Friday, May 13, 2022

Yesterday's local by-elections and a progressive alliance

There were two local by-elections yesterday. Both were in Conservative-held seats and the Conservatives lost both of them.

The results also pose questions about the practicality of and need for a "progressive alliance".

Take the by-election in the Frensham, Dockenfield and Tilford ward of Waverley Borough Council in Surrey.

Here, Labour and the Liberal Democrats stood down to give the Green Party a clear run against the Conservatives. The Tories lost all right, but it wasn't the Greens who won.

The victor was David Munro, an Independent who used to be the Conservative police and crime commissioner for the county. Munro is a former Army office who lost his career because he was openly gay.

This should serve as a reminder that parties do not own their supporters votes and cannot deliver them en bloc to another party. And also as another reminder that Twitter is not the real world.

Last night there was also a by-election in the Peacehaven ward of Lewes District Council.

There was no progressive alliance here: Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens all fielded candidates. But this did not stop Labour from gaining the seat by a mile.

The result was Labour 641, Conservatives 477, Lib Dems 32, Greens 32,

If the electorate is determined to get rid of the Tories, as they were in 1997 and as I sense they are now, then it will organise itself to do so.

Remember that in 1997 Labour came from third place to take two seats from the Tories - Hastings & Rye and St Albans - that had been Liberal Democrat targets.

You can hear these issues debated in the latest Oh God, What Now? podcast, where Layla Moran is the guest. I share her view that any alliances must be locally determined and not imposed from on high.

And is it good for Liberal Democrats to taken on a "progressive" identity?

I have seen a quote online from my much-missed friend Simon Titley that exposes its weakness:

"Progressive." What does it mean? The only discernible meaning is "not conservative" or "not reactionary"... negative definitions. The "p" word is a lazy word, so give it up. It will force you to say what you really mean. We need real politics not empty slogans.

I don't know where this comes from, but there is an archive of Simon's writing on the Liberator website.

Let me end by once again recommending the weekly local by-election previews by Andrew Teale.


Ian Osborne said...

I have a long list of music that Simon either recommended or we already shared the love of, none can be played without a moment to miss him.

Anonymous said...

Wise words about progressive and alliance. I am certain that being incorrectly seen as the same as Labour can do nothing but harm to Libwral Democrats, as well as being untrue.

The Toires know this which is why we are beginning to see, and will continue to see efforts to paint us as Labour's poodles.