So, it looks as if there won’t be a ‘progressive alliance’, at least involving Labour or the LibDems, for the 2017 General Election. I’m not surprised, although I thought Jeremy Corbyn might at least have kept the door slightly ajar – given his past willingness to work together on various issues with groups across the political spectrum.
Of course, it might be that in some cases there will be local deals between parties, through minimising campaigning in ‘hopeless’ seats, and giving supporters a ‘nod and a wink’ that it would be OK to vote for another party in that area. To my mind, that kind of approach is a lot less honest than coming to an open and principled agreement to co-operate in (say) a number of key seats, but that’s almost certainly going to be the reality.
But if the parties aren’t going to co-operate, it is clear that many voters will. And they will receive all sorts of encouragement to do so. Labour figures from the Corbynites (e.g. Paul Mason) to the Blairites (e.g. Tony Blair himself, see here) have called for action across parties. The left wing think tank Compass has launched a crowd funding appeal for a Progressive alliance, here: Gina Miller, whose legal challenge to the government on its attempt to trigger Article 50 without Parliamentary approval did more to hold it to account than months of parliamentary activity has launched another initiative to campaign against ‘hard Brexit’.
Millions of people across the country want to stop the re-election of Tory government, committed not just to Brexit, but also a whole package of right wing and illiberal policies. They know that that with a divided opposition, with our unfair and flawed electoral system, Theresa May could end up with a big majority, even with minority support in the country. There may not be any formal progressive alliance between parties for the 2017 election, but we are likely to see a loose and informal movement of progressive voices and groups working together against ‘hard Brexit’ and the right-wing revolution. And I suspect that movement will continue beyond that election, whatever its outcome.