We must build an imaginative and pragmatic alliance

Remco van der Stoep

Monday, 05 August 2019

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.

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  1. Posted by Peter ?

    I have been ill for these past 20 plus years, been forced to live on benefits and suffer terribly from depression. I cannot take any more from the governments of recent times, who simply have no idea I am here, like millions of others who are forgotten.

    Reply
  2. Posted by Steve Jackson

    I am in favour of electoral pacts where they a) remove right wing candidates b) bring about PR
    I think the term progressive must be dropped. Liberals have proved they are not progressive in choosing their present leader

    Reply
  3. Posted by JLH

    Thank you for you email this morning.
    Remain and Progressive Alliances may be different, but we must support each other. Neither is strong enough on its own.
    Progressives DO need to unite to remain.
    Somehow the many forms of ‘leave’ have united, and yet the single aim of ‘remain’ has been fractured.
    The start of your email reminded me of the Judean People’s Front in Life of Brian.
    We need unity, it was great marching together, and that may require some compromise.
    Our society and politics is in greater danger than it has been in my lifetime, and our energy _must_ be directed in the right direction, and that is a strategy which progressives and remainers can get behind.

    Reply
  4. Posted by Lucy May

    unfortunately those pushing a remain alliance seem to want any leader other than Corbyn. I think remain as an issue would have got more traction if it hadn’t also been used as a stick to beat Corbyn.

    I think the tory remainers are to blame as they do not follow up their tough talking with action and they are the reason we are were we are.

    I agree parliament needs to stop no deal brexit and ideally revoke article 50. To do this they need to step back from their stop Corbyn agenda and get behind any action Labour take. So far they have refused to back all efforts.

    Reply