Why one Liberal Democrat councillor will be voting Green this May

Knowsley’s Liberal Democrat leader Carl Cashman is voting Green this May as part of a local pact between the parties:

As the Liverpool Echo reports:

Carl Cashman’s vote for Kai Taylor, who’s standing for the Greens in Prescot, will work as part of a ‘loose deal’ between the two parties in the current local election campaign.

The Lib Dems and Greens aren’t standing against each other in any of the council seats up for election, with Cllr Cashman saying the parties were instead focussed on challenging Labour candidates on May 3.

The council is currently 42 Labour and 3 Liberal Democrat.

This arrangement is part of a small but persistent pattern in the last couple of years of some local deals between Liberal Democrats and Greens, including this year in south west London and last year in Broxtowe.

I’m usually dubious about the value of such pacts. The evidence suggests there are better ways for people in different parties to cooperate over shared aims. But also, long-term success for the Liberal Democrats in particular places has usually come from the party making local politics a two-party contest with the Lib Dems one of those parties.

Helping another party make gains risks reducing the chances of having the right conditions for long-term success, that is a good core vote, a strong local reputation and the ability to pull in tactical votes as the clear rival to the local political establishment. This provides the trio of vote sources – core votes, local votes and tactical votes – that adds up to winning first-past-the-post results.

Some local exceptions will always apply, and in the Knowsley case Carl Cashman is very positive about the community work of his Green candidate. But for an overall party strategy, cooperation is best seen as something done through ways other than standing down candidates.


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