Vince Cable and Lib Dems should lead centrist movement

Last weekend, the Sunday Times revealed that 38% of people would vote for a new right wing party that is committed to Brexit, and a quarter would support a party which was explicitly far right, anti-immigration and anti-Islam. This should be a wake up call for progressives.

The electorate is faced with the choice between a deeply divided Conservative Party whose Eurosceptic tail is wagging its political dog or a Labour Party that thinks it knows better than the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance on how anti-semitism should be defined. The party I belong to, and campaign for is still polling at under 10%, even with all of the chaos which surrounds us.

There are Tory MPs who have received death threats as a consequence of some outrageous headlines in the right wing tabloids and even the broadsheets, describing them as traitors, saboteurs and mutineers. The Prime Minister’s response to this has been dismally weak. She has formed an alliance with far right governments in Hungary to support the UK’s Brexit position. A government which has eroded press freedoms and is clearly homophobic.

On the left, we have seen a Labour MP, Margaret Hodge, told she was being investigated by the Labour Party within hours of a tirade against Jeremy Corbyn, while real anti-semitism cases have taken months to be investigated. We have seen Corbyn refuse to condemn Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, despite the fact that his government last year rounded up political opponents in the middle of the night and arrested them. Looking as an outsider at these two parties is like looking at the scene of a Greek restaurant once the waiters have done their plate smashing routine.

For this reason, I believe it is the duty of the centre to re-align. We can be a spectator as the slow motion car crash which is Brexit plays out or we can do something.

Centrists already work together. Vince Cable has written before with Chuka Umunna in the Evening Standard. The Greens and the Lib Dems worked successfully together to defeat the Conservatives heavily in recent local elections where I live in Richmond. South West London MPs have worked together to campaign vigorously against Heathrow. But why can this not lead to a permanent change in British politics?

In France, the emergence of Macron has shown that a new political force is possible. France is a country where it is hard to change anything in the public sector. A country where as I learned when teaching there that even high school students can go on strike. Yet it has been able to create a political earthquake by eliminating the two traditional parties from the final round of voting in the 2016 Presidential elections.

Us centrists have many things in common – from believing in the benefits of immigration, to valuing public services, wanting to reduce inequality, tackling climate change and defending human rights. But most of all we are internationalists. We know that the UK does best when it works together with other countries.

A new centrist party, would probably be easier to defect to for disillusioned Tory and Labour MPs who are more aligned with each other than with their own leaders. Vince Cable is a leader who moderate Tories and Labour MPs could easily coalesce around while a longer term succession is figured out. Through the coalition he has proved his ability to work with those in other parties.

We only have to look to Italy to see what happens when we create a vacuum in the centre. Steve Bannon is in contact with Boris Johnson and has made it clear he is setting up a new populist movement in Europe to ensure it takes over the European Parliament. For the moderates in the main two parties here in the UK, their political homes have left them and dumped their possessions in the drive. It is time for the center to unite under one roof – to protect our nation from the populist storm which is brewing.

* Chris Key is dad of two girls, multilingual and internationalist. He is a Lib Dem member in Twickenham who likes holding the local council and MPs to account.

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64 Comments

  • Steve Trevethan 27th Jul '18 - 12:45pm

    There is an interesting and informative article on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-semitism in The Guardian.
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jul/27/antisemitism-ihra-definition-jewish-writers

  • Ian Patterson 27th Jul '18 - 1:47pm

    This heatwave needs to break soon or Lib Dem’s will start losing their minds over a chimera of a Centre Party. The silly season is truly with us.

  • Sandra Hammett 27th Jul '18 - 1:49pm

    Are the Lib Dems such damaged goods that a new party must formed for disillusioned centrist Labour and Tory MPs to join?
    We should be providing that ‘one roof’ over a broad church, but something is amiss and it is, I believe, our reputation at a national level, fix that and we will see a brighter future.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 27th Jul '18 - 2:17pm

    Chris

    I believe you are onto a really important aspect of our political state of things.

    I agree with every word. However there is an analysis we must do.

    We , the vast majority of the party who now according to research see themselves as in the radical centre, not the contradiction some think but the way forward, must explain lest others take over immediately in this discourse.

    In my view, when, as is said so well herein, all about you is extreme, to be moderate is in of itself, radical, radically different! Thus the radical centre. As I often say, this is not centrism, it is Liberalism. That Liberalism which recognises it is flexible or it is not Liberalism at all.

    I have experience and knowledge of the word as used in other countries, from my interest having a wife originally from America, a father, from Italy.

    We are the Liberals in the UK, best able to use the word incorporating both the classical origin and social orientation, too.

    Many in other parties have far in common with most o us, than with many in their parties. I know, as I was in another party years ago, the Labour party. I was to the right of Benn, the left of Blair, more liberal and thus Liberal, than both. I am a Liberal Democrat who does not identify with “the left” unless preceded by centre asin “centre-left.” More than ever, the left are as bad as the right, the far left the same as the far right on certain issues.

    This scenario now must move forward with real awareness and ambition.

    We are aware of what went right and wrong with the SDP Liberal Alliance. We must be more ambitious. We cannot say Sir Vince is the man to lead a new movement, the movement must say who is the man or woman to lead it.

    The movement must take in the many in the other two parties. If Labout mps this week the worst headlines that party has ever had and a reputation worse than that of this feeble government and that party too, my view is bravery and daring are absent. The so called Gang of Four were giants compared to the pygmies of this era.

    I listen to people. If I was in the Labour party I would listen to those who are crying out to them to leave, because the extremes have won. I would do so because I lost my job and house and income because of my principles and what I know is right, a few years ago. How many do that?

    What is needed requires leadership. Leadership requires those who are led also are involved in being leaders also.

  • Thinking about this and the other threads – I think there is an argument for a “People’s Vote” party that operates a bit like the Co-operative party. You can be a member and some parliamentary candidates stand on a joint description of both the Labour and Co-operative party. Candidates would stand as “Liberal Democrat and People’s Vote” or “Conservative and People’s Vote”, “Labour and People’s Vote” etc. The party would not stand its own candidates.

    The aims of the “People’s Vote” party would be simple – it would be that its MPs would vote for a referendum on Brexit or if we leave for a rejoining Referendum and would only support a Queen’s Speech that included such a proposal. After a General Election they would only support a Government that included such a proposal in their Queen’s
    Speech.

    It would have to be a political party to enable the joint description on the ballot paper. But people could choose from the description between say between a Labour – non-People’s Vote candidate and a Lib Dem People’s Vote candidate. It would also enable Lib Dems Brexiteers to stand without the People’s Vote label if they so choose.

    Obviously this would need a rule change for the Lib Dems – that you could be a member of both The problem might be with Labour and the Conservative parties. I can see Labour – perhaps – agreeing. The Tories MIGHT be more problematic.

    In general it’s “events, dear boy, events” that move opinion poll ratings. People don’t generally wake up and think – I know what I will support a different political party. Those events will be the conclusion of the Brexit negotiations and perhaps more importantly when and if we leave the EU next year. Political activists and MPs in particular as they are dealing with issues in a detailed way, ahead of them being enacted in legislation massively underestimate how slowly events percolate through to the general public

    And secondly if we win a parliamentary by-election as Michael Meadowcroft confirmed in a recent comment from his experience of the ’70s in particular but also obv. shown in the ’80s and ’90s.

    We should therefore expected our vote to stay below 10% and probably above 7% in the next six months. It is frustrating while you are living through such spells.

  • paul barker 27th Jul '18 - 3:05pm

    The idea of trying to subsume The LDs into some New Party is a non-starter but we could start negotiating a New Electoral Pact right away. We should be talking to The Greens & The Womens Equality Party right now. We could get such a deal in place by The Autumn, in time for the big showdowns over Brexit & The Conference Season.
    Our support has been rising over the last few Months but its hard to imagine it rising fast enough for us to have a big role in stopping Brexit without some new iniative.

  • @Sandra Hammett 27th Jul ’18 – 1:49pm
    ‘Are the Lib Dems such damaged goods that a new party must formed for disillusioned centrist Labour and Tory MPs to join?’

    Unfortunately YES!

    We are walking wounded, still with the arrowhead of coalition and student fees poisoning us. We search in vain for some magic policy bullet to save us only to shoot, wide of the mark or worse still, ourselves in the foot.
    I am of the conclusion that it would take a significant amputation to save us. Strip back policy to basic Social Liberalism and go back to the essence of who we are. I don’t think there is a willingness or the personalities to do this so I’m not optimistic. I do feel however that time is short and if a new center party was to gain traction then that could be the death knell. It’s a shame really because in the process the center ground will be split and the new party will take a long time to develop the infrastructure that the LibDems currently have. Maybe we can be absorbed into the new party providing them with all the resources they need and for us the distance from the disaster of 2010. It will be a brave move. Maybe those who lived through the SDP Liberal merger have important experience to offer.

  • simon hebditch 27th Jul '18 - 3:44pm

    Yet another debate about centrism and the prospects of a new party. Lets be real. There is no room for an additional party and I can’t see the Lib Dems subsuming in such a construction. Neither the Lib Dems nor the Greens will see major changes in their own fortunes without proportional representation.
    I am all in favour of political realignment but not in order to create some wishy washy centre party of moderates. I still believe that the Tory party is my enemy and that it will always reflect the deeply problematic attitudes of a conservative and reactionary society. The realignment that is needed is that of the Left – based around Labour, some of the Lib Dems and the Greens. Of course, elements of the Labour Party are problematic as well but we cannot create a socially just society without an active, responsive and progressive labour movement.

  • Innocent Bystander 27th Jul '18 - 4:25pm

    There is much wisdom in Lorenzo’s words.
    A new movement needs an articulate leader and, most of all a compelling vision. Neither are anywhere to be seen. Vince isn’t the former and doesn’t have the latter.
    Several voices advocate a Santa Claus approach, that is to tax and borrow more to give away more than Labour. The only economic proposals are the time honoured “invest in skills and infrastructure” best articulated in the old proverb “A drowning man will clutch at a straw”.

  • David Allen 27th Jul '18 - 4:33pm

    “Way back in the mists of time, I had the misfortune to be a negotiator for the Lib Dems in Kent, with the SDP. A group of people with whom we shared much and which led to the formation of the Lib Dems. However on the ground there were people who saw themselves as the senior tier of the arrangement. Many lacked experience or understanding, so opted for the simple expedient of asking for the most winnable seats for the SDP. Fortunately more experienced minds intervened, to explain to their colleagues the reality of building an alliance.”

    Translation: The Liberals dug their heels in. They had squatters’ rights. They had bagsied all the most winnable seats, and they intended to keep them. The SDP, however brilliant their leaders, would largely have to settle for the dregs. Like it or lump it. Then, when the 1983 election duly returned far more Liberal than SDP MPs, the Liberals had the gall to tell the SDP that this result was all down to the superior campaigning capabilities of the Liberals.

    I speak as an SDP member who from 1983-87 opposed David Owen’s attempt to lead the SDP away from the Alliance, and campaigned to persuade the SDP instead to seek merger with the Liberals. It was an uphill battle, because of the bad feeling engendered by Liberal arrogance. Owen was far from being the only self-centred wrecker involved. Many Liberals were equally destructive self-centred wreckers from the other side. The Alliance failed because too many of its players, from both its parties, put narrow self-interest first.

  • William Fowler 27th Jul '18 - 4:47pm

    If the LibDems become the Democratic Pary, the core of the new centrist party, persuade enough Tory defectors to join them so that Mrs May loses her majority it at least gets you to a general election before Brexit. If there is enough money floating around, I am sure sensible MPs in favour of staying in the EU will line up to join the new party, perhaps led by Ken Clark if no relative youngster emerges… you would probably need someone from Labour as PM and someone from the Conservatives as chancellor, though, just to square the circle with a few LibDems as a reward for their stalwartness.

  • Innocent Bystander 27th Jul '18 - 5:16pm

    I don’t have an anti-semitic cell in my body but my, and I hope Jeremy Corbyn’s condemnation of the actions of the state of Israel are not going to be gagged by the IHRA. What does it say about the UN resolutions and the 1948 borders?

  • Forget alliances with Greens or other smaller parties. To be frank such alliances would be of limited value during a general election and would only dilute the brand. It would be much more sensible for Vince Cable to reach out to someone like David Milliband and to then agree to form a new centre party with him and any other high profile names from the centre ground of British Politics (e.g Chukka and Soubry). The ‘new party’ would need new ideas but at its heart would be the Lib Dem political machine, overhauled and upgraded.

    Why do this? Someone like David Milliband would feel like a breath of fresh air right now and could be perceived as a knight in a white horse. We would be free of political baggage like tuition fees but maintain an effective political machine underneath it all. The new party would install port across most of the Lib Dem membership and local associations. Unlike UKIP it would have MPs and they would come from both sides of the house. It would generate excitement and interest especially if there were some eye catching new policies.

    Don’t get me wrong I’m a very happy Liberal. But even I think we need to breath new life into the Centre ground and quickly!

  • paul barker 27th Jul '18 - 7:42pm

    Trying to form an Electoral Pact now has 2 big advantages to my mind : giving The Media something to talk about during The Summer when Westminster shuts down & making it easier for Labour & Tory MPs to contemplate breaking away from their Parties.
    The difference between a “New Alliance” & us on our own is that it would be “New”. Journalists are a shallow bunch & find The Libdems boring – “been there, done that” is their attitude to us.
    There are lots of “Centrist” Labour MPs (& a few Tories) who are much closer to us than to their own Party,s Leadership or Members but leaving Labour now seems like jumping off a cliff in the fog. An Electoral Pact already up & running would make taking that leap into the unknown a bit less terrifying.
    There is also the possibility that something that looked New might take off & attract Voters without a Labour split, these things are utterly unpredictable.
    Our slow recovery continues but its not enough if we want to play a serious part in stopping Brexit.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 27th Jul '18 - 8:03pm

    Colleagues must read it properly when seeing the IHRA definition and support it full on even with the correct liberal and Liberal Democrat view of free speech.

    There is in it a clear statement that criticism of Israel is fine and not antisemitic, “if like criticism of any other country.”

    The problem is some very antisemitic far left extremist posters and activists on forums of that farther left, are taking criticism of Israel to be allowance of criticising Jewish people in ways nobody would accept with, say equating Muslim countries with that of individual practitioners of Islam.

    I researched this and yet do, the vitriol is now at a scary point, there are calls on Labour forums, I have seen them, to “bring back concentration camps…for Zionists!”

    Do not fear a definition that allows for debate in a democracy, fear those who want to destroy people and our democracy!

  • Ian Patterson 27th Jul '18 - 8:18pm

    Tory and Lab MP’s are not going to abandon their parties for an arrangement, with us, over us or around us. They very much like the suffix MP after their name. It is unchancey for them to come to us now. Farron floated this situation; after he became leader. Result nil MP’s defected to us. And please do not mention our ‘progress’ in those handful of fluffy middle class areas around London. They are not typical. As for Brother Miliband he was parachuted into South Shields as was brother Ed parachuted into Doncaster. As I said on another thread we mislaid a seat in Torridge yesterday, whereas the Tories gained 2. Labour also mislaid a seat yesterday in Merthyr of all places, albeit narrowly.

  • Richard Dawkin’s came up with a suggestion in the new Statesman I think, that the Lib Dems simply re-brand themselves the European Party. New name, new image

  • Bob Sayer,

    So, despite our very different perspectives from the distant past, we agree on a key lesson. That is, that there are always lots of selfish people around, people who do not have enough goodwill to put noble objectives ahead of self-interest. That makes forming a viable anti-Brexit party or coalition difficult.

    For evil to triumph, it is only necessary for moderately good people to get distracted by fighting each other.

  • William Fowler 28th Jul '18 - 6:58am

    Nick Clegg was the young charismatic leader that should have broken through, almost did in those leaders debates. Tainted now by the students debts farce, as are the Liberals. So new name, new message and new leader? Tom Brake maybe?

  • Having read this thread, it’s definitely the summer silly season compounded with a dose of lunar eclipse. Must be the heat wot does it.

    Can’t wait for the Test match to start.

  • Nonconformistradical 28th Jul '18 - 8:03am

    @David Allen
    “For evil to triumph, it is only necessary for moderately good people to get distracted by fighting each other.”

    or…

    “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke
    http://www.openculture.com/2016/03/edmund-burkeon-in-action.html

  • Sandra Hammett 28th Jul '18 - 8:36am

    Admit it when you’re wrong and shut up when you’re right. This is a simple way to drastically improve the quality of your relationships.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 27th Jul ’18 – 8:03pm…….There is in it a clear statement that criticism of Israel is fine and not antisemitic, “if like criticism of any other country.”……..

    Really? Why then do the ‘Friends of Israel’ demand that the upcoming ‘Boycott Apartheid Israel’ event be banned on the grounds that, under the IHRA definition, such action is defined as anti-semitic?
    Where is the comparable outrage in the Jewish papers, the media or even on LDV, over Israel’s recent adoption of a law that states that “only the Jewish people have a right to national self-determination in Israel”…

    As for your…………………………I researched this and yet do, the vitriol is now at a scary point, there are calls on Labour forums, I have seen them, to “bring back concentration camps…for Zionists!”……………….

    There are always such posts but, I doubt if these are on any ‘official’ Labour sites and I’ll wager, far more on far right sites than on the left. Did your ‘research’ lead you to the
    PEW poll or the YouGov poll showing that, under Corbyn’s leadership, there has been a dramatic fall in anti-semitism in Labour?
    Did your ‘research’ encompass Norman G. Finkelstein’s ‘take’ on this matter or how Rees Mogg apologised for his ‘lack of research’ in being guest speaker at a dinner hosted by Gregory Lauder-Frost (one can only imagine the outcry if Corbyn had appeared at a comparable left extremist group)?

  • The big centrist leaders Blair, Cameron, Clegg and co left office with their legacies and reputations in tatters. Centrism is basically pseudo-left version of neoliberalism, based on a market lead belief in technocratic government with an adman’s addiction to progressive sounding buzzwords. I suspect what people really want is representative government that is representative of their views which means politicians who don’t think they are leaders or believe that the electorate is simply an economic unit that responds to the dictats of business. In other words a more civic version of politics. What gets called centrism is a radical ideological land grab dating only as far back as the so-called “end of history” in the early 1990s and like most revolutions it has collapsed.

  • Is it centralist policy to attack a political party with labels in order to try and build outrage and secure points? That seems more of a Trumpism than a Lib Dem action, where we would normally expect analysis of the facts and research lead criticism. While the end result may or may not be the same there is clearly room for discussion over whether the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition crosses over into stamping out all criticism (we have had two opposing views in the thread above) and so your attack on Labour seems premature, although there is plenty else that can be used to criticise them including the “where’s Jeremy Corbyn?” song.

    “Us centrists have many things in common – from believing in the benefits of immigration, to valuing public services, wanting to reduce inequality, tackling climate change and defending human rights.”

    Tony Blair as a defender of human rights? Disillusioned Tories as valuing public services or tackling climate change? Seems to me that those you’re looking to jump into bed with are those likely to find themselves out of the country or in the pocket of a special relationship if the Heathrow vote came up again.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 28th Jul '18 - 1:24pm

    David Raw , expats

    It is sad to have what I say either ignored or derided or criticised, or contributions of other colleagues being constructive.

    The IHRA statement can be twisted or used by any individual or group to suit its purpose, this makes those doing it wrong, not the definition, which is fair and fullsome.

    The poll about antisemitism in the Labour party being less not more was amongst voters not members, and does not allow for the fact that the membership of parties is more extreme than voters.

    My research is based on time put in to see if what I read is true, I was in the Labour party and bear no grudge have no prejudice.

    While there is often exageration, what I see there now worries me and I stand with Jewish uk citizens who see levels of dislike and yes antisemmitism seen in other lands, not thus, prior to now.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 28th Jul ’18 – 1:24pm…David Raw , expats…It is sad to have what I say either ignored or derided or criticised, or contributions of other colleagues being constructive…………..

    I have neither ignored nor derided your remarks. If disagreeing with your points is criticism, so be it.

    ………………………The IHRA statement can be twisted or used by any individual or group to suit its purpose, this makes those doing it wrong, not the definition, which is fair and fullsome…………………..

    If the definition can be ‘twisted or used’ then it is hardly ‘definitive’. Do you agree with the interpretation, used by ‘the friends of Israel’, regarding the ‘Boycott Apartheid Israel’ event? If not, then it’s use, by those who condemn Corbyn, makes their criticism of him political rather than factual.

    ………………………………..The poll about antisemitism in the Labour party being less not more was amongst voters not members, and does not allow for the fact that the membership of parties is more extreme than voters………………..

    That sounds an extremely tenuous distinction. How do you explain the fall in anti-semitism, among Labour voters since Corbyn became leader and on what grounds do you assume that being a Labour member makes you more likely to be anti-semitic? There are many reasons for becoming a member of the Labour party and I’d suggest that anti-semitism is not one. Anti-smites are usually racists and I’d argue that the Labour party has a better record, judging by their broad spectrum of elected representatives at every level, than any other on addressing racism.

    ………………………My research is based on time put in to see if what I read is true, I was in the Labour party and bear no grudge have no prejudice…….While there is often exageration, what I see there now worries me and I stand with Jewish uk citizens who see levels of dislike and yes antisemmitism seen in other lands, not thus, prior to now…………………

    I, too, have read much on the subject and I see no evidence that Labour, let alone Corbyn, are responsible for any rise in anti-semitism. On the contrary, I believe that it is the recent rise of right wing views in the US, Europe and the UK that is responsible for the apparent increase worldwide.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 28th Jul '18 - 2:54pm

    expats

    I put you and David together, he refered to siily season re comments, nothing silly here but his comments, though I like how this goo hu,our is needed, but not here with this topic.

    I cannot keep repeating and rephrasing, what is happening in my old party is terrible, read the statements of the members who resign, some on the left who are not hard left. Why you do not join Labour to see I do not know as you clearly like their leader and direction.

  • Lorenzo Cherin,

    I never mentioned you, and I never mentioned Corbyn or the situation that he finds himself involved in. Nor do I intend to or have any wish to. A withdrawal and an apology would be appropriate . Please don’t try to put words in my mouth.

    My comments about the silly season was a reference to the febrile state of the press and politics in this the hottest of summers.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 29th Jul '18 - 2:08am

    I do withdraw and apologize David if you think it needed but felt you were belittling the important contribution of some in this thread, not me per se.

    Similarly expats is fine defending the Labour leader but as I never pick him out but he always seeks me out to forever defend Corbyn, I wonder why he or others do not vote for him.

    I do not want divisiveness or Liberal Democrats to go elsewhere.

    I want this site and party to recognise this party has more in common with those in the mainstream than with those supporters of Corbyn on the far left who are as a result seeing or encouraging many to leave that party.

  • Peter Martin 29th Jul '18 - 7:38am

    @ John King,

    How about the European Unionist Party?

  • Lorenzo Cherin 29th Jul ’18 – 2:08am…………………Similarly expats is fine defending the Labour leader but as I never pick him out but he always seeks me out to forever defend Corbyn, I wonder why he or others do not vote for him………………

    I do not seek you out personally; just those who, like you, never seem to criticise policies just Corbyn. By all means argue against Labour policies but, why is it always just HIM? This thread was about centrist policies; but Labour’s policies are those of Wilson and, may I say, Atlee and would not be called ‘extreme left’ by any of our European neighbours. If wanting public ownership of transport and utilities, building council homes and removing the millstone of PFI (introduced by the centrist Major government and expanded during the centrist Blair years) then I’m an extreme lefty.

    I may well take your advice and become a member of Labour. Regarding the LibDems (a party I have supported for almost 60 years) I see a ‘single issue campaign group’ and what makes it even sadder is that, on a campaign that has the approval of around half the voting public, we have the support of less than 10% of the electorate.

    As for…….I do not want divisiveness or Liberal Democrats to go elsewhere……

    I assume that only the first bit applies to me…(tongue in cheek)

  • Lorenzo Cherin 29th Jul '18 - 1:44pm

    expats

    Vying with few others for excellence of response, so much that my view is I do not want you to join Labour, tongue , cheek or not!

    You are wrong, though, I really very rarely mention Corbyn, who I see as an ineffective regressive figure, not the dangerous type who, though in a minority, are following him and joining his party and destroying the credibility of it as far as a party we could relate to or support.

    You need to read more about the extent of the fear and intimidation of the hard left, many are leaving because of it.

    The left wing of Benn even then attracted dodgy pratcices, but even some ex Bennities are calling this far worse because it is antisemitic and hate driven.

  • paul barker 29th Jul '18 - 2:50pm

    On the subject of Labour, one thing that I have noticed in the last Month is the increasing fragmentation of their Parliamentary Party. So far, 2 Labour MPs have become Independents, 2 are facing Reselection, 2 disciplinary charges & 1 serious criminal charges. Those 7 cover the whole Ideological range from Far Right of Labour to far Left, virulently Pro Brexit to Anti & they range from MPs who have been around for Decades to Newbies Elected last Year.
    One big reason why Labour hasnt split is that it has so many different divisions, cutting across each other. What seems to be happening instead is a slow disintegration.

  • Chris Burden 29th Jul '18 - 9:14pm

    ‘The European Party’?
    How about, ‘The Europe & Environment Party’ ?

  • David Raw 29th Jul ’18 – 8:09pm…………………[email protected] Expats, “If wanting public ownership of transport and utilities (YES), building council homes (YES)and removing the millstone of PFI (introduced by the centrist Major government and expanded during the centrist Blair years) (YES) then I’m an extreme lefty.”,,,,,,,,That sounds like the modest beginning of a good radical agenda to me…………………..

    But I thought the ambition of our ‘new improved party’ was to be ‘centrist’.

    Surely you remember the “Look left, look right, cross over” poster and the rallying cry “Left of Tories; right of Labour”? How I refrained from ‘storming the barricades’ behind such ideas I’ll never know.

  • David Stevens 30th Jul '18 - 3:06am

    “Centrists already work together” – absolutely Chris, and so we should but the Greens are far too far to the left to count as centrists. Of course we should still work with them where we agree with them (eg on Brexit) but they aren’t an acceptable partner for electoral pacts.

  • Dennis Wake 30th Jul '18 - 9:20am

    Sounds like another list of ideas that have been tried and failed

  • Peter Hirst 30th Jul '18 - 2:02pm

    I agree that we need to make our Party more acceptable to members including MPs of both others to join. How we do this in not as obvious. If I thought a centrist Party would do it, then I’d jump at it.

  • John Probert 1st Aug '18 - 10:30am

    Michael Meadowcroft: “There is no such place as the “centre” and there is no such thing as a viable centre party.”
    Lady Violet Bonham-Carter famously warned those who stand in the middle of the road that they are bound to get knocked down.
    Surely we Liberals are a party of the radical left?

  • Innocent Bystander 2nd Aug '18 - 3:53pm

    “There is no such place as the “centre” and there is no such thing as a viable centre party.”

    Well, there is a place between Venezuelan Socialism and Dog-Eat-Dog Capitalism although I agree that “centre” – as meaning exactly equidistant between the most left and right wing extremists is valueless.
    I regard myself as neither left wing nor right but an extreme moderate and believe there are agendas which could restore our nation but which are not slaves to the dogmas of “Socialism” and “Capitalism”.

  • Neil Sandison 5th Aug '18 - 7:47am

    A word of caution .A brief walk down history shows various splits in liberalism that led to flirtations with both the right and the left .Whenever we teamed up with either side of the spectrum we were subsequently badly punished by the electorate at the next general election. Lets stick to our reformist traditions of radical social liberal and democratic renewal and lot look for the quick fix but march again to the sound of gunfire .

  • Two pedantic corrections for which apologies but not without consequence.

    @John Probert

    The internet seems to give the quote to Nye Bevan – so not necessarily a political friend of ours. The middle lane of a motorway is a viable lane to drive in – not too slow and not too fast. Anyone who is not a communist or a complete capitalist is at least taking on some degree of realisation that the other side has some validity. Many political plans and policies are better because they are not on the extreme and take on board their opponents views and criticisms. Liberalism is I believe as outlined elsewhere a balancing act.
    https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Aneurin_Bevan
    https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/aneurin_bevan_385474

    @Neil Sandison
    “whenever we teamed up with either side of the spectrum we were subsequently badly punished by the electorate at the next general election”

    Technically teaming up of the Liberal party with the SDP led to the Alliance as a “liberal grouping” to the best showing in percentage terms of modern political times. I would settle for 25% at the moment! Not that I believe a new “centrist” for want of a better word party is likely, viable or our best route electorally at the moment.

    No – or virtually no MPs from other parties are likely to leave their party for another. Tories are likely to stay as they are in the party of Government and therefore with influence and always the possibility of preferment to a Government job. Pointedly no eurosceptic MPs left the Tories in the 90s. Anti-Corbyn Remainer Labour MPs will be reminded that only 4 out of 25 Labour MPs who joined the SDP kept their seats. And again the leadership and policies of a party can change quite rapidly. Without any MPs a new party is likely to have little pulling power.

  • Neil Sandison 6th Aug '18 - 11:35am

    Michael 1 .That is very recent history indeed and SDP members were on the same political spectrum ie social liberals in most parts .. coalitions with the conservatives however are different and i would point to 2010/15 coalition with the Conservatives .Liberal Unionist ,National Liberals ,Coalition Liberals .We have in all those instances only recovered after significant damage was self inflicted upon the party and movement.

  • @Neil Sanderson ” coalitions with the conservatives however are different and i would point to 2010/15 coalition with the Conservatives .Liberal Unionist ,National Liberals ,Coalition Liberals .We have in all those instances only recovered after significant damage was self inflicted upon the party and movement.”

    The self-inflicted damage, as you put it, was that done by those members of the party who believe that we are but a junior adjunct to the Labour Party, forever to be it’s little sibling in a sort of luke-warm socialism.

    Consequently when the party is elected and starts behaving in a fully Liberal fashion (social, personal, political and economic), the electors who believed they were voting for socialism lite were disappointed, and the Liberal voters who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for socialism lite were not given the opportunity to have their views on the party turned around.

  • Malcolm Todd 6th Aug '18 - 1:08pm

    Neil Sandison
    Michael 1’s example of teaming up with the SDP is indeed rather irrelevant, but what you actually said was “Whenever we teamed up with either side of the spectrum we were subsequently badly punished by the electorate at the next general election.” (emphasis added) Well, in 1979 after 18months of an explicit agreement to shore up an increasingly unpopular Labour government, the Liberal party’s vote fell slightly, from 18% to 14%, and they had a net loss of three seats. One of which, of course, was the seat of their former Leader who had just been on trial for murder in a widely and salacious publicised case.
    Then, in the Blair/Ashdown years there was considerable cooperation between Lib Dems and Labour – some of it, and the extent of it, a fairly well kept secret at the time, but the left-alignment of the party was in general pretty obvious. The result of that was a steady increase in Lib Dem support over the next three elections.
    Admittedly, the decision to support a minority Labour government in 1924 turned out pretty disastrously – but I’m not sure even that can really be considered as bad as the results of the National Government years or the recent Coalition. Perhaps the voters actually do have a consistent opinion about who the Liberals’ natural allies should be?

  • @Neil Sandison, @Malcolm Todd

    I appreciate the points. The original proposition under discussion is NOT about going into government with another party or parties – but what would happen if a new party was formed. As a matter of fact when that last happened and us (the Liberals) “teaming up” with it – it lead to the best ever vote share.

    I think there is an argument for a “People’s vote” party similar to the Co-operative party. You can be a member of the Labour party and the co-operative party and stand on a joint ticket but don’t have to. A “People’s vote” party would have a policy of only supporting a Queen’s speech that included a proposal for a referendum on Brexit.

  • Malcolm Todd 6th Aug '18 - 5:21pm

    Hm. Problem with the Co-op Party analogy is that you can only be a Labour and Co-op candidate or a Labour candidate. It’s effectively a wholly owned subsidiary, not a truly separate, allied party.

    Anyway, though I sort of see the point of the “People’s Vote” party, it really comes under the heading of Things That Are Never Going to Happen. If the leadership of the main parties were open to this sort of idea at all, we just wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in now. And no, sadly, landing in a leopard-pit does not cause a leopard to change its spots.

  • @Malcolm Todd

    The Co-operative Party is a separate political party albeit one that has an agreement with the Labour Party. But its own policy formation and campaigning. There is no reason why a “People’s vote” party could not set up on the basis that it wouldn’t stand its own candidates – but would invite people to stand under a joint label with their “own” party.

    The difficulty would be with the other parties including own allowing a rule change that would allow people to be members of both. I could see that from us. the Greens and indeed from Labour.

    Although Labour is the most problematical. But the leadership would have to explain to 70%+ of it membership and 60%+ of its supporters that support Remain.

  • Malcolm Todd 6th Aug '18 - 9:24pm

    Michael 1
    “The Co-operative Party is a separate political party” – legally, yes, but in reality it really, really isn’t. It hasn’t stood a candidate against Labour since 1927, and according to Wikipedia, “Co-operative Party members are not permitted to be members of any other political party in the UK apart from the Labour Party and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) in Northern Ireland.” In other words, it is in effect a mere faction of the Labour Party. All Co-op candidates are “Labour & Co-op” candidates, and they are never standing against Labour candidates. That’s quite different from a situation where you could have “Labour & People’s Vote” standing against Conservative in one district and “Conservative & People’s Vote” standing against Labour in another. It’s utterly unrealistic to imagine that such a thing could be countenanced. (And what if two or three candidates in a marginal constituency are all members of the People’s Vote? Who gets the endorsement? If they all do, what real democratic choice do the voters have?)

  • Malcolm Todd 6th Aug ’18 – 9:24pm
    Michael 1
    “The Co-operative Party is a separate political party” – legally, yes, but in reality it really, really isn’t.”

    No I do appreciate that – it is to give an example of how as you say a “People’s Vote” party could work and that it does to a MORE LIMITED way at the moment. It obviously has the advantage that you can have the joint description in electoral law. It would also allow a People’s Vote party the various freedoms to campaign as a political party during a general election. You could have all the parties in the SAME seat standing as respectively “Conservative and People’s Vote”, “Labour and People’s Vote”, “Liberal Democrat and People’s Vote”.

  • Sandra Hammett 7th Aug '18 - 9:32am

    A new party would be such colossal waste of time and effort that would be much better spent convincing the public at large of the need for continued EU membership using the tools you already possess.

  • Simon Banks 24th Sep '18 - 8:34pm

    If a new Centrist party is formed, I and many committed activists will not be in it because we are not centrists. I am a Liberal. If the term centrist means anything, it’s somebody who tries to be in the centre because (s)he thinks it’s the right place to be, not someone who happens to be halfway between extremes on some issues. Any party which seeks to make fundamental changes is going to be way off the centre on most of the issues it thinks important. All the most influential politicians I can think of started well off the centre on their key issues and moved politics towards them.

    Undoubtedly the present political situation (oddly) marginalises the centre and this is unhealthy. On the issues where we are between Labour and Tory extremes, we could co-operate with a new party, but we should never merge into one that did not share our basic values. On Brexit, of course, we are not in the centre at all, but at one extreme. Here too, though, we should co-operate but not merge: many pro-Europeans are comfortable people of the centre-right who don’t want much to change over here.

    As for Macron, in France new political movements rise and fall frequently, from the Rassemblement du Peuple Francais and the Poujadists in the Fourth Republic, to En Marche and the far-left party now. They rise quickly and usually they fall quickly. In any case, a presidential system makes it much easier to “break the mould” as people coalesce around a strong candidate. En Marche is basically the Emmanuel Macron is Wonderful movement.

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