A “Progressive Alliance” must not be built on opposition; but on pro-action.
A Progressive Alliance made-up of genuine, pro-democracy, “pro-Left” organisations is the first step in forming a sustainable opposition – and proposition – to the Tories.
Ahead of Jeremy Corbyn’s re-election as Labour leader, it’s easy to become over-excited. Winning against the odds, for the second time in a year, and with overwhelming majorities, should be celebrated.
But we know how this ends.
Should the PLP launch another coup, or begin paving the way for a split; who’s going to be there to stop it?
As leader, Jeremy Corbyn has limited capabilities. Power remains with the NEC. The PLP will rebel, no matter what Corbyn does; with many MPs ruling themselves out of a new Shadow Cabinet.
A Progressive Alliance – in this scenario – is a necessity. It would provide the support Labour members, supporters and affiliates need.
But a Progressive Alliance cannot just be an affiliation of political Parties. It has to be an integrated web of grassroots activism – affiliated and non-affiliated – to political Parties and Left-wing causes.
We have to be willing to extend our help – extend our support – to all groups supporting a responsible, Left-wing opposition to the Tories.
Several weeks ago Caroline Lucas suggested the Greens, Labour and other Left-wing Parties form “electoral-pacts,” stating she’d “never felt so optimistic about a potential leader of the Labour Party.”
Under the proposals, a Labour/Tory marginal would see the Greens and Lib Dems stand elsewhere; removing the possibility of a split-vote.
Seats such as Oxford East, hotly contested by the Greens, would see Labour drop-out in return for the Greens pulling-out of Tory marginals.
Lucas’ own constituency of Brighton Pavilion would remain unopposed, moving from a tightly-contested marginal to one with an overwhelming majority.
Plaid Cymru would increase its number of seats in the Welsh Assembly in return for increased Labour seats in the Commons.
It’s easy to see the advantages. The boundary review could obliterate over 30 Labour seats and increase the Tories’ majority as Parliament’s largest Party. Marginals would become even more critical than they already are.
An additional benefit of the PA would be for Parties to focus their resources – financial and human – in areas needing it most.
In an electoral system rigged in favour of the two largest Parties, a Progressive Alliance would level the playing field.
During the Labour leadership campaign, members were suspended for expressing even vague levels of sympathy with the Greens.
If a Progressive Alliance is going to work, we need to overcome partisan politics.
Despite a greater emphasis on the environment for the Greens and a greater emphasis on the economy for Labour, these ten guidelines are largely interchangeable.
A Progressive Alliance made-up of a resurgent Green Party, a Corbyn-led Labour Party and a Liberal Democrat Party under the pro-migration, pro-refugee Tim Farron, is not just conceivable; it’s desirable.
The Labour Party rule-book remains an obstacle, stating association with other Parties is not permitted. When Labour’s new NEC members take their seats this week, this should – alongside a review of all recently-suspended voters – be challenged.
The Green Party has launched its own supporters programme, “Friends of the Green Party,” for just £1 a month.
But the differences are astonishing.
Whilst the Labour Party has been at pains to prevent its supporters from supporting other Parties, the Green Party has been at pains to specifically-target members of other Parties.
A Progressive Alliance, as advocated by Jonathan Bartley, is not just hot-air; it’s Party policy.
Until Labour can swallow its pride and admit it needs help; until Labour can admit its future is not guaranteed; until Labour can admit that its policies are working against itself; that transparency and openness are ideals to be upheld, not inconveniences: a Progressive Alliance will not be possible; and Labour runs the risk of consigning Corbyn’s victory to the dustbin of history.
Success is a shared enterprise. Let’s go forward together, with our differences, and ensure the ten pledges aren’t just floating around cyberspace; but are nailed to the walls of Number 10, Downing Street.