Statement by Andrew George, Liberal Democrat

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

Andrew George

19th April 2017

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14 thoughts on “Statement by Andrew George, Liberal Democrat

  1. Hi Gavin,

    The trouble with informal is that it can easily be changed, or Reneged upon. The same with private. And We really don’t have time for tentative.

    I’m sorry to have to say these things, I know how Keen you are for this to happen, but as much as I want it to happen as well I can promise you that nothing concrete will come from the greens here unless we have assurances that we have something acceptable in return and won’t get burnt.

    Please do keep chipping away on a national level. Do you know if anyone else a part for me has joined compass? A compass branch meeting would be good if so.

    Also, please note that, as I said from the floor on the progress of alliance meeting on March 25, there are two green parties in Cornwall, not one. This is a very important point: what we do in Mid&East Cornwall will have no relation necessarily to what they do in West Cornwall. If you can send another email correcting this it will probably facilitate things, as people need to understand that there are 2 Cornwall green parties.

    All the best for now, thanks for sending this through and do keep working at it.

    Best wishes,

    Richard

    On Thu, 20 Apr 2017 at 21:33, Progressive Alliance for Cornwall wrote:

    > gavin barker posted: “Election Update: strong efforts are being made > to promote co-operation and communication between the different progressive > parties. Cornwall Green Party is playhing a key role in this. We cannot say > more at present; communication is necessarily informal, ” >

    Like

  2. A good analysis which we know and fully understand.
    Yes stand for St. Ives, if all other Progressive Cornish Parties agree.
    The biggest hurdle is the genital swinging (excuse the word) by Corbyn and Farron. They both hold aspects of values we all progressive want, but how much do they understand that only an Anti Tory Alliance for this one election will work to serve us all and our nations real need. Its our choice and I for one want tribalism to end to terminate the Tories nefarious rule.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with the good doctor. I know Andrew George, we have campaigned together on issues but I feel vety angry at the Libdem leadership which sold out for a sniff of power. How can we stop this happening again if the tories need the seats and dangle the same deal????? Will Andrew George lead a rebellion against Libdem leadership???

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    1. Sorry, Andrew, but being the most rebellious Libdem isn’t enough. You must dump the Libdems if they renege on the deal as must Libdem MPs elected under a deal.

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      1. But actually being the most rebellious MP is enough. It is one extra MP in Parliament that won’t vote with, and support, a Tory government. The only alternative in West Cornwall is a Tory whipping boy. It really is that simple. Greens have to make that decision with their conscience. Andrew has very clearly said he will not join a coalition with the Tories, in the very unlikely situation that a coalition is a possibility. It is everyone’s duty, I believe, to now be outward-looking and selfless in this election. Remember, for every defeated Tory, an angel in heaven gets their wings!

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      2. Hadn’t looked at it that way Mary, well put! Yes I think that if other Libdem candidates in Cornwall follow Andrew George’s example and demonstrated a principled independence of mind that answered directly to constituent concerns rather than pushing party messages, that would strengthen their hand. If all progressive candidates did that, even better. We need to move away from top-down party politics, Labour especially (I am Labour)

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      3. I usually have my own ranting words on this issue but on this Gavin you have read my mind. Exactly!

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  4. I don’t think there is time for a formal agreement, plus I am not sure people like their votes being traded. You may have to trust us, the voters, to vote tactically and return you as our MP, both for your services to West Cornwall and to defeat the Tories here.

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  5. personally, I agree with melanie. it looks as if it will have to be tactical voting this time round, as we work towards something better. I strongly urge you to stand, Andrew – we value your work greatly.

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  6. I am convinced the most important thing is to replace as many Tory MPs as possible and I urge you, Andrew, to stand.

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  7. Based on the 2015 election results St Ives has the best chance (in Cornwall) of electing a progressive MP if Andrew stands and the Greens step aside, (better still if Labour step aside too). If there is no time to come to a formal reciprocal arrangement perhaps Andrew will agree to advocate for one in the future, eg the Lib Dems standing aside for Greens in one or more of the Cornwall Council wards in the St Ives constituency?

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  8. Yes ,do please stand Andrew, I will support you 100 %, you are our best hope to defeat the Tories in St Ives, and you were an excellent MP. Carys Pennant

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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  9. But who are we going to support in Camborne-Redruth (with Hayle)…Are we going to be Progressive with a Common Core Ground or back to the tribal tables?
    On Friday the “Greens” are having a “war council” and l feel the LibDems had theirs’ a few days ago..for this constituency…Results to be. And who and what are the Progressive Labour members/supporters going to support here too? Is it easier to support a Progressive outside your own constituency..and what about Truro?
    It’s the old guard again not realising that purism cannot hold water in a corrupt electoral system and if you wish to win hearts and mind and philosophical opinion you don’t wait just weeks before a GE.

    Like

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