Harrogate Green Party candidate drops out of election running to fight Conservatives

Dr Greig Sharman, The Green Party candidate will not stand, in order to give The Liberal Democrats a better chance of winning.
Dr Greig Sharman, The Green Party candidate will not stand, in order to give The Liberal Democrats a better chance of winning.

The Green Party General Election candidate for Harrogate and Knaresborough constituency will not stand, it has been announced today (May 12).

In a joint-statement the Green Party and The Liberal Democrats said that the Green candidate, Greig Sharman, has stood aside to give Liberal Democrat candidate, Helen Flynn, a better chance of fighting the Conservatives.

The Conservative candidate, Andrew Jones, described the move as a 'backroom deal'.

The joint Green Party and Liberal Democrat statement said: "The UK voting system of “first past the post” (FPTP) was designed for a two-party system. As the political landscape has changed over time, and more parties have emerged, the FPTP system has meant that more and more people are becoming disillusioned with politics, as their vote often does not count.

"At every General Election since 1931, the FPTP system has delivered a Government chosen by less than 50 per cent of voters. This is at odds with a truly democratic system. If the UK had a fairer voting system, such as proportional representation (PR), like most European countries, everyone’s vote would count.

"The Conservative Party wants to keep FPTP, as it benefits only them. Over recent years, as the disillusion with politics has set in, more and more people are asking why the ‘progressive’ parties, who have many areas of common interest, continue to fight against each other.

"In this way, they split the progressive vote, and allow ‘regressive’ parties such as the Conservatives and UKIP to gain more influence.

"Already at this snap General Election, UKIP has stood down in favour of Conservative candidates in scores of seats, as part of a “regressive alliance”, to give the Conservatives a greater chance of winning.

"So now a ‘progressive alliance’ between Liberal Democrats and Greens will offer voters a simpler choice if they are worried about a Conservative Government with an enlarged majority pursuing a Hard Brexit that would damage our economy.

"A Conservative Government with an enlarged majority is not good for the country. Their proposed cuts to the NHS, schools and welfare budgets would be disastrous for many families at a time when there is great uncertainty over the economy, given the Hard Brexit that the Conservatives are determined to pursue.

"An effective, progressive opposition needs to be in place to hold such a Government to account. Here, the current Conservative MP has voted 100 per cent of the time with Government since his reelection in 2015, and he is demonstrably not standing up for the people he is supposed to represent.

"It is obvious that his loyalties firmly lie with his party.

"The shared hope of both the Liberal Democrats and Greens here in Harrogate & Knaresborough is that a Liberal Democrat MP can be elected to enter Parliament to represent constituents well and be an effective voice in opposition.

"This is not a coalition between Liberal Democrats and the Greens. The two parties retain their own underlying philosophies, identities and policies.

"However, their shared aims mean that at this General Election, a shake-up of the political system is needed to ensure that a progressive voice is heard more loudly."

Mr Jones said: "I do not think it should be a surprise when a politician stands for election on a manifesto, wins and then votes to enact that manifesto. To condemn someone for keeping their word seems an odd tactic to say the least.

"Our politics in Harrogate, Knaresborough and Boroughbridge has never been about shady, backroom deals between political parties. It has always been about positive, open and honest debate between the political parties and their representatives.

"It is a shame that our politics has taken this backwards step where local politicians of major parties do a ‘smoke-filled room deal’ in an attempt to bypass the will of the electorate.

"Neither I, nor any of my team, have had any discussion with any candidates, representatives or parties to try and engineer such an arrangement.

"It seems strange that others boast about how they have colluded to disenfranchise supporters here and in Skipton and Ripon where there is no Liberal Democrat candidate for the first time in decades."

In the statement the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party outlined their shared aims as:

• fight for a softer approach to Brexit which would mean the UK retaining access to the European Single Market

• move to a more representative voting system where everybody’s vote counts

• guarantee investment in vital public services and infrastructure

• focus on green issues to ensure we have a sustainable energy system, both to combat climate change and to transition to an economy based on new technologies