Taking on Theresa May and Her Hard Brexit Dystopia: Open Britain Targets Pro-Brexit MPs

26.4.17

An advert for Open Britain's new campaign aimed at upsetting pro-Brexit MPs in the General Election on June 8, 2017.Please support my work as a reader-funded investigative journalist and commentator.

 

For Theresa May, the decision to call a snap election last week, on June 8 (which I wrote about in an article entitled, Theresa May: An Unstoppable Undemocratic Disaster in a Dismal Brexit Britain Without Adequate Opposition) will hopefully backfire on her, despite her having an almost unprecedented lead in the polls. Some people are already complaining about there being yet another election — following the last General Election just two years ago, and the EU referendum last year — partly because of an understandable election fatigue, but also, for some, because May has so brazenly broken her promise not to hold a General Election and break the five-year fixed Parliament law that David Cameron introduced, which she, of course, backed. The discerning also realise that this election was cynically called to cover up the expenses scandal from the 2015 General Election, doggedly uncovered by Michael Crick and Channel 4 News.

Theresa May also hopes to wipe out the Labour Party, and for voters to give her a specific mandate to pursue her “hard Brexit” obsession, as she was not voted in as Prime Minister, of course. However, on this she may have miscalculated, as the election finally provides an opportunity for the 16.1 million people who voted Remain — and Leave voters who didn’t want an economically ruinous “hard Brexit” — to fight back against the suicidal arrogance with which Theresa May has been pushing for as hard a Brexit as possible, removing us from the single market and the customs union, despite the huge —perhaps incalculable — damage that will do to our economy, and despite the fact that leaving the EU is unlikely to significantly reduce immigration, even though that appears to have been what motivated Leave voters the most — along with misguided notions of sovereignty, as though a deluded, misty-eyed, backwards-looking isolation is either desirable or practical in the 21st century.

Since the referendum, the 16.1 million of us who voted Remain have been treated with complete contempt by Theresa May and her government, who seek to silence all debate. The courts had to compel her to allow MPs to have any say at all on the Brexit negotiations, and she then bullied them into refusing any of the amendments tabled by Labour and other parties, and pressurised the House of Lords not to stand by the amendments they passed after MPs failed to do — primarily involving guaranteeing EU citizens the right to stay in the UK and not to be “bargaining chips,” and guaranteeing Parliament a meaningful vote on the final Brexit deal. Meanwhile, the attack-dog media that backs her, and constantly urges her further and further to the right, laid into the judges and the Lords for being “enemies of the people,” and constantly treat anyone questioning anything about Brexit as traitors.

While the Labour Party has, understandably, been thrown into confusion by the Brexit vote, with many pro-Remain MPs in constituencies that voted Leave (part of a general trend, it should be noted, as three-quarters of all MPs supported remaining in the EU), the opposite case of the Tories has received virtually no attention — the dozens of Tory MPs, mostly in London and the south, and often in largely wealthy constituencies, whose voters backed Remain by significant majorities, but who, until now, have completely failed to address their constituents’ concerns and to make even the slightest murmur of dissent against Theresa May. The Tories, no doubt, are counting on Remain voters not to dissent, but in many places the Lib Dems are well-placed to take advantage of this discrepancy, especially as, in many cases, these constituencies only swung to the Tories in 2015 during the Lib Dems’ spectacular post-coalition government collapse.

Leading the charge to do damage to the Brexit tyranny is Gina Miller, who took the government to court to demand that Parliament had a say in negotiations, and who, as the Guardian explains today, “has raised £300,000 in crowdfunding to directly support up to 100 pro-Europe candidates in [a] tactical voting election initiative.” Read her launch speech here. I’ll be reporting more about Miller’s “Best for Britain” organisation as that story develops.

Also involved in tackling Brexit is Open Britain, the organisation that arose from the ashes of the Stronger In campaign. Two days ago, Open Britain, along with two other grassroots pro-EU organisations, European Movement and Britain for Europe, produced a hit list of 20 MPs they are targeting in the General Election. Most are held by pro-Brexit MPs. These are almost all Tories, although one DUP MP and a Labour aberration, Vauxhall’s Kate Hoey, are also included. The organisation also included a list of 20 MPs — including Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservatives — “who have been powerful advocates of the closest possible relationship with the EU27,” and whose constituencies they want to defend, and the plan is to utilise their combined 600,000 supporters for this “20/20 key seat strategy.”

As the Guardian explained, “The pressure group believes the disconnect between the politicians and their voters over the issue of Europe provides the chance to eat into or even overturn large majorities. The ultimate aim is to limit the number of proponents of hard Brexit in Parliament.” As James McGrory, the co-executive director of Open Britain, explained, “Open Britain has over half a million supporters and lots of them have asked what’s the best thing they can do in the election. This is what we’re telling them – one of the best ways they can help is by campaigning against those who favour Brexit at any cost.”

Stephen Dorrell, the former Tory MP who chairs European Movement, said, “This election is about something much bigger than party politics – it is about our future relationship with the rest of Europe. Pro-Europeans need to stand up and be counted between now and 8 June. The supporters of our organisations want to be know where they can make a difference in this campaign and we are providing the tools for them to be able to.”

Below I provide an annotated list of the 20 MPs on the “hit list,” and below that a list of the 20 MPs Open Britain and its allies seek to defend. I also encourage people to specifically look at research about where the Lib Dems might win seats, primarily from the Tories, and two articles about this in the New Statesman, 30 MPs at risk from a Lib Dem surge, and The constituencies where the Liberal Democrats can take on the Tories.

Last week, the Daily Telegraph explained that those targeted include Tania Mathias, “whose Twickenham constituency overwhelmingly backed staying in the EU at last year’s referendum.” I know Tania, from her support for the campaign to get Shaker Aamer released from Guantánamo, and her support of other worthwhile causes, and I also note that she was one of just three Tory rebels — along with Ken Clarke and Andrew Tyrie — to call for EU nationals to be guaranteed the right to stay in the UK during the Brexit vote in February, although only Clarke, with 52 Labour MPs and 52 SNP MPs and 16 others, voted against triggering Article 50. However, as the Telegraph’s article also noted, “According to Lib Dem party analysis just one in three voters in Twickenham wanted Brexit — something the Tories are now promising to deliver at this election,” and “Vince Cable, the former business secretary, will seek to reclaim the Twickenham seat from the Conservatives, which he lost in the last election.”

The Telegraph also noted that the Lib Dems will be hoping to oust Anne Main, the MP for St Albans and Ben Howlett, MP for Bath, along with Nicola Blackwood, also targeted by Open Britain, and added that all three “are going into the election supporting Brexit despite a minority of their constituents voting for Brexit at the EU referendum.” Other MPs targeted, as the New Statesman explained, are the Tories Maria Caulfield in Lewes, Luke Hall in Thornbury and Yate, James Berry in Kingston and Surbiton, Marcus Fysh in Yeovil, Derek Thomas in St Ives, Kevin Foster in Torbay, Paul Scully in Sutton and Cheam, Will Quince in Colchester, Mary Robinson in Cheadle, Alex Chalk in Cheltenham, Peter Heaton-Jones in North Devon, James Heappey in Wells, Scott Mann in North Cornwall, Anne-Marie Trevelyan in Berwick-upon-Tweed, Flick Drummond in Portsmouth South. Some of the above are also being targeted by Open Britain and its allies.

As I explain in my analysis below, it certainly seems to me that in many constituencies either Labour or the Lib Dems should stand down and support the other party to stand a chance of wiping out the Tories, but unfortunately I see few signs that the Tories’ opponents are mature enough to realise that they should be able to put aside all their differences to defeat the common enemy. I’m very pleased to see Gina Miller leading a quickly-growing campaign urging tactical voting, and I think it’s important for Open Britain to pick up on this too.

Nevertheless, the Open Britain campaign has already demonstrated the need for anti-Brexit campaigners to speak out, as Tory members of the campaign, Nicky Morgan, Anna Soubry and Dominic Grieve, have had to come off the fence, resigning from the group rather than indulging in any meaningful dissent with their own party. The three “released a joint statement saying it was ‘untenable’ for them to support Open Britain any more after the group released an ‘attack list’ of MPs to target.”

Other questions remain to be answered: chiefly, whether Labour’s woes can be reversed now that its EU spokesman Keir Starmer has laid out the party’s proposals, and what will happen to UKIP, 4 million votes strong in the 2015 election, but now a party in disarray. Above all, however, it’s my belief that what this election reveals above all, as every election does with more and more compelling evidence, is that the “first past the post” system that Britain clings to is profoundly unfair and is alienating more and more people each time there is an election. With so many votes wasted in an absurd “winner takes it all” scenario, there is no compelling reason that can be given to the 15,733,706 people who didn’t vote in 2015 (compared to the 11,334,920 who voted for the Tories, and the 9,344,328 who voted Labour) to change their mind. With proportional representation, however, every time 47,000 people vote for a party, a candidate is elected. The specific borders of constituencies would have to change to reflect this, but I can see no other way of ensuring that the biggest party is no longer the one that doesn’t vote, or, indeed, to get rid of the blatant unfairness whereby, in 2015, the Tories, with 24.4% of the eligible electorate and 36.8% of those who could be bothered to vote, won 50.9% of the seats.

The Open Britain “hit list” of 20 MPs

1. Kate Hoey (Labour, Vauxhall)
The prominent Leave campaigner got 25,778 voters in 2015, and has a majority of 12,708, but an estimated 78% of voters supported Remain. In 2015, the Tories came second with 13,070 votes. The Greens had 3,658 votes, the Lib Dems 3,312. Ideally, either the Green or Lib Dem candidate needs not to stand, to maximise support against Hoey, and her Tory rival, although the Guardian reports that it is the Lib Dem candidate George Turner who will be supported by Open Britain and its allies.

2. Lady Victoria Borwick (Conservative, Kensington)
Tory Leave supporter got 18,199 votes in 2015, and has a majority of 7,361, but an estimated 69% of voters supported Remain. In 2015 Labour came second with 10,838 votes, with the Lib Dems on 1,962 votes. Perhaps they should stand down in favour of Labour?

3. David Burrowes (Conservative, Enfield Southgate)
Tory Leave supporter got 22,624 votes in 2015, and has a majority of 4,753, but an estimated 62% of voters supported Remain. In 2015 Labour came second with 17,871 votes. This ought to be a feasible swing.

4. Nicola Blackwood (Conservative, Oxford West and Abingdon)
Although Blackwood was a Remain supporter, and 62% of her constituents supported Remain, she is not believed to have stood up for them. In 2015, she got 26,153 votes, a majority of 9,582. The Lib Dems came second with 16,571 votes, Labour came third with 7,274. Perhaps they should stand down in favour of the Lib Dems?

5. Theresa Villiers (Conservative, Chipping Barnet)
Tory Leave supporter got 25,759 votes in 2015, a majority of 7,656, but an estimated 59% of voters supported Remain. Labour came 2nd with 18,103 votes.

6. James Berry (Conservative, Kingston and Surbiton)
Although Berry was a Remain supporter, and 59% of his constituents supported Remain, he is not believed to have stood up for them. In 2015, he got 23,249 votes, a majority of just 2,834. The Lib Dems came second with 20,415 votes, Labour came third with 8,574. They could stand down in favour of the Lib Dems, but the Lib Dems may be able to get a sufficient swing anyway under former Lib Dem cabinet minister Ed Davey.

7. Charlotte Leslie (Conservative, Bristol North West)
Tory Leave supporter got 22,767 votes in 2015, a majority of 4,944, but an estimated 61% of voters supported Remain. Labour came 2nd with 17,823 votes.

8. Matthew Offord (Conservative, Hendon)
Tory Leave supporter got 24,328 votes in 2015, a majority of 3,724, but an estimated 58% of voters supported Remain. Labour came 2nd with 20,604 votes.

9. Maria Caulfield (Conservative, Lewes)
Tory Leave supporter got 19,206 votes in 2015, a majority of just 1,083, and an estimated 53% of voters supported Remain. The Lib Dems came 2nd with 18,123 votes.

10. Steve Baker (Conservative, Wycombe)
Tory Leave supporter got 26,444 votes in 2015, a majority of 14,856, but an estimated 51% of voters supported Remain. Labour came 2nd with 11,588 votes, but that’s a long way behind, and I would be surprised if if was winnable.

11. Iain Duncan Smith (Conservative, Chingford and Woodford Green)
Former minister got 20,999 votes in 2015, a majority of 8,386, in a constituency estimated to be almost equally split between Leave and Remain. Labour came 2nd with 12,613 votes, but that’s some way behind. If I had my way, however, I would promote a concerted campaign against him as a prominent liar in the Leave campaign, and an all-round wretched human being, responsible for extraordinary misery when he was in charge of welfare.

12. Byron Davies (Conservative, Gower)
Although Davies was a Remain supporter, and 51% of his constituents supported Remain, he is not believed to have stood up for them, and, in particular, has a majority of just 27 votes. In 2015, he secured 15,862 votes while Labour received 15,835, and Labour should be able to win this seat back.

13. Paul Scully (Conservative, Sutton and Cheam)
Tory Leave supporter got 20,732 votes in 2015, a majority of 3,921, in a constituency estimated to have voted Leave by 51%. However, the Lib Dems came 2nd with 16,811 votes, so a swing is possible. Labour came 3rd on 5,546, so in theory Labour could stand down in favour of the Lib Dems.

14. Gavin Robinson (DUP, Belfast East)
Leave supporter got 19,575 votes in 2015, a majority of 2,597, in a constituency estimated to have voted Leave by 51%. The Alliance candidate came 2nd with 16,978 votes.

15. William Wragg (Conservative, Hazel Grove)
Tory Leave supporter got 17,882 votes in 2015, a majority of 6,552, in a constituency estimated to have voted Leave by 52%. The Lib Dems came 2nd with 11,330 votes, and Labour came 3rd on 7,584, so in theory Labour could stand down in favour of the Lib Dems.

16. Christopher Davies (Conservative, Brecon and Radnorshire)
Tory Leave supporter got 16,453 votes in 2015, a majority of 5,102, in a constituency estimated to have voted Leave by 52%. The Lib Dems came 2nd with 11,351 votes, and Labour came 3rd on 5,904, so in theory they could stand down in favour of the Lib Dems.

17. Luke Hall (Conservative, Thornbury and Yate)
Hall was a Remain supporter, although 52% of his constituents are estimated to have voted Leave. In 2015, he got 19,924 votes, but that is a majority of just 1,495, as the Lib Dems got 18,429 votes, and are hoping for a swing.

18. James Heappey (Conservative, Wells)
Heappey was a Remain supporter, although 54% of his constituents are estimated to have voted Leave. In 2015, he got 26,247 votes, a majority of 7,585. The Lib Dems came 2nd with 18,662 votes, and are evidently hoping for a major swing.

19. Derek Thomas (Conservative, St. Ives)
Tory Leave supporter got 18,491 votes in 2015, a majority of just 2,469, in a constituency estimated to have voted Leave by 55%. The Lib Dems came 2nd with 16,022 votes, and believe they can win St. Ives back.

20. Caroline Ansell (Conservative, Eastbourne)
Tory Leave supporter got 20,934 votes in 2015, a majority of just 733, in a constituency estimated to have voted Leave by 58%. The Lib Dems came 2nd with 20,201 votes, so a swing is possible.

20 pro-EU MPs to be defended

1. Ian Murray (Labour, Edinburgh South)
Murray got 19,293 votes in 2015, a majority of just 2,637, in a constituency estimated to have voted Remain by 78%. The SNP came second with 16,656 votes, but, to be honest, if it fell to the SNP it would continue to be anti-Brexit.

2. Caroline Lucas (Green, Brighton Pavilion)
The incredibly hardworking Caroline Lucas, Britain’s sole Green MP because of our unfair voting system, got 22,871 votes in 2015, a majority of 7,967, in a constituency estimated to have voted Remain by 74%. I don’t see any problems with her retaining her seat.

3. Peter Kyle (Labour, Hove) 
Kyle got 22,082 votes in 2015, a majority of just 1,236, in a constituency estimated to have voted Remain by 67%. The Tories came 2nd with 20,846.

4. Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrat, Sheffield Hallam)
The former Lib Dem leader got 22,215 votes in 2015, a majority of just 2,353, in a constituency estimated to have voted Remain by 66%. Labour came 2nd with 19,862.

5. Ben Bradshaw (Labour, Exeter)
Bradshaw got 25,062 votes in 2015, a majority of 7,183, in a constituency estimated to have voted Remain by 55%. The Tories came 2nd with 17,879.

6. Alison McGovern (Labour, Wirral South)
McGovern got 20,165 votes in 2015, a majority of 4,599, in a constituency estimated to have voted Remain by 53%. The Tories came 2nd with 15,566.

7. Lilian Greenwood (Labour, Nottingham South)
Greenwood got 20,697 votes in 2015, a majority of 6,936, in a constituency estimated to have voted Remain by 53%. The Tories came 2nd with 13,761.

8. Alan Whitehead (Labour, Southampton Test)
Whitehead got 18,017 votes in 2015, a majority of 3,810, in a constituency estimated to have voted Remain by 51%. The Tories came 2nd with 14,207.

9. Liz Kendall (Labour, Leicester West)
Kendall got 16,051 votes in 2015, a majority of 7,203, in a constituency estimated to have voted Leave by 51%. The Tories came 2nd with 8,848.

10. Owen Smith (Labour, Pontypridd)
Smith got 15,554 votes in 2015, a majority of 8,985, in a constituency estimated to have voted Remain by 53%. The Tories came 2nd with 6,569.

11. Wes Streeting (Labour, Ilford North)
Streeting got 21,463 votes in 2015, a majority of just 589, in a constituency estimated to have voted Leave by 53%. The Tories came 2nd with 20,874, so this seems to be a vulnerable seat.

12. Tom Brake (Liberal Democrat, Carshalton and Wallington)
Brake got 16,603 votes in 2015, a majority of just 1,150, in a constituency estimated to have voted Leave by 56%. The Tories came 2nd with 15,093, so this seems to be a vulnerable seat.

13. Catherine McKinnell (Labour, Newcastle upon Tyne North)
McKinnnell got 20,689 votes in 2015, a majority of 10,153, in a constituency estimated to have voted Leave by 57%. The Tories came 2nd with 10,536.

14. Norman Lamb (Liberal Democrat, North Norfolk)
Lamb got 19,299 votes in 2015, a majority of 4,043, in a constituency estimated to have voted Leave by 58%. The Tories came 2nd with 15,256.

15. Phil Wilson (Labour, Sedgefield)
Wilson got 18,275 votes in 2015, a majority of 6,843, in a constituency estimated to have voted Leave by 59%. The Tories came 2nd with 11,432.

16. Helen Goodman (Labour, Bishop Auckland)
Goodman got 16,307 votes in 2015, a majority of 3,508, in a constituency estimated to have voted Leave by 61%. The Tories came 2nd with 12,799.

17. Angela Smith (Labour, Penistone and Stocksbridge)
Smith got 19,691 votes in 2015, a majority of 6,723, in a constituency estimated to have voted Leave by 61%. The Tories came 2nd with 12,968.

18. Mary Creagh (Labour, Wakefield)
Creagh got 17,301 votes in 2015, a majority of just 2,613, in a constituency estimated to have voted Leave by 63%. The Tories came 2nd with 14,688, so this seems to be a vulnerable seat.

19. Pat McFadden (Labour, Wolverhampton South East)
McFadden got 18,531 votes in 2015, a majority of just 10,767, in a constituency estimated to have voted Leave by 68%. The Tories came 2nd with 7,764.

A 20th MP who was supported in the initial publicity, but has now been removed, presumably as a result of the Tories’ split with Open Britain, was Neil Carmichael (Conservative, Stroud), who campaigned to remain in a constituency estimated to have voted Remain by 54%. However, this wasn’t a decision I agreed with, as I would rather see Labour regain Stroud, which they held from 1997 to 2010.

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose debut album ‘Love and War’ and EP ‘Fighting Injustice’ are available here to download or on CD via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and the Countdown to Close Guantánamo initiative, launched in January 2016), the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, which called for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison (finally freed on October 30, 2015), and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and The Complete Guantánamo Files, an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

19 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s my latest article, looking at the campaigning group Open Britain’s list of 20 pro-Brexit MPs targeted for sustained opposition in the forthcoming General Election, plus 20 other pro-EU MPs they are hoping to defend. I’ve annotated the list, and provided additional commentary, and I hope it’s of interest to those of us who voted to remain in the EU, who are appalled by Theresa May’s authoritarian intransigence and her suicidal enthusiasm for as hard a Brexit as possible. I hope that her cynical call for an election will backfire on her, providing an opportunity for Remain voters to strike back at her arrogance and idiocy in a way that would not have been available had she not called an election.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Please visit the website if you can get involved in any of the constituencies mentioned in the article, as Open Britain is looking for people to help: http://www.open-britain.co.uk

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Saleyha Ahsan wrote:

    I’m going to get stuck in thanks Andy!!

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Great to hear from you, Saleyha! I hope you’re well – OK, I hope you’re as well as can be given the horribly divided state of the UK right now.

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Saleyha Ahsan wrote:

    It’s pretty awful and scary

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, it’s almost unspeakably horrible, Saleyha – the rampant racism and xenophobia, the blinkered isolationism, the Leavers’ deluded self-importance, the collapse of Labour, the inexplicable popularity of May and the Tories. The election could be really, really bad, but for now I’m just trying to console myself by looking positively at seats that can be taken from the Tories, and looking for signs that some people are starting to see how truly dreadful May and the Brexiteers are.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    So this is important, and this is what we need to see much more of: “The Green Party has pulled out of a crucial election seat [in Ealing] in a bid to help the Labour Party beat the Tories – the first tactical withdrawal of its kind ahead of the general election. The decision is expected to allow more votes to go to Labour MP Rupa Huq, who beat the Conservatives with a majority of just 274 votes in 2015, when no other party managed to attract more than seven per cent of the vote. Green Party members in Ealing — where the party won 1,841 votes in the 2015 election — voted not to field a candidate last week, after Ms Huq promised to campaign for voting reform and the environment.”
    See: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/green-party-pulls-general-election-seat-ealing-help-labour-beat-tories-rupa-huq-a7701081.html

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    So the big question is: are Labour and the Lib Dems able to understand that coming 2nd and 3rd to the Tories up and down the country, instead of getting together and working out which of the two candidates needs to drop out, is betraying us to mad Theresa and her Brexit fascism?

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    So Parliament will be dissolved on May 2. These MPs don’t work much, do they? Here’s the opening paragraph of the Guardian’s editorial about the last session of PMQs:

    The business of the shortest parliament since 1974 is nearly done. It all ends at midnight on 2 May, just 25 days before its second anniversary, in an unnecessary election imposed on a reluctant country by a prime minister who disguises her political objective of a greatly enlarged majority behind a spurious narrative of damaging division. It is important, as the campaign progresses, to bear in mind Theresa May’s real purpose: to establish herself as the unchallenged interpreter of Brexit.

    Well said. And what can anyone sensible conclude except: she must be stopped.
    See: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/26/the-guardian-view-on-the-last-pmqs-now-the-unnecessary-election

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Regarding Brighton, Caroline Lucas has just tweeted, “Pleased that @BHGreens [Brighton & Hove Green Party] just took brave decision not to stand in #Brighton Kemptown – better chance of a Tory-free city.”
    In 2015, the Tories beat Labour by just 690 votes. The Greens got 3,187 votes.
    This is EXACTLY the kind of responsible decision-making about how to beat the Tories that we need to see in many, many other constituencies. Pay attention, Labour and the Lib Dems. Work it out!
    See: https://twitter.com/CarolineLucas/status/857360007423291394

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    And this is interesting, from the Times – “EXC[LUSIVE]: YouGov / Times poll finds for the first time since referendum more voters think Brexit was the wrong decision”: https://twitter.com/SamCoatesTimes/status/857350135440977922

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    An interesting article here in the Guardian about the contrasting scenario – how the Tories are hoping to take what are considered safe and moderately safe Labour seats in the Midlands. I think the article makes clear that it will actually be hard to unseat good constituency MPs, but it does cast anecdotal doubt, from those canvassing on the streets, about negative perceptions regarding Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. Also mentioned, the organisation Another Europe is Possible, backed by Labour MP Clive Lewis and Green MP Caroline Lucas, which “said it would be intervening in the election campaign under the banner of ‘use your vote to stop Tory Brexit’. The group is not explicitly advocating tactical voting but will aim to win swing voters away from the Conservatives. Lewis, the Labour MP for Norwich South – who won his seat off Liberal Democrat Simon Wright, but whose nearest challenger in 2015 was the Conservatives – said: ‘The Tories’ plan for Brexit is a plan for a race to the bottom which we will all lose – with weakened human rights, rampant deregulation, and a diminished Britain. We have to wake up before it’s too late – and vote to stop Tory Brexit.'”
    Unfortunately, the article also notes that “Labour has ruled out any progressive alliances,” a position the party desperately needs to rethink. The Guardian adds that “the Green party are also standing candidates in marginal Labour seats,” but as we’ve started seeing, the Greens are starting to stand down candidates if it can help the Tories be defeated. All the Tories’ opponents need to wake up now to the need to do whatever is best to defeat the Tories in any seat where there is the chance of doing so.
    See: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/apr/26/its-going-to-be-a-bloodbath-tories-target-high-profile-labour-seats
    For Another Europe is Possible, see: https://www.facebook.com/AnotherEuropeIsPossible/
    And see their damning report on the Tories’ Great Repeal Bill: http://www.anothereurope.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/aeip_grb_briefing_web.pdf

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    Rosalinda Much wrote:

    I am a huge fan of Gina. I think she is bright and brave. I sent my donation last week. May & Co are a truly dangerous force. If the house is on fire the first priority is to put out the fire not argue about who is in charge afterwards. They must be stopped and the concept of grown up cooperation between parties to ensure that it happens is an incredible opportunity for the UK to create a real force for good. Thanks for sharing Andy. R x

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    You’re welcome, Rosalinda. The outcome of 2015’s General Election should have confirmed to Labour and the Lib Dems in particular that only a progressive alliance – including the SNP – could get rid of the Tories, but they obviously find it hard to regard defeating a common enemy as the most important part of their work, rather than permanently opposing each other and permanently losing. That would be absolutely fine if we had PR, but we don’t, of course. And after last year’s referendum disaster, and the ever-rightwards drift of the country, as a result of the Brexiteers’ horrible enthusiasm for Britain’s isolation and the corrupt media egging them on, it’s now urgent that the Tories are beaten back as much as possible. I really hope that everyone wakes up to the need for a tactical voting revolution as soon as possible.

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    From the BBC’s analysis of the tactical voting scenario – “Greens have said they would stand aside in Plymouth Sutton & Devonport if Labour returned the favour in Totnes. Liberal Democrats in Brighton are considering standing aside in the Greens’ only seat – Brighton Pavilion. Former Lib Dem MP, Sir Vince Cable, who is seeking re-election tweeted his support for the idea,” Although I’m confident that Caroline Lucas doesn’t need much help in Brighton, the Plymouth and Totnes scenarios are interesting.
    In Plymouth, the Tory Oliver Colville beat Labour by just 523 votes. The Greens got 3,401, so if they stood down it would be very helpful, but it would also be useful if the Lib Dems, with 2,008 votes, stood down too, as an additional worry is the 6,731 who voted for UKIP – plus the fact that in Plymouth as a whole 60% voted for Leave.
    In Totnes, The Greens got 4,845 votes and Labour got 5,988, up against Tory Sarah Wollaston with a whopping 24,941 – plus 6,656 UKIP voters. Clearly, the Lib Dems – on 4,667 – should stand down too, for the Greens to have a fighting chance. Wollaston, however, is a decent Tory MP, an NHS-supporting former GP who supported Remain (after initially supporting Leave), so she’s not really the most worthy target imaginable. Overall, in Totnes, it sesame round 53% voted Remain.
    The BBC also mentioned Ealing, as I noted yesterday, where, as they describe it, “The Greens have also unilaterally decided not to contest Labour-held Ealing Central & Acton, just as they did at the Richmond Park by-election in December where the Lib Dems overturned Zac Goldsmith’s 23,000 majority.” The BBC added that “there are reports of several other possible deals and arrangements around the country.”
    To reiterate, in Ealing Central & Acton, Labour’s Rupa Huq beat the Tories by just 274 votes in 2015. The Greens got 1,841 votes, so their withdrawal should help to swing it Huq’s way, but to be sure it would be great if the Lib Dems, who got 3,106 votes, also stood down, although it’s also worth noting that an estimated 71% of constituents supported Remain.
    See: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-39693277

  16. Andy Worthington says...

    In the meantime the disgraceful Theresa May was up in Leeds, pretending that voting for the Tories is patriotic, and hinting, therefore, that it’s unpatriotic to vote Labour. This is a new depth to which I have genuinely never seen the Tories sink before. The Guardian described how she “laid bare the Conservatives’ ambitions to capture some of Labour’s most historic seats in England in a speech on Thursday night, telling voters in Leeds to put aside their traditional allegiances and vote ‘in the national interest.'” She told a rally of Conservative campaigners that she “needed every vote as a mandate for the difficulties ahead in the Brexit negotiations, citing the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, on the UK’s ‘illusions’ about the process.” She said, “We can see how tough those negotiations are going to be at times. We need the strongest possible hand, the strongest possible mandate and the strongest possible leadership as we go into those talks. Yet our opponents are already seeking to disrupt those negotiations – at the same time as 27 other European countries line up to oppose us.”
    See: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/apr/27/theresa-may-to-lay-bare-ambition-to-capture-labour-heartlands

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    IMPORTANT: Here are the opening paragraphs of Caroline Lucas’s article for the Guardian, ‘In Brighton we’re working together to oust the Tories. Corbyn and Farron take heed’:

    Last night something remarkable happened in Brighton. Local party members from the Liberal Democrats stood aside in Brighton Pavilion, and the Greens stood down in Brighton Kemptown. People who have spent years campaigning in these places took the decision to put aside party allegiances and work together so we have the best possible chance of delivering a fairer voting system and beating the Tories on 8 June. These choices were not easy, indeed they are acts of political bravery.

    The movement for electoral alliances isn’t just happening in Brighton, it’s kicking off across the country. Despite the leaders of both the Liberal Democrats and Labour trying to shut these discussion down, their members are taking things into their own hands. From Labour-led discussions in Surrey to oust Jeremy Hunt to Lib Dem activists across the country, this grassroots movement is growing.

    Local parties are stepping up, but that alone is not enough. It’s now up to the Lib Dem and Labour leaderships to sit down for talks about how we can make this movement for electoral alliances work. These alliances cannot be a one-way street and now Jeremy Corbyn and Tim Farron must act to ensure we’re not condemning this country to many more years of Tory rule. Let’s not look back on this moment in seven weeks’ time with a newly installed Tory government and kick ourselves for not doing more to stop it happening.

    See: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/27/brighton-politicians-tories-corbyn-farron-green-party

  18. Andy Worthington says...

    And here’s the latest from the Guardian, a letter from Labour MPs and other supporters calling on Labour to stand aside to help the Greens in two seats, Brighton Pavilion and the Isle of Wight. I really hope the Parliamentary Labour Party are paying attention: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/apr/30/labour-should-step-down-for-the-greens-in-some-key-seats

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    And more on this story from Zoe Williams in today’s Guardian – ‘We’ll be sneered at, but a progressive alliance can win’: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/may/01/sneered-but-progressive-alliance-win-election

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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