Back when I worked in the party’s Campaigns & Elections Department, one of my contributions to the Liberal Democrats was working out and spreading a new way of calculating how many votes you need to win in an election and hence how many voters to target with activity such as direct mail. Part of the reason for doing that was a reaction to otherwise well-organised campaigns that had lost because, in part, they failed to work out what scale was needed to win.
To win an election, you need to be able to count – and that’s just as true about winning in Parliament.
It’s why the idea of voting for Jeremy Corbyn to be Prime Minister was never a runner for stopping Brexit in the Commons in this Parliament. Even leaving aside the question of whether a life-long Eurosceptic as Prime Minister would really stop Brexit, there simply were not the votes in Parliament for this.
Likewise at the moment, however much Liberal Democrats and others may wish it to be different, there are not enough votes in Parliament to secure a People’s Vote.
Merely sticking with demanding a People’s Vote is a losing strategy unless there’s an accompanying plan for securing those extra votes from MPs. Seven times this Parliament has voted against a referendum on the terms of Brexit.
Which is why Jo Swinson is right to be pushing for a pre-Christmas election. The way to get more MPs voting against Brexit going ahead is to get more anti-Brexit MPs into Parliament. That means a general election.
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