Thursday, April 22, 2021

Is the call for a progressive alliance a counsel of despair?

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Martin Kettle has a piece in the Guardian arguing that a 'progressive alliance' involving Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Greens and whoever will not in itself deliver victory over the Conservatives:

If a progressive alliance is focused solely on proportional representation and electoral pacts, it will be inward-looking. Why would most people vote for it, even if - improbably - the parties were able to sort all the details? Proportional representation may help, but it is not the key that unlocks the door.

He's right, of course.

But there is another thing that worries me about the widespread enthusiasm for a progressive alliance. It's that it is a counsel of despair. We have given up any hope of winning Conservative voters.

Maybe it's social media that has encouraged this state of mind. See a tweet by or about a Leave voter who has changed their mind and you will see a host of insulting replies from long-term Remainers.

While if a former Tory voter announces he will support Labour next time he will be abused by Corbynites for his earlier treachery.

More and more, we talk only to our tribe and the supporters of other parties exist only as distant caricatures.

There is hope in the traditional electioneering that is taking place at the moment. You can't neat knocking on door and talking to people as a way of gauging the public mood.

Kettle himself points to Shirley Williams's approach to politics as  a model that might give such a progressive alliance substance. He says she was:

instinctively creative in thinking about shared moral and political values across parties and broadly shared political objectives. 

That is certainly the approach the opposition parties need today.


nigel hunter said...

Universal basic income if sold across all political voters with its fairness to all could be seen as a unifying e had for some timeideal.Those who fight against it will be those who fear a change in the status quo. Those who will loose influence and power they have.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your point. But - at the risk of giving the impression of actually the sort of narrow-mindedness which you identify - I think that not all bubbles are equal. Specifically, there is such a strong culture in Labour of being the only repository of decent values and political legitimacy, that this has acted as a break on anti-Tory politics for a long time, both in electoral and cultural terms. Greens and Liberal Democrat’s can be guilty of this at times, but the Labour problem is so much greater that I think acknowledging it within Labour is crucial.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I didn’t sign that comment, which comes from Dr Anonymous...

Andrew Kitching said...

It was a good article. John Rental wrote an interesting article last week, saying that Starmer needed at some point to set out his Brexit policy. He couldn't ignore it forever. I think the LDs should set out their own distinctive policy. I would suggest EFTA/EEA. Compatible with the referendum result., and would force Labour to think.