So how might a progressive alliance work?

In today’s Guardian, our Layla Moran, Green MP Caroline Lucas and Labour MP Clive Lewis argue that we need progressive parties to come to an arrangement to beat the Tories.

Meanwhile the rightwing parties have consolidated, after the Tories swallowed the Brexit party whole. But progressives remain split, competing for the same voters – we divide; they conquer.

And yet poll after poll shows there is a progressive majority. We need to shape and win that majority.

This is why citizens are now using their votes wisely, to back the best-placed non-Tory; and why, under the radar, local parties are campaigning tactically to best direct their resources.

They argue against the tribalism that prevents progressive parties working together:

Old politics holds us back. The Labour rulebook demands the party stands candidates in every seat, regardless of whether doing so guarantees another Tory win. Local parties should be allowed to decide. But tribalism runs deep everywhere, and trust takes times to grow, with the inevitable result of another likely general election loss. We cannot allow that to happen. This self-defeating tribalism must go. While well-intentioned, party bureaucracies could be the last bastions of the old politics to fall. If this needs to be a grassroots alliance, then so be it.

Part of the problem with the idea of a progressive alliance was that loads of people think it’s a fab idea, but nobody has been able to set out how it might work in practice. But in recent years, there have been some good examples of where parties have worked together to our mutual gain.

Layla’s arrangement with the Greens in Oxfordshire has helped both parties and hurt the Tories badly. From Lib Dem wins in Oxford West and Abingdon in 2017 and 2019 to a joint administration of Lib Dem Labour and Green ousting the Tories from power in Oxfordshire County Council in May this year, this is a shining example of how a progressive alliance can work in practice. The test will be whether they can govern as cleverly as they have campaigned.

During the leadership election last year, Layla talked about how she had made great efforts to win over the Greens in the run up to her win in 2017. She went along to their meetings and talked to them and answered some tough questions. She put the effort into building up strong relationships with them on the ground.

However, the Unite to Remain effort at the 2019 election was doomed to failure, mainly because Labour refused to get involved and partly because it was imposed on seats in a way that was never going to work.

The last time Caroline Lucas faced a Lib Dem in her Brighton Pavilion seat was in 2015. Her then opponent Chris Bowers went on to co-edit The Alternative, an argument for a more progressive politics with her and Labour’s Lisa Nandy. I interviewed both Chris and Caroline for Lib Dem Voice back in 2016.

No progressive alliance would work without the co-operation of the Labour Party. In 1997, we and Labour by and large kept out of each other’s way except in places like Chesterfield where we were genuinely fighting each other for the seat. I was involved in that campaign and our move forward then put us in pole position for Paul Holmes to win in 2001.

As important as Labour being willing to take part is that they must genuinely appeal to many people. Tony Blair always left me cold, but he appealed to people well beyond Labour’s core vote. They liked him and people weren’t scared witless by the idea of him as PM.

Labour’s path to a majority is significantly hampered by the SNP’s strength in Scotland so it might develop more of an open mind to co-operation. Scotland is also a completely different political eco-system and there will be no electoral co-operation of any sort between the SNP and the Lib Dems. Our core values are too different – liberalism is the antithesis of nationalism, after all. However, there is scope for Labour to work with the Lib Dems on that progressive alternative to nationalism and who knows, we might even change the mood music towards a more equitable and just UK.

I’m not sure that standing down in more than a handful of seats benefits the lead party, but I’m not opposed to it in principle. I’m much more in favour of the 97 style co-operation.

And one thing today’s article makes clear is that all the progressive parties can use the areas where we very strongly agree to change the mood music in our politics, and present a vision of how things could be better. Layla, Caroline and Clive say:

But what is essential is that any alliance is built on values, vision and the spirit of a new kind of politics. A politics of failed imagination, little hope and low effort has got us into this mess. We need a new politics that is in genuine and authentic service to the people, because of an abiding belief in the best of people and what they can achieve, given support.

One of the great things about politics is that outside of elections, politicians of all parties are actually very good about working together on issues that they care about. It’s just when it comes to actual elections that the tribalism tends to come to the fore.

Labour will need to decide whether it actually wants to run the country or not. If it does, its leadership will have to look at co-operation with others to make that happen.

We know from the Scottish example from 1999-2007 that progressive coalitions can work well. We need to get to that stage at Westminster. The electoral system makes it much more difficult so we will need to be clever about the arrangements we make in the run up to whenever the next election is.

I mean, we may not have long. Once this horrific government has repealed the fixed term Parliament Act and grabbed back the power for the PM to go to the country at a whim, he may want to do so before too many brexit and pandemic mistakes catch up with him. The full horror of both has not hit us yet. Once furlough ends we face rising unemployment and economic turmoil, causing hardship for many, particularly the most vulnerable.

So, we need the will amongst all progressive parties to actively work together to get rid of the Tories and we need Labour to set some heather on fire with a leader people actually like. And we need to be smart about listening to what local parties want. The participants all need to come out of it on one piece, too. No being the smile on the face of any tigers for us.

Let’s not muck it up. I really don’t want the Tories in power for a second longer than they have to be and I’m sure many of you reading this will agree with that at least.

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

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83 Comments

  • Brad Barrows 29th May '21 - 7:53pm

    You may wish to dismiss the SNP from being any part of a Progressive alliance but it is unlikely that Labour, Lib Dem and Green MPs will be able to form a majority on their own without the 50 plus MPs the SNP is likely to win. It also seems a strange progressive alliance that would wish to exclude the second largest progressive party in Parliament.

  • James Fowler 29th May '21 - 8:55pm

    Talking about a progressive alliance and then dismissing the SNP is absurd. The problem is that there is no real philosophical connection between the parties mentioned, although there may be some occasional flags of convenience. Green, Liberal, Nationalist and Labour politics are not united about much, except now and again dislike of Tories trumps everything. I’m for alliances and coalitions – including the one we’ve had previously – but we have to win our right to a position in them on our own Liberal terms first.

  • John Marriott 29th May '21 - 10:55pm

    At present, with difficulty.

  • Can’t see Labour joining an alliance & not standing candidates in several constituencies.

    The optics would look awful for them.

  • There is a different way of looking at the issue. If we talk about Liberal Democrats not putting up a candidate, who are we talking about? The extremes might be looked at as either a group of people in London and the members in the particular constituency.
    To me we need to consider the differences between parties. The present Conservative party highlights the fact that it is possible to have a successful party which is effectively based upon the deployment of large financial resources. I have in mind that the present prime minister was able to demand that candidates signed an agreement about the European issue.
    If so far as the right – left division means anything, then the left represents those without resources. There is a need therefore to mobilise enthusiasm amongst the people. To me this means that the aim would need to be to have people working together on a local level. If they are campaigning together on specific issues, then the idea of a common candidate will no doubt make sense.
    Whether it is possible to build a mass movement which does not involve having some means of making centralised decisions I doubt. But I also believe that this is the only way of stopping creating the problems that we have at the moment.
    However to me the present Chinese communist party and the present US Republican Party have the same political ideas.

  • Andrew Tampion 30th May '21 - 7:06am

    So how might a progressive alliance work?
    It won’t for the reasons that James Fowler gives.
    For clarity. I consider even the current Conservative’s more liberal than either Labour or the Green’s (although that isn’t saying much).

  • A progressive alliance will not work at present. At least, not nationally – Labour simply do not want one! Clive Lewis is an outlier – a fringe voice within the current Labour movement. The Labour party may be doing badly from a historical perspective but it still has (nearly) 200 MP’s in Westminster – they still believe they can win an outright majority – a progressive alliance is an impediment to them.

  • George Thomas 30th May '21 - 8:12am

    Everyone reading this message would have a greater chance of deciding political direction of the UK if they joined Conservative party and waited for a leadership race so while I don’t have any concrete answers I do hope others do and the parties get on with it soon.

  • If you can’t stomach the idea of working with the SNP, surely you can understand those of us who don’t want to work with Labour who have had similarly horrendous experiences at their hands?

    Particularly after how we were burnt by coalition the only formal alliance with Labour I could countenance (and I wouldn’t call it a progressive alliance if they were involved) would be an agreement to 1, enact STV and 2, immediately call another election.

  • Martin Pierce 30th May '21 - 9:11am

    There’s a certain irony in posting this article next to the announcement of our (no doubt excellent) candidate in Batley & Spen. We have precisely zero chance of winning this seat, but the Tories have a very good chance. Although 6% behind last time, 12% went to an ‘independent’ from a party set up by a local UKIP leader and a further 3% went to Brexit party. If we can’t stand down in favour of Jo Cox’s sister to help reverse the Tory tide then we might as well stop bothering to talk about this.

  • I’m probably one of the Lib Dems who is more in favour of a Progressive Alliance.

    But for the problem is this: Labour is already a coalition. There are bits of it that we agree with, and actually align with quite well, and bits that we really do disagree with – there is no one Labour party.

    For a start:
    There’s the hard left Labour party, bringing with it a lot of antisemitism.
    There’s the new Labour pro-ID cards, pro 100 day detention without charge authoritarian Labour party.
    There’s the union barons Labour party.
    There’s the old Labour right wing Labour party.
    There’s the collectivist, cooperative Labour party.
    There’s the urban, liberal, remainer activist Labour party.

    I would happily do deals or even merge with the last two, but they are the weakest parts of the Labour party.

    If we are to get a progressive alliance to work, and we do need it to work as a country, it means hammering out a sufficient deal that we don’t let the less liberal parts of the Labour coalition in. How that’s achieved – I’m not sure…but I do think it’s worth trying – as nearly all of those Labour wings are still better than the Tories.

  • Voters know what’s what and have been forming a progressive alliance for years. Where I reside Lib Dems and Green s have been pushed almost out of sight with progressives voting Labour, it is the only realistic option to the Cons.

  • Martin Pierce is correct and I agree with his judgement.

    I grew up in the Spen Valley and my parents lived there until the end of their lives. I know Kim Leadbeater and know what a great person she is – and what she has done for so many local people (including my late parents). She should not have been opposed.

  • @ Jennie Rigg “Particularly after how we were burnt by coalition”.

    It was a self inflicted wound, Jennie and it hurt a great many more people in a real sense outside the Lib Dems.

  • William 30th May ’21 – 10:13am……………I’m probably one of the Lib Dems who is more in favour of a Progressive Alliance.h – there is no one Labour party…..

    Whereas this party is united with ‘everyone singing from the same hymnsheet’. Just read LDV?
    With just 12 seats we can’t agree on much so imagine us with over 200?

  • Laurence Cox 30th May '21 - 1:15pm

    @David Raw

    Count the votes! In the 2019 GE, the sum of the Right-wing votes (Tories+ex-UKIP+Brexit) was 27,179 (51.4% of the total). The Lib Dems and Greens standing down wouldn’t be enough even if all their votes went to the Labour candidate. The only chance to stop the Tories, and it is a slim one, is for the Lib Dem candidate to take votes from the Tories in the more rural areas of the constituency, which as she comes from one of the villages and has good law-and-order credentials is just possible (she got 14.5% of first preferences in the PCC election in Cheshire earlier this month, which suggests her campaign attracted a number of normally Tory voters).

  • Graham Mabbutt 30th May '21 - 3:08pm

    It’s rather ironic that a Progressive Alliance is proposed by Clive Lewis MP. He won his seat from the Lib Dems in Norwich South in the 2015 General Election following the Student Fees Fiasco, (it was a heavily based student seat.)
    I know him from Milton Keyes in the early 2000’s where he was a superb tv news reporter and interviewer, very fair and responsible. He never gave any indication of being a Labour supporter!

  • Peter Martin 30th May '21 - 3:28pm

    There seems to be an assumption that the right wing of the Labour Party are the goodies and the left are the baddies. Michael Meadowcroft singles out Dennis Skinner for special mention, for example.

    Yet, when the Lib Dems were doing well they were often considered to be to the left of the Blairite New Labour Party. The Lib Dems were in agreement with Denis Skinner and others on the Labour left on Iraq and not on the pro-war policies of the Labour right.

    Both Lib Dems and Labour should concentrate on building up their support base rather than trying to do deals with each other. It’s not going to help Labour if the Lib Dems stand down in the Tory / Labour marginals. The Lib Dem vote isn’t mainly going to switch to Labour. I suspect most would abstain but some will even vote Tory.

    The ‘abstain party’ is the biggest by some margin. Only 42% of the electorate voted in the recent Hartlepool by-election. This was down from 60% in 2017. I suspect most of the 18% were disgruntled former Labour supporters. Lib Dems will have plenty of disgruntled former Lib Dem supporters in their less affluent former strongholds.

    Both parties should prioritise getting them back rather than wanting to limit everyone’s voting choice.

  • Ian Sanderson (RM3) 30th May ’21 – 4:43pm:
    Just entering such an arrangement will mean some previous voters will not go along with it, and, in the worst case, vote for the party the alliance is designed to defeat.

    The third reason given in Nick Tyrone’s piece…

    ‘Here are the three main reasons a progressive alliance won’t work’:
    https://nicktyrone.com/__trashed/

    Let’s imagine by some miracle the Labour party decide that their days of being a party capable of winning a majority at Westminster are over and embrace the progressive alliance idea fully. Then let’s say that Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens manage to put aside all differences and then agree on which seats each one of them will stand in. You’d still have a massive problem – you’ve handed the Tories a huge campaigning tool.

    The Conservatives can tell the country: “Labour clearly cannot win a general election anymore on their own steam – even they know that now. That’s why they have decided to try and circumvent democracy by attempting to stitch up the election between themselves, the Lib Dems and the Green party. Know this – a vote for Labour is a vote for an unstable coalition that has an express purpose – to change the voting system forever to their advantage.”

    There’s a difference between someone voting Lib Dem in a Lib-Tory marginal because they don’t mind the Lib Dems and want to vote against the Conservatives and someone doing so with the knowledge that they are in effect voting for a Labour-Lib Dem-Green coalition. It would change the way people vote dramatically. And I think a lot of people would rally around the Tories at that election.

  • Alex Macfie 30th May '21 - 6:12pm

    David Raw, Martin Pierce: What makes you think that we’d help the Labour candidate by standing aside in Batley & Spen? We are not the Brexit Party, we cannot ‘instruct’ our supporters about whom to vote for when where we are not standing. In Lab~Con marginals like B&S, we tend to take votes that would otherwise have gone to the Conservatives (specifically anti-Tory voters already knowing that they need to vote Labour). Therefore, standing aside there would most likely gift the seat to the Tories, as well as destroying us as a party in the few local Council wards where we are strong.

    In the previous by-election, both the Tories and Lib Dems withdrew out of respect for Jo Cox. (It probably came as a relief to us, because it allowed us to focus on the Richmond Park by-election the same day.) But this time, there is no sign of the Tory candidate withdrawing. Why, then, should we, especially as our presence is likely to lower the Tory column? Kim Leadbeater may well be popular in her local areas, and could even benefit from a sympathy vote given her familial relationship to Jo Cox, but we should leave it up to the local electorate to decide.

  • Alex Macfie 30th May '21 - 7:09pm

    @Jeff: Normally, Nick Tyrone doesn’t know what he’s talking about when it comes to the Lib Dems. However, in that article he is correct in 2½ out of 3 points. In particular, he’s correct to say that Lib Dem voters cannot be relied on to vote for another “progressive” party candidate in contests where we don’t stand. But the “stitch-up” argument probably wouldn’t work. It didn’t gain any traction when the Tories tried it in the Brecon & Radnorshire by-election campaign (when both Greens and Plaid Cymru stood aside for Lib Dems), and nor did it ever come up (for me) on the doorstep in 2019GE in Richmond Park (part of the limited Unite to Remain pact), which Sarah Olney won from the Tories with a large majority, as did most of the Lib Dem MPs in seats that were part of a Unite to Remain pact.

  • John Marriott 30th May '21 - 8:57pm

    Yesterday I answered the question with “At present, with difficulty”. Having read the most recent comments, I think I might change that to “You must be joking!”.

  • neil James sandison 31st May '21 - 7:02am

    For any progressive alliance to succeed it has to progress on shared core values . some of the ones that come to mind are PR in all regional and district elections . fighting child poverty ensuring that we do not remain food bank Britain for so many families . tackling social injustice where ever it occurs but particularly in terms of health, education gender and disability . A cleaner ,greener and safer society . Our environment has significantly degraded under the Tories whos empty words have led to so many broken promises. Agree these key objectives and co-operation between progressives becomes a little easier .

  • Peter Watson 31st May '21 - 10:02am

    @John Marriott ‘At present, with difficulty”. Having read the most recent comments, I think I might change that to “You must be joking!”.’
    Much of the discussion appears to position the party as an alternative to the Tories and an opposition to Labour (and the SNP in Scotland). This seems consistent with the apparent strategy for the last decade or so and gives me little hope for a “progressive alliance”.

  • Peter Hirst 31st May '21 - 2:18pm

    Our leadership needs to give us a direction regarding a progressive alliance. Knowing how local rrangemnts will be viewed by the Party helps decision makers. One policy we could agree on with the other Parties is an early further GE held under PR, say within 2 years.

  • David Evershed 31st May '21 - 5:05pm

    The so-called progressive parties are supposed to favour the poor huddled masses. But the poor huddled masses do not support the so-called progressive parties, they favour the Conservatives.

    So what would be the purpose of a coalition of the so-called progressive parties?

  • Steve Trevethan 31st May '21 - 5:16pm

    Here is an attachment which might of interest and even of use.
    https://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/

  • Can people please, again, start getting their heads round the fact that the SNP are most certainly NOT a progressive party in the sense that we are! There may be some who are closer to us, but there are a significant number – possibly a majority – of SNP members and supporters who are most definitely not, and come from the very traditional, socially conservative side of Scotland which still exists.

    Personally, I think the best option is likely to be a return to the 1997 ‘arrangement’ Paddy had with Blair – Labour don’t try hard in our areas, and we don’t try hard in theirs – the exceptions being any where we are likely to go head to head. We don’t need anything formal, or even to stand down candidates. On the other hand, this is most likely to be successful when there is discontent with the Tories in government, and that’s not something I see happening (at least from my distance) any time soon.

  • “The SNP are not a progressive party in the sense we are”.

    Could you be more specific and give some examples on this please, Keith ?

  • “to a joint administration of Lib Dem Labour and Green ousting the Tories from power in Oxfordshire County Council in May this year, this is a shining example of how a progressive alliance can work in practice.”

    Meanwhile, in Durham County Council, a joint administration of Lib Dem, Conservative and Independents has ousted Labour from power – a shining example of how a conservative alliance could work in practice. (The sole Green councillor chose – entirely unsurprisingly! – not to join this alliance)

    Perhaps that would be a more productive approach nationally too?

  • Maybe we should give just a little consideration to the reasons why so many people vote Conservative and address our policies to take their views into account

  • The way it should work is to stand down candidates in enough seats to deny the Conservatives a majority but no more than that.

    So for example if Labour took 40 seats from the Conservatives and didn’t lose any to them there would be a hung parliament. So we could stand down in their most marginal 40 top targets and 20 held seats. This would be in our interests so could be done unilaterally. Anything further e.g enough seats to make Labour the largest party (another 43) would be subject to negotiation.

  • @ Cim An Independent Group is a contradiction in terms defying gravity.

    Do they have a shared policy ?

  • @David Raw
    I think to make the numbers work there are a few different groupings of related independents joining the coalition. The shared policy is “we’re not Labour”, which is, really, when it comes down to it, what a “conservative alliance” is all about … and a parallel statement probably all a “progressive alliance” could agree on either. Hopefully they can get on well enough to at least keep the Council operating!

  • Ruth Bright 2nd Jun '21 - 10:32am

    Martin Pierce is exactly right about standing down.

    Michael Meadowcroft has always been an inspiration but why does he continually go back to the namby pamby Southerners who don’t understand the real Labour Party type of argument. As a councillor in my twenties in London I saw how nasty the Labour party could be but I don’t think I should sit on my bottom and wait for the fifth, sixth or seventh Tory victories to arrive (as they surely will if we do nothing) because someone was rude to me in a council meeting in 1995.

  • Ruth Bright has put her finger on it. If the party doesn’t make a positive radical offering then it’s nothing.

    Unfortunately there is a history of knee jerk anti-socialism (in what became this party) going back over a hundred years. It destroyed the Liberal Party in the 1920’s when reds were imagined under beds. The more progressive radical Liberals like Trevelyan, Ponsonby, Morel, Benn etc moved to the Labour Party whilst the suburban middle class deserted to the Tories.

    Serious Liberals should get their heads into : ‘Essays in Anti-Labour History: Responses to the Rise of Labour in Britain’, ed. Kenneth D. Brown., and Maurice Cowling , “The Impact of Labour, 1920-24.”

    Frankly I can’t see the Lib Dems getting anywhere as a radical positive force with something fresh and new to say (especially given the present leadership) if they think their future lies solely in the comfortable leafy Home Counties.

  • Why not try winning on your own merits, rather than coercing and corralling other parties’ voters into your pen by denying them the choice of their own party?

  • John Littler 2nd Jun '21 - 3:59pm

    There is easily enough common ground between the progressive parties to come together in Alliance, yet still all retain their separate varied policies.

    PR voting ( not AV ). (Labour members are 3/4 in favour)

    An Elected Upper House ( Labour had it in manifesto in recent years, although Milliband ratted on their manifesto.

    A Federal UK with regions having input to the centre, including across England ( Starmer says he’s in favour )

    Boost to NHS

    Greening the Economy using an Active Industrial & Energy Strategy

    That would be enough, but 1-2 others could add to the mix.

    A few voters would moan about lack of choice, but so what. It is lack of choice between losers and there is provenly way more votes to gain than lose, as the Brexits proved in 2019 and on centre left as various by elections and councils suggest.

    If party members are more interested in purity than sharing power, then perhaps they might be better in some debating society or pressure group? Many ex SDP people used to be in Labour and it was the Labour Representation Committee who produced the stars of the original Independent Labour Party

  • Working with other non-Tory parties, especially Labour is what centre/left of centre voters including many of our voters would expect us to do. Many voters have a Lib-Lab identity where they sympathise with both parties and possibly the Greens and don’t mind voting for a party that isn’t their first choice. Where the Lib Dem’s have recovered ground since 2015 (eg SW London, Oxford West) this has been driven by Lib-Lab voters.

    Claims that Labour “aren’t as progressive as us” and “have bullying instincts” don’t resonate with many people. Some members are out of touch on this point. You could point to Alliance/Lib Dem behaviour in Bermondsey in 1983 or Tower Hamlets in the 90s as evidence that all parties have questionable track records.

  • Peter Watson 2nd Jun '21 - 7:16pm

    United by a dislike of the Romans … I mean Conservatives, I can’t say I’m optimistic about a “progressive alliance” with the People’s Front of Judea, the Judean People’s Front, etc. Splitters!
    But what have the Tories ever done for us?

  • Alex Macfie 2nd Jun '21 - 8:34pm

    Ruth Bright, Marco: Once more with feeling. if we stand down in Con~Lab marginals, our vote will most likely go to the Tories. That’s the whole point: Lib Dems standing aside does not help Labour win against the Tories, it does the opposite. As for Marco’s idea of doing so unllaterally, which bit of “We are not the Brexit Party” don’t you understand? It would destroy our credibility as a serious party, and would be the biggest present we could give to the Tories.

  • @ Alex Macfie

    I am surprised by your views as you have previously argued for a more radical leftwards direction so I would have had you down as a certain supporter of the Progressive Alliance.

    How do you know that more of our voters prefer a Conservative government to a Labour one? I would have thought it would be more like 60:40 for Labour.

    My reasons for supporting the PA are summed up firstly by Paddy Ashdown’s Chard speech and this excellent article by Chris Bowers: https://www.compassonline.org.uk/i-am-not-a-yellow-tory/

  • Alex Macfie 2nd Jun '21 - 9:55pm

    In Lancaster City Council the Conservatives voted for a Green Council Leader, ousting Labour from power. But the Tories do not have any portfolio positions. Labour seems to have been backed by the small Lib Dem group, and there are a lot of splinter groups.
    I don’t think we can read anything into this at a national level, and it’s silly to try to extrapolate party alliances in one local authority as an example of what is or should be happening nationally. Mostly these depend on local factors, pure and simple.

  • Peter Martin 2nd Jun '21 - 10:20pm

    @ Alex,

    ” if we stand down in Con~Lab marginals, our vote will most likely go to the Tories. That’s the whole point: Lib Dems standing aside does not help Labour win against the Tories, it does the opposite”

    You might not welcome my agreeing with you but I’ve been saying pretty much the same thing ever since the topic of a “Progressive Alliance” started to be seriously raised. The best we can hope for is that individual voters might decide to vote tactically if they see the merit in that.

    The Labour Party and its members are often accused of being ultra tribal and therefore opposed in principle to any form of alliance or pact. This may be true of some but most are much more pragmatic. Many might even vote tactically themselves when the occasion arises. Wasn’t there a recent case of the Labour vote in one by-election being less than the party membership?

    The reason there is no pact is because we largely agree with you. It simply doesn’t make electoral sense.

  • Peter Martin 3rd Jun '21 - 5:03am

    @ Marco,

    “I would have thought {our voters} would be more like 60:40 for Labour.”

    It would depend on the constituency. In the Lab/Con marginals, which by definition, can swing either way there will be a natural squeeze on support for other parties. So it would be more reasonable to assume that any second preferences would have to be distant second preferences. A more likely scenario would be a third each for Lab, Con and abstain.

    A formal alliance wouldn’t help you at all in the Lib Dem / Tory marginals. The Labour support there is already heavily squeezed in favour of the Lib Dems. It would then enable the Tories to claim with some justification that a vote for the Lib Dems is a vote for a Labour Govt.

  • Alex Macfie 3rd Jun '21 - 8:27am

    Marco: I am a pragmatist on cross-party cooperation and alliances, so my views on this are based on reality. And the reality is that we cannot control what our potential supporters do where we don’t stand a candidate. This makes us different from the Brexit Party, which was essentially a Nigel Farage fan club whose voters would do whatever he told them to. The Brexit Party was also a single-issue party, and it achieved its objective without electing a single MP under its colours. We are not a single-issue party, and our policies work best when implemented by Liberal Democrats.
    As for where our vote would break if we don’t stand a candidate, this depends on type of seat. In Lab~Con marginals, committed anti-Tory voters already know to vote Labour, leaving our core voters and soft Tories. Hence they’ll probably either abstain or vote Tory if we don’t stand. In LD~Lab battlegrounds, we take votes mostly from Labour, so in our absence they would mostly go there. Committed Tories in such seats (not that there are very many usually) tend not to vote tactically for us, except maybe in by-elections or when they get a personal call from their leader (as in Sheffield Hallam in 2015).

    The by-election where there were fewer Labour voters than members in the constituency was the 2016 Richmond Park by-election. This is the constituency where I live, so obviously I know it well. As I have mentioned previously, at the last GE I got a lot of “I’m voting Tory to keep JC out” on the doorstep, and while Sarah Olney won decisively, her margin of victory was smaller than the MRP polls were predicting, suggesting a late swing to the Tories. Any perception of a formal alliance with Labour would drive our soft Tory vote here and in places like C&A back to the clutches of the “devil they know”.

    Pacts with the Greens are different. The Green Party, despite being more radical than Labour, does not seem to have the image of a hard-core class-war socialist party among soft Tories. Whether a pact would work depends on relations between the local Lib Dem and Green parties. In Twickenham and Richmond the Greens stood aside for us in the last two GEs and the RPNK by-election, and we had a pact for the locals. Across the river in Kingston, there’s no chance of that happening, because relations are poor locally. You would know why if you ever came to campaign here.

  • Ruth Bright 3rd Jun '21 - 9:38am

    Alex – with Labour led by Corbyn you might have had a point with that generalisation. Things have changed and a decision should be made seat by seat.

  • @ Alex Macfie

    I accept that an alliance was a non-starter with Corbin as Labour leader but with Keir Starmer or any moderate social democrat it is a possibility.

    My point would be that in many seats voters 𝘈𝘭𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘥𝘺 behave as if we are in an alliance such as the voters in Richmond who told you they would vote Tory because of fear of Labour – we won’t lose any extra voters by doing this.

    There isn’t any data/evidence saying what LD voters would do if there was no LD candidate. All I ask is that decisions are based on data not on assumptions.

    @Peter Martin

    There are plenty of LD- Con marginal seats where the Labour vote could be squeezed a lot further. Wimbledon, Cheadle, Cambridgeshire S and SE, Cities of London and WM, Hazel Grove, Hitchin and Harpenden to name a few.

  • Peter Martin 3rd Jun '21 - 11:52am

    @ Marco,

    To take the first example on your list, Wimbledon, it wouldn’t have been obvious to the voters that this was going to be a Lib Dem / Tory marginal. You’d finished third in 2017.

    But, next time you will be in a better position to explain the tactics.

    Possibly, the best approach would be to covertly support a tactical voting group which can explain when this type of voting is going to be a viable option.

  • Israel seems to be on the brink of forming a coalition government that does not include Netanyahu. Not so much a progressive alliance as an anti-Bibi alliance. If Yamina, led by the ultra-nationalist Naftali Bennett can go into coalition with the centrist Yair Lapid, Meretz on the left and Mansour Abbas’ Arab Ra’am party then perhaps anything is possible.

  • Alex Macfie 3rd Jun '21 - 7:07pm

    Marco: For every voter scared into voting Tory by the thought that voting Lib Dem might have helped Corbyn into No 10 when we were ruling out even working with him, there would have been another who was not so afraid but might have been if we appeared to be in a pact with his party. When voters told me they were voting Tory to keep out JC, I was able to counter that we had ruled out working with him, as well as that there was no real chance of him becoming PM anyway. No such defence would have been possible if we were actually standing down candidates for Labour, or vice versa.
    But it isn’t only with a hard-left Labour leader like Corbyn that we have this difficulty. In 1992 and 2015 the Tories successfully scared many of our potential voters into voting Tory with the prospect of a LabourWin government (in 2015 propped up by the SNP), and this was under moderate Labour leaders. Making clear we are separate parties, by standing candidates in all Parliamentary seats. is essential whatever the character of the Labour Party at the time.

    Although Peter Martin is right that a formal alliance wouldn’t be helpful in Lib Dem ~ Tory marginals, he does omit one part of the story, which is Labour flooding many such seats with activists, knowing full well that Labour coudn’t win. Wimbledon is one such example. Labour continued to campaign there even after constituency polling showed that we were the clear challenger. By contrast, Lib Dems de-targeted neighbouring Putney when it became clear that Labour was most likely to beat the Tories there, and we sent our activists to Wimbledon instead. Labour won Putney, while the Tories narrowly held onto Wimbledon. There is a strong tendency among some (not all) Labour activists to prefer the Tories to win against us.

  • neil James sandison 4th Jun '21 - 1:34pm

    Some have commented that the country voted Tory despite progressives . Well all incumbent administrations benefitted from a vaccine vote bounce at the recent elections in England ,Scotland and Wales . The other factor we have to take on the chin is that the leadership of the progressive parties has not been seen as attractive to the voters . Boris may be a rogue but he is seen as a likeable rogue with good public profile .Our leader could be easily passed in the street without a second glance .

  • John Littler 4th Jun '21 - 1:39pm

    It may have once been the case that the LibDems were naturally more inclined towards the Tories, even if that was a big mistake, which I believe it was. There was the Orange Book and a lot of economically centre right MP’s, now gone. Also New Labour had been in power a long time and had become illiberal such as on the ridiculous £30bn iD database up to the 2010 G.E, or the Iraq War

    However, now with the Tories going illiberal, anti EU, populist, incompetent and highly corrupt, they need to be opposed as a matter of instinct and we need to build a broad front against them. On the other hand, 3/4 of Labour members and more MP’s now support PR voting. Even the PR opposed Andy Burnham has seen the light and converted to PR.

    Many in Labour now support a Progressive Alliance although it is far from certain. A Progressive Alliance does not mean standing down everywhere you came 3rd or worse, but negotiations would be needed to decide which battles need boiling down to 2 candidates and which do not and might just see resource re-direction. But only a Progressive Alliance will oust this Government in one term, given the electoral arithmetic

  • It may have once been the case that the LibDems were naturally more inclined towards the Tories, even if that was a big mistake, which I believe it was. There was the Orange Book and a lot of economically centre right MP’s, now gone. Also New Labour had been in power a long time and had become illiberal such as on the ridiculous £30bn iD database up to the 2010 G.E, or the Iraq War

    However, now with the Tories going illiberal, anti EU, populist, incompetent and self serving, they need to be opposed as a matter of instinct and we need to build a broad front against them. On the other hand, 3/4 of Labour members and more MP’s now support PR voting. Even the PR opposed Andy Burnham has seen the light and converted to PR.

    Many in Labour now support a Progressive Alliance although it is far from certain. A Progressive Alliance does not mean standing down everywhere you came 3rd or worse, but negotiations would be needed to decide which battles need boiling down to 2 candidates and which do not and might just see resource re-direction. But only a Progressive Alliance will oust this Government in one term, given the electoral arithmetic.

  • 3/4 of Labour members now support PR voting as well as many more senior figures. Andy Burnham is a recent convert.
    Many Labour members now accept the need for a Progressive Alliance.

    There is no other electorally realistic way of beating the Tories in 1 term, even if that means not standing down everywhere we are 3rd or worse. a re-direction of resources would be the bare minimum.

    Standing down candidates helped the LibDems at by elections and the tories in 2019 when the Brexits stood half their candidates down.

  • john 4th Jun ’21 – 2:12pm:
    Standing down candidates helped the LibDems at by elections and the tories in 2019 when the Brexits stood half their candidates down.

    But The Brexit Party’s primary objective was to make themselves redundant. That makes standing down in furtherance of that aim an obviously sensible decision.

  • Alex Macfie 4th Jun '21 - 7:34pm

    There seems to be some misunderstanding of my comments about which of Tories of Labour Lib Dem voters would prefer in the absence of a Lib Dem candidate. I did not say that Lib Dem voters in general prefer the Tories, and nor am I making any value judgement on voter preferences, which are what they are and it’s not something we as a party have any control over.

    What I said was that in Con~Lab marginals, where we are in clear 3rd place, we are most likely to take votes that would otherwise go to the Tories. This is only in Con~Lab marginals, and it’s because the anti-Tory Red Lib Dem and Yellow Labour voters have already thrown their weight behind Labour. LibDem voters in our Labour-facing target seats are most likely to prefer Labour over the Tories, and in our Tory-facing target seats there’s a mixture of both types (i.e. a lot of anti-Tory tactical voters and soft Tories).

    And my conclusion is that a formal pact with Labour involving standing aside in certain seats would be counter-productive, because the Tories would benefit in the seats where we stand aside, and the existence of such a pact would lose us the Blue Lib Dem or Yellow Tory vote in our Tory-facing target seats, again benefiting the Tories.

    And a quick warning: don’t assume that all the Labour vote would break to us or even the Greens if Labour stands aside in our target seats. Probably in the seats like Richmond Park where the Labour vote has been squeezed until the pips squeak, the remaining Labour vote comprises the hard-core Labourites who wouldn’t ever vote anything else, and don’t and won’t ever see the difference between us and the Tories. And some Labour voters will switch to the Tories, because the sort of Blue Labour people who handed the Red Wall seats to the Tories also exist in our target seats. Voters switching from Labour to the Tories may have cost us both Cheltenham and Carshalton & Wallington at 2019GE.

  • @ Alex Macfie

    I do see where you are coming from, however do you agree with the need to run a low profile campaign in Labour target seats and that it was a mistake for example for Sam Gyimah to run such a high profile campaign in Kensington? Also do you agree with the need to have a joint agenda on some key issues particularly funding public services, inequality and constitutional reform?

    @ John

    The Orange Book wasn’t centre-right, I would argue that it was if anything slightly centre-left and radically liberal.

  • Andrew Southgate 6th Jun '21 - 7:46am

    Hello John, the wing of the party you refer to are still here despite the best efforts of some. Some of our most talented MP’s such as Norman Lamb and Stephen Lloyd were run out of the party in a ridiculous ‘search and destroy’ mission to have an ideological purity test over ‘Brexit.’ I say that as someone who voted Remain, but wanted complete reform ov .

    On a ‘progressive alliance’, I believe that we should today open negotiations with Keir Starmer and Caroline Lucas. It will be a process of ‘give and take’ and that will mean hard decisions. Firstly, it takes two to tango and we should not stand a candidate in Batley and Spen. Labour should do likewise in Chesham and Amersham.

    It also is worth remembering that we face a pretty formidable opponent in Johnson. You do not become Mayor of London, Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister without great political skill . His boundless cynicism aside, the left, centre left and the centre have been comprehensively beaten by him at election after election in the last decade.

    There is now not a ‘cat in hell’s chance’ of an overall Labour majority at the next election. The best we canhope for is to sharply reduce Johnson’s majority. The worst is that awful sensation when David Dimbleby or Huw Edward’s reads out an exit poll showing another Tory landslide. The slow but steady leftwards drift of the party is electorally illiterate. Most of our target seats are Conservative and our band of 11 MPs also face Conservative challenges. Do you really think hurtling leftward is a good idea?

    If Johnson has a ‘2017’ moment, before you can say Rishi Sunak,he or some fresh face will be leader. There are even Conservatives such as Simon Hoare or Bim Afolami who are waiting in the wings for Johnson to slip up . Without austerity and the baleful influence of Osbourne, we may be able even to do business with them.

    Covid offers new opportunities to rethink things. The total policy and ideological vacuum from Starmer presents a radical opportunity that Great George Street is not taking at the moment. The key thing is to keep our promises. It is not rocket science. The alternative is ‘genteel decline’ and being overtaken by the Greens.

  • Nonconformistradical 6th Jun '21 - 8:02am

    @Andrew Southgate
    “we should not stand a candidate in Batley and Spen. ”
    For which nominations close Monday 7 June and I believe that will also be the last date for withdrawal of a candidate.

    “Labour should do likewise in Chesham and Amersham.”
    For which the statement of persons nominated was dated 20 May – that was also the last date for a candidate to withdraw.

    So I really wouldn’t hold your breath.

  • Andrew Southgate 6th Jun '21 - 8:12am

    @nonconformist radical Well, it’s too late now. Even during the golden year of the 90s and noughties, we got at most a stunning 17% of the vote, so I doubt we will win.

    Think of it like an avalanche in an alpine mountain. A pebble or car or is slammed. A chain reaction happens and bingo an avalanche happens. But none of it would have occurred without the pebble and by not doing something different, we play the Tory game. This is why we should not fight all 650 seats at a general election and instead target our limited resources.

  • Alex Macfie 6th Jun '21 - 10:21am

    Marco: In general the Lib Dems do not run high profile campaigns in Labour seats. We ran only a token campaign in Canterbury in 2019 and are likely to do the same in the Batley & Spen by-election. But as for Kensington, I did some campaigning there, as my workplace (one of the South Ken museums) is in the constituency and it made sense to do a bit of delivery or canvassing there after a day in the office (those were the days, when people worked in offices instead of at home). I did one session with Sam (although I’d met him before). Obviously the result was not the one we had hoped for. But it’s difficult to form any conclusions about the effect of our campaign on who won. The Labour~Tory swing was tiny, turning a tiny Labour majority into a tiny Tory majority. Once this was a safe Tory seat. safe enough for Tories rejected elsewhere to seek it as a new Parliamentary base (Michael Portillo (who won Kensington & Chelsea in the 1999 by-election) and Malcolm Rifkind (in 2005)). That all changed in 2017, when a large swing to Labour unseated the previous Tory MP. The main factor was a straight Tory→Labour swing, but the Lib Dem vote also increased, probably mostly taken from the Tories (I recall the victorious Labour candidate thanked the LIb Dems for helping her win by taking Tory votes in her victory speech at the count).

    So we did have a basis for believing we could advance in Kensington. In 2019 Sam Gyimah did increase our share of the vote, taking apparently equal shares from Labour and the Tories. We can’t easily determine the undercurrents in this result (e.g. who’s to say there weren’t some Blue Labour people voting Tory for the first time?); nor can we assume that previous Tories who crossed over to us would have been as willing to vote Labour if we hadn’t run a strong campaign (I suspect not). We would probably had more people switching to us from the Tories had it not been for the JC fear factor. In that sense one could say it was Labour’s fault Kensington reverted to blue in 2019. Regardless of that, Kensington is no longer the True Blue seat that it used to be, and I would not necessarily expect it to be a straightforward Con~Lab marginal either.

  • Alex Macfie 6th Jun '21 - 10:25am

    Andrew Southgate: How are we “drifting leftward”? And why do you think it would affect our chances in Tory-facing target seats if we were. In the noughties we won seats from the Tories on a platform that was in many ways to the left of Labour. The difference between us and the Labour left is we don’t have the ideological baggage of the Corbynites, so we are not scary to soft Tory voters. The same is often true of the Greens, incidentally.

    As for anti-Brexit “purity tests”, well there are people (the single-issue Rejoiners) saying we are not pro-EU enough. So we’re probably striking the right balance. If you’ve been to Chesham & Amersham, you will know that our campaign there barely mentions Brexit, focusing instead on the government’s planning proposals and HS2.

  • Andrew Southgate 6th Jun '21 - 12:09pm

    Alex Macfie: Oh dear. If we are not drifting leftward (thankfully the process has been reversed by Ed Davey), then why are Norman Lamb and Steven Lloyd no longer MPs?

    Our platform in the noughties was not to the left of Labour except in relation to Iraq and Tuition Fees. Chris Rennard promoted ‘tough liberalism’ in by elections and the noughties was the decade the ‘Orange book’ was published. Admittedly, Charles Kennedy was on the centre left, but was to the right of his main leadership rival in 1999,Simon Hughes on the political spectrum.
    As for winning seats from the Tories in the 2000s, we tended to gain more seats from Labour than the Tories in 2001 and 2005 and also thanks to Kennedy’s mercurial leadership.

    I was disappointed like everyone in the party by Brexit. If David Cameron had bothered to turn up in person to debate Boris Johnson, then who knows what the result might have been and it was a bloody close result. However, I accepted the result. Alas, the party did not choose this action. This meant that we kissed goodbye to 52% of the electorate who voted for Brexit. Our Brexit policy got ever more extreme and ideological culminating int
    The disastrous revoke policy (admittedly it was our usp.) Like someone suffocating in a vast desert who comes across a cup of water, we gained temporary electoral success and then lost our political marbles. Incidentally, Ummana, Gymiah, Berger, Lee, Dorrell et all all disassociated themselves from the party after the 2019 election. Doesn’t that tell you everything.

    Your point about ideological baggage is a good one. Yet, the reason why I am a Lib Dem supporter with a small ‘l’ is that I am not a socialist or a Conservative. It is that constituency we must tap into as there are millions of potential voters to tap into.

    Re the purity tests, thankfully not everyone in the party has the same view on Brexit thankfully. I struggle to understand how we have be more pro-eu, but a broad church is good politics. Norman Lamb and Steven Lloyd were told essentially to sling their hooks for recognising reality.

    I would love to come to Amersham. However, potential work commitments and opportunities and the fact I need to get my sleep back on track may prevent me.

  • This is an interesting blog post analysing the British election survey https://flipchartfairytales.wordpress.com/2021/05/21/labours-problem-is-not-the-working-class-its-the-grey-wall/amp/?mc_cid=74eab036d3&mc_eid=d24b73c812
    It concludes “Labour hasn’t lost the support of working people but it has lost the support of the retired. That will make it more difficult to win elections but starting from a clear understanding of what has happened in the last decade goes some way to helping decide what to do about it. The cause of Labour’s election losses isn’t the Blue Wall or the Red Wall, it’s the Grey Wall.”

  • Peter Martin 6th Jun '21 - 6:06pm

    @ Joe Bourke,

    The tendency of voters to drift to the right with increasing age is nothing new. We can speculate on the reasons for that. Maybe an increased affluence and a concern that any radical change may be worse for them personally are factors. But, previously it’s always been counterbalanced by an influx of younger voters who have been inclined more to the radical left.

    Death tends to produce an abrupt halt to rightward drifts of course, so there is a natural tendency for the younger generation to take over and a new equilibrium to be established.

    However, it doesn’t seem to be working quite as it should at the moment. Increased longevity and changing demographics are factors but they aren’t the only changes. I had occasion to talk a walk around the grounds of my old Uni a few years ago. Gone was the political graffiti and fly posted invitations to one or other ultra leftist meeting that I well remember. There wasn’t a picture of Karl Marx or Che Guevara to be seen anywhere. The campus looked very neat and tidy!

    This is an indication that the young have lost interest in politics, or more likely have become more cynical and pessimistic that any meaningful change is possible. I don’t have the research data to exactly support what I’m saying but I would expect that Labour’s main problem is that their former voting base isn’t so much switching to the Tories, it’s more that it is staying at home. The turn-out in the recent Hartlepool by-election was only 42%. There will be many more votes to be had by working on the 58% than tacking to the right to pick up the odd Tory and Lib Dem.

    Labour needs to enthuse the younger generation into more radical policies. Get them active and optimistic again and leave the ageing grey beards to the Tories.

  • Laurence Cox 6th Jun '21 - 6:43pm

    @Peter Martin

    One reason that you are not seeing a reset is that far fewer young people are being born:

    https://www.statista.com/statistics/1033074/fertility-rate-uk-1800-2020/

    In the days of the ‘baby boomers’ as the name implies, the total fertility rate was well over 2, reaching a peak of 2.81 in 1965. Since 1980 it has been consistently in the 1.7-1.8 range (and this increased by immigration as immigrants tend to be young people who raise families here). For the ‘baby boomer’ bulge to pass through the population we will have to wait until 2065 or thereabouts.

    Labour really has to appeal to the whole age range unless it wants the Tories to stay in power for the next 40 years.

  • Alex Macfie 6th Jun '21 - 7:06pm

    Peter Martin: “The tendency of voters to drift to the right with increasing age is nothing new. ” Perhaps not, but the scale by which today’s young voters are more left-wing than their elders is a new thing. In previous generations, there was usually only a difference in a few percentage points between youngest and eldest cohort in Tory/Labour voting (in general no more than 10% points, not the 50+% points that we see nowadays in some polls). And it was never a hard and fast inevitability either. As I’ve written before, polling evidence from the 1980s suggests that young voters seem to have been just as likely to vote Tory as their elders.

    It is interesting to speculate on the reasons for the emergence of this massive age-based difference in voting patterns. One possible reason is the decline in class consciousness leading to an increasing tendency for people to vote on social and cultural values rather than class loyalty. And while people do tend to become more *economically* conservative with age, there is no evidence that they also become more *culturally* conservative (and there’d be no social progress if they did). This also helps explain why somewhere like Hartlepool can now be Tory, while somewhere like Canterbury can be Labour. It also implies that far from being destined to rule forever as some commentators would have it, the Tories are living on borrowed time unless they adapt to the more liberal social and cultural attitudes of the current younger generation.

  • Alex Macfie 6th Jun '21 - 7:17pm

    Peter Martin : I don’t agree that the lack of Karl Marx or Che Guevara pictures on university campuses indicates a lack of interest in politics among today’s students. Young people today certainly seem to get interested in all sorts of environmental and social justice issues, probably more than previous generations. Perhaps they’re just not so interested in the rather old fashioned and really rather reactionary ideological leftism represented by those two individuals. And besides, all those ideological ultra-leftist graffiti and posters were really only ever the work of a very vocal minority. Those who got into student politics tended to be of that ideological leaning, but the majority of students were always relatively apolitical.

    Nowadays students seem more interested in issues directly related to their futures than in plotting a socialist revolution. But this does not indicate as lack of interest in politics or radical change, just that their politics is more grounded in reality.

  • Paul Barker 6th Jun '21 - 7:45pm

    Well I was part of the Generation of 68 (Mai) , I threw a burning torch at The Prime Minister, “Politics” of The Left ran my life for a Decade & a half but my feeling about it now is that it was all a game, playing at Life & Politics.
    I think that is still true of The Far Left & the Corbynites are a classic example.
    Modern “Student Politics” seems much more real, grounded in issues like Racism & Global Warming.

  • Peter Martin 6th Jun '21 - 11:20pm

    @ Alex, Paul, and Laurence,

    I’m sure there is something in what you all say but according to the link below the turnout among young people (18-24 age group) was just 47% in the 2019 election and a drop of 7% from 2017.

    You’ll probably be pleased that the lack of PR in the UK is given as a reason for low young voter numbers. The suggestion is that the young can’t be bothered to vote in most seats because their vote won’t make any difference to the outcome. But this should be true for all voters not just the young. The increase in turn out in the marginal constituencies isn’t that pronounced in any case.

    And it isn’t just me saying that the young are reluctant voters. This was cited as a one factor by Remainers for their loss in 2016. Every vote did of course make a difference then.

    https://89initiative.com/youth-turnout-uk-europe/

  • @Alex Macfie You did previously say that

    “Lib Dems de-targeted neighbouring Putney when it became clear that Labour was most likely to beat the Tories there,”

    Not that they should have carried on targeting Putney on the basis that they might take more votes from the Tories. At some point it would have become clear that Sam Gyimah was not going to win Kensington and at that point, using the same logic as in Putney the Lib Dem’s should have backed off.

    I see the point about not standing down so an alternative would be to agree to stand candidates on paper only who do not do any campaigning.

    @ Andrew Southgate

    Why should anyone have to “accept the result” of non-binding referendum? In a parliamentary democracy people can stand on any platform they like. If the Lib Dem’s did take an anti-Brexit stance then an emerging party would have done (unhelpfully there is a rejoin EU candidate in C&A).

  • Alex Macfie 7th Jun '21 - 8:27am

    Andrew Southgate: Norman Lamb stood down, and Stephen Lloyd lost his seat. Both are still party members. Neither have been “driven out” of the party, and I wouldn’t take the comments of a few keyboard warriors to be representative of the party as a whole.
    Anyway I’m not sure how our policy on Brexit implies a drift to the left. We were fighting against a Labour Party led by the not-so-secretly pro-Brexit Jeremy Corbyn, who is one of those “the EU is a capitalist plot” left-wingers. In the last election campaign, we were often (including by people in the party) accused of being too anti-Labour because of our attacks on Corbyn (which were necessary to keep our distance from him).
    Nothing would ever change if everyone “accepted” the result of a vote. If you lose, you continue to make your case and hope for a win next time. This is as true for referendums as for elections. If the campaign to leave the then EEC had just accepted the result of the 1975 referendum, then there would never have been the 2016 referendum that the Leave campaign did win. Anyway it’s unwise to talk about the “48%” and “52%” as if they are immutable blocks. A lot has changed in the 5 years since the last referendum.

    Phillip Lee and Antoinette Sandbach both remain active in their local Lib Dem parties. Phillip apparently tried for the nomination as our party candidate in Chesham & Amersham. Chuka has returned to working in the City. Sam Gyima is a Director of Oxford University Innovation, a technology transfer subsidiary of Oxford University. Their senior public roles would arguably render explicit party political statements inappropriate. Luciana “remains a member of the Lib Dems,” but has bowed out of active politics, for what seem to be personal rather than political reasons. She also has a day job.
    https://jewishnews.timesofisrael.com/exclusive-luciana-berger-interview-post-mp/
    Stephen Dorrell seems to be active mainly in the continuity Remain groups such as Best for Britain and Open Britain, but his Twitter profile does have a Lib Den yellow diamond, so unless he’s just forgotten to remove it, we can assume he is still a member.
    I don’t find any evidence that any of our high-profile defectors from 2019 have explicitly “disassociated themselves” from us.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 7th Jun '21 - 9:28am

    Alex Macfie, I understand that Norman Lamb has left the party. I heard him mention this in an interview – last year I think. It sounded as if this was partly because he felt that it might be best, in his new role, to be seen as politically neutral rather than a member of a party. But as I remember the interview, it also sounded as if, sadly, he no longer really felt at home in the party.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 7th Jun '21 - 9:49am

    Alex Macfie, I think this is the interview I mentioned, in which Norman Lamb mentioned that he had left the party. The interview is from July 2020.

    https://podnomansland.podbean.com/e/brexit-and-the-liberal-democrats-with-norman%c2%a0lamb/?fbclid=IwAR07lDzY15hORJLxrfNPvLB8ZTx6BU7kLRveBIHPlO3DkcbBfSJsKDEXkUI

  • Alex Macfie 7th Jun '21 - 10:23am

    Marco: As I wrote upthread, it’s not at all clear how our campaigning in Kensington affected the final outcome, given the closeness of the result and tiny swing. I don’t think it was clear either that Sam wasn’t going to win. He took a lot of votes from the Tories, votes that would most likely not have gone to Labour if we hadn’t been around. And our increased vote there may be a good platform for a future election in which the Tories have been pushed to 3rd place and it becomes more of a Labour~Lib Dem fight. You think that’s fanciful? Hornsey & Wood Green was Tory until 1992, when it was won by Barbara Roche for Labour, and is now a Labour~Lib Dem battleground seat. The same sort of thing happened in Cambridge, Hampstead, Oxford East and Sheffield Hallam, among others . The 2017 result in Kensington may just be the start of a similar sort of shift, resulting from changes in demography and voting patterns. If we decide that all Tory~Labour marginals are off-limits, then we may miss out on future gains in such mainly urban seats where the Tory vote is in long-term decline.

    We started a distant 3rd place in both Putney and Wimbledon in 2019. Now we are in pole position to Wimbledon from the Tories. If (as in your argument) we shouldn’t have been targeting Putney, then the same is true of Wimbledon, and we would have missed out on a potential gain in the next election.

    Catherine Jane Crosland: Thanks for information. It’s sad that Norman has left the party, although I do think his proposed approach to Brexit was mistaken. I may listen to the podcast later. I honestly thought the link said “podnormansland” at first!

  • @ Alex Macfie

    I have no problem with battling it out with Labour if a seat is a clear cut Lib-Lab marginal.

    However in the interests of preventing yet another Conservative victory/landslide I would like to put tribalism to one side and for the time being focus only on Tory facing seats not long shot attempts to win from 3rd place.

    There are Labour figures who would probably eye up seats such as Oxford West, Bath etc and think they could one day become Labour seats but that approach would also be very counterproductive.

    The problem with the examples you gave are that in Hornsey and Wood Green Labour in 1997 had a 40% majority then in 2001 the Lib Dem’s came 2nd. Meanwhile Wimbledon had not been held by Labour since 2005 and they had not come close to winning it back. Targeting those seats is quite different to targeting a Labour held seat from 3rd place when the Tories are a close second.

  • Alex Macfie 7th Jun ’21 – 8:27am:
    Norman Lamb stood down, and Stephen Lloyd lost his seat. Both are still party members. Neither have been “driven out” of the party,…

    The party drove away their former voters. Many will have been from the 30% of LibDem voters in the 2015 General Election who went on to vote Leave in the EU Referendum and then saw the party try to annul their vote (Eastbourne and North Norfolk both voted 58% for the UK to leave the EU).

    …it was so distressing coming across household after household of people who had backed me loyally through 18, 20, 25 years turning against us and just saying “I can’t vote for you this time. I just fundamentally disagree with what you party stands for on Brexit.”

    — Norman Lamb.
    32:02, ’Brexit and the Liberal Democrats, with Norman Lamb.’ [July 2020]:
    https://podnomansland.podbean.com/e/brexit-and-the-liberal-democrats-with-norman%C2%A0lamb/

    Catherine Jane Crosland 7th Jun ’21 – 9:49am:
    I think this is the interview I mentioned, in which Norman Lamb mentioned that he had left the party.

    Thank you for posting that; interesting and insightful. As with so many others, it seems it was the party that left him…

    And I felt that a Liberal Democrat party had become an extremist party over this issue. And I ended up feeling that I had no longer any love or association with that party.
    […]

    I no longer associate myself, I’m afraid, with what the party has become.
    […]

    I felt that by the last election we’d become the party of a sort of subset of the metropolitan elite.”

  • Andrew Tampion 8th Jun '21 - 6:59am

    Alex Macfie. 7th Jun ’21 – 8:27am:
    “Stephen Lloyd lost his seat.” But why did Stephen Lloyd lose his seat? Perhaps because in 2017 he was able to pledge to vote in support of a Brexit deal. However in 2019 he was not able to do so because if he had he would, by doing so, have been going against the Party “Revoke” position.
    Of course you could argue that without revoke then the Party might not have won in constituencies like Richmond Park. But since the Party lost more seats than it gained this is perhaps not a very comforting thought.

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