A Lib Dem route to victory: a case for a Progressive Alliance

The recent Richmond Park by-election was a huge victory for Liberal Democrats, further boosting our credibility and standing in the country with voters and the media. But it was also a great success for Progressive Alliance campaigners, who supported Sarah Olney’s excellent campaign.

The decision by the Green Party to stand down and endorse us, along with calls from a group of leading Labour figures for Labour to do the same, helped to recreate the conditions where we could win back the seat by leading a non-conservative bloc of voters to victory. These moves – by Labour figures and the Greens – were made in support of progressives in different parties organising together more generally.

The cross-party pressure group, Compass, is currently publishing a series of essays from members who would like to see a Progressive Alliance from each of the different progressive parties. Written before the announcement of the Election, I’ve set out some of my thoughts from the perspective of a Liberal Democrat about why we need a Progressive Alliance, which are published on the Compass site today. Drawing upon psephology, demography and historical precedent, I believe a Progressive Alliance presents by far our best route to implement electoral reform at Westminster, our best chance to prevent a hard Brexit, and best opportunity for liberals to sustain influence over the long term. I’ve not reproduced many arguments here, and hope you will take some time to have a look, when you take a break from the campaign trail.

There is no set template that an anti-Conservative alliance must follow. As Richmond demonstrated, candidates could stand down, or they could stand but engage in non-aggression with other progressive candidates, allow their supporters to advocate tactical voting, and otherwise hold their fire for other more important seats. Cross-party cooperation should be negotiated in transparent ways, and be steered by perspectives and knowledge of grassroots activists. They should also be based around a set of common aims – as liberals, we should recognise where individuals in other parties do agree with us on many of the most pressing issues facing the country.

Cross-party working might occur in a seat or over a cluster of seats, where goodwill can be reciprocated. In seats where we aren’t in a position to win in June, Lib Dems may be able to improve the chance of getting an MP elected for another party who is willing to cooperate with us on key issues in the next Parliament, whilst simultaneously helping ensure Lib Dem target seat candidates elsewhere benefit from cross-party working.

The large majority of our most marginal seats are against the Conservatives, while our membership and potential voter base lean towards the left. We should ensure Richmond isn’t a one off. There is a remarkable opportunity to boost the chances of Liberal Democrats in key constituencies in June, if we can continue and recreate this spirit of cooperation.

Along with thinking how we may pursue a Progressive Alliance, I think we should be clear why it is important, hence why I’ve sought to set out my thoughts on the Compass site today. As well being a long term project, it also has immediate potential to boost the chances of Lib Dems in our target seats and, through a process of reciprocation, help ensure more people are elected in other parties who agree with us on many of biggest issues. To get more Sarah Olneys elected, and to produce a Parliament that will more likely steer us from a hard Brexit, it’s time for progressives in different parties to talk to each other and work together.

* Paul Pettinger is a member in Westminster Borough and sits on the Council of the Social Liberal Forum.

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  • In Chipping Barnet, we must overturn a 7000 majority for Tory ex-minister Mrs Villiers. We are watching local polls.

  • Simon McGrath 1st May '17 - 1:06pm

    Meanwhile the Greens have announced they are standing in Richmond and Twickenham and reacted to our standing down in Brighton Pavilion by saying they were standing in Lewes.

    Then there is the quite extraordinary idea that the Labour Party is progressive …..

  • Toby Fenwick 1st May '17 - 1:14pm


    I’m principle I have no problem with an anti-Brexit alliance even on a coupon basis. Bit the problem with this this year is that Labour aren’t interested and are pro-Brexit and that *after* LDs in Pavillion stood down (which I supported) the Greens decided not to in Richmond and Twickenham.

    How’s that supposed to work.

  • There are 10 days to arrange something so not much time to watch any polls. A senior figure in my local party wrote some warm words on this – backed by the local party chair – but rejected anything that would lead to putting them into practice (local party covers two tight Lab/Con marginals)

    On balance I agree with Simon – but there would be scope to back individual Labour candidates depending on their views.

  • Eddie Sammon 1st May '17 - 1:26pm

    Lib Dems will be stronger by not associating themselves with Corbyn. The Tories would handle a progressive alliance by saying very clearly that a vote for Lib Dems is a vote for Corbyn for PM. And it would be.

    A progressive alliance can’t work with a party led by someone who has dire approval ratings, spent decades hanging around with communists and their sympathisers and still seems to be influenced by Russia Today.

  • This bears little resemblance to the coalition that formed the Progressive Movement. Co-opting labels just because they sound cuddly is all very well, but it doesn’t mean that the people who use it are “progressive (adj)” IMO. Most of the essays in “The Alternative” it seemed to me were about achieving power and keeping it and growing the state ideologically. These are neither progressive nor liberal I’d say.

    If I lived in Brighton Pavilion I would probably vote for Caroline, whether we stood a candidate or not, simply because of 649 people in parliament she has managed to put two of my hot button issues on the agenda in the precious little time a one person parliamentary party presence gets. But that’s as far as any cross party collaboration should go.

  • paul barker 1st May '17 - 2:03pm

    Forming an Alliance with another Party is hard enough, how do we form one with part of another Party ? Labour as a whole isnt open to any deal, how do we make agreements with individual Labour groups or factions ? The whole idea is a non-starter.
    Apart from a handful of seats, The Greens are irrelevant & are already being squeezed, an average of the last 10 Polls gives them less than 3%, only a few weeks ago they were around 4%.
    What Libdems need above all is a sharp image & a simple message.

  • Chris Bowers 1st May '17 - 2:26pm

    I’ve read Paul’s paper and would urge everyone who comments on this post to do the same. I’ve been dealing intensively with the themes surrounding progressive alliances, cross-party cooperation, smart targeting, etc, for two years now, and there were ideas in the paper that I hadn’t come across. It’s not easy, there are variations on the theme(s), and it does involve creating a different political culture that moves away from seeing every other party as de facto the enemy. But think of the overall picture – what do we want to achieve, and how are we going to get there? We could have a regular representation in Parliament of 15% of the seats if we can just find a way of getting a voting system that makes everyone’s voice heard, so we need to be smart, pragmatic, and occasionally generous. Do read Paul’s paper.

  • Nick T Nick Thornsby 1st May '17 - 2:38pm

    Another piece which starts with the false presumption that Labour is a progressive party, and thereby gives up its credibility from the outset. Every time this is mentioned it hurts Lib Dem chances in Northern England, where the primary opposition is a regressive, tribal Labour Party which would be more at home in an alliance with Ukip.

    As for the Greens, our standing down in Brighton certainly seems to have helped give them a chance to lift their poll rating off rock bottom, thus likely meaning several more defeated Lib Dems on Thursday in tight races. Particularly given their lack of reciprocation, that is some achievement.

  • Nick Thornsby, Your feelings about a Labour government of any hue are well known…

    In your 2013 article in ‘Conservative Home’ you wrote appealing for another Tory/LibDem coalition or a Tory majority government…………………..”It is clear to everyone looking in from the outside that if the Tory Party does not get over itself sharpish, historians will look back at this as the moment the party destined itself to spend another decade, or longer, on the opposition benches. But the actions of Conservative MPs, and the reaction of their leader, are not only making that elusive Parliamentary majority — already looking increasingly distant — unattainable, they are also, in two crucial ways, jeopardising any hope of returning a Conservative to Downing Street as part of a future coalition.
    First, backbench Tories are pushing the party further away from the centre ground from where not only are elections won, but coalitions made possible. Given that, even on the most optimistic projections for Ukip and most pessimistic for the Liberal Democrats, it will be the still be the yellow party and not the purple one that will hold the balance of power in a 2015 hung parliament, every move rightwards by the Conservatives pushes Nick Clegg closer to Eds Miliband and (most worryingly) Balls….”

    Well, you got your wish….

  • Progressive Alliance, you must be joking, we will gain nothing from it, it is naive to think otherwise. Just leave things as they are, and ignore Compass, I get all their offerings and they are left wing. Keep away from it, we have to get Conservative votes.

  • “We have an opportunity to reject the old tribal politics and come together to beat the Tories” .
    That quote is not me, it is from Compass. All it is is an attempt at an antil Conservative alliance. This has been tried in the past at local elections and has been an abysmal failure. The lesson is that the average Conservative voter immediately smells a stitch up and rightly so and then solidifies their Conservative vote.
    If you think I am going to vote for those crazy Labour and Green policies you must be having a laugh. Do not give anyone an inch they will take a mile and we will be left bemusing the errors of our way.

  • Nick Collins 1st May '17 - 3:28pm

    Is someone going to explain what is going on in South West Surrey?

  • In the 2015 GE you had 36.8% of votes going Tory, 12.7% of votes going UKIP, DUP 0.6%, UUP at 0.4% vs. Labour 30.5%, Lib Dem 7.9%, Green 3.8% and Plaid/SNP at 5.3%, SDLP 0.3%. In the UK (minus 0.6% of Sinn Feinn who, I believe, don’t take their seats in Westminster) the vote split between centre right and right wing parties to centre-left and left parties was 51.5 vs 47.8%.

    In the EU referendum the vote split was 52%-48%.

    I am hesitant to making it an anti-Tory message as there are issues which you can find Tories worth siding with (even UKIP who supported voting reform after last GE) but this country seems to have only a very slight right/centre-right and anti-EU voting style – could still change if there was greater turn-out for youth and minority groups – and that is not reflected at all by the current government or what is likely to come at the end of the next GE. What are we arguing about on the “progressive” side of things, who gets to be the main opposition to years and years more of a Tory and anti-EU parliament?

  • Neville Farmer 1st May '17 - 3:52pm

    It’s depressing reading some of the comments here, especially the ones that deny tribalism and then go hell-for-leather clansman. What is happening here is not a punt for a Labour government by the back door. It is a recognition that this time, the Tory’s are extremely likely to win and, as she openly admitted outside Number 10 two weeks ago, they will be led by a PM who thinks opposition is traitorous.

    With Labour being in the state they are in, the LibDems down to a Parliamentary rump and the Greens barely registering, yet with at least half the country wanting some other than May, we need to get as many opposition seats filled as we possibly can. If not, we face near dictatorship.

    As has been shown increasingly across Europe, people are sick to the back teeth with cross-party squabbles. They want to see people with a unifying cause working together. I am a committed Liberal Democrat, but only because I am a committed Briton, European and carer about ALL people. In this election, I support the principle of avoiding split votes with people of similar thinking and I believe the voters do, too.

  • Gordon Lishman 1st May '17 - 4:08pm

    I’m in favour of a realignment of parties on the left of British politics. That’s not about old parties trying to transfer blocks of votes between each other – that won’t work, particularly for LibDem voters.
    If a realignment is to happen, it will be based on people talking to each other and establishing personal and political links which provide the basis for a new party which, on the evidence is likely to be centred around liberalism and the Liberal Democrats. If David Steel in 1982 had said to the Gang of Four (possibly three) “the membership forms are in the post” rather than encouraging them to start a new party which eventually merged into the Liberal Party, then we would have had a much stronger basis for a Social Liberal Party.
    I’m not in favour of formal alliances with the Labour Part as such or with the deadwood of municipal Labour; I am in favour of finding ever more reasons why people of similar, liberal views should come together informally and establish working relations.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 1st May '17 - 4:10pm

    I , having been , many years ago , in the Labour party , would like an alliance to do that which we , many would like, bring about centre to centre left governments.

    The Liberal Democrats are that in the philosophical direction .

    Labour under Corbyn are not and the party activists cannot stand our party.

    The Greens are a small one plus issue party we are giving credit to because they have one decent eloquent spokesperson , or two.

    Big deal !

    Deal ?

    No not now and not yet !

  • theakes 1st May ’17 – 3:24pmr …..If you think I am going to vote for those crazy Labour and Green policies you must be having a laugh. Do not give anyone an inch they will take a mile and we will be left bemusing the errors of our way….

    I know! Milliband’s “20-month price freeze in the face of rising gas and electricity costs” was “Rabid Socialism”. As for their pledge on a minimum standard for rented accommodation, building council homes, etc…How dare they!

  • Laurence Cox 1st May '17 - 4:14pm

    @Chris Bowers

    I took your advice and read Paul Pettinger’s Compass paper before responding. And, yes, he does have some interesting points to make. However, in concentrating on the left-right axis of politics, I do not think that he pays sufficient attention to the nationalist-internationalist axis (I am using Martin Baxter’s nomenclature here, where parties like the SNP, which are pro-EU, tend towards internationalism rather than nationalism despite their name).

    Martin Baxter’s 2-D politics plots that combine left-right and nationalist-internationalist can be found here: http://www.electoralcalculus.co.uk/pol2dwards.html

    What is particularly noticeable is that although Labour, Lib Dems and Greens all cluster on the left of the spectrum, Labour is noticeably less internationalist than either the Lib Dems or Greens. This is where the real difficulty in collaboration lies; while a Labour Party led by someone like Tony Blair may be willing to collaborate, such a leader would always be held back by members of his party elected in the traditional working-class areas of the North and Midlands.

    Looking at the 2-D positions of individual wards won (Chart 2 in the article), it is evident that there are almost no LibDem-held wards where the average elector leans towards the nationalist end while there are nearly as many Labour wards as Conservative wards where electors are more nationalist than internationalist. Indeed, if London is excluded there is little difference between Labour and Conservative on the nationalist-internationalist axis.

    We often refer to tribalism when describing Labour, but it may be better to see it as a consequence of a more nationalistic attitude amongst that Party’s members and supporters. Either way, it will make collaboration more difficult than one would expect based on a simple left-right analysis.

  • Richard Malim 1st May '17 - 4:47pm

    I’ll say it again. Don’t waste energies cosying up to the Green 3% (or talking to a few lost Blairite souls – there are plenty of them but totally leaderless, but even they don’t like LDs sufficiently because of the Coalition). There must be shedloads (15% or more) of Soft Remainer Tories waiting to be drawn in

  • Surely if you want people to vote and campaign for the Labour Party, you should join the Labour Party?

    Even the most ardent coalition supporters actually wanted to maximise the number of Liberal MPs in the coalition. They didn’t urge them to vote Conservative to stop Labour.

  • Two final points from me:

    1. Lib Dems should be most wary of a anti-Tory alliance as this party has the most to offer progressive leaning Conservatives and has an important role if we are to avoid the one party nation many Tories want
    2. Our elected politicians and unelected Lords will work together across parties where issues are shared, as they have done over the past 2 years. Before that it would be good to have an elected House that best represents the nation. Alliances could potentially help deliver that in the short run and FPTP cannot now or in the long run.

  • Common sense from Chris Bowers and (as I expected) from Gordon Lishman.

  • Large White Bear 1st May '17 - 5:39pm

    Perhaps Brexit is not the best or at least not the only starting point for a progressive alliance. Support for proportional representation would be a better criterion. Thus the Greens and Lib Dems would not put up candidates against Clive Lewis and Lisa Nandy but would oppose Jeremy Corbyn and Lady Nugee. Similarly the Lib Dems would not put up a candidate against Caroline Lucas. Without electoral reform we are never going to move beyond mindless adversarial politics – of which Brexit is the most extreme product.

  • John Chandler 1st May '17 - 6:15pm

    I hate to use the word “toxic” but it does seem to describe any “progressive” coalition (can we please find a better name?) that would include Labour, not to mention it plays straight into the Tory line about a “coalition of chaos”.

    I know lots of people who don’t want to vote Conservative, but equally see Labour as more of the same. They’re genuinely don’t know what to do because effective tactical voting against the Tories invariably means Labour, which they really don’t want either. I’m afraid we’re liable to lose them completely: they’ll stay at home rather than vote, because they don’t see parties like us or the Greens as more than a wasted vote. Such is the great system of FPTP!

  • We need to win some Conservative voters over to us in order to win most of our target seats as these people are effectively worth 2 votes. There’s a danger that by standing aside in places we cannot win we weaken ourselves in our target seats.

  • Michael Ansah 1st May '17 - 7:26pm

    I think the Lib Dems should have a Pact with the green party ahead of the election. After the election if the SNP can sign into an agreement not to call for referendum for Scotland during the next parliament then I think Labour and Lib Dems should consider a Progressive alliance in order to stop this hard Brexit shambles!

  • This whole idea gives the Greens oxygen and publicity their numbers don’t deserve. And the idea that some sort of deal with Corbynite Labour would ultimately leave us any less screwed that coalition with the Tories is laughable.

  • Labour is progressive compared with Conservatives.
    Plus not many Lib Dems deserted the party for the Conservatives. The tory vote was up by about 1 percent in 2015 from 2010. They got a bit over 36 % in 2010 and about 37 % in 2015. The collapse simply meant that Lib Dem seats went to the closest competition. The Economic Right of the Lib Dems got most things about the who was voting Lib Dem wrong during the coalition years and continue to do so now.

  • Neither Greens or Labour like Lib Dems, any pact with them would be all give and no take. Not standing a candidate in Brighton Pavilion is a disgrace and should be reconsidered as a matter of urgency.

  • Little Jackie Paper 1st May '17 - 10:22pm

    The basic problem is simple to identify. I’m sure a lot of people, me included, would very much like a progressive alliance. We don’t have one of those however. An anti-Tory Alliance is not a progressive alliance. It’s easy to vote against something – but ultimately it’s just a feel-good swipe. A progressive alliance has no meaningful constituency and at worst would fuel expectations well beyond anything that could be delivered. Maybe something could emerge that is a truly progressive alliance – but what seems to be proposed is a platform of ‘not a tory.’ That might make some feel all warm inside, but it’s hollow political short-termism.

    Emanuel Macron may yet find out that being nothing more than the ‘vote against’ candidate is a very thin platform to be standing on in power.

  • Sorry, but as I have argued before, the progressive alliance would be a poisoned chalice for us. We have little to gain and much to lose. Both Labour and Tories have veered off to the extremes, while we have stayed firmed planted in the sensible, moderate centre ground. Both Labour and the Tories seem to want to drag us towards different versions of the 1960s. We are currently attracting the support of moderate, forward looking people with a positive vision of the future. In fact, while Labour have been pushed back close to the core tribal vote already, I believe a lot of new support is coming from moderate remain Tory voters who see the disaster unfolding and feel they can no longer support them. Greens quite sensibly preferred us to Zac Goldsmith, but that was a special case. We need to convince voters that if they share our positive vision and values, they need to support us at the ballot box

  • Martin.
    I don’t think so. The Tory vote went up less than 1 percent. The collapse just meant the vote got split. The voting base was disproportionately made up of public sector workers, students and the disabled. The point being that the anti tory vote had gravitated to the Lib Dems and then went all over the shop once disappointment with the coalition set in.

  • Philip Knowles 2nd May '17 - 8:09am

    All this is good stuff. I live in one of the safest Tory seats in the country. Next door is a target seat for the Tories – 3000 majority for Labour (which Michael Fallon once, briefly, held). It’s great saying don’t do a deal in the North East but, if standing there results in Tory gain, we can all sit with a rosy glow of sticking to our principles while Theresa May destroys the country. There are situations where strategically we should consider what we do. I would like Labour not to stand in our Constituency so they can concentrate over the border where they will do far more good. If we don’t stand there our colleagues can support us.. It is better for both our Parties but principles are far more important than common sense.

  • Tom Morrison 2nd May '17 - 8:12am

    There is definitely a future in working with other parties on specific policy platforms. This has proven a success in the past and, in my opinion, the only way forward in achieving much-needed electoral reform.

    However, the idea of electoral pacts really worries me. By standing aside for opposing parties such as the Green Party or Labour you are not only endorsing their candidate but also their manifestos and all that comes with it.

    We can broadly agree that the parties mentioned above are “progressive” but that does not mean we agree 100% with them. Labour in 2001 were seen by some as a progressive political force, however that same Party introduced the beginnings of the Identity Cards Act that was put into law in 2006. Likewise, the Green Party are labelled as “progressive” yet some of their economic policies are simply the opposite and do not at all sit comfortably with a liberal view of society.

    By standing aside for any of these parties we will be, in turn, endorsing ideas that would never get into a Liberal Democrat manifesto. Yes, there are opportunities for cross party working, but that does not mean we should stand willingly aside when we have the opportunity to debate our differences.

  • Maurice Leeke 2nd May '17 - 8:57am

    The General Election is in give weeks time. The most important issue is Brexit. Whilst there are some Labour members and many Labour supporters who agree with the Lib Dems on Brexit the leadership does not. So any talk of an alliance (whether labelled “Progressive” or otherwise) is out if the question.

    Meanwhile there is tactical voting. Many voters will conclude that, given FPTP, their vote will be more useful if given to a second (or later) preference than to their first choice party. Nothing new there.

    There is, in my view, very little to be gained for the LDs, or any other party really, by “enforcing” that choice by not standing a candidate. But there is a lot to be gained, again in my opinion, for both parties and voters, from responsible campaigns by non-party-political organisations to encourage tactical voting and to give a fact-based assessment of which party to vote for in each constituency to achieve a stated objective. That objective might be to beat the Tories, for example, or to beat pro-Brexit candidates (eg Kate Hoey and Jetemy Corbyn).

    As a Lib Dem I am relaxed about not standing against Caroline Lucas who certainly meets both the criteria above, but would prefer not to see many more examples of LDs not fielding a candidate. But let us be honest, we are not going to have all-singing, all-dancing campaigns in nearly 650 constituencies; and there are going to be seats that we contest vigorously with Labour, the SNP, the Greens, and, for all I know, with Plaid Cymru.

    Given the likely outcome of next month’s election, well-informed tactical voting could result in fewer Tory MPs, more Labour MPs and more Lib Dem MPs. I would prefer such a result. But it is important that the promotion of such tactical voting is carried out by bodies other than political parties – or particularly other than the LDs.

  • Peter Galton 2nd May '17 - 10:04am

    I think that standing down in support Caroline Lucus is ok, but do not want to see it across the board. If only we had STV, we could work out some arrangement that meant we could still vote Liberal Democrat and transfer support else where.

  • All of you complaining that any ‘whiff of alliance’ will be used by the Tories against us should realise that, with or without that ‘whiff’, the Tories will play the “A vote for LibDems is a vote for Corbyn”…In 2015, the voters were told that a vote for Labour would lead to a third Jacobite bid for power….Umpteen denials from Milliband made not an ounce of difference…There is an old saying about ‘sheeps and lambs’…If we are to be so branded, why not get advantage from it?

    Guardian today…”May will be giving her second favourite soundbite a roll around the west country today, as she heads to what was once a Lib Dem heartland to warn that a vote for Tim Farron’s team is a vote for – you guessed! – a “coalition of chaos”:

  • Sorry, but as much as I would like to, I do not have time to read all of the above comments. Yes, I truly believe in a progressive alliance. With hindsight, I would never have supported the coalition agreement at the extraordinary Conference in May 2010 at the NEC without a concrete commitment to PR. What we got was a commitment to a referendum on AV – by comparison, gnat’s piss. Moving on beyond that, yes we must be wise. We need a progressive coalition (I probably would use the word progressive before liberal in my political vocabulary … a progressive democrat?? However, that does mean levels of extraordinary compromise, and us standing down candidates in certain areas – and as yet, I see mo signs of that in my own area of the country in West Wales, where, to be honest, we stand very little chance of winning.

    Theresa May has been extremely tactical and given little time for us to organize ourselves. Having just read an article on the “blue wall” in the south-west (The Times), things are going to be tough for a progressive alliance.

    As a left-leaning Lib Dem, it breaks my heart to see what has happened to the Labour Party. Sadly, in no way could a Corbynista party be part of a progressive coalition.

  • Do you mean a progressive alliance or an anti-Tory alliance?

    Because I fail to see the current Labour Party leadership as progressive in any way. As they would be the likely overall beneficiary of any alliance I could not vote for a party that took part.

  • John Littler 2nd May '17 - 8:47pm

    If it can be arranged at local level then do it. It counters the fact that there are more parties on centre – left than centre-right and because FPTP voting is so stacked to majoritarianism rather than democracy.

    The vile bone shaker that is UKIP are doing a regressive alliance with the Tories, as they did in Richmond Park, so what is the difference?

  • Paul Pettinger 2nd May '17 - 9:14pm

    Some seem focused on their dislike of other parties over their dislike of a lack of Lib Dem influence. This is surely the wrong way round. Thank you to those who have read the Compass article.

    @Laurence Cox – I very much agree that as a liberal party we should accentuate a liberal dynamic in party politics.

  • Simon Banks 2nd May '17 - 9:41pm

    Any arrangement has to be accepted at local level. So no party at national/federal level can deliver a constituency. The Greens in Richmond Park opposed Caroline Lucas’ support for us in the by-election, so I suppose they’ve chosen to bounce their ball in a corner. Disappointing, but hardly to be pinned on the Green leadership. Compass is saying there’s been a Green/Lib Dem agreement in Ealing – I don’t know to what effect. It would be reasonable for us to wait to see if the Greens do actually stand down for us in a constituency we look well-positioned to win.

    There are progressive elements in Labour. The difficulty with the More United approach is that people in Lancashire (say) are being asked to decide whether More United should support a candidate of another party in Dorset (say) on the basis of information from More United that may not be balanced. Another reason why local agreement is crucial.

    In the meantime, Compass has a lot to learn about engaging non-Labour people. I signed an online petition of theirs and got an email asking me to help persuade “other Labour supporters”. ME? I was last a Labour supporter in mid 1966.

  • robbie hirst 3rd May '17 - 9:44am

    @Simon Banks – Compass has been an organisation for all Progressives since 2011. If you’d like to tell me what you were sent, we’ll look into it.

  • I live in a safe Tory constituency where the LibDem vote collapsed in 2015 and both Tories and Labour gained. Given the size of the majority, there isn’t the slightest chance of challenging the sitting Tory MP as long as the opposition vote is split between Labour, LibDem and Green. So – conflicted feelings. It feels right for LibDems to stand against a pro-Brexit Tory MP in a Remain constituency and be the progressive voice. Yet a win is only remotely possible for a single anti-Tory candidate – and last time round that wasn’t the LibDem, and theirs wasn’t the strongest message. Nationally, the biggest threat to LibDems isn’t from the Tories’ “coalition of chaos” soundbite, but from the “vote LibDem = get Tory” perception born of the 2010 coalition and amplified by seeing the same senior coalition LibDems stand for election now. We’d be blind not to recognise that. LibDems standing down for Labour candidates where a LibDem win is unlikely might be the only way to get a progressive MP into parliament, shed that “Tory-lite” image, and avoid an enlarged Tory majority. But unless reciprocated, it runs the risk of LibDems damaging their own position – and a Tory majority anyway, with ineffective opposition. The Labour leadership isn’t up for an alliance, Labour isn’t all progressive and it’s Brexit-bound. So alliances can only work on a local level with sympathetic and progressive candidates.

  • simon hebditch 3rd May '17 - 5:29pm

    Of course, there are major difficulties that are inherent with any attempt to create a progressive alliance of the centre left in British politics but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. At this point, it can only happen through local parties deciding whether it is appropriate to fight or not. National leaderships may well be out of step with their local parties but such is life. If we want to stand any chance of contesting Tory hegemony then it must be in alliance with other parliamentary parties and extra-parliamentary campaigning organisations.

    But we must face reality. If a parliamentary based progressive alliance is to be created it must involve Labour, Lib Dems, the Greens and the SNP. Those who favour such a realignment must therefore want Labour to do better than the polls would indicate. If they lose a swathe of seats there is no chance of putting a parliamentary alliance together to take hold of government. What an irony!

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    An independent Scotland gets the choice of rejoining the EU or not. As part of the UK it doesn't. And rejoining the EU would be...
  • User AvatarAndrew T 12th Jul - 4:31pm
    I think I'll listen to what Scottish Liberal Democrats are saying about independence which is that they do not want it. That said, I think...