The Independent Group warms to idea of an umbrella arrangement with Lib Dems
It’s a bit perturbing reading media coverage of the Liberal Democrats at the moment. Stories about the party’s imminent leadership race keep on appearing and, slightly out of character, are broadly accurate. Speculation about who might run and who might win pretty much match up with what I see from the inside (as discussed with Stephen Tall in our podcast, Never Mind The Bar Charts).
According to businessinsider.com reports ” The group of former Labour and Conservative MPs announced this week that they are applying to become a political party under the name of Change UK. The party-to-be also plans to field candidates in the May European Parliament elections, should a lengthy delay to Brexit force the UK to partake.
Business Insider has been told that the group has discussed forming an electoral alliance with the Liberal Democrats which is similar to the Labour party’s relationship with the Cooperative Party.
Under the proposed arrangement, both parties would remain independent but agree on joint candidates to stand in certain seats.
These discussions were confirmed by sources in both TIG and the Lib Dems. It is just one of the ideas which TIG is considering in regards to how to cooperate with other opposition parties in future elections.
Those familiar with the talks believe this sort of electoral alliance could be beneficial for both parties.
TIG would be able to lean on the Lib Dems’ resources which itself lacks to fight local elections, while increasing its chances of winning seats a national level.
One Lib Dem official, who is familiar with the discussions, described the proposal as a “collective umbrella,” which in theory, would improve the electoral prospects of both groups, while allowing each of them to remain independent.
There are currently 33 MPs who represent the Labour & Cooperative Party electoral alliance.
The leader of the Lib Dems on Liverpool council, Richard Kemp, wrote to Independent Group MP Luciana Berger, earlier this year signalling a possible electoral pact in her Wavertree seat.
“We would like to meet with you and chat openly and honestly about what we agree and disagree on and how we might work together in both campaigning and electoral terms to deliver what your grouping and the Liberal Democrats both desire,” Kemp wrote to Berger.
One senior Lib Dem figure told BI that the Liverpool Lib Dems were considering a possible pact with Berger, in which they would step aside at the next general election in exchange for Berger’s supporters stepping aside in the upcoming local elections.
However, TIG MPs like Chris Leslie stress that the newly-found anti-Brexit group must remain fully independent from other parties.
Speaking after TIG’s launch last month, the ex-Labour MP said: “What’s important for us is that we are trying to create something different to the 20th century institutions work.”
“I mean no disrespect to the [Lib Dems], they have their own organisation and there will always be a Liberal party.
He added: “But everyone has to make a sacrifice here. If there’s a sense they don’t need to do anything significant like we have, I don’t think that’s right.”
TIG MPs, particularly group spokesperson Chuka Umunna, believe that that the group has a brighter future than the Liberal Democrats, and ought to be the senior partner in any future electoral alliance.
TIG MPs have also suggested that Lib Dem MPs would be better off quitting their party.
BI reported last month that a number of Lib Dems donors were considering following the handful who had withdrawn their support to pump money into TIG instead, including businessman Charlie Mullins.
So what do you think?
Tell us in the comments.