If there is one party that has been the most vocally in favour of a ‘progressive alliance’ in the 2017 UK snap election, it is the Green Party. Most recently, they stood aside for the Liberal Democrats in Richmond and Twickenham and for the Labour party in two of their marginal seats.
However, given that the Greens’ prospects of winning many seats in Parliament is slim (they have only 1 member in the House of Commons), that Labour seems to be backing the extreme Brexit proposed by Theresa May (which the Greens are opposed to) and the Liberal Democrats seem to align most closely with their thoughts on both Europe and the environment compared to the other major national parties, it is worth briefly examining whether Green voters will consider voting for the Liberal Democrats.
The Liberal Democrats’ Green Policies
To begin with, it was under the coalition government of 2010-15 that the Liberal Democrats introduced the Green Investment Bank. Although some might argue that this was a coalition achievement and not a Liberal Democrat achievement, the fact that the current, Conservative-majority government has sold the Green Investment Bank to Macquarie suggests it was the Liberal Democrats who championed this policy.
Conservatives Selling the Green Investment Bank
Sir Ed Davey, former Liberal Democrat secretary for energy and climate change, said: “Selling the Green Investment Bank is environmentally irresponsible, and on the eve of an election is politically dubious. The government clearly hopes to avoid parliamentary scrutiny.” The former Lib Dem Business Secretary Vince Cable also told the Guardian that the sale was “very regrettable” and that “in the long term [the GIB] will simply disappear into the commercial part of Macquarie.”
Indeed, Macquarie Bank has been rated by the Asset Owners Disclosure Project as “a “bystander” with a D grade, meaning it provides only limited disclosure on financial implications of climate change in investments.” Nevertheless the $2.9 billion sale of the Green Investment Bank has been confirmed.
Labour’s Green Plans and the Liberal Democrat Alternative
Labour’s leaked manifesto has been questioned by environmentalists: “The Labour Party’s draft manifesto offers plenty of encouragement for the green economy, but could Corbyn and co ever really deliver?”
On the other hand, ordinarily Green voters have shown that they are happy to switch allegiance to the Liberal Democrats (most recently, in the December 2016 Richmond Park by-election which saw the Green Party step aside to help Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Olney unseat incumbent Zac Goldsmith). Terry White, a former Green Party General Election candidate himself, defected to the Liberal Democrats stating that he is “confident in the fight back of the party following the direction of Tim Farron as party leader and the spirit of the modern party.”
Although this is a brief examination, it is clear that the Greens are keen to engage in ‘tactical voting’ and, furthermore, the Liberal Democrats seem to align especially closely to their ideals regarding the environment and Europe. As such it is entirely possible that more Greens will choose to cast their votes for ‘Green’, pro-European Liberal Democrat candidates (of which there are many) in the general election.