On why, after having applied to be an MEP for Change UK and having now realised what they actually meant by “changing politics”, I will vote Lib Dems in the European Elections on 23 May.
I am not affiliated to any party. I was one of the thousands of people who applied to become an MEP for Change UK because I thought they were different and were offering something really different.
I decided to apply to be an MEP for my children and their generation. Despite the Brexit crisis and a growing loss of trust in politics, I wanted to look to the future, and I believed it was time for me to stand and make a change for the better. As an MEP, I wanted to promote the politics of trust and selflessness, and fight populism and nationalism, alike what I already do with my writings.
I though Change UK were on the same line. I thought they were different.
Sadly, to me, they blew it in two acts.
ACT I - Splitting the Remain Vote.
During the Easter break, Chris Leslie and other TIGs said that other Remain parties, such as the Lib Dems, the Greens, the SNP and Plaid Cymru don’t really count at all and that Change UK is the REAL and ONLY Remain party, or as the party’s interim leader, former Tory MP Heidi Allen puts it, “the natural home of the remain alliance.”
Lib Dems, the Greens, the SNP and Plaid Cymru have all been Remain and People’s Vote supporters from day one. Contrary to what they claim, this is not the case of Change UK.
Do not try to teach lessons of integrity unless you are yourself clear of any sins. Do not make claims that will make you look hypocritical.
And it didn’t take long for the backlash to take place. Remainers took on social media to explain how rightly appalled by that ignorant and arrogant attitude they felt. For days, and still now, they kept pressing for the TIGs to come to their senses and finally ally to the other Remain parties — only chance to keep Nigel Farage and his new far-right Brexit Party at bay. Something they will not do, as Chuka Umunna explained yesterday in the Independent.
A shame because, as the Financial Times’ John Burn-Murdoch explained last Thursday, failing to join forces with the other Remain parties will not only split the Remain vote as a whole, but it will also condemn Change UK to win no seat at all.
If the Brexit Party and other Brexit-supporting parties (Ukip, Conservatives, Labour maybe?) together are successful in the European Election, it would be the end of a People’s Vote.
Look at what Nigel Farage, who is contemplating such a successful outcome, told supporters in Westminster today: “It seems to me that the better the Brexit Party does on 23 May, the less chance there is of the people of this great country being insulted by being made to vote again. I think we can stop a second referendum.”
Change UK have adopted a 'Remain Alliance' hashtag for their European elections campaign, while rejecting the idea of forming a Remain Alliance with the other pro-Remain partieshttps://t.co/3nhqvztr2t— Sunder Katwala (@sundersays) April 23, 2019
Remember how the Brexiters have been telling us for months now that there was no need for a People’s Vote since parties supporting Brexit (Conservatives and Labour) received 80% of the votes in the 2017 General Election? Give them a chance to win the European Election and you may forget about a People’s Vote for good.
And in splitting the Remain Vote and enabling a successful Brexit-supporting parties results, Change UK could well end up being responsible for killing off any chance we had to hold a second referendum.
Either they are making a mistake because they are incompetent (in which case, why would anyone vote for them?), or they are just too arrogant and too full of themselves to realise what they are doing (in which case, again, why vote anyone vote for them?) or finally they have another hidden agenda (in which case... why should anyone trust them?).
ACT II - Putting the Party First.
Then today, as Change UK were finally unveilling their MEP candidates for the European Election, Heidi Allen told the Independent that her party could still back Theresa May in a confidence vote to avoid triggering a general election...
That the TIGs in Parliament could even contemplate becoming Theresa May’s new DUP...
I beg your pardon???
If the whole point of ‘Change-UK-The-Independent-Group-The-One-And-Only-Remain-Party’ (or whatever the name of the party is tomorrow) is to do politics differently and actually change politics, then its leader cannot possibly start saying that the party will support Theresa May in a confidence vote ‘no matter what’, simply because the party’s founding members know perfectly well they would be decimated in their respective constituencies in a general election (with Labour and Tory candidates opposing them with all the strength powerful, wealthy and established parties can bring in a campaign) and Change UK would end up with no seat in Parliament whatsoever.
I first thought it was refreshing to see a new political movement bringing together people from across the political divide, but from what I now understand, CUKTIG are not launching a new political party with a different offer to voters. They are offering the same hypocrisy the two main parties already offer, instead. Why would anyone vote for them if it is all about the same political calculations again and the only differences are their strange name and their weird logo?
At Change UK as in the Labour Party and the Conservative Party, it is putting the party first. It is wrong. Where has the interest of the country gone?
As a European, I particularly understand how Brexit impacts the 3 million EU citizens who live in limbo in the UK: PMP Magazine regularly offers a column to worried EU citizens. I understand their worry, by becoming an MEP, I wanted to give them a voice in the EU Parliament. But I guess that that was probably the least of Change UK’s worries. Shame.
I am not affiliated to any party, but I will vote Lib Dems in the European Election on 23 May.
Yes, they have made mistakes in the past (tuition fees...), but let’s be honest: they have not changed their stance one bit since the 2016 Referendum. In my opinion, they have always and still are THE Remain party (the Greens would get my second choice) — though if I lived in Scotland I would probably vote SNP and Plaid Cymru in Wales.
At boasting of their supports and trying to be bigger than they really are, the TIGs remind me of a Fable of Phaedrus called “The frog and the ox”, in which a frog tries to inflate itself to the size of an ox, to end up bursting in the attempt.
“The needy man, while affecting to imitate the powerful, comes to ruin.”🔷
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(This is an original piece, first published by the author in PoliticsMeansPolitics.com. | The author writes in a personal capacity.)