Richmond Park was the Progressive Alliance's first real test – and it passed with flying colours.
The Green Party took the courageous step of not standing a candidate, but of backing the Lib Dems as the best-placed party to defeat Zac Goldsmith. For the last three weeks, Green activists have been knocking on doors across Richmond, explaining why they were throwing their support behind the Lib Dems. Meanwhile, despite a spirited Labour campaign, most Labour voters decided to tactically vote Lib Dem.
The Lib Dems went on to overturn Goldsmith's 23,015 majority, and took the seat by just 1,872 votes. Last year, the Greens polled 3,548 votes in Richmond Park. It is impossible to really know whether or not those 3,548 Green voters made the vital difference. But it is clear that progressive voters were only able to win by coming together around one candidate. Whether we like it or not, the first-past-the-post system makes that essential, and it is winning here and now, under the present system, which is vital if things are to change. There are lessons here for the years ahead.