Sussex Progressives

News

Our statement on the election results

After a remarkable campaign, the results are in. Theresa May’s pitch for a strong and stable government for Brexit negotiations has been proven a farce. Locally here in Sussex we have had fantastic results pushing back against the Tory tide. A huge and deserved congratulations to everyone involved: those that have campaigned for Sussex Progressives; candidates, activists and supporters for parties Labour, Green Party, Liberal Democrat, and Women’s Equality Party; and the Progressive Alliance's national campaign team. It was through the dedication, enthusiasm, and drive of the many volunteers campaigning for the progressive cause that we have together achieved something huge both here and across the country.

In Sussex, we have achieved four out of our five initial targets seats. Two seats have been defended: Brighton Pavilion for the Green Party and Hove for Labour, and have seen hugely increased majorities. Two further seats have seen voters reject this right-wing Tory government. Brighton Kemptown was won by Labour’s Lloyd Russell Moyle, and Eastbourne was won by the Liberal Democrat’s Stephen Lloyd. After a hard-fought and inspiring campaign in Lewes, where the Green Party made the principled decision to stand down, the Liberal Democrats’ Kelly-Marie Blundell unfortunately did not overturn the Conservative majority. We did, however, see in Lewes a significant amount of progressive co-operation and tactical voting which can be built on in a future campaign. We also came close to the major upset of the night in Hastings and Rye, where Home Secretary Amber Rudd was almost unseated.

Make no mistake, progressive voters of all parties putting aside usual party loyalties played a huge role in this election. The movement for a Progressive Alliance has reaped dividends. Here in Sussex, the bold actions of the Liberal Democrats in Brighton Pavilion and the Green Party in Brighton Kemptown to not field candidates helped enormously in delivering resounding results for two excellent progressive MPs. Although Lewes did not turn yellow, the Greens standing aside was an important and serious step towards creating a new kind of politics. Kemptown can be held up as a huge achievement for progressive cooperation. This was mirrored across the country in places like Derby North, Norwich South, and Oxford West. It was not just parties standing aside, or the direct transfer of votes across progressive parties that delivered these victories. It was the message to voters that change can be achieved if progressives vote together rather than against each other in this broken electoral system.

The movement for a progressive alliance was always more than electoral pacts and tactical voting. It is a movement for doing politics differently, putting aside party tribalism and working in a spirit of cooperation to achieve transformative change where our values overlap. In this moment of political instability, progressives have a chance to apply real pressure and hold this weak Tory government to account. To do so, however, progressive politicians of all parties must be prepared to work together. Given the huge challenges ahead from Brexit and the crisis in our public services, to not do so would betray the millions that have backed the progressive cause in this election.

At the forefront of this cooperation must be electoral reform for proportional representation. Nobody campaigns for parties to stand aside or tactical voting with enthusiasm. It is the unfortunate consequence of a broken voting system. First-past-the-post means that for too many voters their chosen party cannot and will not win where they live. In this election, 53% for the electorate voted for the progressive parties, compared to just 45% for the Conservatives, DUP and UKIP. Under a proportional system, we would have a progressive coalition with a clear majority, instead of a dysfunctional Tory/DUP alliance. Until we achieve electoral reform voters will continue to be faced with hard choices, breeding progressive cooperation not in a spirit of collaboration but infused with the misgivings of deal-brokering.

It is clear from this election that together progressives can win, divided we will continue to fall short. Sussex Progressives will continue to fight to turn this ambition into a reality.

Robbie Hirst