We must learn from the past to reshape the future

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On 25th January 1981 former Labour cabinet ministers Roy Jenkins, David Owen, Bill Rodgers and Shirley Williams issued a statement which became known as the Limehouse Declaration.  This was to herald a new beginning for British Politics and yet here we are 38 years later with a new declaration born out of the same frustrations with the British Political system.

The opportunity to change British Politics for the better is here again, and we can either shout from the side-lines or join the team and play the game, no matter how much that prospect might scare us.

If the coalition has taught us anything it is that we cannot change politics by aligning ourselves with the status quo, the Labour and Conservative parties exist to take turns in holding power and they will do everything they can to ensure that nobody wrests that power from them.  Our job is to make it impossible for any one party to ever govern alone again, and the only way we can achieve that is in common cause with other smaller parties.

In deciding our response to the Independent Group, we must now ask ourselves a very simple question: “Is it our ambition to replace one of the big parties or do we want to change British politics for good?”

We need a discussion broader than Brexit that gives hope of a future for a diverse, pluralistic and progressive parliament where smaller parties with different perspectives and philosophies can thrive rather than being suffocated by the quest for power of the two big parties.

At the heart of Liberal Democracy lies the belief that given the opportunity people have the capacity to run their own lives, design their own destinies and shape this world for the better.  Realignment requires a leap of faith, but our faith in humanity is all we have and must be willing to adjust.

Now is a time for leaders and therefore I call on Vince Cable and Sal Brinton, with the support of as many individual members as possible, to place before the Spring Conference a topical motion enabling this party to discuss our ambition as a party and our future relationship with the Independent Group and others with whom we might share common cause.

I also believe that the Independent group of MP’s, and other travel companions such as the Greens, the SNP and Plaid, should be invited to attend and participate in this debate.

* Chair of Manchester Gorton Liberal Democrats, a member of the NW Regional Executive and the English Council and Vice President of LGBT+ Liberal Democrats

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49 Comments

  • Paul Barker 23rd Feb '19 - 3:04pm

    I agree, with the exception of The Nationalist Parties, we can’t ally with The SNP any more than we could with UKIP.
    That said, managing 3 Parties in Alliance will be hard enough, could I suggest an overall Leader as well as the 3 Party Leaders ?

  • It is tempting to want this and ask that. What is the priority now, it is patience, wait and see as Asquith said. We cannot control events. I suspect this has been foreseen for some time and some contingencies have already been identified. Let the media run round in circles, we have to hold our breath, worry Newport west by election and the May locals. I am confident the least we say or contribute the better. What will be will be.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 23rd Feb '19 - 4:39pm

    Iain, the idea of the unity of the so called progressives, is as old as , any, but it is never thought about properly.

    The Progressive Alliance favoured unity between Liberal Democrats, Labour, Greens.

    Exactly as Corbyn and his leftwing grip was showing signs of disaster in Labour and those like me, in that area politically as a youth, were in fact warning of the nonsense of allying with them, some here were praising or tolerating the awful Labour leadership.

    The Greens are not our allies on much as they do not want to be , a so called, their words, neo liberal party. This one isn’t, yet they persist in that talk.

    The SNP and Plaid are less my ally thatan, the Conservative and Unionist Party, because, though no Conservative, I like conservation, of traditions, and another thing, am a staunch unionist, patriotic, defender of this United Kingdom.

    I am not Scottish, nor am I Welsh.
    No alliance therefore with such parties.

    I was a supporter of New Labour in the early to mid nineties , then till Iraq.
    I think if this Independent Group grows in numbers, this party has to be a major part of it.
    How is only important if it looks like it is possible to do. Sir Vince has not managed to convince these mps, this party is in any way a possible electoral ally at large.

    That means we need behind the scenes talk before conferences. The party reforms are now redundant.

  • This suggestion for a suitably broad topical motion at Spring Conference, in which all options can be explored, seems eminently sensible. However, I do not feel that it would be appropriate to draw any firm conclusions, e.g. regarding the nature of our future relationship with TIG, until there is greater clarity about (a) the final outcome of the Brexit process and (b) the long term strategic objectives, political values and policy priorities of TIG. In the meantime, however, opportunities for candid discussion could help to promote better mutual understanding.

    @Paul Barker:
    (1) We obviously have policy differences with both the SNP and Plaid Cymru, but also share common ground with them, e.g. as allies in the People’s Vote campaign as well as some of our constitutional reform agenda – and it is frankly absurd to suggest that the SNP is, in any way, on a par with UKIP.
    (2) Please slow down a bit in your obvious enthusiasm for an “alliance” of Lib Dems, TIGs and Greens. Until we can be confident that this would be a viable/desirable proposition, your suggestion of an overall leader is somewhat premature!

  • David Becket 23rd Feb '19 - 5:28pm

    Scrap the Party Reform debate at Conference, and replace it with a debate on the possibilities of working with TIG, hopefully with a TIG speaker. Let us have something in the agenda that will attract the national press, contemplating our navels with party reforms will not.

  • Richard O'Neill 23rd Feb '19 - 6:24pm

    Agree with Sean Hagen, caution is advisable here until we see how all the cards fall. At present TIGS are a group of avowed Cameron/Blair admirers. They’re products of the establishment party system rather than rebels against it. Discussions should be held (I’m always in favour of dialogue between different parties) but no firm promises should be given. Especially without consulting the membership.

    A major factor to me is the scale of the revolt, if they are joined by another 60-70 MPs that is a big deal. Otherwise it doesn’t change anything, even on Brexit, given that all were constantly rebelling against their parties on the issue anyway.

    And I’d still hope that they’d commit to holding by-elections, if not immediately given the urgency of the Brexit question, then very soon.

  • It’s all very well for us to opine here about topics which should or shouldn’t be debated at Conference – but does anyone from Federal Conference Committee (or any other Federal committees) routinely, or even occasionally, monitor any relevant comments on LDV? It would be good to receive any feedback from time to time.

  • Richard Underhill 23rd Feb '19 - 7:41pm

    Iain Donaldson: Only is a four letter word, which was used twice above.
    Consider the numerous conditions which were predicted as necessary for the abolition of the Atlantic slave trade, which did not happen, and the conditions which did occur, which made abolition happen.
    Every leader should be an opportunist.
    Historically we have often opposed the Tories, yet we went into coalition with them.
    On constitutional change we got the Fixed Term Parliament Act, which has staying power, but is not appreciated by the public compared with economic gains.
    We also got a referendum on the electoral system which we lost. We did not ask for enough and we proposed the wrong policy. It did not help that Paddy Ashdown had been quoted as being against AV.
    A change to the electoral system appears to be needed. STV is simple for the voters, even the Tories put it into their system for the third round of a leadership contest, yes they did, but John Major won because Douglas Hurd and Michael Heseltine withdrew. In their current the last two candidates tour the country, as used by David Cameron and the other one, known as DD on his marketing, including sweaters.
    Trade unions and other organisations use STV, which must be familiar to Labour MPs.
    Votes at 16 and 17 has been implemented by the SNP for the 2014 referendum with the agreement of David Cameron.

  • John Marriott 23rd Feb '19 - 8:08pm

    “We need a discussion broader than Brexit”. No we don’t, at least not for the next year or so. It’s Brexit, with or without a deal or Remain, because until we can put that genie back in the bottle, we just cannot move on; and nor should we, because our future ability to prosper must depend on finding a compromise that will satisfy the majority of people, who, when it boils down to it are neither idealistic remainers nor rabid Brexiteers.

  • David Evershed 23rd Feb '19 - 8:10pm

    We should be discussing how to get TIG supporters to join the Lib Dems rather than how to cooperate with the non existent TIG party.

  • Mick Taylor 23rd Feb '19 - 8:47pm

    David Evershead. And this from a man who hasn’t had a good word for the Lib Dems for as long as I can remember!

  • Sean Hagan – as it happens I am editing Lib Dem Voice today, and I’m a member of the FCC. There is, as usual, a slot for emergency motions on the agenda at York on Sunday morning. Something relating to the emergence of TIG would qualify as an emergency motion because the events have taken place after the normal deadline for motions. So why not submit one?
    All valid emergency motions go into a ballot and are voted on by members at Conference.

  • Mick Taylor 23rd Feb '19 - 8:51pm

    John Marriott. It’s remain or remain for me. I used to think ‘No Surrender’ was a phrase for the DUP of my youth. Now I think it should be the watchword for remainers.
    I am certain that staying in the EU and fighting for its reform is the only sane course for the UK. To do otherwise is to invite the break up of the UK as we know it and I for one don’t want to live in no deal Brexit England.

  • First we need to know what TIG want to achieve. Do they want to change the system, or like Macron, form a party to run the system? We have been there. To my disappointment it turned out that our leadership wanted to take part in running the system more than they wanted to change it. We should not be arrogant.
    If they do want to change the system this is where wider agreement between multiple parties could be achieved. This is where we could be part of a solution. But as Theakes says we should wait, for the moment.

  • David Becket 23rd Feb '19 - 9:06pm

    @David Evershed
    A main attraction of TIG is the promise to reform the political system, people are tired of the type of politics we see at PMQ and the mud we throw at others. If we are going to attract that support we must have leaders who had nothing to do with the coalition.

  • @Mary Reid – thanks for your feedback. I assume that either an emergency motion or a topical issue discussion relating to TIG, etc, would potentially be in order here?

  • John Marriott 23rd Feb '19 - 9:38pm

    @Mick Taylor
    Remain is my preference as well; but can you really persuade a significant majority of our fellow citizens that this is the only way forward? I honestly doubt it. Whether it’s something to do with living on an island or being force fed with a diet of Britannia rules the waves or just a suspicion of all things foreign, I ‘m not sure. But it’s there nevertheless. Now there are some of us – quite a few, I reckon – who could put up with this because we can see the economic dangers of going it alone.

    That’s why something on the lines of Norway Plus might be a compromise that might appeal to EU pragmatists like me. Does your average Norwegian feel that he’s a member of a vassal state?

  • There is a fallacy that the British people can decide what sort of Brexit they can have. This fallacy fails on two points, firstly you need the EU to agree it, but more importantly at this point in time the decsion sits with parliament, they could agree May’s deal, they could agree to ask for Norway ++ or they could agree No Deal but we get no say. Unless of cause they decided to have another referendum (even then they get to ask the question we are asked to answer).

  • @John Marriott.
    No compromise is possible that would satisfy either side, never mind both. I will not surrender my absolute belief that a reformed EU is best for Britain. We must do what is right, not what is expedient.

  • @Richard O’Neill: “At present TIGs are a group of avowed Cameron/Blair admirers. They’re products of the establishment party system rather than rebels against it.”

    You may be right – but it’s simply too early to form a fully considered judgement. Admittedly, some of the recent media output by certain TIG MPs has not been particularly helpful; nor are some of their individual voting records on specific issues especially encouraging. However, it is always possible that, now they have broken free of their previous political affiliations, some of them may have undergone damascene conversations. Heidi Allen certainly seems to be on a continuing political journey! They also seem quite a diverse group, coming (as they clearly do) from quite different political traditions – and, despite their current mutual goodwill, it is quite possible that internal tensions and policy divisions may emerge between them.

    Only time will tell and we will have to wait and see how TIG MPs behave and vote in the future – but, before we’re tempted to be too critical, we should applaud them for having the courage to break with their previous parties … and we must also recognise that, sadly, our own Lib Dem MPs (particularly those around during the Coalition!) don’t all have impeccably liberal and/or progressive voting voting records either.

  • @Nigel Jones: “I am not convinced now is the time to debate whether or not we should have an alliance with TIG. We could have a discussion about what kind of future politics we want … but no decisions can be taken until Brexit is reasonably settled one way or the other and until we can discern a little more about how the political landscape is moving, including public reaction to events.”

    Agreed wholeheartedly, Mr Jones. This approach is not necessarily inconsistent with Iain Donaldson’s original suggestion “to place before the Spring Conference a topical motion enabling this party to discuss our ambition as a party and our future relationship with the Independent Group and others with whom we might share common cause” – subject to the obvious proviso that it would be clearly inappropriate to take any final decisions without further evidence, as well as a wider process of democratic consultation with our own party members.

  • Richard O'Neill 23rd Feb '19 - 11:14pm

    @Sean Hagen

    Totally agree with you on coalition austerity policies and lack of ownership of it by Lib Dem MPs (past and present) but still concerned that the new group see Cameron/Clegg as a highpoint in recent political history.

    I’ve always had time for Allen and Wollaston who seem genuinely nice people, but I suspect they won’t have a great deal of influence over TIGs future direction. I disagree about the breakaways being a diverse group. All 8 Labour figures are card-carrying Blairites. The 3 Tories are ardent supporters of Cameron, himself an admirer of Blair.

    Unless a huge swathe of fresh MPs also breakaway who represent a wider range of views, then this can only be seen as a Blairite party. And I can’t see it genuinely fetching many votes in an actual general election (although they might win by-elections in some seats, if stood on an anti-Brexit platform)

    Lib Dems MPs should be very cautious for now. And see how it plays out over time.

  • Sean Hagan – yes. An emergency motion has to relate to events that have happened since the main deadline for motions, so anything about TIG would qualify.
    Nigel Jones – the speeches in the main hall are already listed in the Conference agenda, so it would not be possible to change them at this stage. Personally I think it would be good to see one or more TIG members invited to speak at fringe meetings, but that’s up to members and organisations to arrange themselves.
    On the other hand, you can propose a topical issue for debate instead of an emergency motion.

  • Nonconformistradical 24th Feb '19 - 8:35am

    @Mary Reid
    “On the other hand, you can propose a topical issue for debate instead of an emergency motion.”

    I would have thought the FCC should get on and organise such a debate anyway – this is too important not to be on the agenda for York.

  • John Marriott 24th Feb '19 - 8:37am

    @Mick Taylor
    Of course a ‘reformed EU’ is what I want as well. But how on Earth do you get it? That’s been the problem all along. Clegg’s famous “about the same “ remark just about sums up the thinking of most who are wedded to the EU ideal.

    “No compromise is possible that would satisfy either side”. True if by “either side” you mean Bridgen/Bone/Francois on one side and “Alle Menschen werden Brüder “ Federalists on the other. There are more than TWO sides in this argument. If you insist on making it so, you are falling for the same binary trap that got us to where we currently are. But, what about those of us, who just want a quite life? I reckon that we could easily comprise the majority. As for me, I’m too old to join you on the barricades.

    But all this speculation may be premature. Let’s see what the EU Parliamentary Elections may throw up. Perhaps the emergance of nationalist parties may do some of the reform for us. In the meantime, let’s concentrate on getting Article 50 (you choose the past participle). We clearly need more time to sort this mess out.

  • Nigel Jones 24th Feb '19 - 9:35am

    Thanks Mary for a response, but I agree with nonconformistradical. Existing groups have fringe meetings arranged in small rooms; any meeting with a TIG speaker will need a very large room, i.e. the main conference hall, without cost to the group.

  • Nonconfirmistradical 24th Feb '19 - 9:56am

    “any meeting with a TIG speaker will need a very large room, i.e. the main conference hall, without cost to the group.”

    Exactly.

    This is so important that something else should be dumped from the agenda to enable it to take place.

  • But what sort of “reform” of the EU are you seeking, John Marriott? Many of the key reasons why those of our fellow citizens voted Leave were based on a complete misreading of the world today / wish to turn the clock back. If for a minute, we put to one side economic benefits of collaborating, let’s look at the wider picture. Our economic world will be forced to change in any case by the onrushing environmental crisis engulfing the world, and social, conflict and migration factors mainly driven by these issues.

    To all intents and purposes, the EU is “the only game in town” in terms of democratic international action. Other parts of the world have looked on with admiration, and for instance in the case of Africa, have tried to use the EU as an example of cooperation across their continent. As time moves on we are going to need more and more global sharing, and if we in Britain in effect try to raise the drawbridge, that only makes the future more difficult, and more liable to end in bloody conflict across large tracts of the world.

    Surely persuasion, education etc of those who attempt to see the future in a more nationalist, blinkered manner is better that just allowing this profoundly backward step to take place?

  • Tim 13. There are dozens of things the EU needs to reform. The monthly decant to Strasbourg is one that has never been seriously challenged but needs it, as do the mechanisms to manage the economic distortions caused by the Euro, which are totally focused on keeping the weak in line and do nothing to keep the strong in line. There are many, many more, but I will leave those to people with expertise in those aspects.

    I’m sure John Marriott has his own, and I hope you have yours too.

  • The current common denominator between LibDems and TIG is the immediate task to stop Brexit; therefore, any discourse about the desired kind of EU is premature. Make first sure the UK will have a say in this. Otherwise, the first post-Brexit GE will be about Socialism vs. Singapore with little interest in the middle ground.

    The only relevant scenario both the LibDems and TIG will experience alive and well will be the GE that will happen after Brexit has been terminated. Then the liberal/independent cause will benefit from centrist Labour- and Tory-defections, and could develop serious electoral pull. This grouping, however constituted, should eradicate nonsensical terms like austerity or Blairite from its vocabulary.

  • David Becket 24th Feb '19 - 11:11am

    The general view in this post is that we need something more than an emergency debate in March, so can the FCC show some imagination and initiative and make a place in the agenda. Such a bold approach is lacking in our party now, and with our position in the opinion polls dropping since the formation of TIG, it is time we woke up and left our old mind sets behind. I am looking very carefully at TIG, and if they do develop into a party out to change the political landscape I will consider moving over. I suspect many Lib Dems who are disappointed with the way this party has been managed over the last ten years will also consider their position. In the past we had nowhere to go.

  • Richard Underhill 24th Feb '19 - 11:15am

    Mary Reid 23rd Feb ’19 – 8:48pm
    I was a federal conference delegate when an emergency motion supported full independence for Kurdistan despite territorial loss from several neighbouring countries.
    At a subsequent opportunity I reminded the platform of the emergency motion, while saying it was a while ago and needed updating. This was unwelcome to the panel, who did not even agree that a revised policy was needed. They simply ignored the emergency motion. Maybe they did not remember it or had never known about it.
    The 11 Independent MPs are in the context of Brexit, on which Liberal Democrats have a thoroughly thought-out policy, they are in the context of defection from their previous parties, in which case it is simply better to allow Vince Cable to do his job, and they are rightly saying, as to Andrew Marr on 24/2/2019, that they need more time.
    When the TIG have a policy it might be possible to negotiate with them, which would imply changing their new policy (whatever it is) but the Brexit motions in the Commons will very soon compel them to vote on the record, or abstain.

  • @Mary Reid, @Nigel Jones, @Nonconformistradical:
    There is currently a Sunday morning Conference agenda slot (F14) of 45 minutes for an “Emergency motion of (sic) topical issue discussion”. If more time is required to facilitate a proper debate/discussion, perhaps the subsequent policy motions (at F15 and F16) could be shortened from 45 minutes to 30 minutes each?

  • David Evershed 24th Feb '19 - 11:29am

    David Becket says:
    “A main attraction of TIG is the promise to reform the political system, people are tired of the type of politics we see at PMQ and the mud we throw at others. If we are going to attract that support we must have leaders who had nothing to do with the coalition.”

    But the Lib Dem coalition with the Conservatives was just such a non mud throwing reformed political system. The coalition leaders were working cooperatively in the crisis rather than thowing mud at each other.

  • David Becket 24th Feb '19 - 11:46am

    @ David Evershed
    If the coalition had been a reformed political system it would have reformed our first past the post elections and the House of Lords. It did not, and therefore it was not. The Tories won and Clegg blew our opportunity for change. If TIG can start a movement that leads to that reform they will be worth joining.

  • John Marriott 24th Feb '19 - 12:33pm

    @Tim 13
    Well, Mr Tim (unlucky for some), you ask me what sort of reform I’m seeking. My colleague, David Evans, has already made a good start. I could add a few more, like making a serious attempt to balance its budget, curbing the power of the Commission and continuing to allow member states to opt out of the Euro and Schengen. Then we could start on ‘Freedom of Movement’. Yes to work or study; but No just for people, unless they have a visible means of support, like retirees.

    I’m pleased that you appear to understand “the world of today”. I only wish I did. What I do understand is that I know I would ideally rather be inside the tent than outside. Unfortunately a significant number of my fellow countrymen prefer to stay out, particularly as the tent was originally designed for a very limited number of countries at a time when half of historic Europe was politically and economically out of bounds.

    As I said earlier, those who advocate a “much the same in ten years time” EU would appear not necessarily to be trying to turn back the clock but rather trying to stop it altogether. Not only has the world changed since WW2, with new economic powers jockeying for a place at the top table; but ‘Europe’ has changed as well. The nation state is back, and how!

  • Roland Postle 24th Feb '19 - 12:49pm

    If we want to change the system we need a single-issue alliance between all minor parties, calling for electoral reform with a consistent message which is against FPTP and for something else, preferably not defined too vaguely. It should be broad enough to include UKIP, and Farage’s new party if that becomes a staying thing. (*Especially* them).

    The tactic of waiting for a once-in-a-lifetime coalition opportunity to force change directly didn’t work, instead the hearts and minds of the electorate need to be won over and reform will follow one way or another. UKIP have shown just how powerful a method that is to get change without ever getting being in power. Indeed some would argue Lib Dems have effected more important change from outside than within over the years.

    What better time to start than when the two main parties are creaking? And what better way to defuse the divisive politics that’s become the norm than by demonstrating that politicians with very different values can work together on issues they agree on.

  • The British position over the Huawei debacle have partly shown how vulnerable we are and will be after Brexit. We cannot band with the US and our allies, and still have to cosy the Chinese (a traditional Tory stance), for fear of economic retaliation from China, which is even more serious after losing access to the Single Market.

  • Arnold Kiel 24th Feb '19 - 2:10pm

    As always, EU-reform demands are based on ignorance: The EU redistributes member contributions; it has no budget, i.e. , it is always balanced. The Commission has no power: The Council of Ministers initiates legislation, the Commission drafts , and the European Parliament votes on it. Euro- and Schengen- opt-outs factually exist; the former is by nature even harder and even less attractive than a simple Brexit without currency complication, and the latter is regularly practiced as needed. Self-sufficiency-based limits to freedom of movement are provided for by the treaty and practiced by members. The UK did not apply them because there is no significant benefits-arbitrage problem. “Bringing the strong in line” (how? by making them weak?) requires, to put it mildly, more thought. Strasbourg, is that all you’ve got?

    On FPTP, I am afraid, exists another unlucky referendum-precedent. Good luck with that one.

  • Neil Sandison 24th Feb '19 - 8:56pm

    We should be calling upon the members of TIG to join The Liberal Movement Supporters Group to advance democratic social liberalism and social justice within a modern twenty first century economic system that supports sustainable development and the circular economy with a clear commitment to reversing climate change globally .
    If they can not sign up for that then they are not modern progressives just lost sheep embittered by their old politics.

  • Mick Taylor 24th Feb '19 - 8:57pm

    Martin. Just to be clear. If we leave the EU and later apply to rejoin, we will most certainly lose all the opt outs we now have. We would have to accept the terms of entry for a new country, which would include membership of Schengen and the Euro. There is also some doubt that our current democracy (FPTP) meets EU standards.
    So my view is that it would be better to stay and fight for reform from within, because from without we will have no say at all.
    On reform, the growing ALDE group – of which the LibDems are members – is committed to reform of the EU. So are many people in other political groups. We would be pushing at an open door.

  • Geoff Payne 25th Feb '19 - 9:40pm

    This is an interesting article – thanks Iain. I think that the debate that has played out in the comments shows that views within the party are far from settled on the question of TIG.

    Sean – people on Federal Committees certainly do read threads of LDV. Mary is a member of FCC as indeed am I.

    I have seen the calls above from David and others for FCC to re-shape the agenda at conference, dump particular debates or shorten others. The trouble with that is that the agenda is not ours to alter in that way. We select the motions from what is submitted. We allocate the times based on what we think the debates need. Once an item is included, we cannot just pull it – we have to get the permission of conference for that. The party reform proposals are constitutional amendments and we are required to take those. The other items we have selected all have a body of opinion behind them to support it.

    The way to get issues relating to TIG on the formal agenda is as Mary says – through an emergency motion. From the nature of this discussion, I will expect some good emergency motions!

  • Denis Mollison 26th Feb '19 - 8:22am

    Just to let everyone here know, Liberal Democrats for Electoral Reform are drafting an emergency motion, calling for a commitment by TIGs (and all who believe that we need a fair and effective electoral system) to make proportional representation for Westminster a red line in the next General Election.

    If anyone would like to be involved in this, please get in touch ([email protected] or [email protected])

  • @Denis Mollison: glad to see that LDER will be submitting an emergency motion on TIG – thanks also for providing email contact details.

    Any rational Lib Dem response to TIG should be informed by evidence – not by nakedly tribal rejectionism or by unconditional acceptance of their good faith. It is still far from clear whether there will be much of a common agenda beyond opposition to Brexit and rejection of the Labour/Tory duopoly – but mutual interest probably dictates that some electoral arrangement will be necessary in order to avoid mutually assured destruction.

    However, IMO, the precise nature and form of any future relationship between the Lib Dems and TIG should be determined by the extent to which they DEMONSTRATE a shared commitment to political pluralism, underpinned by radical electoral and constitutional reform – without which there cannot be any fundamental realignment of British politics.

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