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Nic Perry with Lib Dem colleagues.

Nic Perry with Lib Dem colleagues.

Lib Dem hopes for electoral agreement fade

Liberal Democrat hopes of instigating an electoral understanding with the Labour Party in Hastings and nearby constituencies appear to be headed for disappointment, despite the recent agreement between the Labour and Green Party candidates. Nick Terdre reports.

Nick Perry, the Lib Dem candidate for Hastings & Rye, has been seeking a “like-for-like” arrangement with Labour to apply in Hastings & Rye, Eastbourne and Lewes, whereby each side would “divert resource” to concentrate on supporting their candidates with the best chance of winning – the Lib Dems in Eastbourne and Lewes and Labour in Hastings & Rye.

“I have been clear that if Labour Party candidates in Eastbourne and Lewes are prepared to make public their commitment to divert resource elsewhere, and not to impede Liberal Democrat victories in these seats, then I am willing to make a similar commitment here,” he said last Friday.

Joined-up actions were required across East Sussex to reduce the impending Tory landslide at Westminster, Mr Perry said. He therefore reacted positively when he was approached by Compass, the political campaigning group, offering to help mediate an arrangement, but it now appeared this would not happen.

Mr Perry had hoped to be in a position to take a draft agreement to his local party at the weekend, but nothing had been made available by Labour. Although further discussions had been facilitated by Compass this week, there was nothing further to say on the matter, he told HOT.

“Therefore the Liberal Democrats will continue to represent those opposed to Brexit in Hastings & Rye; those who want more investment in our NHS; those opposed to schools cuts across our constituency.”

Chowney not involved in any talks

The Labour candidate Peter Chowney said he had not been involved in any talks. “I’ve had no contact at all from the Liberal Democrat candidate,” he told HOT. “I understand that Progressive Alliance were trying to broker something between the Lib Dems here and Labour in Eastbourne and Lewes, but presumably that came to nothing.

“I’d have had mixed feelings about the Lib Dems standing down in Hastings anyway, as their votes wouldn’t necessarily come to Labour. But their vote was very small at the last general election, and at the recent county council elections.”

Despite the party’s standing in the polls, the Labour leadership has shown no inclination to collaborate with other parties. It recently expelled three members for seeking to set up an alliance in the South West Surrey constituency in violation of a party rule.

Last week, the Green Party’s selected candidate, Julia Hilton, announced that she would not stand as Mr Chowney had given undertakings concerning proportional representation, support for the local fishing fleet, and opposition to fracking and proposed new runways at Heathrow or Gatwick.

Personal commitments

Explaining the background to this arrangement, Mr Chowney made it clear that it involved personal undertakings on his part. “All these had to be personal commitments from me – the Labour Party suspends all meetings during the election campaign, so there was no opportunity for the local party to endorse any of it.

“A low carbon economy and increased [fishing] quota were already mentioned in my election materials (which had already gone to print), and I had no problem with opposing new runways – I personally stopped flying 20 years ago because I thought air travel was unsustainable and largely unnecessary (I’ve not missed it!).

“They also asked me to put a motion to the Labour Party conference supporting PR, but I said that I couldn’t personally do that under the LP constitution – it would have to be agreed by the General Committee of the constituency Labour party – all I could do was take a motion to the local branch, same as any other party member. Our local Executive Committee had already agreed to hold a public meeting with Progressive Alliance about PR though.”

The Progressive Alliance movement, which was to hold a launch event on Tuesday night, claims to have mediated alliance arrangements in 35 seats.

Posted 20:48 Tuesday, May 16, 2017 In: Election 2017

3 Comments


Please read our comment guidelines before posting on HOT
  1. John Faulkner

    The Greens and Lib Dems have much more in common on environmental issues. The last Labour government dragged its feet for many years on environmental issues.

    Comment by John Faulkner — Wednesday, May 17, 2017 @ 21:52

  2. Julia Hilton

    A point of clarification. We asked Peter to commit to holding a cross party meeting with the Green Party to discuss Electoral reform including proportional representation, inviting key members of Compass, who are currently working hard on Progressive Alliances across the country and Make Votes Matter, the campaign for electoral reform, to discuss these issues with the people of Hastings. He committed to this and we look forward to planning this event with the Labour party locally once the election is over.

    Comment by Julia Hilton — Wednesday, May 17, 2017 @ 20:24

  3. Ms.Doubtfire

    Councillor Pete needs to be very careful – his pact with the Green party will rebound on his party big time. How could any member of the Green party side with this guy who has sat by and witnessed such dreadful damage to the environment here in Hastings.

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Wednesday, May 17, 2017 @ 11:06

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