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To "Get Rid" Of Conservative Council - Labour Offers Greens "Olive Branch"

EXCLUSIVE: Island Labour is offering an “olive branch” to the Isle of Wight Green Party in a bid to “get rid of our Tory administration". Speaking exclusively to Isle of Wight Radio, Richard Quigley, the ex-labour party general election candidate said “more cuts to services” proposed in the latest budget has prompted the “need for a different approach”. Meanwhile, Conservative council leader, Dave Stewart, said he believes "the electorate should have the maximum choice available to them". Speaking exclusively to Isle of Wight Radio, Richard said: “As a Labour party, we are really getting sick and tired of hearing the same story and they [the Isle of Wight council] are just acting as a mini-me version of central government, which isn’t really good enough for the people of the Isle of Wight who have been squeezed hard enough.” He added: “[We need] everyone who doesn’t want a tory council - to throw their weight behind the only real alternative.” Previously, the 2017 local election saw the Greens take their first seat, leaving Labour at a net loss of one - with an overall win by the Conservatives with 25 seats. 40 candidates will stand for Labour at the next local election in May 2021 and it needs 21 seats to win a majority. Richard told Isle of Wight Radio, there is “very little or significant difference between our policies and the Greens” He added: “I want to make an appeal to the chair of the Green Party to come and sit down and talk to us and see if we can find a way of forming some sort of progressive alliance, to get a council in power that works for the people of the Island, and isn’t just a mini-me version of the Tory Government.” Richard said the local election in 2021 is the “immediate concern” but Island Labour will “start thinking about the general election after that”. The local election in 2017 saw 44,578 Islanders turn up to vote (out of a possible 109,066)  which is 40.87% of the electorate, meaning 64,488 residents did not vote. Richard said: “It’s about early engagement…. We need to be talking to people  - the people that bothered to come out on a very rainy day in December to vote for us - we need to encourage those people to come out in the local elections as well and make a real difference” “When you look at the first past the post system there are lots of seats whereby the Tories take control with Labour in second, the Greens in third - with a combined vote that would have gained a council seat” When asked how the relationship would work between Labour and the Greens Richard said: “It would be unfair for me to dictate to the Green party how it should work because negotiations are two-way.   "we would like to sit down and see what we think is fair... there has got to be a way - with combined will to not have a tory administration” If the Isle of Wight Green Party refuses the offer of joining forces they will "cross that bridge at the time". Island Labour Chair, Julian Critchley said: "I agree absolutely with Richard. We saw in Newport West that the difference between the excellent Labour candidate in second place and the Tory winner was less than the wasted Green vote in third place. We owe it to all islanders who have been failed by the Tory administration to try to prevent that happening on a wider scale next year." "I've campaigned in two general elections on the island where we've had to fight on two fronts against the Tories and Greens, and the latter is a waste of energy and resources. We've demonstrated in those elections the scale of potential support for Labour on the island now we've shown that the Labour Party is the only viable challenger. What we need now is for our fellow local progressives to join us in taking it that one step further." "We're bound by our national party rulebook, of course. But even within those constraints, I believe that with goodwill we could find a way forward which used the size and muscle of the Island Labour Party, with our thousand-plus members and the existing support we've now demonstrated in two General Elections, to achieve the goals we share with those who have previously supported the Greens." Conservative council leader, Dave Stewart, said: "From the political perspective I have always believed that the electorate should have the maximum choice available to them which is why I was so disappointed that the Green Party sought to prevent the Liberal Democratic candidate standing on the Island during the last general election. "In fact I understand our MP Bob Seely subsequently received the biggest vote of any MP on the Island which now stands at over 41,000 - so that Green / Liberal alliance didn’t work anyway! "Now the Labour Party are proposing a similar approach again preventing Island voters from having a choice. In addition recent comments from former MP candidate Mr Quigley and former councillor Mr Critchley seem to suggest the Island Conservative Led administration are not being financially supported by government and that a labour / green coalition in council can rectify the position... "I would remind them that the last Labour supported Independent Administration ‘walked out’ on their elected responsibilities to the Island just a few months before the election claiming they could not deliver the budget required... "So I would ask our Labour and green colleagues to seek help and support from their MPs in securing us an ‘Island Deal’ from which the whole community can benefit and a little less on political posturing" Isle of Wight Radio has asked the Isle of Wight Green Party for a comment.

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