Yesterday in the Guardian, this article appeared with a call from these three MPs for their parties to start to work together much more effectively in elections and in other settings. Inevitably there are many people in all three of their parties who disagree and will oppose them very strongly. However the reality is that in settings such as Sussex, and indeed across the whole nation, until we can get First Past the Post removed and replaced with Proportional Representation, we need to find ways for the less powerful political parties to work together to challenge in a meaningful way the unrepresentative strength that the Conservative Party experiences almost every time there is a General Election. They win time after time after time even though they get far less than the majority of the votes. They dominant places such as Sussex even though their voting dominance comes in part because the other votes are split between a number of parties that feel they are obliged to stand even though in many cases they even end up losing their deposits. There is a very clear need for proportional representation in future elections but until that happens we need these three parties to work in a constructive way in places like Sussex, Surrey and Kent to increase the numbers of non Conservative MPs.
For those of us based in Sussex we have three existing constituencies in Brighton and Hove which represent the only three non Conservative MPs currently. It could be possible for the following constituencies to get transferred from Conservatives based on historic information with the areas and the data from the most recent General Election. Lewes is the most significant opportunity followed by Hastings and Rye, Eastbourne, East Worthing and Shoreham, Crawley and even Mid Sussex that could be transferred to Labour or the Liberal Democratic Parties. If the existing three constituencies were maintained and some or all of these could be transferred this would then give Sussex 9 non Conservative MPs and 7 Conservative MPs. This would be much closer to the overall number of votes in Sussex and than is the case currently. Along with trying to win up to 9 constitutions, the parties could encourage their supporters to select a most credible candidate from one of their three parties or even an Independent candidate in the other 7 locations so that there would be a meaningful challenge to the Conservative Party in those locations. Along with the change at each election, all three parties and any independent people would need to be willing to work as if it was a proportional representative approach. If a Labour or Green or Liberal Democratic voter in a constituency that has a different MP needs some assistance from the party, the other MPs should be willing to assist them wherever possible. This would be a meaningful way for all parties to explore the principles behind Proportional Representation.
In Kent along with Canterbury which is currently a Labour constituency the next best prospect is in South Thanet if the Liberal Democrats were willing to support the Labour Party and then Tunbridge Wells if there was a willingness for the Liberal Democratic Party to be given support by Labour in the same way as the Green Party has already helped.
In Surrey there is a much stronger prospect than in Kent or even in some parts of Sussex. In 2019 the Guildford situation was very unusual but along with Guildford there is certainly a prospect in Woking if the Labour Party was willing to support the Liberal Democrats and in Esther and Walton of Labour winning if the Liberal Democrats were willing to support the Labour Party. Then in South West Surrey the Liberal Democrats have the prospect of winning.
If anyone is interested in exploring these ideas, a group that I am part of called Brighton and Hove Compass is a very constructive group to try to resolve some of these issues. Our website is here – you can join us if you would like to.