Flying a Kite
by Keith Melton
9 March 2020

From our point of view, as Liberal Democrats, and in particular, Lib Dems of the Green variety, the 2019 General Election was less than satisfactory.

At some point, I developed an idea...
The problem is how we might develop an effective means of combining our efforts with our fellow "progressive" parties.

There was a significant development of a multi-party "pact" involving Plaid Cymru, the Green Party and ourselves in sixty seats. This was meant to offer just one "Remain" candidate to the electorate in those sixty seats.

It may have made some marginal differences in voting numbers in some of the seats, but in terms of seats won it is generally regarded to have been of no use in the end. There was a considerable discussion during the election that in order to have made any difference the Labour Party would have had to have been part of the mix - but that was never going to happen. And may have made little difference if they had given the fence sitting position Corbyn took on Europe anyway.

So, where are we now?

Looking at this from our GLD point of view, where are we? Eleven Lib Dems and one Green Party MP. And a Tory Government with a significant working majority - so nothing is going to happen differently very soon. At least this gives us time and room to reflect - hence my attempt at Kite flying again.

The "pact" process itself actually seemed to leave quite a lot to be desired from everyone`s position. Quite a bit of tribal tub-thumping and some resignations from disappointed or upset political activists in some areas. So, how could we have handled it differently?

The idea

There had been a whole lot of complaining that the Remain parties failed to get our acts together for the European elections on 23 May.

The Liberal Democrat vote actually went up quite a bit during the General election, too, even though it did not result in extra seats. Also the Green Party vote went up by around 60% overall as well, but again this increase resulted in no extra seats. And we will both face the First Past the Post electoral system when the next election comes around.

We will also face a far more serious climate crisis and a more significant Biodiversity Loss, so there is significance to any idea that may result in us jointly doing better in terms of seats won. This points to the need for some form of electoral pact or some other way of working effectively together. I have long been in favour of helping this process to happen - and yet I recognise there will inevitably be tribalism causing problems. How can we avoid the worst effects of this tribalism.


So, here it is. My idea is that we import a notion from the USA, the idea of having a PRIMARY election process involving both parties in the most sensitive seats - i.e. those seats where both parties think they may have a winning chance. We give all registered members of both parties in such a constituency a vote to choose their agreed candidate and then both parties would throw their full support behind the agreed candidate.
Such a system does not require a merging of the parties to work, but it would require a very high level of trust.

It is also likely that most of the votes cast, in such a primary, would follow party lines, but that may actually have two benefits. The first is that local parties will know well in advance that they should be getting busy recruiting new members - which will be good for both parties anyway. And even if the vote does go along the party line, the result will then reflect the actual strength on the ground of each party, which is fundamental to fighting a successful election anyway.

What it will avoid is wasting energy fighting each other, when we should be spending our time fighting the REAL opposition, whether it be the Tories or Labour, depending upon the area.

So, Will this Kite fly?

Please join our Facebook discussion of this article 

From GLD Challenge magazine 2019-20



Balloon in flight

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