ICYMI: Chuka Umunna joins the Lib Dems

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In case you had an early night last night and are wondering what’s going on, last night Chuka Umunna joined the Liberal Democrats.

Here’s the official announcement which came just after 10pm last night.

The Liberal Democrats are delighted to announce that Streatham MP Chuka Umunna has joined the party.

Chuka joins the Liberal Democrats, having held the seat since 2010. The Liberal Democrats recently topped the poll in London during the European elections and are extremely excited to gain this seat.

Commenting on his decision, Liberal Democrat MP Chuka Umunna said:

I have chosen to join the Liberal Democrats because it is at the forefront of a renewed, progressive and internationalist movement in British politics that shares my values.

Labour and the Tories are committed to facilitating Brexit, and Brexit makes ending austerity virtually impossible.  The Liberal Democrats are not – they were arguing for a People’s Vote and to remain in the EU from the very start.

I am convinced the Liberal Democrats, as the spearhead of a broader progressive movement in civil society, offer the best chance to improve the lives of those I represent as well as countless other citizens across our country.

In addition, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said: 

“Chuka and I have worked together effectively for many months, campaigning for a People’s Vote and to Stop Brexit.

“I know that he will be a great asset to our party not just on Brexit, but in fighting for the liberal and social democratic values that we share.

“He joins alongside 20,000 people across the country just this month, demonstrating clearly that the Liberal Democrats are the biggest, clearest and most formidable force in the liberal centre-ground of British politics today.”

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • william wallace 14th Jun '19 - 11:31am

    Michael: I half-agree with you. The UK needs a radical party, and we will want next time we have a chance at government to push for a range of political, social and economic reforms. But in democratic politics ‘the centre ground’ is where reasoned arguments, dialogue and attention to evidence characterise political debate – unlike the fantasies and ideological prejudices that flow from the extremes, which is where both the ‘major’ parties are drifting to. On that definition, we ARE occupying the centre ground. But when will the Meadowcroft revision of ‘Our Aim and Purpose’ be ready?

  • Sue Sutherland 14th Jun '19 - 12:41pm

    I think many people equate the centre ground with reason as a basis for policy not dogma. Unfortunately trying to explain policies without an emotional framework makes it difficult to understand why they are being adopted and evidence based policy often depends on whose evidence you believe.
    We need a thread or a stance which brings policies together and provides a reason for their adoption. The Preamble supports liberty, equality and community, we talk a lot about the first two but I think we haven’t made enough of the last one. We have taken community, as many people do, to mean the local community, or various groups of people who have something in common, but who do not represent the whole of society. However, I believe many Lib Dems instinctively think of the nation, or society, as a whole rather than the warring groups envisioned by both Tories and Labour – the many and the few.
    If you carry this instinct into policy adoption it begins to make sense of what can seem a disparate set of policies. The nation suffers if the talents of all aren’t developed to their best and equality of opportunity is necessary for this to happen.
    The community needs to function properly in order to promote freedom and equality while balancing both to prevent one group’s freedom resulting in another’s captivity. The community needs safety, good health, prosperity and understanding to look after the welfare of all. Anything which is vital to the survival of the community should be run by the community, prosperity requires a partnership between the community as a whole and those with entrepreneurial and other skills, and understanding requires education and knowledge about different groups in the community.
    The centre represents those who instinctively believe that extremists shouldn’t be in charge because the community as a whole would suffer. It doesn’t have to mean the adoption of mushy policies but, instead, requires bold policies that will realign the national community for the good of all.

  • It is always worthwhile hearing what Michael Meadowcroft has to say and of course, he is right when he says “there is a gap in current politics for Liberal radicalism. What does that mean? Well, I thought Mick Taylor put it quite well in a comment a week or so ago:
    “… electoral reform via STV; real devolution to English regions and real powers going back to local councils; a democratically elected second chamber; an economic system that gives fair shares to all; an environmental policy that sets us on the road to overcoming or mitigating climate change; a welfare system that gives everyone a decent basic income so we can overcome poverty and a taxation system in which everyone pays fair tax and the wealthy can no longer avoid or evade it.”

  • Three cheers for Michael Meadowcroft when he says,

    “The gap in current politics is for a Liberal radicalism and not for a mushy centre ground.”

  • Ok, let us assume, for arguments sake, that Chuka is not an out and out radical liberal and is merely what is disparagingly referred to as the mushy middle ground. There must be many people out there whose politics is similarly centrist and mushy. Millions perhaps. They find the present incarnation of the Conservative Party unpleasantly right wing and nationalist, while the Labour Party has disappeared at similar speed in a leftward direction.
    I imagine that we would like these centrists to vote for us in elections, indeed, who else can they vote for ? And some of these people may actually decide that, horror of horrors, they would like to become party members. The risk here is that we become highly successful, start winning more seats and (this is shocking, I know) might actually find ourselves back in government. Yes, it’s a future too dreadful to contemplate !

  • David Franks 15th Jun '19 - 4:28pm

    As usual, Michael Meadcroft is spot on in his contribution. Taking the centre ground means defining your position somewhere between the two ugly sisters. As they shift their respective positions so your “centre” also has to move. The party I joined and have worked for since 1974 has never, in my mind, been anywhere near the centre.

  • @David Franks. Not sure I agree that the centre ground is simply the mid point between the Tory and Labour positions, and that we must therefore shift our position as the other parties do so. Centrism is a viewpoint in itself, with reasonably consistent views about the economy and the role of the state, to give two examples.
    Can I also point out that our party as founded as a home for liberals AND social democrats. There may even be the odd One Nation Tory lurking in our membership lists. You’re all welcome, I say.
    Can I add that I see the term “radical” used a lot here. I have come to the conclusion that the term has become pretty meaningless, certainly when applied to a person rather than an idea. I am sure that many of us have quite “interesting” views on certain issues (don’t start me on local government reform !) while our views on other matters are relatively conventional. Anyone coming from left field on almost every issue is clearly going to be a nightmare if ever given any power.

  • Joseph Bourke 15th Jun '19 - 6:22pm

    The economist has a feature on the Libdem leadership campaign headlined – The centre holds https://www.economist.com/britain/2019/06/15/the-lib-dems-are-back-who-will-lead-them

    They write: “Cleggmania of 2010 was not sustainable. Nor was the boost from opposing the Iraq war, when refugees from Labour flooded the party.” They quote Ed Davey “This time defections are from the moderate left and right. It is much more sustainable in terms of the underlying philosophy.”
    “The Conservatives and Labour have abandoned the centre. The Libdems have only recently taken advantage of it.”
    “First-past-the-post remains the biggest obstacle. The job of the new leader will be to smash through the 25% ceiling, above which vote-share starts to translate into big seat gains.”

  • Richard Underhill 18th Aug '19 - 6:55pm

    There is an interview with Chuka Umunna in the Sunday Times magazine 18/8/2019, pages 8-13 except for page 12 which is an advert. He is not on the cover, Edna O’Brien is.

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