What is a ‘progressive alliance’? Can Labour use it to HOLD Batley and Spen?

Progressive alliance: Lib Dems deputy leader discusses idea

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The Batley & Spen by-election has pulled people’s political focus recently, as the third race of its kind in as many months. The Conservative Party is limping into the fray following a devastating loss to the Liberal Democrats in Chesham and Amersham. They will want to reclaim their lost seat and extract Labour’s influence from the constituency, but rumours of a “progressive alliance” threaten to scupper their chances.

What is a progressive alliance?

The term progressive alliance has floated around social media for months now.

In theory, it refers to a push for parties with a progressive or left-leaning ideology to form up and prioritise defeating a Tory majority.

The alliance takes advantage of the majority “progressive” vote currently spread across the UK to establish a Labour-led government.

Progressive voters outnumber Conservatives, and most constituencies have a left-leaning majority fractured across several parties.

In practice, an alliance would mean Labour, the Liberal Democrats, and the Green Party step aside in selected constituencies.

For example, in an area where Labour has the best chance against the Conservatives, the Lib Dems and Green parties would stand back and support them.

They believe taking away people’s options won’t necessarily make them vote one way, as it could result in spoilt ballots or new parties.

Non-Tory voters aren’t necessarily pro-Labour either.

Many of those voting for the Green or Liberal Democrat parties may be just as anti-Labour as some Conservative voters.

And this leads to the next obstacle for a progressive alliance; the Labour Party itself.

Labour has traditionally eschewed prospects of an alliance, likely out of hopes for another lone party majority.

With the first type of alliance unlikely, others have argued for cooperation over partnership.

They would, therefore, leave one “progressive” candidate to sweep up all potential left-wing votes and deny a Conservative victory.

Expert’s don’t have much faith in the proposal, however.

Instead of tactically selecting candidates per constituency, politicians have said parties should put aside their differences and focus political energy on bringing down the Conservatives.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair is amongst those backing this approach.

He recently advocated for an “open dialogue between like-minded Labour and Lib Dem members and the non-aligned”.

Mr Blair famously partnered with the Liberal Democrats during his tenure, thanks to former leader Paddy Ashdowne.

Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey has hinted at cooperation like this in Batley and Spen.

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Could a ‘progressive alliance’ win Batley and Spen?

Speaking to the Observer last week, Sir Ed seemed to suggest potential Lib Dem voters should back Labour.

He said his party wouldn’t have much of a presence in Batley and Spen this year, as political parties “campaign where they can win.”

Sir Ed added he couldn’t offer campaigning efforts in Batley and Spen the resources he gave Chesham and Amersham.

He said: “In Batley and Spen, we will have a presence – we’ve got councillors there.

“But we’re not going to be able to, frankly, pour in the resources that we put into Chesham and Amersham.”

Instead, Sir Ed voters are “far smarter” than many believe and that they would understand Labour’s chances of winning.

Rather than outright advocate for a progressive alliance, he said voters would “draw their own conclusions” from the information available.

A move like this could enhance Labour’s chances of holding the constituency next month.

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