Vince Cable turned down invite to lead a new political party

Over on Left Foot Forward, Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable has revealed that he was invited to lead a new anti-Brexit party.

Explaining what happened, Vince Cable writes:

Recently, we’ve seen an explosion of announcements of new parties being formed. Most are not very serious: vanity projects, spoofs or hopeless lost causes. These new parties offer politics without politicians…

So far, no politician of any stature, or even without stature, has endorsed or joined them. Money, marketing, a new name and the self-belief of the founders appear to be the common ingredients.

The absence of politicians is revealing. I was asked to consider leading one of these new parties and when I pointed out that I already led a party, with deeper roots and rather better prospects, the answer I got was ‘well, why don’t you change the brand and we will get behind you’.

Others, I believe, have been approached – Tony Blair, Paddy Ashdown, Nick Clegg – and plausible names banded about include David Miliband and George Osborne. None, to my knowledge, has been tempted.

The conversations, I gather, follow a predictable pattern. Flattery: the new Messiah is capable of leading the country out of its present mess if their talents can be harnessed to a new vehicle with a new name and, in some cases, the tycoon’s millions.

Then the politician asks some obvious questions about local organisation, compliance requirements and the handicaps of Britain’s first-past-the-post system and eyes glaze over. Unnecessary detail. If you politicians aren’t interested, we will do it on our own. The two epithets I commonly hear to describe the new party sponsors are naivety and arrogance.

That final paragraph in the extract quoted bears careful thought. There’s a powerful combination to be had from marrying existing knowledge with new ideas. Mere enthusiasm for newness, just as mere insistence on always doing things the way you’re used to, is not enough. It’s both that you need to combine.

In the meantime, as I wrote in the last Liberal Democrat Newswire:

The cast list of would-be new parties, none of whom have yet made an electoral or opinion poll impact, include RenewDemocratsRadicalsSpring (update: and another one, Advance). And that’s without even getting into what Tony Blair or George Osborne have been getting up to. It’s all rather reminiscent of the long-standing joke about computer standards.

4 responses to “Vince Cable turned down invite to lead a new political party”

  1. the one obstacle to any party making progress against the old two is our corrupt and fraudulent voting system, and the support it gets from the vested interests. So when we tackle that, and find a newspaper that will report us fairly, then we shall continue to languish as we are. Any new party can be little more than a pressure group until we get democratic change.

  2. No, there are much stronger barriers. What would be this new party’s philosophy? Who would be its activists? The SDP half-succeeded despite the difficulties, but a new anti-Brexit party would have no philosophy, no rationale and no identity beyond the one issue of Brexit. It would face enormous challenges to build a half-decent organisation and activist base.

  3. Looking at the by-election results in Newport West.
    It is alarming that UKIP increased their share of the vote and came 3rd.
    But look, If Plaid Cymru, the Liberal democrats and the Green parties put a
    made an alliance to fight Westminster FPTP elections where any of our single parties have almost no chance alone we could be stronger. For example, in Newport West together we would have sank UKIP into 3rd place and shown that people’s vote / devo-max parties can work together and command more support than extreme-right setups that actually want to abolish the Welsh parliament and Welsh culture.
    I am sure we in PC, LD and Greens could work together because there is more to unite us than losing the Welsh parliament, devolution and the economy through a hard brexit.

  4. UKIP would have sank to 4th place.
    The people’s vote / pro-devo / green alliance would have overtaken them into 3rd place.

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