18th February 2019
As I write this 7 Labour MP’s have just left their party to join a new group: “The Independent group”, while not being an official party it certainly looks as if the newly free Labour defectors will be seeking to form a new party, a party that is centrist, Pro-European and looking to stand out against the two major parties. Now, I won’t be the first person to accuse people of forgetting about the Lib Dems, but not only do the Lib Dems match the aims of a proposed new party the Lib Dems boasts years of infrastructure behind it.
To form a new party is not to just throw millions at a new swanky website, nice looking media output and a hotdesking office in SW1. but entails years and years of building. You need volunteers, these volunteers need candidates, these candidates need to be selected, the selectors need to follow a constitution, and so on… the point is that the British Political tradition and electoral landscape does not support the introduction of multiple new and unestablished parties.
This will not be the only rebel group that will appear in the months ahead in the current turbulent British Political Climate; Conservative MP’s such as Anna Soubury and Sarah Woolaston are making similar noises. The creation of new groups will not, in my opinion, aide the progressive cause, it will instead blur the lines of the liberal progressive front, it will move focus away from the already passive Liberal Democrats to different groups that are not only shiny and new but have a certain edge and uniqueness to them. After all, since the 2017 General election, there has not been an event of a real change in British Politics such as the party splits we are now seeing.
Despite my belief that the formation of a new party will only muddy the progressive water, it has to be said that the ‘Group of seven’ did something very brave and powerful today, as a devoted member of a party myself I cannot imagine the difficulty in the decision to leave a party; that you have not only been a committed member of but to have also served in parliament under its banner must be incredibly hard.
Unity is the name of the game in these troubled times, progressives and liberals are faced with a right wing tory party determined to do anything including a no-deal Brexit to stay in power and a dysfunctional and dangerous Labour party – instead of creating more factions and more groups that will ultimately enter into inevitable entrenched arguments why not come together under one party? in this case one orange diamond.
The creation of several groups all looking to promote the same ideology risks sending the centre of British politics into a ‘people’s front of Judea’ and a Judean people’s front’ situation. It will be too easy for the right and left wing media to point out that while looking to promote the ideas of togetherness and co-operation that the centre cant even creates a single force.
The only foreseeable way to breakthrough in British politics with real progressive and Liberal policies is to unite under one roof, at the moment the party with the best infrastructure and ability to fight elections and win is the Liberal Democrats. After all, we progressives can make as much noise and policies as we want but without winning and without power, existence can be futile. I hope that the newly formed group and any future groups on the horizon are willing to work closely together in a defiant show of bipartisanship.