UKIP/Green pact? Bennett refuses to rule out electoral reform collaboration

Nigel Farage, the leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) and  Britain's Green Party leader Natalie Bennett (Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett)
Green Party leader Natalie Bennett has hinted her party could work with UKIP to secure meaningful electoral reform after Britain’s first past the post (FPTP) voting system delivered results unrepresentative of the parties’ genuine support.

Bennett, who lost out on a seat in last Thursday’s general election, told reporters she would be “happy” to work with UKIP after both parties won only one seat each, despite having proportionally much higher levels of support.

The Greens received 1.1 million votes and UKIP nearly four million, but only won one seat each. The results have triggered a call for the FPTP system, which handed the Scottish National Party (SNP) an impressive 56 seats despite only gaining 1.4 million votes, to be reformed in favor of a more representative voting system.

When asked if her party would collaborate with UKIP for a change in the system, Bennett said: “Lots of people who were in seats where they have never thought about electoral reform before are looking at their MP or local council and are saying ‘How did we end up with that? That's not what we wanted.’”

“So I think we will see a grassroots campaign and we will be supporting that and very happy to join with anyone else who supports that, working on an issue by issue basis as the Green Party has always done.”

READ MORE: Nigel Farage withdraws resignation as UKIP leader

Bennett came third in her constituency of Holborn and St Pancras, but has ruled out stepping down as leader, saying that being able to lead the party without the confines of a Westminster role was liberating.

Obviously I would love the chance to be in Parliament but the reality is that it works very well with Caroline Lucas (the Green Party's only MP) in there fighting almost like the equivalent of the 25 MPs we should have under proportional representation.

“While I’m not an MP what I’m free to do is travel round the country and be very much not Westminster-focused.

“One day I might be in Carlisle, the next day in St Ives and the day after that in Gateshead, and that means I can be the leader of the whole Green Party of England and Wales.”

She added that she believed the appointment of Amber Rudd to the position of Energy Secretary was an improvement.

“One always has to look back to the last Parliament and think ‘At least she isn’t [former energy secretary] Owen Paterson, who it emerged after he was sacked was a climate change denier.

“What I am concerned about is how much influence [Rudd] will have in a government that has shown no commitment during the election campaign to dealing with climate change.”

Prior to the general election, UKIP’s now sole MP, Douglas Carswell, said the party would consider advocating electoral reform.

Speaking in February, he said: “If we are serious about choice and competition in politics, I think we need to think seriously about electoral reform.”

“Just because Nick Clegg's idea of [the Alternative Vote system] was a bad idea, just because the Liberal Democrats are such a bad advertisement for reform, doesn't mean we can't do better.”