Broad range of progressives back the Liberal Democrats

The letters page in today’s Guardian includes this:

This is an extraordinary political moment. An election seemingly destined to produce a narrow Conservative victory has been seized by the voters and turned into a democratic contest – a contest not just between parties, but over the shape of our democracy itself.

The MPs that assemble in Westminster next month could usher in one of the great reforming parliaments in British history, one to rank in the history books alongside 1831-32, 1865-67 or 1911-1914. The next parliament could see cherished progressive liberal aspirations realised: a proportional electoral system; wider and better-defended civil liberties; a new, internationalist approach to foreign affairs and immigration; reform of the tax system to share wealth and curb carbon emissions; and an assault on the vested interests of the financial sector.

The question for progressive liberals is what election result now offers the best chance of achieving these goals…

The Liberal Democrats are today’s change-makers. They have already changed the election; next they could drive fundamental change in our political and economic landscape.

Some of us have already pinned our colours to the Liberal Democrat mast. For others, the decision to back the Liberal Democrats in this election is a difficult one. Long-standing party loyalties, even in a less tribal world, are not easily suspended. But May 2010 offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reshape politics for the better. It must be seized.

Richard Reeves, John Kampfner, Professor Noreena Hertz, Susie Orbach, Shazia Mirza, Camilla Toulmin, Brian Eno, John le Carré, Henry Porter, Alex Layton, Gordon Roddick, Yasmin Alibhai Brown, Philip Pullman, David Aukin, Nick Harkaway, Lisa Appignanesi, Francis Wheen, Alan Ryan, Raymond Tallis, Julian Baggini, Jeanette Winterson, Rodric Braithwaite, Richard Dawkins, George Monbiot, Ken Macdonald, Philippe Sands, Misha Glenny, Anthony Barnett, Richard Sennett, David Marquand

“Progressive” has become a much used and abused term in British politics. But however you characterise that range of signatories their interest in reform, civil liberties and, in many cases, previous strong support for Labour illustrates a significant change that is happening in British politics. The Labour Party increasingly risks being reduced to an authoritarian rump.

Whether that happens depends a lot on who finishes third in the popular vote next Thursday. We could be on the verge of a major shift in both our political system and our party system.

You can read the full letter here.

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