Tag Archives: more united

Why More United’s MP network could lead to a much better politics

While I was away, I kept my eye on what was going on in the world. It was good for me to have a few days when I didn’t even open my laptop to write about it, though.

But now I’m back, I want to highlight some of this week’s key events.

One which caught my eye was the launch of the More United MPs’ Network. From Politics Home:

The group said MPs in the newly-established network will lead campaigns on issues such as poverty and homelessness, responsible technology, mental health and climate change.

The campaign has vowed to capitalise on the “clear appetite” of the public to use online petitions, and has vowed to attract more than 250,000 members, including 100 MPs by next year.

Those who lead and support More United campaigns will also be eligible for money raised by the wider campaign at general elections – with almost £500,000 given out to supportive candidates via crowdfunding in 2017.

Conservative former minister Nicky Morgan and Labour’s David Lammy are among the group, which also includes figures from the SNP, Change UK, the Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru and the Greens’ Caroline Lucas.

More United CEO Bess Mayhew said: “People see cross-party working as a proxy for trust in politics. When polling shows that only three out of ten people believe they can make a difference by getting involved in politics something has to change.

“By uniting MPs who can find common ground on divisive issues we want to show there is a way to move Britain forward and work together to build a fair and thriving country.”

Our Christine Jardine was one of three MPs who co-wrote a piece for the Huffington Post about the initiative:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 5 Comments

Paddy and the Kooks

There will doubtless be so many personal tributes to Paddy. My Facebook and Twitter feeds are full of them.

There have been so many generous tributes from across politics. Nicholas Soames, for goodness sake, and Iain Dale and Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Paddy was known for not being tribal.

Back in the Summer of 2016, he was involved in setting up More United, a cross party group aimed at getting generous spirited, internationalist people with a social conscience elected. I was initially pretty sceptical and had some questions for them. Paddy was right back at me within 24 hours.

As it happened, the MPs elected with its support have done some darned good stuff, from getting funding for access to elections for disabled candidates to developing a more liberal consensus on immigration to campaigning to restore the migrant impact fund and lots more.

Austin Rathe, once our Head of Membership, worked with Paddy at More United. He has given me permission to share the story he put on Facebook with you all.

Lots to say about Paddy, and we’ll all be to sharing memories in the coming days.

For now, I just wanted to share my favourite Paddy story, from about 18 months ago.

More United had an event for the people who had helped us launch, including Luke Pritchard from The Kooks.

Afterwards Paddy, Corinne Sawers and I go for dinner. The following conversation occurs:

Paddy: “Who was that guy with the curly hair you were talking to?”

Me: “He’s the singer in a band called The Kooks.”

“The Kooks? I’ve never heard of them.”

“Well Paddy, I promise you they’re pretty famous.”

At this point Paddy, unconvinced, turns to a guy at the next table, taps him in the shoulder and says.

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Temporary reprieve for funds for disabled election candidates

Last month, David Buxton wrote about how the Government’s freezing of the Access to Elected Office Fund meant that he simply couldn’t stand in the 2017 General Election:

For the 2015 General Election, I obtained a grant of £40,000 from the Access to Elected Office Fund, which I used to participate in the Liberal Democrat candidate-selection process. But I could not have participated without the Fund’s support.

And​, last year,​ I was effectively barred from standing in the 2017 General Election because of the absence of the Fund.Many o​ther deaf and disabled candidates from ​the Lib Dems and from ​other parties ​are affected too, ​including Emily Brothers from Labour who is blind, ​and Simeon Hart for the Greens who is deaf, both of whom feature in the More United campaign​.​

The Access to Elected Office Fund used to help deaf and disabled people from all political parties, to stand for election, at any level. It ran from 2012-2015, and was intended to create a level playing field, given the additional costs that disabled people can incur when standing for election.

British Sign Language Interpreters, assistive technology for blind people and mobility transport all cost money. But the Fund was frozen, put “under review”, in 2015.

That review has not been conducted or completed, and the Fund has not been re-opened. The Fund has now been closed for longer than it was open so we are calling on the Government to restore it with immediate effect.

More United ran a campaign to restore the fund and Lib Dem MPs, including Christine Jardine and Stephen Lloyd, wrote to the Government to tell them of the importance of supporting disabled candidates.

This week, they won a legal challenge and secured the fund for the 2019 elections.

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More United joins Greens and Women’s Equality Party in endorsing Lib Dem Sarah Olney for Richmond Park

More UnitedEarlier this week, More United consulted its members on whether to endorse Liberal Democrat candidate Sarah Olney in the Richmond Park by-election.

The result was pretty conclusive. From More United’s email email to supporters:

The result was overwhelming. 10,000 of you voted, and 96% said we should campaign for Sarah.

We think this is an amazing chance for us to have a real impact on the result of this by-election. Sarah has said she supports our principles and has put opposition to a hard Brexit at the centre of her campaign.

Sarah is facing a tough fight against Zac Goldsmith, but if she wins it will send the Government a clear message that millions of people believe in a more united, less divided Britain.

More United seeks to support candidates who support their five key principles:

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Paddy Ashdown responds to questions to More United

Yesterday Caron Lindsay posed some questions for the More Reunited project. Here is Paddy Ashdown’s reply.

Caron, these are serious and weighty questions and deserve a proper answer.

Please forgive the long posting.

You ask:

How does this work in a First Past the Post system?

If they are going to fund every candidate who signs up to their principles, surely they could end up funding every candidate in a seat. There are some, if few, moderate Tories who could qualify. However, what if the manifesto of the party a candidate is standing for is in direct conflict with this. Someone might back electoral reform but their party probably wouldn’t and in government wouldn’t legislate for it so they would never get the chance to implement it.

In a First Past the Post system, funding more than one candidate could mean that none of them wins. They might allow their local members to decide which one to back as I said on Marr, but that could be open to manipulation by the parties.

In the case of two Candidates in the same Constituency, the members of MoreUnited.uk (NOT the members of their parent Parties!) in that Constituency will democratically decide which Candidate to back (think of how that would work in our target seats where Lib Dems join the organisation).

This works in an FTP system by electing more MPs committed to getting PR and so getting rid of FTP……

************

I am irked that there is no mention of liberty and freedom. I’m voting Lib Dem regardless, but if I wasn’t, I’d be darned if I was going to vote for a Labour candidate who might subscribe to the principles of More United but would then go and vote for things like control orders and 90 day detention. The absence of a civil liberties test worries me.

There is not a policy here which does not ooze Liberty and empowerment from  every pore.

Posted in Op-eds | 74 Comments

Some questions for More United

In a blaze on social media. the More United project, supported by Paddy Ashdown, launches this morning.

It’s certainly ambitious:

MoreUnited.uk is a new movement setting out to change British politics. We’re going to transform the way politics is funded, giving a voice to the millions of open and tolerant people in Britain who feel the political system no longer works for them.

It has a Facebook page here and you can follow it on Twitter here.

They intend to fund candidates who subscribe to a series of pretty broad principles:

 A fair, modern, efficient market based economy that closes the gap between rich and poor and supports strong public services

A modern democracy that empowers citizens, rather than politicians

A green economy that protects the environment and works to reverse climate change

An open and tolerant society where diversity is celebrated in all its forms

A United Kingdom that welcomes immigration, international co-operation and a close relationship with the EU

There some example policies to flesh this stuff out.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 81 Comments
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