ms Russell said they had worked hard to achieve a “fair and proportional” arrangement for cross-party scrutiny.

Lib Dem Caroline Pidgeon said: “Up to the eleventh hour every effort was made to reach such an agreement. I am only sorry that Labour have chosen not to join us.”

Committee Chairs and Deputy Chairs

Audit Panel

Chair: Susan Hall (Conservative) Deputy: Peter Fortune (Conservative)

Budget and Performance

Chair: Susan Hall (Conservative) Deputy: Caroline Russell (Green)

Economy

Chair: Shaun Bailey (Conservative) Deputy: Hina Bokhari (Lib Dem)

Environment

Chair: Zack Polanski AM (Green) Deputy: Tony Devenish (Conservative)

Fire, Resilience and Emergency Planning

Chair: Susan Hall (Conservative) Deputy: Nicholas Rogers (Conservative)

GLA Oversight

Chair: Caroline Pidgeon (Lib Dem) Deputy: Susan Hall (Conservative)

Health

Chair: Caroline Russell (Green) Deputy: Emma Best (Conservative)

Housing

Chair: Sian Berry (Green) Deputy: Tony Devenish (Conservative)

Planning and Regeneration

Chair: Andrew Boff (Conservative) Deputy: Sian Berry (Green)

Police and Crime

Chair: Shaun Bailey (Conservative) Deputy: Susan Hall (Conservative)

Transport

Chair: Caroline Pidgeon (Lib Dem) Deputy: Keith Prince (Conservative)

Len Duvall, leader of the London Assembly Labour group, said: “Just a week ago, Green and Lib Dem candidates were standing on supposedly progressive platforms – a week later, they’re in bed with the Tories. They’re betraying the very people who put them in City Hall, and they’re betraying their progressive values. They say they want to reflect the political balance of the Assembly yet they’re supporting each other’s preferences and not Labour’s.

“What we essentially have here is a new coalition. It’s disappointing to see the Lib Dems and Greens backing the Tories this way – they had a choice and they’ve decided to go with those who want to weaken our public services.”

Mr Duvall said Labour did not have to chair any committees to “play a full part in scrutiny”.

Read More

Sadiq Khan opponents increase strength on London Assembly

Elections 2021: The full list of the London election results

Elections 2021: Likely declaration times