If you want a progressive alliance, you need to vote against Labour this time

The Liberal Democrats have officially ruled out alliances this time, but informal arrangements seem to be popping up all over the place, and it’s certain a vote for Corbyn won’t help any such alliance evolve in the future.

Vince Cable allegedly believes that there are certain Labour candidates in this election whose views ‘exactly match our own.’ If that is the case then it is rather reassuring that the current reactionary riff being performed by Corbyn and Co. is not the tune to which all of the Labour Party march.

But the problem is, that doesn’t matter. Corbyn has already said he would like to stay even if he loses the election, and that he doesn’t want alliances. So every vote for the Labour Party in any seat anywhere will become part of his narrative to suggest that rejection by the people is a mere detail, each vote a cudgel to legitimise their counter-intellectual concerns.

Socialism of the Corbyn kind is predicated on centralising power. It is an ideology of pessimism. Lib Dems like devolution and empowering the individual,  an ideology of optimism. 

So for any sort of progressive alliance to work, Labour must be led by someone who isn’t from the Corbyn cadre,

There is a tendency amongst many of those who call for a ‘realignment of the left’ to view the Lib Dems as evading their role as part of an alliance with Labour.

Yet Liberalism has always been more than that, better than that. Ours is a fine and fierce history.

So whether your dream is a progressive alliance, or, in common with Tim Farron, to replace the Labour Party as the major opposition to Toryism, don’t vote tactically for Labour on election day.

* David Thorpe was the Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for East Ham in the 2015 General Election

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43 Comments

  • Eddie Sammon 12th May '17 - 11:53am

    I broadly agree and right now the Lib Dems should hammer Labour on their pledge to increase corporation tax to 26%. The Federation of Small Businesses are complaining that Corbyn has broken a pledge to them on this. Importantly, it goes against the Corbynite narrative that they are for the many and only a few rich people will pay. It’s dishonest to paint Labour’s program as only effecting a few rich people.

    They also need to stop putting all the blame for the financial crisis onto bankers. People borrowed too much money and yes there was fraud going on in the banking sector but the whole credit crunch wasn’t simply to do with fraud.

    There is scope to get the moral high ground on this: against making life harder for small businesses and against scapegoating in the place of proper analysis.

  • And if you are stuck in Bury north make waves to get Mr Baumm thrown out of the party.

  • I disagree. I’d vote for who was most likely to remove the Tory in whichever seat. I would advise other people to the same. The basic problem is that taking the David Thorpe route will just lead to a bigger Tory win and the further entrenchment of damaging right wing small government advocating politics which is causing so much harm to the environment and belief that politics can change anything beyond how corporatism is stage managed. If that makes me a pseudo socialist and not a proper Liberal, then I’m not bothered by it.

  • I’m with Glenn. Corbyn is not a genuine threat to the UK whereas, as ever, the Tories are. We should all focus on minimising their power and influence.

  • There were 2 local council by elections yesterday. The Liberal Democrats in fourth place polled less than the much reduced vote for UKIP. Labour and the Conservatives both increased their support. What is going on ?

  • I take the view that even Corbyn and McDonnell are preferable to the Tories, though perhaps not by a very impressive margin. I will not be voting Labour tactically, because I know perfectly well that Labour is not going to win where I live (though they held the seat in the Blair years). I will do my tiny bit to boost the national Liberal Democrat share.

    The logical direction of Mr Thorpe’s article seems to be that Liberal Democrats should give the Tories as big a majority as possible in order to destroy Labour so that true progressives (however defined) can take Labour’s place. That is much the same thing as Neville Sandelson was advocating the 1980s. We should have absolutely no truck whatsoever with that kind of
    thinking.

  • Ralph – Corbyn isn’t a threat right now only because he doesn’t stand a chance of winning. We shouldn’t help him hang on after defeat by conspiring to help Labour lose by less than expected.

    If people thought Corbyn stood even a tiny chance of winning, the Tories would be running “vote Lib Dem, get Corbyn” messages non-stop and we would get wiped out.

    Don’t give Momentum any momentum…….

  • Lorenzo Cherin 12th May '17 - 12:44pm

    It is a realignment of the centre and centre left that we need now more than the left.

    I have been an advocate for it since my youthful past years in Labour and here, in the years in the Liberal Democrats.

    We are attracting moderately progressive Tories as well as Labour voters .

    There is much more agreement between me an some in Labour and a few in the Tories in the centre ground, than between me and the farther left of this party , let alone , Labour.

    I do not have anything in common withe the farther right of any party , especially right wing ones.

    The great threat to our values is coming from the right, but the fantasy politics of the left and re engaging too far with that is a non starter in these precarious political times.

    No alliance can ally moderates and progressives with fantasists or extremists.

    Corbyn is increasingly a decent fantasist. He has had and maybe does, have, a little too much to do with unpleasant extremists.

  • John Bicknell 12th May '17 - 12:57pm

    I agree with the views in this article, but when the headlines are being made by the comments of the candidate in Bury North, and by Vince Cable’s tactless suggestion that we’d be better off voting Labour in certain seats, then it’s not surprising if we are viewed as no better than a repository of soft votes, to be exploited by other parties at will.

  • Dave Orbison 12th May '17 - 1:11pm

    @David Thorpe Jeremy Corbyn “is about an ideology of pessimism.”

    Goodness, I could not disagree more. Labour’s manifesto offers hope and a better future for so many. If the criticism was that it was overly ambitious, well maybe, but I’d take that over the nasty alternative offered by the Tories any day.

  • “It is a realignment of the centre and centre left that we need now more than the left.” Lorenzo Cherin

    Surely it is a realignment of the centre and centre right that is needed?

    Whilst it would be nice to day dream – it is highly unlikely that the LibDems will be in a position to form the next government, there are two issues here, firstly are LibDem interests better served by T.May having more or fewer MP’s returned to Westminster, secondly with respect to vote share, is it better to be attracting voters away from the Conservatives and so undermine their claim to be speaking for middle Britain and the ‘just about managing’ households?

    So do we want the Conservatives to win because the opposition parties were fighting each other, or we want the Conservatives to be blooded and know that the wolf has their scent?

  • Nick Collins 12th May '17 - 1:40pm

    “moderately progressive Tories “: isn’t that a contradiction in terms, a bit like “Young Conservatives”?

  • paul barker 12th May '17 - 1:57pm

    @David
    Baumm is on the Ballot paper anyway & was never more than a paper candidate, the best way to deal with him is to laugh it off.
    On Topic. Our strategy is a 2 stage rocket & stage one is replacing Labour. I expect their decline to resume after June.
    Incidentally the 2 byelections yesterday were both Labour/Tory marginals with other Parties being squeezed. Our vote was 1% down in one & we got 11% in the other where we didnt stand last time.

  • Once again we are becoming obsessed with our relationship with other parties. We should be extolling the positive virtues of liberal democracy / liberalism. The Tories will the election. Brexit will happen. Britain will be in a bloody mess. The more votes we get across the country, the more members we enroll, the more people see our approach to politics – the greater our recovery will be when it all goes tits up for the Tories.

  • 1. The Lib Dems need a vision that can be clearly and simply articulated both internally and externally
    2. Policy announcements (whilst welcome), in the absence of a clear guiding vision lead to the kind of internal disagreements we see here and on other threads since last week.
    3. If we cannot agree amongst ourselves, how do we expect to communicate clearly to the people what we stand for.
    4. Panic debating of tactics 3 weeks before an election is simply unacceptable for a party that wishes rot be taken seriously.
    5. Until a clear vision of the Lib Dems can be articulated to the public ad nausea and promises kept, the party will tread water.
    6. Labour for all it’s faults have just cut us off at the pass re the student population by saying they will abolish tuition fees. It is unacceptable that we find ourselves in this position of been outflanked so easily by both main parties at a time when we could have cemented the centre ground with a comprehensive policy review
    7. If UKIP voters and the student population vote as a suspect they will, I predict we will get 5-7 seats. I hate to say this, but we have nobody but ourselves to blame.

  • @ Eddie Sammon
    I don’t have a problem with corporation tax at 26% in fact I recommend it should be increased to 32% to equal the amount people pay in income tax and national insurance contributions. We have to move the burden of taxation on to capital more so we are less dependent on taxing labour.

  • Eddie Sammon 12th May '17 - 2:52pm

    Michael BG, the problem with that approach is there is no tax free personal allowance with corporation tax and higher rate tax payers (broadly) have to pay dividend or capital gains tax on top. Regards

  • nvelope2003 12th May '17 - 2:58pm

    Mike S : Surely the cannabis users will swing things in our favour ? Does anyone really believe tuition fees will be abolished. Legalising cannabis could bring in a lot of tax but what will the pushers do then ?

  • @Mike S
    I tend to agree with you Mike although the Cannabis policy might attract the young. What is our policy on Student Fees? I’ve knocked on lots of doors. Must admit that I do get hit with Student fees and Coalition on a regular basis. Hoping the launch of the manifesto is going to give us some ammunition.

  • Will we stop going on about this issue and drop it once and for all, it is a diservice to us but a benefit to all other party’s especially the conservatives. This election has to date been most noticeable for this party shooting itself in the foot, head, heart, you name it, this perpetuates that, will LD voice end it now, enough is enough, close the topic down please. The public would like what we have positively to say. We are simply demonstrating how to get fewer M Ps in one easy lesson

  • Nicholas Cunningham 12th May '17 - 5:02pm

    Have to agree with Nick Baird, Corbyn wasn’t a threat to the Labour Party until some took pity on him and nominated him. Let’s get real, the Labour Party leadership with the support of Momentum, who seem to hold sway, believe in the Marxism doctrine and we clearly see this in Labour’s manifesto. Marxism is a failed political philosophy, so why would you vote for it and be governed more centrally and give more power to the state.

  • Richard Underhill 12th May '17 - 5:47pm

    “certain Labour candidates in this election whose views ‘exactly match our own”, so she could join the Lib Dems, or be part of the SDP3 after June 8.
    Labour’s leaked manifesto is impossible to cost, but we should note what the Governor of the Bank of England said, about the fall in the pound being caused by the Brexit vote, with consequences for living standards. A further fall in the pound would make that worse, but we do not yet know by how much.

  • @ David Thorpe
    The socialism of Corbyn is based on collectivism, but you haven’t defined “Progressive”. Cobyn’s Labour Party is clearly concerned with reducing inequalities; I would see this as being progressive. Their policies include wanting 1 to 20 pay ratios with an excessive pay levy, increasing the national living wage to £10 per hour, running the economy to achieve full employment. I am not sure about the benefits of sectoral collective bargaining.

    @ Eddie Sammon
    It would be possible to have a tax free amount for corporation tax to assist small companies such as say £50,000 as there were two rates in the past.

  • Katharine Pindar 13th May '17 - 1:03am

    I agree with david, Mike S. and Theakes above – please, just drop this and concentrate on promoting Liberal Democracy and LD candidates, with the help soon of the full manifesto.

  • David Thorpes visceral hatred of all things Labour (be they led by Milliband or Corbyn) colours everything he writes on the subject…His preference for a Tory government is well documented…

  • Matthew Huntbach 13th May '17 - 8:30am

    Mike S

    Labour for all it’s faults have just cut us off at the pass re the student population by saying they will abolish tuition fees.
    </i.
    Well, we could have kept our pledge on tuition fees. How? Massive cuts in the number of university places, but continued subsidised tuition for those lucky enough still to be able to get a place. How would students voting against us now on the tuition fees be voting had that happened? At least the half who would not be students if it had.

    The issue is that there is no way the Tories would have agreed to the rises in taxation needed to carry on subsiding university students. Even if the number of university places were cut by half, there'd still need to be cuts elsewhere to continue subsidising the rest. So what further cuts would those who say they'll never vote for us because of tuition fees like to see made.

    Labour didn't say at the time of the Coalition how they'd pay to subsidise universities, and they aren't saying now.

    I have to say that as a university lecturer, life has been pleasant compared to what I hear from people working in other public sector jobs suffering cuts after cuts after cuts. By agreeing to tuition fees and in response demanding a hard line on loans so that everyone could get one and only have to pay back if they could afford it (as they would anyway if it was paid by taxation), the LibDems have saved our universities and kept them open to everyone. Is that a bad thing?

    Rather than remaining in silent embarrassment about this, why can't we be open and challenge Labour? Why can't we get the point across that the Coalition was not a Liberal Democrat government, and its policies therefore were not Liberal Democrat ideals. It was a mainly Conservative government in which we could just swing things a little towards moderation.

    Let's be honest and say how much income tax would need to rise if we were to fully subsidise universities. We need sensible discussion on things like this, not an opposition which says it will do this and that and that and this, all of which costs money, and just waves its hands around a bit about how to pay for it all. And not a government which pledges to keep taxes down and just waves its hands around a bit when it comes to the cuts that will have to be made in the NHS, education, and so on in order to be ab;e to do that.

  • David Cameron said he wouldn’t resign, even if he lost the EU vote, but politicians say that. We should not pin our strategy on needing to punish perfectly decent and reasonable Labour candidates who have a chance of beating awful Tory candidates. Cable was talking about one such candidate.

    If Corbyn refuses to go after this election, then I fully expect at least some of the decent Labour MPs will resign from the party. Whether they decide to stay independent, form their own group, or even defect to us, remains to be seen. What I am sure of is that we would be better off with them in Parliament than their Tory opponents.

  • Alex Macfie 13th May '17 - 9:28am

    PJ: From what I understand, young people today don’t consider cannabis legalisation to be a high-priority issue. So a policy on this, while signalling our liberal credentials, probably isn’t the vote winner among the young that some would suppose it is.
    Mike S:

    “If UKIP voters and the student population vote as a suspect they will, I predict we will get 5-7 seats. “

    These predictions are based on likely erroneous assumptions. The first assumes there are lots of (ex) UKIP voters in all of our seats and target seats. This is clearly not the case, as a lot of our targets are in predominantly Remain voting areas where there is not much of a UKIP vote for the Tories to squeeze. The second assumes that today’s students remember or are aware of what the Lib Dems did in coalition in 2010-2015. The students at that time are not students now, and today’s students were in secondary school at that time. Tuition fees is certainly an issue, and I prefer to deal with it the Huntbach way, but probably not as much as you think it is.
    Now, if hardcore Remainers mostly go our way, then we’ll get a lot more than 5-7 seats.

  • Jayne Mansfield 13th May '17 - 10:08am

    @ Alex Mcfie,

    ‘From what I understand , young people today don’t consider cannabis legalisation a high- priority issue’.

    Try telling that to middle aged tokers.

    Many young people , despite the lack of consideration our selfish generation have given to them , appear eminently more sensible than their elders.

  • Historically the Liberals/Lib Dems do better when the Labour Party does well and the Tory Party does badly. From my observations many Labour voters are switching straight across to the Tories – and generally though the Lib Dem vote may go up this time we might well end up with fewer seats as the Tory tide comes in.

    On that cheerful note………………..

  • “So whether your dream is a progressive alliance, or, in common with Tim Farron, to replace the Labour Party as the major opposition to Toryism”

    If the Lib Dems aim is to become the biggest opposition then the most likely route to achieve that will see Labour, SNP and Lib Dem’s all being similar in size with a massive Conservative majority. Don’t dream of being the second biggest to a Tory party which is more one party nation than one nation party (especially as its heading that way on the back of UKIP coming back into the fold) but think instead of Yanis Varoufakis’ comments on the French general election where he commented that left voices backed the center candidate because the alternative was much, much worse. In this instance the possible alliance could look at weakening the majority of the hard Brexit, fox-hunting, rape-clause Conservative party with varying tactical voting in each constituency or it could refuse to vote Labour because of Corbyn.

  • “If Corbyn refuses to go after this election, then I fully expect at least some of the decent Labour MPs will resign from the party.”

    May’s best attack on the Labour party thus far has been pointing out the contradiction of Labour MP’s telling us Corbyn should not be leader while then also asking us for their vote. Which decent Labour MP’s are looking to jump ship? Perhaps David Milliband who has deserted the party, refused to defend Ed Milliband over a number of years and returned very briefly to say that Labour had chosen the wrong brother as they stood defeated. The only decent labour MP’s we would want are those who have quietly disagreed with Corbyn, continued to campaign for Labour and now feel a different party best represents them.

  • @DJ
    I feel you are right. Chuka Ummuna? How this party responds to that will be an existential question.

  • David Raw: The sort of (Leave supporting) Labour voter who goes straight over to the Tories tends not to live in the areas we are targetting. They certainly won’t have much effect on our target seats in south London, for instance.

  • @ Alex Macfie. I don’t agree, but we’ll see if you’re right on 9 June.

  • Peter Watson 13th May '17 - 2:36pm

    @Alex Macfie “The sort of (Leave supporting) Labour voter who goes straight over to the Tories tends not to live in the areas we are targetting.”
    I daresay you are correct, but it worries me a little about the nature of the Lib Dems as a party since that targeting might reflect a relatively narrow “middle-class metropolitan elite”.

  • Jayne Mansfield 13th May '17 - 4:20pm

    The fight is between the Tories and Labour.

    It would be to Labour’s advantage if the Liberal Democrats regained some of their seats in the South West that Labour has no chance of winning.

  • david thorpe 15th May '17 - 10:40am

    jeremy corbyn most certainly is a threat to the UK-some lib dems who want to keep fighting brexit would argue that implementing brexit is a threat to the UK..and corbyn would do that…his attitude to national security and his economic recklessness area threat. Any vote for labour increases the chances of Corbyn continuing, so rreduces the chances of a progressive alliance

  • I thought we were supposed to write off our former seats in the South West and concentrate on more modern areas which could mean abandoning our traditional supporters who have kept the party alive for decades in favour of an uncertain future elsewhere.

    In the face of the highest support for the Conservative party since 1951,at 49%, it will be hard for the Labour party, let alone smaller parties to maintain a reasonable presence in Parliament after 8th June. The election is probably the most boring ever in recent years because there is no reason for it except to benefit one group of people and the result is almost a foregone conclusion. Elections should be called when a Government has run its course and one is needed. Now we can see why a five year term was fixed.

    Some of the statements which have been made recently could have a long term effect on the health of Parliamentary democracy, particularly those related to leaving the EU.
    It is all very sad. that it has come to this.

  • simon hebditch 17th May '17 - 5:56pm

    The whole issue of a progressive alliance, and tactical voting, has brought into focus my overall desire for a less tribal approach to policy making and campaigning. No single party, including the Lib Dems, is the fount of all wisdom. We also know that electoral reform, if eventually achieved, will lead to greater co-operation between parties to achieve joint objectives.

    In order to contest the Tories in any meaningful way, there obviously needs to be an increase in Lib Dem parliamentary representation and, hopefully, a growth in Green party MPs. Any alliance will have to also involve the Labour party at some stage. So it is important that Labour retains a good number of seats as well! In my constituency, Dulwich and West Norwood, I will be supporting the local Labour candidate on this occasion. In other constituencies, centre left voters should make their decisions based on supporting the candidate best able to defeat the Tories.

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