We’ve heard a lot about the so-called “progressive alliance” – supposedly Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens have the electoral might to defeat the Conservatives in key seats if they co-operate in standing aside and encouraging tactical voting. Various prominent people in each party are pursuing this strategy even as their colleagues deny the existence of the “coalition of chaos” that Theresa May warns about.
There’s a fair bit of doubt if the numbers really add up. A very good FT piece by Marcus Roberts looks at one of the fundamentals that is meant to lie behind this idea – the claim that “the 48 per cent” who voted Remain are out to stop the Conservatives due to their continuing opposition to Brexit. Put simply, Roberts finds that “the 48 per cent” does not exist. A slim majority of those who voted Remain (23 per cent to 22 per cent) are now “Re-Leavers”, in that they believe the referendum outcome should be honoured. Most importantly, the Conservatives enjoy a ten-point lead among this group – 45 per cent of whom intend to vote Tory.
So the theoretical basis for this alliance is in large part a myth. What of the “progressive alliance” itself?
An email from the organisation co-ordinating its efforts this morning boasts that they have struck “at least 35” local deals – we don’t yet know exactly where, and exactly who is standing aside in each case.
Surprisingly, they then go on to urge their activists to take today off, saying “rest today, turn up tomorrow”. I doubt that the Conservative candidates they are out to defeat will be taking today off.
But at least they’ll “turn up tomorrow”. Except tomorrow isn’t a campaigning session, either – it’s a party (a piss-up in a brewery, no less) featuring speeches from Paul Mason and Clive Lewis, as well as poetry and comedy performances.
While the election is underway, and voters across the country study what each candidate offers, the “progressive alliance” is having a day off, followed by a party in London. When do they plan to get started on campaigning?