Almost exactly 20 years ago, together with nine others, I was expelled from the Labour Party for advocating tactical voting here in Lewes.
And it was worth it because it worked. After more than 120 years of Tory representation enough progressive-minded people in Lewes could see that, whatever their party affiliation, they needed to unite round the only candidate likely to defeat the Tories – ie, Norman Baker, the Lib Dem.
And, to be fair, most of us thought he was a pretty good constituency MP before he supported some catastrophic coalition policies and we lost faith in him.
Now here we are again, though this time we have only endured two years of a right-wing Tory Brexiteer voting against the interests and wishes of her constituents – two years too many, I say. It feels like ‘groundhog day’ to me, yet again having to advocate tactical voting when my heart and soul yearns for me to vote for what I really believe in.
Sadly, though, for as long as the grey parties refuse to accept that every individual has a right to cast a vote that counts via a system of proportional representation many of us are forced to go for the lesser evil. Anyone who cares about our country can see only too clearly that the Tories are intent upon destroying our public services, making the poorest and most vulnerable in our society even poorer, abandoning environmental protections, waging more wars and delivering the hardest of hard Brexits. I don’t believe that any of this is to the benefit of any of the residents of Castle ward, which I represent.
This time, at least, as a long-time Green Party activist and local councillor, I can be delighted that the local party has withdrawn its excellent candidate in support of the greater good and to encourage people to get behind the Lib Dem candidate, once again the only one who can beat the Tory.
It saddens me beyond words, though, that the Labour Party has still not recognised the changing nature of British politics. We no longer have a two party system, but rather a multi-party democracy which is very ill served by our first-past-the-post voting system. Yes, it sometimes delivers thumping majorities, but it never reflects the more nuanced views of the electorate, leaving many feeling disenfranchised.
That’s why the Green Party has been in the forefront of seeking an electoral alliance, not just to deliver a progressive majority in Parliament but to deliver a progressive voting system that can represent all of us. Sadly Labour remains determined to fight on, even in unwinnable seats like Lewes, and is still expelling members who dare to seek the best way of unseating right-wing Tories.
As in 1997, however, I urge Labour-leaning voters in Lewes to recognise the danger of allowing a right wing Brexiteer to remain as our MP and to join those of us determined to vote for the common good.
Together we can do it. Please, Labour, put aside tribal loyalties and join us in the progressive polling booth on 8th June.
Cllr Susan Murray
Green Party, Castle ward
Clare Road, Lewes