Political

New party splits before it is launched: Twelve Together splits off from United for Change

It’s not even launched yet but already the latest (and richest) attempt at forming a new centre pro-European political party, United for Change, has split:

United for Change was set up by LoveFilm founder and entrepreneur Simon Franks, and is reported to have secured more than £50m in funding.

But the fledgling organisation’s chief executive, Adam Knight, told the Times he had now left the team along with some of its staff to set up a new group.

He said that while United for Change shared the “same diagnosis” as his new outfit, dubbed Twelve Together after the number of UK regions, party chiefs had disagreed over strategy. [PoliticsHome, reporting on the scoop from The Times]

It’s almost as if they’re taking the wrong lesson from the long-running internal conflicts in the Alliance in the 1980s. The Alliance was the closest we’ve got to a seriously successful new pro-European, neither left nor right, political force in the UK.

The deep personal splits an internal infighting which culminated in the near-death experience of 1988-89 are, however, a bit to avoid rather than a bit to copy.

They are also one of the reasons why I’m sceptical about the ability of a new party to prosper. A successful new party needs to build a coalition of support. Yet the attempts so far are often born of circumstances which suggest the complete opposite, with founders viewing the Lib Dems as beyond the pale for them. That suggests a narrowness of tolerance for varying political viewpoints that will end up sinking the new approaches, a point which Nick Barlow has previously made too. (A point also reinforced by similar internal fallouts at Renew, another of the new centre parties.)

It is why I think the best route is for the Liberal Democrats to grow and broaden into a political movement which can win over the many liberals who share our values but do not currently think of themselves as Liberal Democrats. More on how to do that here.

9 responses to “New party splits before it is launched: Twelve Together splits off from United for Change”

  1. The Lib Dems need to gain the moderate anti-Brexit Tory and Labour voters. They can return to their original parties when Brexit is stopped.

  2. The Liberal Democrats are still hamstrung by association with the Tories in the coalition, until that generation of leaders is gone we are always going to be seen as Tory-lite

    We have other issues as well, Brexit is in danger of making us appear to be a single issue pressure group and a lack of a unifying dynamic and inspirational leader (granted thisis common to all UK parties at present) makes us just appear to be more of the same.

    • Yes to a major extent I agree with the broad thrust of your post and most if not all of your observations. I do however feel that an alliance with the Green Party is the way forward perusing not only answers to the malaise in our economy notwithstanding Brexit but also a future outlook not dissimilar to the Nordic ( especially Norwegian ) emphasis on future sustainability in respect of the environment.
      This is the angle of future political attack by embracing the future needs not the past wastage so beloved of the two largest political parties.
      Could it work, is it bold, would it be attractive…..I think so .

  3. The trouble with being a tolerant Liberal is we become easy fodder for aggressive behaviour from political predators. I saw that so vividly from the Social Democrats who were anything but social or democratic. We have to show the values that make us the most decent party around at the moment. The very substance of the country is falling apart. No services, lack of care, cruelty towards disabled people. I could go on and on. The Tories and in some respect Labour have wrecked our lives.

    • I have seen this at local party level, where ruthless defectors from both Con/Lab have taken over the executive, used and abused the campaign team in pursuit of their own ambitions. Took about 8 years to recover.

  4. When Brexit is over with we have to keep those people and not allow them to return to their old parties as the country will change one way or another after we leave ,we must be ready for that change. The old ”dyed in the wool” grandees will have to go to give the new their chance. How about Daisie or Layla? Our association with theTories and not being a free independant party has made people think oh! more of the same and we will be distrusted or ignored.Yes we are in danger of being a one party issue party. When the ‘Annual chat show ‘ is over the policies that we agree on should be put out NATIONALLY in our focus leaflets asking for people to comment on them. It will give us guidance as to where we are going and what the voter feels.

    • “Annual chat show” – spot on! Grandees – for sure! I find long-standing party members to be very conservative. Conference is so detached from the smaller local parties, let alone the liberal public.

  5. There have been a couple of interesting developments in the last few days.
    Firstly, there are now 3 ExLabour MPs sitting as independents, 1 disgruntled Corbynite, 1 Centre-Left Pro EU & 1 Far Right. They offer Labour MPs a comfortable halfway house on the way to joining another Party or forming a new one.
    Secondly, elements in The Tories are now suggesting that Ruth Davidson could be made a Peer & then join the Cabinet. The idea is that she could become Tory Leader & PM while in The Lords. If that is now OK then we have amuch wider choice for Leader without going outside Parliament. We have alot of talent in The Lords.
    Theres a lot of movement going on under the surface of British Politics & we are recovering.

  6. Political parties need activists – lots of them if they have wide geographical ambitions. The SDP did rather well in this respect, recruiting large numbers of people who’d been outside party politics (though interested in politics) along with a number of Labour veterans who varied from very good to more-harm-than-good. However, even at a quite low point for the Liberals, the Liberals had more and more savvy activists. The SDP had three really well-known politicians at the top and that helped convince potential activists to join. I can’t see a new manufactured centre party doing anything like that well unless a large segment of one of the other parties split off, the MPs taking a body of activists with them. The likely course would be from media hype and advertising to a disappointing by-election result to a tiny impact only in local elections to extinction. Such parties do not have the bloody-minded staying power of parties with a history.

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