A Remain Alliance is not the same as a Progressive Alliance. That’s what we said when we were asked for our view on the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election and it’s what’s keeping us awake at night.
Because of course, a snap general election handing extended power to a Johnson-led Regressive Alliance is an absolute worst-case scenario for any progressive. Yet, simply coalescing around a centrist Remain-and-Restore agenda (as ‘Unite to Remain’ seem to propose) is not the answer. Everything has profoundly changed since the referendum, and seeking to ignore or undo that is a recipe for failure – especially in an election.
But faced with a new PM who has no qualms about embracing the xenophobic hard right, we cannot afford to be divided among ourselves if a snap election comes our way. While the Progressive Alliance didn’t win in 2017, it clipped May’s wings and the idea of alliance-based politics is clearly here to stay. It’s upon us progressives to be imaginative, pragmatic and generous – hard work, perhaps, but to shape a progressive future we’ll have to deserve it first.
We’ve been collecting some views from valued friends on how collaboration on the progressive Left might happen. Everyone will agree more with some than with others, and that’s true for us too. But let’s take it all in now, so we can have the important conversations with each other over weeks to come. We’ll be doing this with Compass members in the first instance; so if you aren’t a member yet, please join now to participate. Here’s what we’ve been reading.
Best for Britain’s Naomi Smith suggests five ways in which parties could work together “for the greater good”. The Observer’s Toby Helm went to Richmond-upon-Thames (of Progressive Alliance fame) to gauge voters’ appetite for a Remain Alliance.
Anthony Painter proposes that progressive MPs and candidates could converge around a joint progressive declaration, and that a ‘coupon’ system is used to guide tactical voting.
There are two takes on what approach the Labour party should take, with Paul Mason proposing the party takes the lead in a “popular front” of left and centre parties and Mark Perryman suggesting a ruthless approach to tactical campaigning while reaching out to other progressive parties.
Green Party co-leader Siân Berry makes a cautious case for electoral alliances, saying “In the coming months, we must not lose sight of the fact that the priority must be stopping the crash-out no deal Brexit that our Prime Minister is pushing for, which would be a disaster for Britain”. Elsewhere, Stephen Clark argues that the party should make a radical move to nudge other progressives into collaborating.
The current discussion brings our recent thinkpiece about the political stalemate and the need to form a Progressive Bloc back to the fore. We’ve now followed that up with a new bit of political analysis – please see here.
If you’ve missed it, here’s Neal Lawson’s take on how progressives should approach the new Prime Minister, and how we shouldn’t. And for a peek inside what is arguably the UK’s most successful local Progressive Alliance, how about this from South West Surrey Compass? More about their extraordinary success on the Compass website soon!
Please send us other views on this that you think we should consider. You can email us or join the conversation with other members and supporters below the line.
A storm is coming. Let’s guide each other through it, to the clear skies beyond.