The Independent Group warms to idea of an umbrella arrangement with Lib Dems

It’s a bit perturbing reading media coverage of the Liberal Democrats at the moment. Stories about the party’s imminent leadership race keep on appearing and, slightly out of character, are broadly accurate. Speculation about who might run and who might win pretty much match up with what I see from the inside (as discussed with Stephen Tall in our podcast, Never Mind The Bar Charts).

Included in that is the latest Business Insider piece on the party, highlighting two key issues.

First, the growing support for the idea of some sort of umbrella arrangement between Change UK – The Independent Group (its new name) and the Liberal Democrats.

I’ve written before about how this could be the smart model of political cooperation between people with some but not fully shared political values.

Business Insider reports:

The Independent Group is mulling an electoral alliance with the Liberal Democrats in which they would both run under the same “umbrella” and field joint candidates in certain seats at future elections…

Business Insider has been told that the group has discussed forming an electoral alliance with the Liberal Democrats which is similar to the Labour party’s relationship with the Cooperative Party.

Under the proposed arrangement, both parties would remain independent but agree on joint candidates to stand in certain seats.

These discussions were confirmed by sources in both TIG and the Lib Dems.

Judging by the results of my survey of party members, this is the sort of arrangement that would probably match where the centre of gravity on opinion is inside the Liberal Democrats.

One way we’re likely to see that tested is during the forthcoming Lib Dem leadership contest. As Business Insider, again I think correctly, adds:

Jo Swinson — the party’s current deputy leader who is among the three MPs expected to run for Cable’s job — is thought to be the most open to collaborating with TIG and possibly letting the group use Lib Dem resources.

“She [Swinson] gets it,” a TIG MP recently told BI.

Swinson’s closest leadership rival Layla Moran is “playing her cards close to her chest” on the issue of the Lib Dems’ relationship with TIG, a Lib Dem source told BI, adding “and that is relatively canny.”

The third name in the leadership race, Ed Davey, is the least keen on an electoral alliance.

8 responses to “The Independent Group warms to idea of an umbrella arrangement with Lib Dems”

  1. If and when a European parliamentary election has to be fought (and I can see no way of the people’s vote campaign surviving without that) I reckon all the “remainer parties” (Lib Dems, Greens, Change UK etc) should put up joint candidates. Even under PR this would present a much stronger stance.

  2. I dont know if you have any influence but if you do could you use it to inject a sense of urgency into these discussions ? We certainly can’t afford to wait till after our Leadership contest. Not only is there a probable European Election on May 23rd (?) but May could still call a General Election at any moment.

  3. We face a choice of political purity and non of LD / Green / TIG winning seats in a Euro election, or cooperating and winning several in every region. With Westminster being a divided shambles it could even be well received by the public. With a remain & reform European platform.

  4. with a binary voting system, (until we can succeed in getting it changed) we must work with others to maximise the chances of disrupting the arrogance of the Tories. They see the pursuit of power, and papering over the cracks of their divisions in order for their masters to have that power, as their priority, employing lies and deceit and the constant reference to ‘democracy’. Their masters are, self-evidently, not interested in the future of this country, only their control of the levers for their own interests.
    We must do all we can, at every level, to promote only one opponent to any Tory standing, and not allow them to win by dividing the opposition. Any ‘winner’ should have 50%+ of the vote, FPTP enables as few as 20% to be a ‘win’, that is an affront to the very idea of democracy.

  5. Progressive centrists must work together for the greater good – as we live through a national crisis which is driving polarisation, the centrists must have the self discipline to pull together. The luxury of ideological purity can wait for more settled times.

  6. Your view on the relative enthusiasm for collaboration of the different leadership candidates is very useful. I expect to vote for the one who is most positive about collaboration. The LibDems of all parties should recognise the importance of working with all people who broadly share our values. It’s going to be essential for the success of progressive politics in the UK.

  7. This is an excellent plan! I’m very worried that we’ll water down our pro-EU votes to the point of having few MEPs if we have too many small pro-EU parties.

    If the by-election in Newport is any indication, the pro-EU parties (excluding Labour and Tory) increased from 11.0% to 17.3% between 2015 and 2019, while the anti-EU parties decreased from 15.2% to 11.8%. However, none of the 4 pro-EU parties had more than 5% of the vote, while UKIP had 8.6%. Using the D’Hondt proportional system (which the UK uses for EU elections), assuming the result of the Newport vote applied to a region with 7 MPs, the seats would have gone to 3 Labour, 3 Tories, and 1 UKIP.

  8. I’m all in favour of agreeing a limited number of Remainer candidates in each constituency if we have EU elections, but after that we should have nothing to do with the Tiggers until we hear their views on proportional representation by single transferable vote in multi-member constituencies.

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