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.