The Green leader of Brighton and Hove City Council has called on his political rivals to work with his party to defeat the Conservatives at the next general election.
Councillor Jason Kitcat urged Labour supporters, trade unionists and disaffected Liberal Democrats to “seek a progressive majority” in 2015.
Councillor Warren Morgan, deputy leader of the Labour group on the council, accused Councillor Kitcat of trying to protect the Green Party’s only parliamentary seat – Brighton Pavilion.
And he added that there would be no pre-election pacts or backroom deals to save Green seats.
Councillor Kitcat wrote on his blog: “The country desperately needs a progressive majority at the next election to reverse the damage of the coalition government.
“It’s a political reality that this would absolutely have to include Labour.
“Indeed a progressive coalition’s formation could well pull the current Labour leadership back towards their more progressive roots.”
He said that the list of target parliamentary seats, which Labour published last week, ignored electoral reality.
He wrote: “The share of votes going to Labour and Conservatives has been in consistent decline for decades.
“Membership of those parties has also been in long-term decline.
“Mirroring politics in much of Europe, the British are now voting for a greater diversity of parties.
“This appears to be an irreversible trend which Labour utterly ignore by suggesting that they alone, despite their dire finances, are going to win a complete majority in the next Parliament.
“Recall that in 2010 Labour lost all their parliamentary seats in Sussex, indeed they were almost completely wiped out in the entire region.
“Yet their list targets all three parliamentary seats in the city and more beyond.
“In 2010 it was quite plain that Labour could have retained at least one seat in Brighton and Hove if they had targeted their resources instead of trying to hold all three seats.
“I can understand choosing which seat to target may have been difficult to decide on within the local party. But now they face a clean sheet.
“The Green Party is going to throw everything we have at Brighton Pavilion, our flagship constituency with Caroline Lucas as our superb MP.
“Labour could well risk spending huge resources across all three seats again without the results they are hoping for at the end of it.
“We have a progressive majority in our city.
“The vast majority of our residents do not support the coalition parties and their policies. We see this in election results time and again.
“However, they don’t always get the MPs or councillors they hope for because of our electoral system, uncertainty over how to vote tactically and party tribalism.
“All progressives in the city should be seeking to oust Conservative MPs in 2015.
“This will only be achievable locally, and nationally, through a broader electoral effort than just the Labour Party.
“Greens, trade unionists, disaffected Lib Dems and more all have a role to play in ensuring progressive MPs are elected.
“I hope other political leaders locally will join with me in seeking a progressive majority for the city in the 2015 elections and avoid reverting to party tribalism.”
Councillor Morgan posted a comment on Councillor Kitcat’s blog. He wrote: “For an article which attacks Labour for ‘breathtaking cynicism’, you use the rest of your article apparently arguing for Labour to give Caroline Lucas a free run in Pavilion, in the interests of a ‘progressive majority’ in the city.
“Why, suddenly, are the Greens and Labour allies on the progressive left, when the Green Party’s stated aim has been to replace Labour entirely in the city?
“This from a party which has, long after the Conservative-led coalition came to office, continued to direct its fire largely at the Labour Party, seeking to take seats and votes from Labour.
“Not long ago the Greens were talking about winning Hove and possibly Kemptown in addition to holding Pavilion.
“This post seems to admit that is now impossible and the Greens see a resurgent local Labour Party as a serious threat again.
“Now the focus is solely on saving Caroline Lucas’s seat, which she won with only 31 per cent of the vote on a slim majority of just 1,200 votes over Labour.
“A swing to Labour of anything like that suggested by the national polls would see her defeated comfortably.
“The Greens have never won more than a third of the vote in the city and judging by the response on the doorstep recently that share has dropped very significantly.
“The Greens continue to poll just 2 per cent nationally, the same level as 2008.
“There is little evidence of Green success spreading beyond Brighton and, as this post confirms, their sole MP and local authority are now at risk.
“The Greens have shown no qualms about defeating Labour candidates and councillors, in some cases taking the seats themselves and in other cases taking enough votes from Labour to allow the Tories victory.
“That was the Greens seeking to win elections for their party, and that – not pursuing ‘tribalism’ – is what Labour will be seeking to do in the local and general elections in May 2015.
“No pre-election pacts, no backroom deals to save Green seats.
“We will be working to win three parliamentary seats as part of a Labour majority in Westminster and return a Labour administration to Brighton and Hove City Council because we believe that is in the best interests of local residents.”
At the 2010 general election, the Green candidate Ian Davey polled 2,568 votes in Hove. This was 700 more than the majority won by the Conservative Mike Weatherley, who was elected as the town’s MP.
In Brighton Kemptown, the Green candidate Ben Duncan polled 2,330 votes in 2010. This was a thousand votes more than the majority of 1,328 won by the Conservative Simon Kirby, who was elected as the constituency’s MP.
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