+++Change UK loses six of its 11 MPs – defections to Lib Dems “expected”

From The Guardian:

Six of Change UK’s 11 MPs, including its spokesman, Chuka Umunna, and interim leader Heidi Allen, have abandoned the fledgling party after its dire performance at the European elections.

Change UK issued a press release saying it now had just five MPs, who will be led by the former Conservative business minister and anti-Brexit campaigner Anna Soubry.

The others remaining are the former Labour MPs Mike Gapes, Chris Leslie, Joan Ryan and Ann Coffey.

…None of the departing MPs are defecting immediately to the resurgent Liberal Democrats; but party sources said they expected some to do so in the future.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist and member of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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  • Colin Paine 4th Jun '19 - 7:09pm

    Any coincidence that this happens before nominations close?

  • Mark Seaman 4th Jun '19 - 7:17pm

    I tried not to laugh … but I failed.

  • Ian Patterson 4th Jun '19 - 7:35pm

    We are not a safe haven for defunct fly by nights. Chuka and co are political opportunists. Ratting 3 times in one year would warrant inclusion in Guinness Book of Records under number of coats, turned in one year.

  • I’d be surprised if some or all of the CUKers didn’t come across. There’s a lot of talent there in Chukka Umna and Heidi Allen in particular. In some respects I think it can only be a good thing if they come across before nominations for the leadership close. It will be good to hear fresh voices and if Umna was to win it would be nice to someone who isn’t white speaking for us for a change.

  • Paul Barker 4th Jun '19 - 7:46pm

    There are some very odd responses on this. Are we going to reject all those ex-members of other Parties joining us ? Why does changing your mind count as some sort of betrayal?
    Any defectors from other Parties are welcome.

  • I posted something about this earlier in another thread. Basically, we need to be cautious here. An influx of new MPs might be superficially attractive but let’s be sure what we are getting, and also what they expect. I’m concerned about the impact on the existing local parties in their constituencies. I’m definitely concerned about them joining this week and running for leader. I’m not saying they can never join, I’m saying let’s do it with some caution.

  • I wouldn’t have an issue with at least some of them joining if they genuinely do see themselves aligning with our values, and I’m realistic enough to accept that some of them will have had to toe previous party lines on some issues. In that respect, I’m also OK with them going independent (x2?) before they decide to come to us as it could mean a positive move to join us rather than simply abandoning their previous party.

    Overall, I’m OK with those who have left, subject to the above, with my biggest question mark for Chukka. Funnily enough, I always liked him in Labour, but I’m concerned that he wants to be a star of whichever party he’s in, which might make adapting to a new party trickier. On the other hand, their experiences of the last couple of months should bring some humility and I reckon we can afford to be gracious, and let’s face it, increasing the size of our parliamentary group has to help when it comes to getting media coverage etc.

  • So what happens if some of these newly independent MPs want to defect in constituencies that have already selected Lib Dem PPCs (which they hopefully have)?

  • I can’t imagine that we would have welcomed any of the five remaining Small Change UK in any case.

  • All this is a pretty shabby way to treat their poor sap of a candidate in Peterborough. You’d have thought they could have waited a few more days, for his sake. OK he was going to do badly anyway but this will just tank him completely.
    Heidi Allen told voters not to vote for their Euro candidates in the week of the poll, now she (and the others) are effectively doing it again!

  • OnceALibDem 4th Jun '19 - 8:23pm

    ChgUK don’t have a candidate in Peterborough

  • Richard O'Neill 4th Jun '19 - 8:25pm

    I’ve actually got more sympathy for the ones who have stayed than the ones who have flitted off again.

    Chuka condemned the Scottish Change UK candidate who defected a couple of weeks ago, then does exactly the same. Heidi Allen was actually supposed to be their leader during all this.

    Who can trust people who desert their party not once but twice in a few months. In Wollaston’s case she also famously changed sides during the 2016 referendum. There is changing your mind, and there is just being indecisive. At least Soubry has shown a bit more backbone.

    I’d encourage Change UK supporters to join the Lib Dems, but would be wary of taking the MPs. At the very least they should hold by-elections first.

  • Chris Leeds 4th Jun '19 - 8:27pm

    We can continue to work with the CHUK remnants on Brexit, as we agree with them on that. It was always clear though that MPs such as Anna Soubry, Chris Leslie and Mike Gapes aren’t liberals, so wider co-operation was always going to be difficult.

    The views of Heidi Allen, Sarah Wollaston, Chukka Umuna and Luciana Berger are close to ours.

    What possible reason would we have for not welcoming them? In wouldn’t be a pact, it would be them joining us.

  • @OnceALibDem – Ooops. you’re right. I was sure there was a candidate of that ilk, but I see its Renew who are standing, not ChUK.
    I’ll get my coat!

  • Mick Taylor 4th Jun '19 - 8:52pm

    I would say very gently that whilst I welcome anyone who shares our views and values as set out in the preamble to our constitution that joining us is one thing, joining us and standing for leader is quite another. Doing it in 3 days is quite unacceptable.

  • Must have been a huge bust up in CHUK since Umuna and Leslie used to be joined at the hip.

  • Didn’t Luciana Berger run an exceptionally nasty, personal campaign against Colin Eldridge in 2010? That’d be an interesting first constituency meeting.

  • Chris Leeds 4th Jun '19 - 9:06pm

    I totally agree Mick. We should welcome them as members and as Lib Dem MPs if they share our values, as I believe they do, but it wouldn’t be acceptable for any of them to join and then immediately stand for Party Leader.

  • Richard Elliott 4th Jun '19 - 9:34pm

    Lib Dems have shown leadership over Brexit and have momentum, which will be boosted by any new MPs – Heidi Allen and Chuka for example are high quality. We should be welcoming to potential new recruits but be patient – when they feel the time is right; it wasn’t easy to leave the Tory and Labour party and Change UK hasn’t worked for them (partly due to Lib Dem success) – so lets be generous. This isn’t the time to nick-pick over policy differences and historical voting records. The country isn’t interested in the nuances of difference amongst centrist MPs and is looking for a clear positive alternative.

    The country is in a crisis and the threat of the far right Brexit Party is very serious – in a snap general election the FPTP system could produce a Brexit Party majority unless remainers get our act together. The Lib Dem are leading the remainer cause but we need others to either join us or support the cause from other parties – thus the need for selected electoral seat packs with the greens and remainer mps. This is no time for tribalism but for a broad church.

  • Paul Barker 4th Jun '19 - 10:23pm

    The idea that one of the Ex-Change MPs might join then stand as Leader began on The Political Betting site, it was silly from the start. Why do people allow themselves to get worked up over silly rumours ?
    If any of them do want to join then we should welcome them & forget about daft things they may have said in the past. Save the piss-taking for Glee Club.

  • Michael Sammon 4th Jun '19 - 10:40pm

    Heidi Allen would be a great asset to us. I would welcome the others as well if they want to join and sign up to what we stand for. They should go through the selection process with the local parties they join as well though.

  • nigel hunter 4th Jun '19 - 10:51pm

    Yes let the tiggers join us but not stand for leadership. The Brexit party will be the enemy. With their lead they can win thru FPTP. They are the danger. As a result the remain side MUST get its act together quickly.

  • Standing as leader of the party…Is this some sort of sick joke? Or just somebody trying to insult some MPs outside the party who are struggling with identity crises?

  • It’s a fantasy by people who can’t be happy winning and desperately need monsters to fight against.

  • George Kendall 5th Jun '19 - 2:39am

    I’d be delighted if any of them want to join us. We have a broad-church preamble to our constitution, and we should welcome anyone who is willing to sign it.

    Our recent success was because we were seen to be the party for Remainers. If we want that to continue, if we want votes from a wide range of people, we should be welcoming to a wide range of people.

  • George Kendall 5th Jun '19 - 2:39am

    I’d be delighted if any of them want to join us. We have a broad-church preamble to our constitution, and we should welcome anyone who is willing to sign it.

    Our recent success was because we were seen to be the party for Remainers. If we want that to continue, if we want votes from a wide range of people, we should be welcoming to a wide range of people.

  • Another big question:

    How can we minimize internal politic conflicts backstabbing, which tends to be a big problem for big-tent centrist parties in the long-run? If any of you follows Canada politics, you must not forget the Chretien-Martin clusterf*ck. Oh, and a less extreme example is the whole social liberals vs Orange Bookers affair in our own party just over 10 years ago.

  • Ian Hurdley 5th Jun '19 - 7:57am

    @ Chris
    Perhaps a better name would be Provisional Change.

  • Ian Hurdley 5th Jun '19 - 8:00am

    Am I alone in considering it odd that it is the larger faction that has left?

  • Nonconformistradical 5th Jun '19 - 8:28am

    @Ian Hurdley
    “Am I alone in considering it odd that it is the larger faction that has left?”

    Perhaps the ones remaining in ChUK might mostly be those most wedded to political tribalism?

    I wonder if the choice – by a majority of the 4 remaining ex-labour members – of the one remaining former tory Anna Soubry as new leader is an attempt to paper over this issue?

  • Ian Hurdley 5th Jun '19 - 8:52am

    I think it illustrates vividly that the only thing the 11 have in common is their opposition to Brexit. Apart from that there is nothing to hold them together. We too oppose Brexit, but apart from that we have little in common with them; certainly no basis for a merger or alliance. Let us work with all 11 to defeat Brexit, a common cause, but nothing more.

  • Chris Leeds 5th Jun '19 - 10:51am

    Ian, nobody is suggesting a merger or alliance, either with continuity CHUK or the 6 who’ve left. What is being suggested is that we welcome the 6 if they want to join and they share our values. It seems to me the 6 do and the 5 don’t.

    I honestly don’t see what the problem is with having those 6 in our party. It looks like all good news to me.

  • Richard Underhill 5th Jun '19 - 11:45am

    Amidst a busy news day Tory controlled Kent County Council, famous for investing in Icelandic banks, have found that hundreds of millions of pounds are invested in an open fund which has closed.

  • David Allen 5th Jun '19 - 12:37pm

    Tribalism kills.

    The Lib Dems should welcome any of the exChange MPs. Indeed, the Lib Dems should also make an offer to “continuity Change” – a free run for the five of them, provided only they keep out of all Lib Dem target seats.

    Anna Soubry, whatever you think of her, is a damn sight more use than letting another dumb Brexiteer win Broxtowe.

  • Richard Underhill 6th Jun '19 - 9:01am

    ITV’s Peston interviewed Heidi Allen MP on 5/6/19, after the adverts, 46 minutes in.
    She is now a ‘Tigger’ again. The change of name to ‘Change UK’ was for the euro elections.
    She hopes to recruit Conservative and Labour MPs. She is not returning to the Tories, nor (joke) joining Labour. Her priorities are ‘country first, not party’.
    Their strategy was overwhelmed by the Liberal Democrats’ results in the local elections.
    After nominations had closed in the euros she argued for tactical voting.
    The Lib Dems ‘have been nothing other than very courteous and generous’.
    Terrified of Farage.

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