Dream-ticket headline speakers for our next march: Gary Lineker, Patrick Stewart/Captain Jean-Luc Picard of USS Enterprise, and … John Major!
I have never ever voted Tory. But there was one Tory speech last week which I am cheering energetically.
First, however, let’s give the red-flag-wavers a bit of a hand-clap. After a million hours of chattering cogitation, after a thousand whispered plots, and a thousand stammered counter plots, the wobbling Mr Corbyn has finally realised that if he wants to retain his leadership, he must support a second referendum on the EU with Remain on the ballot paper, thus doing what most Labour voters want.
Labour, Scots Nats, Plaid Cymru, Liberals, Greens, and people of no party, can we now really hope for a Progressive Alliance? The idea has been discussed for a number of years. It is obvious common sense: a small proportion of the British population vote Tory, but because of our absurd, unfair, and undemocratic, voting system, we have oppressive Tory governments supported by a minority of voters. We therefore need a focus for anti-Tory action. Stopping Brexit provides that focus.
I first came upon the term Progressive Alliance some years ago. It was dreamed up by Neal Lawson’s Compass, which I enthusiastically joined. But like the Labour Party, Compass felt strongly about the poor, and the poor people who had voted Leave in 2016, and so declined to become a supporter of the campaign to Remain, feeling a need to support both sides in the argument for and against the EU, an impossible task.
Now let us hope the Progressive Alliance can flourish with everyone working for a second referendum, and doing everything possible to counter the fascistic plots of the faragists and johnsonists. For before we can reform British society, we need to make sure we are not bankrupted by Brexit.
The Progressive Alliance requires tactical politics in elections: supporters of Labour, Scots Nats, Plaid Cymru, Liberals, or Greens, need to vote, not necessarily for their own party, but for the party which is most likely to defeat the Tories and thereby help to stop Brexit. This means Labour, Scots Nats, Plaid Cymru, Liberal, and Green, party leaders must be willing to encourage their members to vote for the candidate most likely to defeat the Tories. Occasionally this has been done. The Greens have the best record, having voted for a Liberal candidate when the Liberal has had a chance of winning the seat. Labour has been the worst, letting in a Tory, when, had the Labour vote been switched to Liberal, the Liberal would probably have won the seat.
But there is a further implication: we know that all political parties have become sclerotic, moribund, supported by unquestioning tribes who vote for the party they have always voted for, while the party opinion-formers consider only the party’s advantage, not the good of the country as a whole. The Progressive Alliance means we should support good ideas and right policies wherever they come from. Let us learn from the people whose aim is the good of the country.
Tuesday, July 10. I have never voted Tory in my life; I can’t see a situation arising when I would ever vote Tory. But that morning on the Today Programme I heard a really powerful political statement … from a Tory. Quietly, with a most powerful emphasis, Sir John Major declared that if the monstrous Johnson tried to prorogue Parliament in order to push through a no-deal Brexit with Parliament on forced leave, then he, John Major, would seek a judicial review to stop what he regarded as a fundamental attack on British democracy. Compared to the lies and wish-fulfilment fantasies of the Brexiteers, or Labour’s wobbly shilly-shallying, it was like sunrise cutting through smog.
Wednesday, July 11. We had a perfect example of a non-entity in a sclerotic political party. Michael Howard, from whom I shrink as from a splodge of cow diarrhoea, attacked John Major in his typical slimy way. “John Major has never reconciled himself to Brexit”. Why on earth should John Major reconcile himself to the disaster of Brexit? It is good for a senior politician to draw attention to fat Johnson pigheadedly assigning himself dictatorial powers to push through a no-deal Brexit illegally. It is Sir John’s right and his privilege.
But let us go further. Let us, as true adherents of the Progressive Alliance, welcome a Tory who speaks better about Brexit than Labour, Liberal, and the rest of them. John Major should be in a good mood after England’s cricket win.
Let us invite Sir John Major to join us on the March.