Tag Archives: remain alliance

Members must decide!

Election pacts and participation in an Emergency Government need to be agreed by members.  

As a No Deal Brexit and a possible General Election get nearer there has been much talk of how we Remainers can stop it. The focus at the moment is on legislation to stop it but there are two other areas said to be under discussion: 

  • An emergency government to hold a referendum followed by a General Election 
  • A ‘Remain alliance‘ so that in key seats Remain parties don’t stand against each other (though  Alastair Carmichael has been reported as saying we would not stand down for the SNP).  

I believe that it is really important that we don’t abandon one of the fundamental principles of our Party – the primacy of members in taking key decisions  

If we participate in an emergency  Government then our Constitution is very clear about what needs to happen. Section 23 says that support for a government which contains other political parties applies

where the Parliamentary Party in the House of Commons (‘the Commons Party’) enters into negotiations with one or more other political parties with a view to the formation of a government supported by the party and such party or parties; 

There are various provisions about consultations  etc but the key point is that  any agreement would have to be approved by  a 2/3rd vote at either a regular or special Conference.  

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Now comes the hard part

We Lib Dems have had a great three months. The local elections were good, the European elections outstanding, we got a high-profile defection from the crumbling Tiggers, and we’ve just won a by-election in a Leave area. We’ve even had our new leader going down very well among voters we need to attract.

But now comes the hard part. As the celebrations from Brecon & Radnorshire die down, we need to recognise that we only won there because the Greens and Plaid Cymru stood aside. It was the smart decision, but they will want something in return, indeed the Lib Dem brand is still mud in Green circles for our perceived lack of generosity in responding to the Greens’ offer to stand aside in 12 of our target seats in the 2017 general election.

We must therefore get our head around what we can usefully give in return, and anyone who remembers the difficulties of deciding who should stand in which seat when the Liberal and Social Democrat parties merged in the late 1980s will know it won’t be easy. It is not my job to carve up seats – wiser counsels are working on that – but there are a few things we Liberal Democrats would do well to get our heads around.

The main one is that we will have to give something up, and it will be painful. If we are to be politically mature and rise to the challenge of the Johnson/Farage regressive alliance, we will have to stand aside (or at least do no work) in seats where there will be dedicated Lib Dems who have worked their patch for years, and who will probably feel after the recent results that they’re finally on the verge of a breakthrough. Whether they really are or not is irrelevant – they will have worked for the Lib Dem cause yet it will feel as if they’re being asked to put the last five years’ work on the bonfire.

Having said that, in strategic terms, what we can usefully offer the Greens and Plaid may not cost us that much.

At the 2017 general election, there were 14 seats in which the Greens were ahead of the Lib Dems, and in 2015 the Greens came second to either Labour to the Tories in four. The chances of us winning these seats are negligible, and the likelihood of us winning other seats if we can ‘trade’ some of these 14 for the Greens assisting us in some of our targets is immense. Not every Lib Dem voter will vote Green (that’s something the Greens will have to suck up, just as not every Green voter will vote for us if there’s no Green candidate), but if the Greens stand aside in seats we can win to avoid splitting the Remain vote, in return for us doing the same in some of their targets, it could be a major gain at very little cost.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 67 Comments

A Remain Alliance and opportunities for the Lib Dems…..detail may not be quite there but Lib Dems are poised for massive breakthrough

On Friday night the Spectator’s Coffee House blog carried a piece by Nick Cohen about a Remain Alliance. It had details of all sorts of seats being divved up between us, Plaid and the Greens.

My first thoughts on reading that was that it was at best speculation. I mean, why on earth would anyone leak plans for a Remain Alliance to the heart of the Brexit-supporting media, I can’t imagine. Anyone can sit down with a bit of paper and the 2017 election results and work out where it might make sense to stand one Remain candidate. It’s not rocket science.

The official party response says:

These reports cited by Nick Cohen are inaccurate in many ways. As the strongest remain party we are committed to stopping Brexit and are actively talking to those in other parties, and none, to achieve this.

I mean, Unite to Remain is pretty open about what it is trying to do and I would be very surprised if there wasn’t some sort of arrangement in some seats. But that has to get buy-in from all sorts of people, not least the local parties involved. Just by way of interest, if you delve a bit deeper into that organisation, you will see that its director is one Peter Gerard Dunphy who, until last year, was the chair of our Federal Finance and Resources Committee. He left us to join the Change UK project earlier this year but is still on friendly terms. His motivation is more to bring about the massive change in politics than any falling out with the Lib Dems.

Today’s Observer carries a story saying that we are changing our strategy for a general election in the wake of new research which shows we could be in play in a couple of hundred seats. It mentions specific seats that we could be targeting, including Dominic Raab’s heavily Remain seat

The article basically says that we are changing our election strategy and trying to raise money. Now, if we weren’t doing these things, there would be something far wrong given that we could be facing an election within weeks. The election of a brilliant, engaging and dynamic leader with a strong message, and our victory in Brecon, should make those jobs a lot easier.

The article carries quotes from three senior Conservatives who suggests that the Tories could lose seats to us as voters are horrified at the hard right direction of the current Cabinet. This from a former Cabinet Minister:

The route the PM and Dominic Cummings have taken is really blind to the fact that you’ve opened up this yawning chasm in the centre of politics,” said one. “The Lib Dems have always been at their best in a crisis.”

And more:

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Plaid Cymru stand aside for Lib Dem Jane Dodds in Brecon and Radnorshire

Plaid Cymru have announced that they will not be fielding a candidate in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-electiion.

From the BBC

Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable told the BBC the partnership between the two parties was “a very welcome development”, and it made sense that “the two strongest Remain parties in Wales are going to work together”.

Adam Price, the leader of Plaid Cymru, said it was a “major step”, but it was “the right thing to do”.

He added: “We are facing one of the most significant decisions, as to whether we are going to be seemingly yanked out of the European Union even without a deal.

“Under those circumstances it is in Wales’s interest and our common interest to work together and coalesce the support for the Remain side in Wales.”

Both leaders hinted this could be the start of further co-operation between the parties, but neither were willing to be specific.

“There is no doubt that the co-operation that this is generating could well lead to wider measures,” Sir Vince said.

Candidate, and Welsh LIb Dem leader Jane Dodds welcomed the move:

Vince told The Times (£) that victory would tell the new Conservative Prime Minister that the “Conservative Party is in desperate trouble.”

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