The Green Party will not contest the marginal London constituency of Chingford & Woodford Green in an attempt to help Labour defeat former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith.
Waltham Forest & Redbridge Green Party confirmed its decision yesterday, saying it was “tactically withdrawing” its candidate in the hope that doing so will improve the chances of Labour’s Faiza Shaheen.
Labour finished second in the 2017 general election just 2,438 votes behind the Tory incumbent, having been 8,386 adrift in 2015. The Green Party candidate secured 1,204 votes in 2017.
Local Green co-ordinator Andrew Johns, who is standing in the neighbouring seat of Walthamstow, said the decision was taken because of Duncan Smith’s “horrendous record on welfare” and voting record in parliament on “measures to reduce carbon emissions”.
Johns said that although there are “still some differences of opinion” between the Greens and Labour on environmental targets, his party regards Shaheen as more “progressive” and say she has “agreed to work with local Green Party members in our fight against airport expansions” and for emission reductions.
The Greens’ decision is not part of the national “unite to remain” electoral pact announced last week, which is confined to the Greens, the Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru and takes in seven seats in the capital. However, the Waltham Forest and Redbridge Greens say they are following the national policy of ensuring the “Remain vote is most effectively represented in the new parliament”.
Duncan Smith is a prominent supporter of the UK leaving the European Union. He was the architect of the troubled Universal Credit welfare reform and in 2013 denied it had become a debacle. Three years later he resigned as work and pensions secretary from David Cameron’s Conservative government, complaining that planned cuts of £4 billion to disability benefits were “indefensible” and later urged Cameron’s successor Theresa May to reverse them.
Shaheen, who is on sabbatical from her role as director of the union-funded think tank Centre for Labour and Social Studies (CLASS), joined Labour in 2015 because Jeremy Corbyn became its leader. She has argued in the past that home ownership in the UK should be restricted to UK taxpayers. Research for Sadiq Khan by the London School of Economics found that overseas investment in housing in London enables more affordable homes to be built in the capital than would otherwise be the case.
On London‘s guide to the capital’s 25 most interesting constituencies (and all the others) is here.
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