++Seven MPs quit Labour and form “The Independent Group”

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From the BBC:

Seven MPs have resigned from the Labour Party in protest at Jeremy Corbyn’s approach to Brexit and anti-Semitism.

They are: Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Mike Gapes, Gavin Shuker and Ann Coffey.

Ms Berger said Labour had become institutionally anti-Semitic and she was “embarrassed and ashamed” to stay.

Mr Corbyn said he was “disappointed” the MPs had felt unable to continue working for the policies that “inspired millions” at the 2017 election.

The MPs are not launching a new political party – they will sit in Parliament as the Independent group.

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

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108 Comments

  • What a challenge for us. We must not mess this up. 7 left, our 12, some Tories, a Green, quickly over 20. Need to get 36 to form a proper voting group. We must not be petty and narrow minded, we cannot change things but with others we can be part of it. Really we had our chance a few years ago and blew it. This is the opportunity we cannot mess up this time.

  • Fairly obviously – from what Chuka said and the stuff on the website – they will be launching a new party. Sensibly (and probably practically) they are holding back on erecting its paraphernalia until they’ve had a chance to see how much support their initiative gathers, and from where.

  • Someone has suggested the Reformist party, if they do form a new party. That strikes me as a winner – it’s not just the EU the needs reforming but the whole rotten system that led to Brexit. Umunna is an idealist, talks a lot of sense. If Owen Smith joins them they would be further strenghened. Good luck to them, at last some MP’s are having the guts to put country before party.

  • Richard Underhill 18th Feb '19 - 11:33am

    Vince Cable has commented on Twitter, a cautious welcome.
    Independent MP Frank Field is not one of the seven
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Field_(British_politician)
    We will see whether he works with them in the Commons.
    The Shadow Chancellor said yesterday that this would not happen because of long term political ties and shared values. At their press conference today the seven independents explained their actual views and started their campaign for re-election at the next general election, in 1922, or whenever it happens.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hayes_and_Harlington_(UK_Parliament_constituency)
    Ed Miliband has tweeted his regrets.

  • Bill le Breton 18th Feb '19 - 11:35am

    This will delay the revival of the Lib Dems. None of these people are Liberals.

    A huge amount of media coverage will be directed at building them up. And implying our irrelevance.

    People should listen to the words of Angela Smith this morning: viz we are looking for people from Labour and Tory Parly Parties to come across to us. “We are not looking for Liberal Democrats, Direct Quote “Nobody trusts the Liberal Democrats.”

    We shall of course hear one or two more friendly voices from some of them.

    It is all a repeat of 1982 – with some totally opposed to us and some close to us. So two years of negotiations about how to fight the next GE. For LIverpool Wavertree research Liverpool Broadgreen.

  • If I recall, the MPs concerned formed a “Council for Social Democracy”, when I signed up, before turning it into the SDP, which I then joined, a little later.

  • Jayne Mansfield 18th Feb '19 - 11:46am

    A wonderful distraction from the Brexit chaos.

  • Peter Martin 18th Feb '19 - 11:46am

    Good Luck with welcoming Luciana into your ranks if that’s what she want to do. She finds supposed “anti-semitism” wherever she goes. In other words she finds people who aren’t totally uncritical of the Israeli govt.

    She’ll no doubt find a few in the Lib Dems too!

  • Peter Watson 18th Feb '19 - 11:53am

    My recent prediction that the threat of a election would scare Labour MPs from doing this was wrong then! Though perhaps it has kept the numbers low.

    But have the odds changed on a snap election?

    Recent YouGov polling (http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/10049) suggested the Tories could get a sort of narrow majority (based upon Sinn Fein and the Speaker and Deputies not voting) but this could put seven seats into play if the Labour vote is split. Are some of these targets (e.g. Angela Smith’s seat looks like the Tories could take it)? Would Lib Dems stand against them? Interesting times indeed.

  • Katharine Pindar 18th Feb '19 - 11:59am

    There can only be a useful reorganisation and renewal of our national politics, as the new Independent group of MPs want, if there is voting reform so that minorities can be fairly represented in Parliament. Our party should remain as it is, continue to co-operate with like-minded individuals and groups, but demand that the new group support, not only a People’s Vote on Brexit, but also Proportionate Representation.

  • Richard Underhill 18th Feb '19 - 11:59am

    This events overshadows the death of Labour MP Paul Flynn, 84, Newport.
    I bought my copy at a Lib Dem federal conference, £12.99.
    “How to prepare impromptu remarks” page 194 gives a flavour, of use to candidates, MPs and other speakers.

  • Richard Underhill 18th Feb '19 - 12:02pm

    ISBN 978-1-84954-220-3 (Biteback publishing 2012)

  • Chris Bertram 18th Feb '19 - 12:05pm

    @Richard Underhill – Frank Field is most unlikely to join. He has been pro-Brexit, and these seven are avowedly against it. They would most likely refuse his application.

  • Chris Bertram 18th Feb '19 - 12:08pm

    @Peter Martin – there may be a (very) few Lib Dems with questionable views about Jews and Israel. But they’re not close to the party leadership and hopefully never will be. In Labour, OTOH, there is a leader who, while he may not personally hate Jews, finds it very easy to be friends with people who do.

  • This is a real opportunity. We must not back away and be insular. By election coming up at Newport. Will the Independents have a candidate, if so should we not stand aside?
    The danger is that too many of us will want to stay as a fully independent party, but in our hearts we know we cannot do it on our own, because the public have such long memories since 2010.

  • Considering that every one of these hasn’t wanted Corbyn as leader since 2015 I’m not surprised. They would prefer a permanent Tory government than a Corbyn led Labour government. It looks like they will get their wish.
    One thing about the Tories ia that, no matter their differences with policies/leader they realise that if they don’t ‘hang together their party will hang separately’.

  • Am I right in thinking they are all committed to a 2nd referendum and are remainers so thaf would not suit Frank Field in any case? All the more reason for the Lib Dems to articulate distinctive policies as the front runner of the centre left parties in case the field gets crowded.

  • David Evershed 18th Feb '19 - 12:17pm

    What does it say about the Lib Dems that the seven MPs feel unable to join?

  • @David Evershed – it says they are not Liberal Democrats.

    Resigning from one party doesn’t automatically mean they want to join another, or would be welcome if they did.

  • Phil Beesley 18th Feb '19 - 12:26pm

    I wish them well, as men and women standing up for their opinions and values. It is rather too soon to talk about a new Council for Social Democracy. I know only of the first three names on the list, the fourth a little less, and they all seem to be small letter social democrats. In a political world beyond FPTP, they might not have found themselves in the Labour Party. Or perhaps the Labour Party would be a different place. That’s all too hypothetical for consideration as real politics.

    There are another 150 Labour MPs who think that Brexit is daft. They don’t have to leave the party or resign the whip to make a difference. They have to to continue voting and campaigning for the interests of their constituents.

  • Presumably as they have left as a point principle they will also be principled enough to stand down so that their constituents can choose whether they still want them as MPs. I believe that this is what Douglas Carswell did when he left the Conservative Party.

  • @Glenn

    +1

    I’m sure they can’t wait for the Momentum-led ferocity of the labour campaign against them.

    This has presumably made an early GE a bit less likely.

  • Phil Beesley 18th Feb '19 - 1:13pm

    @expats: “Considering that every one of these hasn’t wanted Corbyn as leader since 2015 I’m not surprised. They would prefer a permanent Tory government than a Corbyn led Labour government. It looks like they will get their wish.”

    I don’t think that the seven departers want a Conservative government.

    There are more than two options.

  • Paul Barker 18th Feb '19 - 1:15pm

    The essential point is that to win power under our semi-democratic system, an Party or Alliance of Parties needs the support of around 40% of Voters. Neither Liberals, Social Democrats, Greens or Centrists can get anywhere near that on their own but together we could. We all need each other.
    Clearly this move is provisional, the 7 aren’t even calling themselves a Party yet, we, as Liberal Democrats need to work with them to build a new Progressive Alliance.

  • I think we need to see where this goes. At the moment the Lib Dem’s still have a bit of an image problem. It might well be easier for the Lib Dem’s to fold themselves into this probable new party than to go the other way. I think the Labour rebels are aware of that and want us to go to them, not the other way around. We should consider such an offer carefully

  • Bless Glen we have the mess you voted for too sort out first before we can think of byelections. Perhaps when that is sorted they will consider your idea. Till then tick, tock the bill grows by the day and your leadership is moving to foreign lands.

  • John Marriott 18th Feb '19 - 1:35pm

    Shades of 1981? Maybe. Will they be any more successful? Doubtful. Why? FPTP!

  • John Bicknell 18th Feb '19 - 1:36pm

    So far this seems more like a fit of pique than a political revolution, just 7 MPs, whose founding principle appears to be a resentment that Jeremy Corbyn has taken away ‘their party.’ It would be sensible to maintain a working relationship with them, but it’s hardly comparable to the formation of the SDP, and those involved do not have the stature of the likes of Roy Jenkins and Shirley Williams.

  • Clearly there is now a very great opportunity for local campaigners if they work hard at it to appeal to moderate Labour voters and the 56% who are Remainers – highlighting that Chris Leslie is accusing Labour of “betrayal” over Europe. It is unlikely – especially as it is not yet a political party and deadlines are approaching – that this political grouping will be fighting the local elections as a political force and certainly not one with any significant number of “boots on the ground”.

    My guess is that this will be very very much smaller ultimately than the Council for Social Democracy and the SDP. If only the lesson that virtually all other Labour MPs will draw is that it is far better to stay and fight your corner not least because you lose your seat at the subsequent general election!

    I think it will struggle to make it into double figures of MPs who defect. Handled right it could be an opportunity for the Lib Dems.

  • Dear Frankie.
    I’m sure your latest comment is up your usual standard. Unfortunately, I do not have the spare nanosecond it would take me to absorb the full measure of its wit.
    Yours
    Glenn

  • Laurence Cox 18th Feb '19 - 2:01pm

    We need to start hammering Corbyn’s Labour Party over anti-semitism. The Jews that I know have well-developed social consciences, regardless of which party they support. Nearby, in Barnet we saw Labour losing seats they should have won on the overall swing because they had lost the trust of the Jewish community there. For these people the Liberal Democrats can be the alternative to the Tory party. For too long, Labour have been allowed to elide the justified criticism of the current Israeli government with coded anti-semitic messages. We all know that the Chakrabati report was a white-wash, to cover up some pretty obnoxious behaviour and 673 complaints in just 10 months (and these the most serious that are being investigated) would be like our Party having to deal with 120. We all know that this is a serious level, however Formby spins it.

  • chris moore 18th Feb '19 - 2:05pm

    The seven who’ve left are not household names. If this is as far as it goes, I don’t think it will resonate beyoond their own constituencies.

    Is their really much understanding or interest in an internal Labour split? Does the fact that some Labour members and some of Labour’s leadership have a highly regrettable attitude to anti-Semitism make voters at large, who aren’t themselves Jewish, less likely to vote for Labour? I, personally, doubt it. Likewise, how apprised of the leadership’s anti-Europeanism are most voters?

    At the next general Election, they’ll stand as Independents or whatever name they choose and the local Lib Dems should stand down to give them a free run. Some of their values coincide with ours: pro-European, “social democratic”.

    But unless more leave Labour, it’s a minor irritant for the Labour party; no more.

  • Phil Beesley 18th Feb '19 - 2:07pm

    @John Bicknell: “So far this seems more like a fit of pique than a political revolution, just 7 MPs, whose founding principle appears to be a resentment that Jeremy Corbyn has taken away ‘their party.’”

    You are right, John Bicknell, that Corbyn has tried to change the Labour Party. But disagreement with Corbyn is not pique. It’s a philosophical thing too.

    Social democracy and liberalism didn’t leave the Labour Party when the SDP was established or after the Liberal merger. Politicians like Robin Cook rebuilt social democracy within New Labour.

  • chris moore 18th Feb '19 - 2:09pm

    Likewise, I can understand why they want to currently keep a distance from the Lib Dems.

    They are a novelty; fresh, little know faces, whereas the Lib Dems are tired, little-known faces. Associating with the Lib Dems now would put off some of those MPs who might still leave Labour .

    Co-operation and a closer relationship will be de rigeur later, IF the new party takes off.

  • Bless Glen, you obviously did. Any thoughts on flybmi going bust, or isn’t that an issue for “your little village”. Fear not given the number of pending disasters that lie at the door of Brexit, one of them is bound to affect “your little village”. Tick, tock.

  • John Marriott 18th Feb '19 - 2:14pm

    Dear Glenn,
    No wonder you’ve got no time for your ‘mate’. You have been too busy working up a lather over that young mum in the Syrian refugee camp on the other thread. By the way, your attitude over her tells me far more about your character than anything that you can throw at ‘frankie’ regarding another little matter that has been monopolising our attention for the past couple of years.

  • I would say I’ve long warned about Glen and his fixation about furrins, more than one or two of my posts have failed to appear because of it. However we have more important things to talk about, Honda have just pulled out of Swindon. Let us hope Glens little village is not near by or he faces difficult questions ( or Peter’s either). Tick, tock the price us raising.

  • My attitude to said young Mum is that she is a British Citizen and has a right to return. but deserves little sympathy. Please tell me where I was wrong when I pointed out that ISIS committed mass executions, rapes, abduction, beheadings,suicide bombings, the murder of gay men. You might see her has just a young Mum, I see her an apparently unrepentant supporter of a group that committed numerous atrocities. She may not have actively committed an crime, but that does not mean we all have to pretend she is a “victim”.

  • Richard Underhill 18th Feb '19 - 2:50pm

    Independent MP Angela Smith said on BBC tv Politics Live today, 18/2/2019, that “longer term the objective is to create a new party”. Others of the seven did not deny it.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angela_Smith_(Sheffield_MP)

  • Richard Underhill 18th Feb '19 - 3:04pm

    There will be a parliamentary bye-election soon because of the death of Labour MP Paul Flynn (84).
    The Independent seven will need to decide whether they offer a candidate in Newport West. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newport_West_(UK_Parliament_constituency)

  • Lorenzo Cherin 18th Feb '19 - 3:12pm

    These are seven individuals. Amongst them are people I greatly like and definitely admire.

    Amongst them are one or two not as familiar to me or whom I am not as in tune politically with.

    Chukka Umunna is a good and warm and brave man politically, a friend. He has stuck his neck out on the hideous antisemitism, marched for and with Jewish colleagues when other mps, as with one or two above, had the head in the sand approach. On Brexit, he is more in keeping with this party than many of us, staunch in a view most share, me included, though with not much love for the EU, remainer voter yet.

    Lucianna Berger is both intelligent and courageous. She does not, as the absurd Peter Martin comment says, dredge up or find antsemitism, wherever she is, no, she exposes it as a victim of abuse, intimidation and violent threats.

    Chris Leslie is mp near me, in Nottingham, a staunch supporter of the causes of these two mentioned, the most obviously not happy in the Labour party for years, and friendly with Liberal Democrats in campaigns here in the city.

    If it were only these three, they get my support.

    Any others a bonus.

    Anna Soubry should join them asap, another in Nottingham.

    These must become close colleagues and political friends.
    Tribalism is over. We who are in the centre ground, which too many in our party reject, have new allies.

  • Get ready for at least ten more years of Tory government – despite Brexit and the latest Honda news. None of them at the same level of ability as the SDP gang of four. yesterday’s. men/women today.

    What a shambles this country is becoming.

  • chris moore 18th Feb '19 - 3:26pm

    Good post, Lorenzo.

    Your warm optimism and benevolence has induced me to look on this development more positively.

    I still believe it’ll be all uphill for them, unless more join in.

    Knowing the intensity and acerbity of internal Labour politicking, it’s certainly required courage on all their parts to leave the party.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 18th Feb '19 - 3:46pm

    David Raw

    You sink to a low here.

    I have contact online with the remarkable Senator Gary Hart, young at eighty two.

    Everyone of these mps younger.

    Chuka, Luciana, Chris, Gavin, in their prime.

    Yesterdays men or women, no, and even so, you, me, we are inspired by the great and the good of then.

    You always criticise and denigrate the SDP.

    Now they are your heroes?

  • It’s a brave decision to leave a party you have been in for decades, but perhaps this is the start of breaking the logjam in UK politics. I expect other MPs to move as well from both Labour and Tory over coming weeks. How many? We will have to wait and see. Depends upon how much grassroots support they get.
    It makes sense for them to set up an interim group to see how many MPs and others join in, and not expect them to immediately join us. We should (and are, it seems) having discussions with them. In due course they may decide to enter some kind of alliance with the LibDems if we are close enough on political principles, but we need to explore that. The pressures from FPTP will mean that discussions with them must take place, but not all will want to ally with us, and we may not be comfortable with all of them.
    I was heavily involved in negotiations with the SDP in Leicester in the 1980s. Many simply did not appreciate how hard you have to work as a third party. They thought they could easily sweep to power and use the LibDems as a stepping stone. Not true of all of them of course.
    We need to encourage more defections but be cool headed in discussions with them. This should be about principles and beliefs not tribes.

  • Sandra Hammett 18th Feb '19 - 4:13pm

    This split is just ANOTHER sign of how weak, ineffectual and self-defeating the current slate of politicians really are. The splitters were unable to oust Corbyn, despite his obvious deficiencies, so they have jumped ship. The Tories are led by a zombie, with each wing scared of replacing her lest they get the opposing wing. The SNP wanting to break up the UK but stay in the EU, a mixed message with internal problems. And the LibDems without the will to recognise it’s failures or listen to the majority’s concerns preferring to prescribe, the ‘we know best’ approach, rather trying to reassure and persuade.
    Only the DUP have any semblance of strength, scary thought.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 18th Feb '19 - 4:19pm

    David

    No real need for sarcasm, no, I could not say that, as I am a real admirer of the Gang of four, and you are not, if you were, you would not have said many times that you did not welcome the SDP tendency.

    I know you like Shirley Williams. I know you are a man of vintage. I take offence on behalf of younger than you being called yesterdays men and women.

    These three I mention, others too, have , as do many of us, lots yet to do.

    We should not write them off , due to comparisons with previous leaders.

  • The good news in this announcement is that, if the new proto-party gathers some momentum, it could lead to a rethink on Brexit in the short term and a rethink on the voting system in the longer term.

    For the LibDems specifically, it isn’t good news. As others have said, it will further cement our irrelevance. The best we can hope for is that the new party, if it gets off the ground, gives us a free run in the diminishing number of seats we can realistically target, and that we can gain some new support on the back of such a deal.

    But be under no illusion that these people aren’t liberals. Indeed the likes of Gapes have spent their entire careers condemning liberalism both in practice and in principle.

  • jayne mansfield 18th Feb '19 - 4:56pm

    @ David Raw,

    The Conservatives must think that all their Christmases have come at once, and they are probably correct. We can probably look forward to years of Tory rule.

    People like myself who are opposed to Tory ideology and in favour of remaining in the EU might as well give up. We are wasting our time and effort.

  • John Bicknell 18th Feb '19 - 4:57pm

    Phil Beesley – “Social democracy and liberalism didn’t leave the Labour Party when the SDP was established or after the Liberal merger. Politicians like Robin Cook rebuilt social democracy within New Labour.”
    Are you claiming that these people are of the stature of Robin Cook? I don’t think that they are, nor are their stated principles for leaving Labour a sufficient basis for forming a new party. Time will tell if they can develop a coherent political philosophy, but they need more than anti-Corbyn resentment.

  • The glee and smirking at Labours troubles will quickly end..reality is that any new centre party will harm the Lib Dems..currently in battle for National fifth place and nestling between 6 -10%.. coverage of the party is almost zero and now Farage and these seven new players are taking even more of your paltry airtime…not looking good for the Lib Dems at the moment.

  • @ Jayne Mansfield. Correct Jayne, though some have yet to see it, or care not capable of seeing it.

    The only consolation for Labour us that a resignation of seven is a smaller percentage of the Labour parliamentary party than Stephen Lloyd’s peculiar contortions on the the Lib Dems.

    What a mess though.

  • nvelope2003 18th Feb '19 - 5:30pm

    Is there any evidence that a significant number of voters are looking for a centre left party when they show little interest in the one they already have despite it being one of only 2 significant national parties to take an opposing view on the biggest issue of the day ?

    Until Brexit has been sorted out and the voters have got bored again nothing much will happen. A winner takes all “democracy” where great issues can be decided by one vote out of millions and the views of the “losers” can be ignored or ridiculed is no democracy at all as we can see in the USA, UK and even places like Canada. Although France has the second ballot it is much the same as it does not have proportional representation. Since 1958 during the Fifth Republic huge minorities such as the Communists and National Front which polled 20 – 25% often got only a handful of seats in the National Assembly and had to resort to the traditional riots to get their views noticed. There are even some who say we have a Labour Party controlled by avowed communists now because that is the only way they can get Parliamentary representation. We need a complete change but none of the 7 seem to be offering it.

  • nvelope2003 18th Feb '19 - 5:38pm

    Why is it anti – Semitic to support the Palestinian cause ?
    Arabs are also a Semitic people. The Palestinians are the descendants of the ancient people of Palestine, including the Hebrews who did not leave in olden times.

  • Phil Beesley 18th Feb ’19 – 1:13pm…..I don’t think that the seven departers want a Conservative government……………There are more than two options.

    There ARE only two options; a Tory government or a Labour one.

    Chris Leslie said, In all conscience, we can no longer knock on doors and support a government led by Jeremy Corbyn or the team around him.”

    Mike Gapes said,”A Corbyn Labour government would threaten our national security and international alliances.”

    Sounds like THEY don’t want a Labour government.

    After all, they echo (as do many on here) the Tory response..”The resignations and speeches today confirm in former Labour MPs’ own words, that the Labour party has changed irreversibly under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.
    Labour has become the Jeremy Corbyn party – failing to take action on everything from tackling anti-Jewish racism to keeping our country safe.
    We must never let him do to our country what he is doing to the Labour party today.

    So a Conservative government is what you’ll all get!

    Good luck with that

  • Silvio, back in 1981 when the SDP was formed the Liberals support fell catastrophically, down to about 4%, the SDP were at 25%. General Election, Alliance polled 25%, with the Liberals outpolling the SDP by 2-3%. The art of these things is how you handle it. Many would say ” not looking good for” Labour! In this current situation anything could happen

  • I agree, in particular, with the sensible and pragmatic comments by Bob Renold at 4.00pm. A cautious Lib Dem response to this development is appropriate, rather than an instant rush to judgement. At present, however, the future organisation and political positioning of this new grouping raises more questions than answers – and the history of the SDP should obviously provide a cautionary tale. Although these resignations (and possibly more to come) were widely anticipated, I also wonder why they’ve felt compelled to make this move now, rather than wait until after 29 March?

    As Lib Dems, whilst we must always be prepared to engage constructively with others who (seem to broadly) share our values, it is therefore IMO somewhat premature to start speculating about what sort of future relationship we may develop with these former Labour MPs, let alone indulging in any loose talk of potential mergers, etc. Let’s keep cool heads … and wait and see what emerges.

  • Seven nobodies who will very likely lose their seats at the next General Election. Not in the same league as the “Gang of Four”, three of whom were household names. Hardly anyone would know or care who this bunch are. If they are to have any success at all they need to get people like the Millibands, Cooper, Benn, Brown etc on their side. Not good news for the Lib Dems, the few votes they get are likely to be the ones you are after.

  • Sorry, I meant Rob Renold, not Bob!

  • Without meaning any disrespect to the regular contributors, I often find the postings I most agree with on LDV come from people who rarely (if ever) post. In this case, Bob Renold. Thanks Bob for summing up my feelings at the moment. We need to wait for today’s media circus to subside, see what other MPs join this group and how many supporters sign up to their website, see how they operate in Parliament. In a month’s time, today’s excitement will be a distant memory. Let’s talk to them, work with them, and see what happens.

  • Sean Hyland 18th Feb '19 - 6:56pm

    Think Jennie Rigg has it right on her site. Raises a few questions about the 7 and the Lib Dems response. Sorry can’t do link at the moment.

  • Paul Barker 18th Feb '19 - 7:11pm

    Perhaps I can deal with some of the Libdem attacks on The 7 ?
    1 , they are not Liberals. Well duh, they just left Labour.
    2, the first point of their mission statement is authoritarian/racist. its really not you know. its an assertion of the standard primary duty of The State, to defend its people & territory. in normal times its not worth saying because no-one is going to disagree but Corbyn does disagree
    3, its a mushy appeal to as many people as possible. Yes, it is. The 7 have decided to take things slowly, waiting to see who might join them or emulate them before actually forming a new Party. that seems like a reasonable strategy to me.
    I come back to my previous point, that neither Greens or Liberals or Social Democrats or moderate Conservatives or Centrists command a big enough support group on their own to break the mould. We need an Electoral Alliance that covers as many of those groups as possible to achieve a breakthrough.
    This breakaway is a small beginning, that may lead on to greatness if we don’t screw it up.

  • So the devil or the deep blue sea expats, the consul of dispair. I’d rather neither, but if the devil beats the deep blue sea for you, perhaps your efforts would be better redirected at helping the devil drain the deep blue sea. As to those saying give up, well I rather doubt you’ll like the consequences, at least I can console myself with I didn’t vote for it and I certainly didn’t tagalong with it. Quick look at the faces of the Swindon workers might give those that say go with the flow pause for thought, well the flow is over a very high waterfall quite a few won’t survive the drop.

  • Martin Land 18th Feb '19 - 8:40pm

    One day, hopefully, a majority in this party will realise that creating a Liberal society involves hard work and consistent community campaigning. Toadying up to Tories and Labour malcontents just puts back our cause by ten years every time. Short cuts make long delays. Let’s ignore this nonsense and get out on the doorstep and win 200 seats in May.

  • Martin 18th Feb ’19 – 7:16pm………………..The prime motivation behind this is obviously Brexit (Stephen Lloyd in reverse). It is not even clear that this is an attempt to create a new Party. Antisemitism and Corbyn’s inadequacies are additional issues………..

    There was no Brexit (nor even the claim of anti-semitism) in 2015 when these 7, among others, tried to remove Corbyn.
    This action has been carefully timed to destabilise Corbyn’s leadership and to hell with the consequences for the Labour party. They are not honourable dissenters just dodgy ‘chancers’.

  • Neil Sandison 18th Feb '19 - 9:14pm

    Agree with Paul Barker regarding building a Progressive Alliance but the Liberal Democrats have shown their incredible staying power over the last 100 years through many name changes .If this independent group demonstrates it has good social liberal values and is more than just “not the Jeremy fan club ” and can bring votes and not just disgruntled MPs to the table a realignment may be just what the voters ordered to refresh our broken political system.

  • Expats
    I agree.

  • @Neil Sandison – fair enough, but that’s quite a lot of big “ifs”! Let’s be led by evidence … and suspend judgement until we can see precisely what emerges.

  • Of cause the Lib Dems trashing themselves on the alter of “let’s show we can be the Tories flexible friends, for a few good policies and ministerial cars” allowed the Tories to gain untramelled power, but it can’t be allowed to disguise the fact that

    We are in this situation because our poltical system based on winner takes all, is not fit for purpose.

  • Jayne Mansfield 18th Feb '19 - 10:39pm

    @ Martin,
    Sorry Martin, but you sound like someone, a very decent, intelligent one, who does not live in the UK.

    The Liberal Democrats are all over the place. The incoherence is shocking. It worked when it was just about supporting local communities, but failed when it came to national politics where coherence was necessary.

  • Jayne, you may want to believe you might as well give up on Labour because you are wasting your time and effort, but those of us who had fought for forty years to give our party’s MPs the chance, but sadly failed to prevent Nick destroying our party we gave him that chance don’t give up that easily.

    Sadly in 2015 it became Labour’s choice to have a go at self destruction when its members/voters in the leadership election chose self congratulation at their purity over practical solutions to solve the country’s problems. Although I don’t hold any loyalty there, I hope they don’t waste as much time as we have before they get a grip of themselves and stop pretending (like sadly too many on LDV still do) that we didn’t make a mess of it and all we need is to do is carry on as we have done for years, not change a thing and it will all come right again.

  • Of course the last part of paragraph one should say “sadly failed to prevent Nick destroying our party when we gave him that chance, don’t give up that easily.”

  • David Raw,
    Hate to pull up such an important poster but
    1. They are not my leaders, I resigned from the party as soon as they got into bed with the Tories.
    2. I suspect I was far from alone in seeing the trap they had walked into.
    3. The moral we should take from the fiasco is clear don’t follow fantasists or expect them to hang around. A lesson our brave Brexiteers and Lexi would do well to learn.
    To many people shy away from confrontation or holding people to account, as a country we need to call a spade a spade and stop thinking we need to be nice to every view that pops up.

  • Have some doubts over the timing ,nonetheless welcome the breakway Labour Group and clear their place in the party along with I’m sure many others was becoming untenable. However at the moment there does not seem to be a clear strategy and reports of clashes amongst those unhappy with the direction/atmosphere under the left’s control. Need to see how things develop but if a new party does emerge the Liberal Democrats need to reach some accomodation with it. Some of the defectors may not be natural allies but probably main reason they have not crossed straight to LD’s is that we are not considered strong/credible enough at this junction.

    Cannot read too much into it but poll tonight by Survation shows a new centre anti Brexit party taking most from Lib Dems (drop from 10 to 6% in such a scenario with the new party taking 8% with little movement from Tory/Labour ) Of course unknown how many seats they would contest and at this early stage somewhat hypothetical.

  • @James Cole

    Will be interesting to see over the next week how many supporters sign up to the website and donate to the cause.
    If it looks like this gets good public backing and will attract some big money backers who have been itching to support a new party. Then maybe it will not be long before we see this new group operating under a new name and branching out.

    It will be interesting to see how many people they stand at the next election, should this happen.
    But one things the Liberal Democrats should be worried about. On day 1 of this group emerging they have 7 mp’s isnt the same amount as the Libdems got at the 2015 election?
    An on day 1, polling already shows they would be on 8% and dropping the Liberal Democrats down to 6%. That must be very worrying indeed for Liberal Democrats, if this is what is happening on day 1, what will it be like if this break away group gets traction and does manage to form a new party with new members.

    Interesting times

  • David Allen 19th Feb '19 - 1:01am

    Lib Dems have been banging on since kingdom come about the desperate need for political realignment. Then it begins, and what do Lib Dems do? Mostly, grumble about these new guys getting all the publicity which “ought” to be going to the Lib Dems. Wonderful!

    One of the clever-clever arguments used by those who want to see the Independents fold is to say that they aren’t a patch on the SDP leadership a generation ago. Well, I was one of those impressed by the ability and the coherent, fully thought through political platform of the SDP leadership, all those years ago. I said yes and joined. But many didn’t. The SDP were like Marmite – lots of fans, but also lots of people who couldn’t swallow the full taste.

    The new Independents are less clearly defined. Their pitch is more about various things they don’t like than about things they do like. That may not be a disadvantage. It’s less exclusivist. It may encourage more MPs, with different issues and concerns, to join their movement.

    For me it’s really quite simple. The existing parties – Con, Lab and Lib Dem equally – are burnt out. Only self-interest holds them together, in much the same way that it holds a Mafia clan together. Defectors risk being voted out of a job in a few years. So rather than face that risk, most of them are prepared to muddle along into a Brexit disaster. The Independents have faced the risk, and said NO.

    Well, three cheers for them. No cheers for churlish Lib Dems who merely watch and sneer.

  • of course as other have said not many big names thus far which may well limit their prospects,even if Chuuka Umunna has been part of People’s vote campaign and constant critic of leadership. Luciana Berger been in news due to the untolerable abuse she has suffered and had scathing criticism, something of a PR disaster with unfortuate remark by Angela Smith though. Somehow think the likes of Yvette Cooper/Hillary Benn unlikely to join them,perhaps possibility of a few conservatives jumping ship but may be a stetch for them to join forces.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 19th Feb '19 - 1:33am

    David Allen

    As one who welcomes this to the extent that I shall work and engage with them, to encourage a close relationship, regardless of party line, my feeling is, there is need for a realignment, this party should have changed name and leaders, ages ago, or changed with an extra name added.

    There are some who think the coalition mattered so much this party cannot recover. There are those who slag it off day in and out.

    Some of us see at least three or four amongst this group, who could lead a merger.

    I have more in common with moderates in this group than the newer radical or older leftier Liberals.

    All in the centre share values, left or right, Anna Soubry an example of a friend not foe.

    We must join foreces or this nation is fu….d

  • Katharine Pindar 19th Feb '19 - 2:02am

    The new Independent Group surely presents opportunity for us, as Paul Barker suggested, to link up with them in a loose progressive alliance. We have a solidity, a coherence of values and attitudes, and a continuing life of holding and developing progressive policies. We need not fear our destruction, since the chance of a competitive central party gaining any substance or longevity is unlikely, but with our openness and willingness to change as the country’s needs appear, can welcome dialogue and possible co-operation with defectors from both the major parties.

  • John Marriott 19th Feb '19 - 7:48am

    88 comments (as of 7.40am and counting). Don’t some of you EVER go to bed? However can see how events like this energise politcal anoraks.

    I urge caution, as we’ve been here before and then it involved political heavyweights. If we get any major defections, both from Labour AND from the Tories, then I might start to sit up a pay real attention. And yes, if this happens the Lib Dem’s need to swallow their pride and pick up the phone.

  • Philip Knowles 19th Feb '19 - 8:17am

    They (and others) won’t join us anytime soon.
    I was reading the comments on The Guardian website. There are a frightening number of comments about the ‘toxic’ brand of the Liberal Democrats. This needs addressing urgently – and it’s not just about Student Loans.
    Most of us think of us as a moderating force during the coalition but the Tory spin machine has somehow made us the scapegoats for the worst excesses of the coalition while they come up smelling of roses.
    People have short memories for detail but they remember us ‘propping up’ the Tory government. They don’t remember any of the things that we forced the Tories to do (or stop them from doing). Four years on is too late for us to do much to counter that but we do need to do two things.
    The first is to have concrete things that we did during the coalition to throw back to counter criticism.
    The other is to stop being reasonable. We have radical ideas. We are passionate. We demand better. We need to stop being apologetic for being Liberal Democrats and show that passion and fight for what we believe in.

  • These resignations have little to do with Brexit or anti-semitism; it has all to do with their ongoing agenda of making Corbyn’s leadership untenable.
    Angela Smith for instance had already lost a vote of confidence and had little chance of being a Labour candidate in any future GE. As for her holier than thou stance on racism, her ‘funny tinge’ remark belongs in the Alf Garnet era (thank heaven a Corbyn supporter never uttered that phrase or they’d be held up as an example of ‘casual racism’)
    BTW..Which policies of the current Labour party do LibDems find so abhorrent that it’s demise, and umpteen more years of a right wing Tory government, is so welcome?

  • nvelope2003 19th Feb '19 - 9:16am

    expats: It is not so much the Labour party policies that some people dislike but the unpleasant attitudes of many of Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters. Hectoring and shouting down anyone they disagree with is not a pleasant sight.
    His supporters also want to go further than official Labour policies and many people do not want that but fear it might happen.

  • Bill le Breton 19th Feb '19 - 9:20am

    Philip Knowles reminds us this morning that, “There are a frightening number of comments about the ‘toxic’ brand of the Liberal Democrats. This needs addressing urgently –” Something I mentioned here yesterday.

    Another danger is obsessive centrism. Fanatics will be draw to this ‘millenarium’ movement. The media want it to gain traction and are doing what they can to give it a shove, no matter how vacuous it is. There will be a group of people ready to coalesce in your community. They will put up a candidate, perhaps even as soon as this May. Which given a fair wind will take 50% of your vote, sap your energy and divert attention away from the issues that you have been campaigning on.

    There will be fewer Lib Dem councillors this May than there would have been.

    And then, you’ll spend the next two years negotiating with them instead of campaigning because they believe their newness means they have the right to take your place as the lead Party in your constituency, because ‘your toxicity’ means the population will never trust you again.

  • nvelope2003 19th Feb ’19 – 9:16am…………….expats: It is not so much the Labour party policies that some people dislike but the unpleasant attitudes of many of Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters. Hectoring and shouting down anyone they disagree with is not a pleasant sight……………His supporters also want to go further than official Labour policies and many people do not want that but fear it might happen…………..

    A reply so reminiscent of what one gets when asking ‘Brexiteers’ what specific EU laws/regulations they want to change that you should be embarrassed to have written it..

    What it actually boils down to is you don’t actually disagree with his policies but you dislike Corbyn (and some of his supporters) personally.
    Further, you can’t find anything specific to argue about but have decided that future (imaginary) Labour policies are the problem.

    I give up!

  • @expats
    “There was no Brexit (nor even the claim of anti-semitism) in 2015 when these 7, among others, tried to remove Corbyn.”

    That is factually incorrect. The challenge to Corbyn’s leadership occurred during the Summer of 2016 following Corbyn’s disastrous referendum campaign. They tried to replace him with someone more competent after 80%of of Labour MPs voted no confidence in his leadership.

  • @ Matt yes pretty much agree,interesting times and whether like or not something new (or at least since days of original SDP) bound to generate more media attention. Still see it as an opportunity if handled correctly and can cooperate whilst still a challenge for the Lib Dems. Amost right,the Liberal Democrats won 8 seats in 2015 and in reality however it was spun a poor result in 2017 with 12. Still somewhat of a brand issue and both forces will need to move on if Brexit cannot be stopped in the short term, even if I’m not giving up hope.

    Personally I have more in common with some of the breakaway group than for instance the Greens. May be some overlap and agree enironmental policy should be much more central, however on economic policy many of them are in a different branch of politics.

  • Katharine Pindar 19th Feb '19 - 10:39am

    I agree. welcome, watch and wait, at present. This is not a party, nor likely to be. This is not a movement, for what is the driving purpose here? What stands out is the negativity – anti-Brexit, anti-Corbyn, anti-tactics of Labour activists, and anti-fence-sitting of Opposition leaders in the Commons.

    We have enough difficulty putting over our own rich and constructive messages. I don’t see how this brave group can find winning positivity, but by all means let’s continue to work with them and with others fed up with both the main parties.

    We should surely have two main aims to share at the moment – stop Brexit through a People’s Vote, and promote electoral reform as the only way to achieve fundamental change in our politics. But we Liberal Democrats have of course very much more to offer the country, and should look to enrolling the dissidents in support of our ideals and our plans.

  • of course we need to see much much more flesh on the bones and and the principles are fairly vague, know more what the group are rightly against than a guiding philosphy. Whilst some have been described as Blarities politics has moved on and think that is a bit simplistic anyway. Whilst I am generally encouaged at this point still very much early days and cannot be sure how this will pan out.

  • I wish this group every success and look forward with interest to seeing how they evolve into a political party and what the policies of that party might be. If there are issues on which we are in agreement it makes sense to act in concert with them.
    However, I would oppose any siren call to merge the two parties. What the people of this country deserve is to have a much wider choice of political parties, not the status quo. The present de facto coalitions of left and right which are toxic Labour and toxic Tory plus FPTP which favours both of them has brought us to the insanity of a standoff between ‘my Brexit’ and ‘my better Brexit’. More and smaller parties working productively together are far more likely to bring about all the reforms needed to our electoral system, to Parliament and to greater subsidiarity.

  • expats: I do disagree with Corbyn’s policies because similar ones have been tried several times and have led to the sort of disasters that afflicted India, parts of Africa, Cuba and now Venezuela. Free enterprise might be uncomfortable to you but it has brought about massive improvements in living standards where governments have brought in rules to control exploitation and enforce safety standards. These can take time to implement – Rome was not built in a day.
    The record of Corbyn and his supporters makes it clear that the 2017 Labour manifesto will not be the limit of their plans to impose state control.
    If you wish to give up who am I to stop you.

  • Piers Allen 19th Feb '19 - 2:06pm

    Just to get it off my chest, I am a little peeved by reported comments from yesterday.

    The Independent Group – less a magnificent 7, than a bunch of “funny tingers” who dare to say the Lib Dems are a toxic brand; tarnished a bit by the coalition perhaps, 4 years ago, but you know what, silver gilt polishes up well with a bit of polish – time Chuka travelled further out into SW London from Streatham …

    Vince’s “not unwelcome” comments is spot on – not entirely welcome yet, unless they do also attract some big hitter Remainers from the Tory party to join them, and they do form an alliance with us, rather than trying to tarnish us again.

  • Steve 19th Feb ’19 – 10:29am……@expats
    “There was no Brexit (nor even the claim of anti-semitism) in 2015 when these 7, among others, tried to remove Corbyn.”

    That is factually incorrect. The challenge to Corbyn’s leadership occurred during the Summer of 2016 following Corbyn’s disastrous referendum campaign. They tried to replace him with someone more competent after 80%of of Labour MPs voted no confidence in his leadership……………………….

    May I suggest you view Corbyn’s appearance on the Andrew Marr show in Nov?. 2015 when Marr referred to the ‘widespread reports of division in the Parliamentary Labour Party and criticism of his leadership,’. The BBC orchestrated resignation of Doughty in the first week of Jan 2016. The vote you refer to took place in June 2016 but that was only the culmination of the ongoing anti-Corbyn briefings and backstabbing that started on day one of his election.

    nvelope2003 19th Feb ’19 – 11:47am……expats: I do disagree with Corbyn’s policies because similar ones have been tried several times and have led to the sort of disasters that afflicted India, parts of Africa, Cuba and now Venezuela. Free enterprise might be uncomfortable to you but it has brought about massive improvements in living standards where governments have brought in rules to control exploitation and enforce safety standards…….

    I note you still haven’t named a single policy.
    Let’s try again; do you disagree with his promisee on house building, his promises on welfare, taxation, employees’ rights, energy, etc.
    As for Free Enterprise; what is wrong with Labour’s plan for a mixed economy? Taking rail back into public ownership is very, very popular.

  • Denis Mollison 19th Feb '19 - 6:29pm

    @nvelope2003 – `have led to the sort of disasters that afflicted India, parts of Africa, Cuba and now Venezuela’. I’m not sure about your reference to India and parts of Africa, but any fair judgement on Cuba or Venezuela has to take into account the hugely unequal governments that prevailed before Castro and Chavez, and the huge efforts made subsequently by the US to destabilise their regimes.

    A comparison with Attlee’s post-war UK, whose reforms, including far more nationalisation than Corbyn has proposed, were broadly accepted by Conservative governments for many years, would be fairer and more realistic.

  • Helen Dudden 19th Feb '19 - 10:28pm

    Anti Semetic comments can’t continue and Corbyn will pay the price. As with the news this evening on those who went to fight with ISIS. No you can’t fill our streets with fear, and your thoughts on your life style.
    Well done, at last someone has stood for our country.

  • I have great admiration for the new Independent Group, it’s very brave of them. I am Lib Dem member and voted to Stay in the EU but I am still trying to come to terms as to why the Party I still pushing their ‘Exit Brexit’ campaign despite the majority of voters choosing to leave the EU. I feel at odds with what the Lib Dems originally stood for. I know they say well people didn’t know what they voted for. Well they did with the false infromation that was allowed to be published at the time and could still be used again in a scecond referendum. If I was a Lib Dem MP now I would be inclinded to join the Independent group myself as I agree Politics needs cleaning up. The first thing I would do is make all election campaigns, material and promotions come under the Advertising Standard Authority rules, so we wouldn’t get things like the Bus Headline without a full explanation. Joining this new party gives the opportunitiy to start things a fresh and not stick to the traditions of the past.

  • nvelope2003 24th Feb '19 - 3:05pm

    Terry G – The Advertising Standards Authority does not seem to be very effective in stopping the misleading adverts by estate agents concerning commission unless they have not received any complaints.

    Dennis Mollison: Yes Cuba Governments before Castro were bad and something had to be done but unfortunately they chose the wrong things.

    I do not think burning lorries full of food and medicine on the Venezuelan border is going to help many people except the grossly over weight Senor Maduro. There have been too many reports of the crisis there not to take it seriously and again the wrong policies were implemented to deal with Venezuela’s problems.

    Until India and Tanzania abandoned full blown socialist policies they were bankrupt.The Attlee Government nationalised the railways etc because it hoped that they could be saved from road competition but it did not work. What the railways needed was vast sums of money but that was not available They were not even paid full compensation for war damage as that would have raised the share price.

    People had no experience of nationalisation in 1945 except maybe the post office although there were municipal gas and companies in some areas. Herbert Morrison who was a great believer in nationalisation advised the Labour party not to do any more as he got more complaints about it than anything else. The idea that we could have democratic control over nationalised industries is a complete fantasy as we do not have democratic control of anything because ordinary people do not have the time to sit on committees so the fanatics and extremists would take over as they have everywhere else. Businesses need to be run by competent professionals not politicians.

  • Richard Underhill 13th Jun '19 - 9:20pm

    At The Independent Group’s first press conference Luciana Berger made a strong case against antisemitism in the Labour Party as the main reason for leaving.
    Former Liberal leader Jo Grimond wrote in Memoirs (page 235) that
    “Max was one of the company of Central or Eastern European Jews whose families had emigrated to the West and which included Felix Frankfurter. If the flow should dry up liberalism will be parched. … For liberalism they are essential. For liberalism is not at bottom about the vote, it is about how human beings should behave towards each other. In probing human behaviour and searching for new philosophies the Jews have long been in the van.

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