Among the conversations both here on this website and on facebook, one recent comment stands out: that any progressive alliance “will involve sacrifices by supporters of different parties” in order to promote a progressive agenda and a fairer voting system that reflects an increasing multi-party state.
That will trouble many party members in all camps who see compromise as a political sellout that lets voters down and erodes party identity. But does it?
A more helpful way of looking at a progressive alliance is as a kind of Venn Diagram (see above): clear common policy ground on the one hand, with distinct areas of policy difference and party identity on the other.
Looked at this way, compromise or ‘sacrifice’ may not be quite the mountain climb we assume it to be. For example the policy vision document we published earlier is a distillation of policy announcements and manifesto commitments by all four main parties in Cornwall. I think it would be difficult for any Liberal Democrat, Green, Mebyon Kernow or Labour member to claim that they do not recognise the values and aspirations it sets out – but please go ahead and leave a comment if you disagree! That being the case it begs the question of why the different parties find it so hard to work together?
The policy vision document is not some all encompassing manifesto but an attempt to mark out the common ground between the four main parties in Cornwall. It is incomplete and necessarily so, for there will never be agreement on all main issues; nor would it be healthy for democracy if there was.
Likewise there will always be differences in approach to achieving policy aims. The Liberal Democrats lean towards pulling more market levers while Labour leans towards more active government intervention. Yet neither party would claim exclusive use of one approach while rejecting the other as always ‘bad’.
The vision document challenges the myth that the different parties are ‘poles apart’ -a myth that party tribalists are all too eager to promote in a competitive bid for progressive votes that splits the centre left and lets the Tories in. Historical and personal enmity and a redundant voting system that can no longer cope with increasing political plurality are bigger factors that let us all down – but most of all a wider voting public that throws up its hands in exasperation at an electoral and party political system that no longer speaks for them.