Sussex Progressives

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The Liberal Democrats' Richmond win is a victory for all progressives

After a year of regression, we’ve seen a sign of progression. Sarah Olney, the Liberal Democrat’s candidate for Richmond and North Kingston ousted Zac Goldsmith with a clear majority. Goldsmith’s vanity test had gone horribly wrong, just as his racist campaign to be London’s mayor did.

Olney’s victory is a success for those who see sense in a progressive alliance. Social media today has been abuzz with positive rapport between the Liberal Democrats and the Greens. It has been wonderful to see the likes of Sal Brinton, the Liberal Democrat peer, thanking Caroline Lucas and the Women’s Equality Party for their work in giving the Liberal Democrats a more clear shot at success. What was also pleasing to see was that more Labour members within the constituency chose to vote tactically rather than splitting the progressive vote, and thus delivering a hard Brexit candidate back to parliament.

The progressive parties of the UK need to use this election as a way of developing a strategy that means we can take back control. In times when racism, xenophobia, and the voices of hate are capitalising on society’s anger at feeling unheard and left behind, those who oppose the Conservatives and UKIP’s rhetoric must come together. It is naïve to waste our time criticising one another for the small things when we can easily develop a united message to take on and hold the Conservative government to account.

For some on the Left it can at times seem hard to justify making alliances with the party that propped up the bedroom tax, just as it is hard for many in the Green and Liberal Democrat membership to think of opening up positive rapport with a party that took us into an ill-fated war with the Middle East. However, what we can come together on is drive for an inclusive and innovative education system, a well-funded NHS, a society where aspiration and ambition are not shut down by your family’s financial background, and an environment that can be enjoyed by those who come after us.

Therefore, Sussex Progressives congratulate Sarah Olney on her success and look to a future where alliances are made, rather than chasms created. It is time for all those on the left to mobilise and make sure that the society we helped build is not removed by populists and the right wing. 

By Jimmie Franklin

Robbie Hirst