A leaked Change UK / The Independent Group memo, not denied or ‘clarified’ since its appearance this morning, sets out an aggressive plan for the party in its approach to the Liberal Democrats.
It eschews seeking any sort of formal relations:
No mergers, pacts or alliances.
But it goes much further, with an objective for the new party of replacing any role for the Liberal Democrats in UK politics:
Objectives: Single party, brand, entity and leadership team for progressive politics at the next General Election including all progressive traditions (centre-left, One Nation and Liberal).
No sense of cooperating in any sort of loose arrangement (such as an umbrella grouping) or even accepting co-existence. Rather an objective of replacing the Liberal Democrats with that use of “single”.
What’s more, the tactics set out are heavy on poaching support from the Liberal Democrats, with talk of trying to get key Lib Dem donors to switch, to recruit councillors from the Lib Dems and to win over prominent Lib Dem supporters.
It’s not exactly a plan for wanting to work together in search of common aims.
That is all rather disappointing, to put it mildly. And needs to be added to the growing list of Change UK candidates with a record of intolerant and discriminatory comments.
It shouldn’t, however, be seen as the end of the matter as not only do we not know how widely this approach is supported within Change UK, but also we don’t know how Change UK will view matters are the council elections and the Euros.
If the former see widespread Lib Dem gains and the latter see Change UK splitting the vote and helping elect Hard Brexiter MEPs*, for example, it’s easy to see the mood change significantly. And, so far at least, Change UK has been shedding those illiberal candidates.
A reason, therefore, for Lib Dems to redouble our efforts in aid of our own successes and to hold back a verdict on Change UK for the moment.
Here is the memo in full published by the Daily Mail.**
* Of the six opinion polls carried out so far for the Euros, five put the Lib Dems ahead of Change UK and one had the parties tied.
** Given the instinctive reaction of some of ‘Daily Mail, must be fake’ it is worth adding that Change UK hasn’t denied, repudiated or ‘clarified’ the memo. Not even in the quotes given to the media by Change UK for a follow-up story about it. That wouldn’t be the case if it were a fake or a hoax.