I welcome and fully support Green Party leader Natalie Bennett's recent statement in an interview that the Green Party will not join a coalition government after the election on May 7th. Rather we would consider each legislative proposal on a case by case basis and then decide whether to give our support. Clearly some readers of this blog will be thinking that we won't win many seats anyway, however I believe that they are mistaken. The Green Party currently has more members than either the Lib Dems or UKIP and we are currently the most rapidly growing party in the UK. However I can see very little benefit either to our growth as a party or, more importantly, our cause from joining any coalition government.
Firstly we need look no further than the current state of the Lib Dems to see the problem. Their low poll ratings and poor performance in the 2014 European and local elections is a direct result of their coalition deal with the Conservatives. Promises that they had made to the electorate, such as the tuition fees pledge, rolled easily away like water off a duck's back. Rather than draw lines in the sand and negotiate hard, they let the Conservatives set the agenda, either because they actually shared that agenda or they felt that they must defer to the bigger party. Moreover they have been used as a shield ever since by David Cameron in order to take the flak for the most controversial coalition policies. Whenever a massive cut to benefits or an NHS reform was announced it was more often than not a Lib Dem minister such as the hapless Danny Alexander who was offered up like a sacrificial lamb to appear on BBC Question Time to defend it. As a result the Lib Dems became more and more hated, while teflon Dave sat back and enjoyed the consequences.
The last thing the Green Party needs is to be used and manipulated in the same way by either of the grey parties. In the event of a Green-Labour coalition we could find ourselves in the position of being used on TV and radio to justify every controversial Labour tax increase or privatisation proposal and in doing so we would lend legitimacy to policies which go against either our interests or the views of the electorate. In the event of a Conservative-Green coalition we become Lib Dems mark two.
Secondly, we need to ensure that the voters know that when they vote Green Party they will advance our policies. That is that either the other parties adopt some of our ideas in fear of losing votes to us or that our elected MPs pursue a Green Party agenda. Making an overly compromising coalition deal and following another party's agenda would only serve to create the impression that a green vote is a wasted vote.
Thirdly in order to keep winning seats we must present ourselves as a broad based party that is capable of taking votes from across the political spectrum. It would be a huge act of folly to ally ourselves too closely with any of the grey parties as we would alienate a section of our prospective voters for a generation.