Electoral Cooperation works in Surrey

Polling Station - CC BY-SA 2.0
Polling Station – CC BY-SA 2.0

A Progressive Alliance worked wonders in the Laleham and Shepperton Green ward of Spelthorne Borough Council in Surrey. It shows the power of electoral cooperation as featured in an article before the elections by West England Bylines.

The LibDems endorsed the Greens who put out this leaflet.

The local Labour Party privately decided not to stand a candidate and did not submit candidate papers.

Roger Wilson (Unite to Reform) said:

“[This is a] fantastic local by-election result. LibDems endorsed the Greens. Labour didn’t stand this time.”

Best for Britain’s CEO Naomi Smith said,

“Great to wake up to this news. Labour and Lib Dems stood aside in a progressive alliance for the Green candidate.”

Surrey-wide Compass tweeted:

“Working together works”.

The results were:

Green Stuart John Whitmore             903      51.6%  +30.6%

Con     Karen Leigh Howkins              777      44.4%  +10.0%

TUSC  Paul Dennis Couchman          69         3.9%    +3.9%

LD        None                                       n/a      0%     -15.8%

UKIP    None                                       n/a      0%      -15.1%

Lab      None                                       n/a      0%      -13.7%

Green gain from Con.

The Council tweeted that Stuart John Whitmore (Green Party) was duly elected to Spelthorne Borough Council.

Whether decided explicitly or not, UKIP and ReformUK did not stand a candidate as part of the Regressive Alliance – either they were persuaded not to or they felt there was no reason to stand since the Conservative government is implementing a very hard Brexit and more. So there’s a Regressive Alliance vs Progressive Alliance angle. 

And alliances can work the other way, as Paul Jacobs from the local Green Party said:

“We were the quintessential rainbow alliance council for quite a few months with everyone but Tory ruling group in Spelthorne until Thursday, and no one party having all the top spots – a different model to Richmond. Unfortunately the day the right wing mayor’s term came to an end, his gang of 4 plus an ex-Lib-Dem switched to supporting the Tories and defeated the coalition group 19-18 so we are back to having a Tory administration. This is likely to be reversed at the 2023 May elections unless there is a major upset. It is also possible there will be a similar rainbow model set up in neighbouring Runnymede council.”

In the 2019 election, when all three seats were contested, the results were:

Con     Maureen Attewell                  911      51.6%

Con     Richard Smith-Ainsley          764      43.3%

Con     Mary Madams                         731      41.4%

Green  Paul Jacobs                             505      28.6%

LD        John Thesiger                         417      23.6%

LD        Alan Mockford                       399      22.6%

UKIP    Linda Thatcher                       374      21.2%

Lab      Sue Bryer                                361      20.4%

Chris Bateson, Spelthorne LibDems orchestrator said:

“I always remember in Spelthorne when I first promoted the idea of working together in 2018 I was told great idea but it will never happen. Perseverance and persuasion paid off. The relationship between Greens, Labour, Lib Dems and Independents is now fantastic. Once you have visible proof it works it’s so much easier to sell to party members and supporters.”

So this 2022 result was a great victory for progressive alliances like those in West Oxfordshire.

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