Recently the phrase Progressive Alliance has been used, particularly with regard to the recent by-election in Richmond Park where Liberal Democrat candidates Sarah Olney won. In this election the Green Party chose not to stand and many senior Labour figures called for Labour not to field a candidate (they did). After the result was called the Greens called it a win for the Progressive Alliance.

Generally the term refers to an unofficial alliance between the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats where one of them would remove their candidate for an area so the spoiler effect is reduced (where the vote is split between candidates causing neither to win). It’s not loved or loathed in either party as both could benefit from it but clearly there will be members in both who disagree with it as if they were exactly the same party there wouldn’t be two of them. People grade issues differently so members from the Green party might put their key issue above the Liberal Democrat’s main issue and so they can’t agree.

Does it work? Well it’s a relatively new concept that hasn’t been really tried yet but with the Richmond Park by election it looked like not having loads of candidates helped (although UKIP and Conservatives didn’t field a candidate either). It’s very difficult to be sure especially as it isn’t a formal agreement (until it is one but that will likely only happen in local parties).

How will it affect Guildford? Well effectively the Greens and the Liberal Democrats could make a pact on certain Council divisions and not stand candidates. With the Liberal Democrats polling (in 2013) above them in 6 divisions, (only counting those that Greens stood in) although it should be noted that Green beat the Liberal Democrats in 6 divisions also,  the Liberal Democrats may be able to call the shots in Guildford. The Liberal Democrats stood in far more seats and won 9 Councillors while Green stood in a total of 12 divisions and won 1. We won’t know what will happen in this election until more is announced but it would certainly be very interesting (and make our job slightly easier) if parties made pacts and alliances making the final result much much tighter.