Election Update by Gavin Barker: strong efforts are being made to promote co-operation and communication between the different progressive parties. Cornwall Green Party is playing a key role in this. We cannot say more at present; communication is necessarily informal, private and tentative given that the leaders of both Labour and Liberal Democrats have rejected any progressive alliance. further updates later.
Statement by Andrew George which includes reference to the Progressive Alliance
“I will stand if you want me to…”
So we have a snap General Election.
I’ve been asked to stand again in the St Ives Constituency to defeat the Conservatives here.
Although I’ve said I’d be prepared to do that I have not finally made up my mind. So I’m keen to hear whether people really want me to stand.
Do people here seriously want to help me fight the politics of greed prejudice and fear? To effectively challenge those who are driving the UK towards a self-harming hard-Brexit. Or do they just want to divide into protest factions and let a loyal biddable Tory in by default?
Whether we like it or not we have an electoral system which gives you a straight choice here – either the Tory or, if I stand, myself, a self-confessed independent-minded Liberal Democrat. No other Party has ever got close.
If you want me to stand, I will stand for the principles and values I have always fought for. Principles which:
- Reject the politics of greed, prejudice and fear
- Reject the (Tory) view that the poor have only themselves to blame
- Is committed to fight to protect public services & invest in their future; including to protect the NHS and put patients before profit
- Work to bequeath our children an environment and a fair society we can be proud of
- Strongly opposes the rise/popularity of the far right and their post-truth world of alternative facts
- Is committed to the UK’s role and responsibility in a wider world as a guardian, peace-maker and safe haven for those fleeing danger.
If you want me to stand I hope you’ll understand that although I’m proud to be a Liberal Democrat and strongly support consensus politics, I also strongly opposed the manner in which my Party’s leadership conducted itself in Coalition; I campaigned and voted against tuition fee rises, the Lansley NHS Act, the ‘Bedroom Tax’, welfare budget cuts for the poorest etc. Though neither a badge of honour nor of shame, I became the “most rebellious” Liberal Democrat MP!
Although this election may become fixated on Brexit there are many other key issues at stake:
- The Conservative supports his Government which is forcing Cornwall to cut at least £270 million from our NHS by 2020. I oppose this and am pressing my Party to approve a policy to, if necessary, increase income tax by up to 2p in the £ to protect the NHS.
- The Conservative supports Tory policies which want to cut school budgets and put political dogma above the best interests of our schools and our children’s future. I will fight Tory plans to turn the clock back on education.
- The Conservative supports Tory Government policy to cut essential support for working families, cut support for the disabled and young people and put at risk the triple-lock which Liberal Democrats introduced to protect the state pension. I will fight the heartlessness of the Tories.
On Brexit I should make it clear that, although we campaigned strongly to remain, the Liberal Democrats accept the decision of the referendum, but will do all we can to fight the kamikaze course of the Tories who want to take Britain into the self-destructive and high risk gamble of a hard-Brexi
Cornwall risks becoming a massive loser in these negotiations. I will fight for Cornwall to get the investment and support we deserve.
At the last election I promised that I would “not walk away” from the things I have always campaigned for, nor from the area in which I was born and brought up and for which I have always been committed and fought for.
Since then I have been Director of a local charity which is successfully working to help local families in need of genuinely affordable homes and working with fellow “progressives” to seek greater co-operation between campaigners across the centre-left – speaking at Labour and Green Party Conferences and co-authoring a book with Green MP Caroline Lucas and Labour’s Lisa Nandy MP and others
I appreciate that there are some, including in my own Party, who prefer the comfort zone of doing “protest politics” than in working to succeed at elections so we can effect change. My question to local electors is to ask if there is the wisdom amongst those who share the Centre-left- progressive perspective to work together to defeat the Conservative here and in many other seats in the country. Or would people prefer the luxury of arguing, even to the point of our mutually assured destruction? Try looking at it this way:
- what divides us from each other is less pronounced than what divides us from the Conservatives?;
- an electoral system which permits – as it does now – Conservatives to secure dominant power when 76% of electors didn’t vote for them needs to be reformed, and it won’t be reformed so long as they have power. Will we stand by impotently and let this happen again?;
- the majority of non/anti-Tory voters who are not members of the party they vote for don’t understand why politicians who share a broadly progressive perspective seem to spend more time re-rehearsing their disagreements than identifying where they agree;
- the Conservatives are quietly rigging and gerrymandering the system to grant themselves a stranglehold on power for decades to come. Are we just going to let this happen?;
- if the parties carry on as they did last time they will fight each other to a standstill in enough marginal constituencies at this general election to grant Theresa May a comfortable victory and larger Parliamentary majority.
So I am asking if you want me to stand on these terms?
I am seeking to represent all those who share the broadly ‘Progressive’ view I have set out here.
If you want business as usual, to see parties maintain rivalries and enmities, to promote each other’s separate political purity and the sense of the righteousness of tribal loyalty and to produce arbitrary red lines to reinforce this then progressives will spend decades in the political wilderness, neglecting the people we came into politics to fight for. If that’s what you want then I’ll decline the opportunity to stand. I’ll leave others to fight those fights.
However, if you agree that those who broadly agree with each other should work together here then we can give ourselves – and those we purport to represent – hope for the future, hope that the Conservatives can be defeated.
By working together we can defeat the forces of greed prejudice and fear, effectively combat those who believe the poor have only themselves to blame, protect our public services from political forces which put profit before patient care and defeat the alternative-fact, post-truth wall-building right who don’t care two hoots what kind of planet, economy and society we bequeath to our children.
We can either divide into a pure and colourful display of fractured protest parties without a hope of influencing anything or come together into a rainbow alliance to defeat the dark clouds of the right and bring hope to those we are all fighting to help.
If you’d like me to stand or not stand please let me know. I will make my mind up soon
19th April 2017