There is a place for the Lib Dems, as part of a Progressive Alliance voice

The phrase ‘we are all in this together’ must seep into all facets of our lives if it’s to be meaningful. Politics ought not to be exempt from this. There are three positions which opposition parties could adopt in the current crisis, being with Government unquestioningly; being with Government and challenging them; or adopting a neutral stance while being critically questioning. Options 2 and 3 could be significantly bolstered by a Progressive Alliance voice consisting of all the Opposition Parties.

There isn’t another need for a third party to fill an imaginary gap, again, but there is a crying need from people for a strong voice to challenge many, many actions being taken or not taken while the death toll rises.

But unless the Lib Dems recognise this opportunity to work together with Labour a chance to get the party onto the public eye, with a view to serving the public as part of a coalition in opposition, will be lost.

While Sir Ed Davey, current leader of the party, has been calling for a Select Committe to be set up to examine the Government’s response to the Pandemic, there is no evidence of any moves being made to work with Labour as such. The make up of a select committee is vastly different from the make up of a Progressive Alliance. The latter only consists of opposition parties. Therein lies the important distinction.

A look at Ed Davey’s Twitter feed will show you that the Lib Dem leader is gaining some traction from the public over his message that Parliament ought to be recalled. While there are the usual insults in people’s tweeted replies which happens to all politicians, it is interesting to note that there are calls for Opposition parties to work together.

How much more evidence do Lib Dem leaders need about the positives of being part of a Progressive Alliance? The dreadful election result for the Lib Dems under the equally disastrous leadership of Jo Swinson ought to be the last shred of evidence needed. She outrightly refused to work with Labour while being pro-Europe. It was a ‘paint me into a corner’ style of leadership fought on arrogance and false victory gleaned from the number of MPs who jumped their mother ships to join the Lib Dems.

Ed Davey may be asking the right questions during these times but there is still more than whiff of the type of combative politics fought against Labour. Point scoring is best done as an after thought when one is currently in a position of being the underdog. In other words people are mainly looking to Labour for answers and not to the Lib Dems. Work with Labour now and claim the credit later or, better still, indulge in some ‘show and not tell politics’.

A different tactic for different times. Show some of that caring politics which Lib Dems, in the past, were known for before Cleggy ruined it all.

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1 Comment

  1. Alex Macfie
    April 13, 2020 / 7:11 am

    Lib Dems certainly do better when there is some sort of co-operation with Labour (even if it’s behind the scenes), as shown by our success in 1997. But it’s unfair to blame the lack of such co-operation in 2019 on Jo Swinson. Co-operation is a two-way process, and Labour under Corbyn wasn’t interested. We did participate in a progressive alliance involving Greens, Plaid Cymru and the various independents. So there was no lack of interest in the idea from our side. And Labour seemed more interested in attacking us than attacking the Tories. The hard-left faction that was running Labour until last week always thinks of us as “yellow Tories”, and they successfully hammered that message to soft Labour voters. Of course it was made easier for them by the Coalition and our then leader’s role in it, but it’s what they always do. The Hard Left hate us more than they hate the Tories, so there is no possibility of co-operation with them.
    Don’t forget, either, that Corbyn is a life-long Europhobe, a follower of the Bennite position that the EU is a capitalist conspiracy. His poshboy revolutionary acolytes, such as Seumas Milne and Andrew Murray, would have scuppered any softening of this Lexit position.
    Distancing our party from Labour was also necessary to get soft the Tory votes that proved vital for winning the seats we did win in England. By far the biggest reason I got from soft Tories for voting Tory instead of us in a Tory-facing target seat was that they didn’t want Corbyn as Prime Minister. Although we won the seat I was campaigning in (Richmond Park), I’m sure there was a last-minute swing to the Tories here — we won by some 7,700 but the final MRP poll had us ahead by >12,000 in the constituency. Appearing too close to Corbyn’s Labour would have been the death of us at the last election.
    One of Keir Starmer’s first actions as Labour leader has been to purge the Corbynites from his front bench and staff. It looks like the hard left is going to be sidelined, and this bodes well for future co-operation between Lib Dems and Labour. I wouldn’t expect to see any formal pacts, but there is certainly scope for the kind of behind-the-scenes co-operation we saw in the early Blair years.

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