Within the whirlwind of Brexit, Climate Change and Shamima Begum, British politics has done what has never been done before. An Independent Group has been formed by eight former Labour MPS and three ex-Conservative MPs including Chuka Ummuna and Anna Soubry, in order to tackle the immense factionalism in both parties. This all sounds quite straightforward, but when it comes to the policies and values of this group nothing really sounds feasible.
The Andrew Marr show today had former Labour MP Lucianna Berger and former Conservative Heidi Allen discussing the goals and aspirations for this Independent Group. The two claims that they left their parties because they did not feel the will of the people was being recognised or carried out efficiently and want to approach politics in an evidence-based fashion. Berger claimed that they want to do this in a “very, very different way” and move away from the 20th century paradigm of rival politics between the two main parties.
This idealistic rhetoric was countered by Andrew Marr, making a point to Berger that she is “now sitting alongside and bound together with Anna Soubry” a Conservative MP who was a fan of George Osbourne’s austerity, something Berger herself has expressed discontent for.
It must be noted that this new group has not explicitly mentioned any policies they would stand for, making us question whether this unlikely group will be able to agree on anything when they come from such different ideological positions.
The Daily Mail conducted an opinion poll asking people if there was “a new centrist party opposed to Brexit” how would they vote in the next general election. Conservative gained 39%, Labour 34%, Lib-dems 6%, the “new centrist party” or independent group comprised of 8% and UKIP 5%.
An opinion poll was also conducted without the prospect of a new centrist party and the forecasted results were 40% Conservative, 36% Labour, 10% Lib-dem and UKIP 5%.
If we compare these figures it is clear that The Independent Group are mostly appealing to Lib-dem voters, a party which had a Brexit people’s vote at the forefront of their last manifesto. It will be interesting to see if the new centrist party include this as one of their policies.
The Independent Group have already had a media faux-pas and they are not even a party yet. Ex-Labour MP Angela Smith called people of the BAME community a “funny tinge” on BBC Politics Live. This kind of publicity is already putting The Independent Group in a bad light not to mention devoted Labour and Conservative members’ outrage at the MPs’ disloyalty.
The first inaugural meeting for The Independent Group is taking place on Monday and members have expressed desire to become a political party in its own right. Will this collapse before it comes to fruition or will a centrist group be the face of a new version of UK politics?