Maximising the number of pro-European MPs

Not just Liberal Democrats but small “l” liberals in all political parties should welcome the opportunity the June General Election will provide for voters to make clear their priorities by voting for candidates committed to the fight for us to maintain a continued close relationship with Europe.

In this increasingly uncertain world, there is nothing more important than that.

Those candidates will not just be Liberal Democrats.

If we want to maximise the strength of the opposition to May’s “hard Brexit”, the Lib Dems should have the courage to concentrate their limited resources on their candidates in seats that we can win this time ,which means making hard decisions about not squandering time,energy and money in seats that we cannot.

If we want to make a reality of any version of a progressive alliance, the Liberal Democrats cannot expect Labour to stand aside in some seats (or decide to make only a token effort )unless we are also prepared to stand aside (or make only a token effort) in selected seats where a pro-European Labour candidate has a very much better chance.

It will go against the grain – but it must be done!

And should there be a small number of liberal Conservatives brave enough to prefer to stand as independents rather than fight the election on a hard Brexit Tory manifesto, we should be prepared to stand aside and support them too!

* Duncan Greenland has been a member of the Liberal Democrats for many years

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22 Comments

  • David Bertram 19th Apr '17 - 9:02am

    Couldn’t agree more, Duncan. Ditto with Greens.

  • Mark Smulian 19th Apr '17 - 9:56am

    I’d be happier with the ‘minimum effort’ option. Think back to Richmond Park, would anyone really have wanted to have to explain on doorsteps why the Lib Dems were in an alliance with Jeremy Corbyn? That is how it would have looked had there been no Labour candidate, rather than a token one. I think we would have paradoxically done worse had there been no Labour contender by scaring away soft Tories in a seat with little Labour vote anyway.
    ‘Minimum effort’ in non-target seats is surely likely to happen way as a simple matter of making sensible use of available resources.

  • Alan Depauw 19th Apr '17 - 9:59am

    But will there be any Tory or Labour candidate willing to stand on an explicit platform to remain in the single market? The best we might get are waffly words about retaining access to it without giving concrete examples of what that means. Also, the approach argued for implies supporting the SNP in Scotland.

    The LibDems have a distinct platform. Let us be wary of compromising it by giving a stamp of approval to the vague commitment of others, who may in fact have different agendas such as retaining or gaining power at whatever cost to the nation.

  • Both the Conservative & Labour parties now support a hard Brexit. There is no point in encouraging individual voters to support either party if the voter concerned favours either Remain OR a soft Norwegian/Swiss style Leave option.

  • Peter Martin 19th Apr '17 - 10:14am

    I don’t know why I bother complaining. I’m sure its all done deliberately. But I do find it offensive when people use the term pro-Europe when they really mean pro-EU.

    The implication is that those of us who are anti the EU we have at the moment are somehow anti-European. We aren’t. If the EU was more democratic and the EU countries hadn’t got themselves into such a mess with the euro and the over-restrictive rules which go with it, the result of the referendum would have been very different. We can nearly all be pro-EU in theory and principle. It’s the practice and reality of what we have which is the problem.

  • Progressive alliances – fine. But please don’t let Tony Blair campaign alongside Lib Dems on the pro-EU platform – as the Telegraph suggests today (we can all guess why: with friends like these who needs enemies). We’d be smeared by association. Liberal Democrats have own leaders, own policies, own convictions, we can speak for ourselves. Let Labour sort out its own identity crisis – and steer clear of the fallout. As for the current parliamentary Labour – they put party above nation, they have shown they are not progressive or inclusive, and they are pro-Brexit – or whipped to be. Let’s just not go there.

  • Chris Bertram 19th Apr '17 - 11:17am

    But how many Labour MPs are there who will stand up to be pro-EU? Most of them will hide behind “will of the people” and refuse to oppose Brexit in any form. The blessed JC is really a europhobe, which should surprise no-one given his history as an acolyte of the firmly anti-EU Tony Benn.

    My local Labour MP, as much use as a chocolate teapot under normal circumstances, voted pro-Brexit in a constituency that was firmly pro-EU. I’m sure our campaign literature will mention this once or twice.

    If any Labour MPs choose to be brave, then perhaps we can consider working with them informally, but a deal with Labour as a whole is a non-starter.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 19th Apr '17 - 2:01pm

    I’m against electoral pacts, because they deny choice to voters, and are therefore undemocratic. You may consider that this election is all about Brexit, but many voters will be more concerned about other issues, and will want to base their decision on a candidate’s views on issues such as the NHS, education, the environment, nuclear weapons, whether or not Scotland should be independent, etc. Candidates from different parties may agree on being pro EU, but may strongly disagree on a number of other issues.

  • I can certainly see the point of not opposing the excellent Caroline Lucas in Brighton – and in return the Scottish Greens standing down in Edinburgh West.

    How about it, Willie and Tim ?

  • Nick Collins 19th Apr '17 - 4:06pm

    If I lived in Rushcliffe, i would certainly vote for Ken Clarke, if his name appears on the ballot paper, this time.

  • Richard DeCesare 19th Apr '17 - 7:22pm

    I totally agree. Although Mr Corbyn has ruled out any progressive alliance, it doesn’t stop Lib Dems, SNP, Greens, Plaid Cymru coming together. If we vote tactically, we can stop Brexit and kick out the Tories.
    The one thing we all need to do is to get the youngsters to vote.

  • There will be no pact, because the Lib Dems still cling to the idiocy of believing that ‘one more heave’ will see a Lib Dem majority in parliament. There is no SMART Lib Dem strategy for how to change politics in the UK. While Labour falling to 150 MPs will be seen as disaster, the Lib Dems climbing back to 20 will be a triumph. There is potential for some gains, but lets not kid ourselves, the latest predictions are for a couple of seats, probably gained from Labour. To get back to the number of MPs we had under Charles Kennedy, we need to win seats like the Isle of Wight, where in 2015 we were 5th, but where we actually need a smaller swing to win than in Somerton and Frome. Many previously held seats had vast sums of money poured into them to get the results in 2015, most have had 2 years without that. It would be premature to think that support will go up where it will translate into seats or more crucially, wise to remember the Lib Dem vote can go up but still fall relative to the winning party.

    Even as I write, the evident political flimsiness of Cleggism that ruined the party can be seen as another supposed triumph, the fixed term parliament act is blown away.

  • I don’t see why any liberal would vote for Ken Clarke – the man Thatcher sent in to sort out the Teacher’s Unions and Medical professionals. Being pro-EU doesn’t make him a liberal any more than being pro-legalistion of homosexuality and anti Capital Punishment made Enoch Powell one.

  • Nick Collins 20th Apr '17 - 10:29am

    @ Hywel. There are lots of things on which I disagree with Ken Clarke. But I would certainly vote for him on this occasion in order to return an MP who will speak up against the hard brexiteers.

  • Antony Watts 20th Apr '17 - 12:23pm

    Don’t get lost in all the humming and harring.

    The only tow issues in the election are

    – Remain
    – Social Justice

    Have a good case for those and we will win.

  • Lots of people are suggesting strategies based on past elections. This isn’t like any other election. It’s an election where those of us who oppose Brexit can do something about it. We are the only nationwide party that opposes Brexit and we have to go all out on that on top of our usual manifesto commitments. Talking about coalitions and pacts is a foolish distraction. Sure, there may be the odd seat where we can do business with the Greens, but that’s all.
    Let’s just get on with fighting the election and we’ll win many more seats than the pessimists believe.

  • Denis Loretto 21st Apr '17 - 2:02pm

    I agree with Mick.

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