Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Back To The Future

In recent weeks I have been writing about Brexit.  Despite being a euro-sceptic, believing change in the EU is necessary. it is clear that Brexit itself isn't the answer.

Brexit is a high risk to the economy and society generally.  The process involves a hell of a lot of effort to avoid the UK going too far backwards before there is any chance of going forwards.  That and a complex and costly transition that was severely under-estimated.

It is clear that we need to stop Brexit.  Whilst there will be change in the Brexit arena over the summer, the really key event is debate of the "European Union (Withdrawal) Bill 2017-19" that starts in the Commons on 7 September.  That's when MPs can have their say and wield their vote.  


But Brexit is only one issue.  The Just Party aims are for a Thriving Economy and a Caring Society.  Over the past few decades we've seen:
  1. As socialists, Labour governments have aimed for a Caring Society.  But they have failed to create a Thriving Economy long term.  Socialist policies require funding that always proves counter-productive.  For example "Labour isn't working" was true in 1979 and "I’m afraid there is no money." true in 2010 when the deficit was going through the roof
  2. True Tory policies tend to favour the rich, to the detriment of the vast majority.  Theresa May was right when, as Chairman, she called the party "The Nasty Party".  It's core still is.
The Just Party was formed as a result of the party conferences in the autumn of 2014.  It was clear that not even the LibDems could represent the vast majority of the UK's population. This was partly because they had failed to make any great parliamentary impression, and partly why they hadn't.

Around that time ComRes published research that showed voters and non-voters alike mostly regarded themselves as "centrist", with a slight bias to the right. That is exactly where the Just Party is, in the light blue 'cyan'.  Simplistically with the top line of the graph representing the opinion of all adults and the lower one of voters:


The Just Party's principal aims are:
  1. Thriving Economy through strong financial management
  2. Which provides the money for a Caring Society
  3. Which unlocks people's potential for a Thriving Economy, etc.  A virtuous circle
Here is how these principles would be applied across principal policy areas, such as housing and defence. 

Governments that have tended towards the centre have tended to win elections.  'New Labour' for example, though the socialist underpinnings turned sour in the end.

To achieve this vision requires The Just Party getting into power.  How can that be done?


Whether you like the 'First Past The Post' (FPTP) electoral system or not, the failure of the Alternatie Vote referedum of 2011 means FPTP is what it will be for the UK Parliament for the foreseeable future. Whatever system you believe in, fighting for change is a waste of time.  The Just Party believes in getting into power under FPTP.

Voters are led primarily by the media, both print and broadcast, plus of course social media.  Perhaps the most powerful is TV and radio.

OFCOM is responsible for setting the election rules for all the main UK broadcasters, including the BBC from April 2017. The regulations stipulate broadcasters must include and balance all parties and candidates with:
  1.  Past support and/or
  2. Current support
Other parties and candidates with "significant views and perspectives" should also be considered. But in practice a seat in Westminster is the deciding factor.  It's objective, not subjective:
  • With one seat, that's why the Greens are included..  
  • UKIP had to have two existing defect and be re-elected to join that 'club'.  UKIP may have lost both MPs now, but their ongoing following will effectively guarantee their coverage.

Indeed it is almost impossible to gain media coverage without a seat in Parliament.  Chicken and egg.  The only route is defection of MPs to a new party who expect to be re-elected:
  • The four who formed the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 1981 which morphed into the LibDems
  • The two who defected to UKIP in 2014
What about MPs defecting to The Just Party, or some centrist equivalent?  Talk became serious in July 2016, just after the Brexit referendum.   The Observer reported that this was being considered by a group of Labour and Conservative MPs up to Cabinet and shadow-Cabinet level.  This was  when Andrea Leadsom was being considered for Tory leader on the one hand, and there was serious concern about Jeremy Corbyn on the other.

The appointment of Theresa May as Tory leader meant the idea of a new party quickly withered, but the idea of Leadsom as leader has resurfaced.  Corbyn has also just lost a General Election, despite the extra support from youngsters based on the 'lies' on Student Finance (which I know swayed younger voters I spoke to immediately before they voted).

We now have the new "All-Party Parliamentary Group on EU Relations" (Twitter @eurelationsappg).  The two leading figures in this group are the two Co-Chairs:

  • Anna Soubry, the most vocal of the Conservative 'remainers'
  • Chuka Umunna, the Labour MP who proposed an amendment to the Queens Speech to stay in the Single Market, which is against Labour party policy.
Whilst this group is focused on Brexit, it provides a forum for broader discussion.  It's difficult to imagine that discussion has not included a new party formed by defection of both Tory and Labour MPs.  That is exactly The Just Party's vision:

The Just Party is not aiming to be "LibDems2".  The LibDems social democratic background is to the left.of centre, of attraction primarily to Labour members but not so much Conservatives.  The Just Party is centre, mixing both Labour and Conservative.  Whilst LibDem members and voters will, be very welcome, it is expected that the LibDems will continue. The bigger picture is therefore:

That would result in this political spectrum, as shown here and above.  The Just Party in 'cyan' would be the party that most closely matches the peak of the public's centrist preference:


The Just Party simply wasn't ready to contest the 2015 election.  At that time thinking was it would take at least 10 years, and two General Elections before being able to offer the public a Just Party government in at least 2025.

The snap election this June has thrown that up in the air, and makes a quicker party realignment more feasible:
  • Theresa May now only has a minority government, propped up by just 10 MPs of the DUP
  • Inherently the government is at risk of losing key votes, if only a small proportion of Tory MPs abstain or side with a Labour-led opposition.  
  • Parliament are in 'recess' (on holiday) until early September.  That's when there will be the debate and vote on the "European Union (Withdrawal) Bill 2017-19"
  • Losing key votes could mean another General Election  in prospect for .the autumn.  Labour are already campaigning in marginal seats
Would enough Conservative MPs be prepared to defy the party whip?  They may fear the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister.  Or like Labour MPs fear losing their own seats if representing their existing party.  Depends on opinion polls.  Corbyn's recent retraction of what was taken as 'promises' on Student Finance by many young people may lose him their support.  Nothing he promises should ever be taken seriously again! That may prove key.

Given DUP numbers, would say 10 moderate MPs from both Labour and Conservative be prepared to defect to a new party?  Yes if their heart and head is agreed on stopping Brexit, combined with more natural support for their new party's policies.

It takes weeks for a new party to be formed.  Documents have to be discussed and agreed for submission to the Electoral Commission.  The registration process itself can take weeks, longer if issues arise that need to be resolved. Too late now for September.

The Just Party is registered as party 2520 and ready as a "vehicle":
  • The Aims and Values are a template for a manifesto.  It is anticipated that the defecting MPs will develop and "own" that manifesto
  • The MPs can appoint a new Leader
  • A high profile Chairperson is needed, perhaps from outside that group of MPs
  • The Just name and logo can be changed if better ones are available, either initially or subsequently. 
  • The registered Constitution is based on that of the centrist Liberals, and again can be changed or replaced in due course.

If you are a sitting MP interested in using the Just Party for your new party, then do get in touch.

If you know likely MPs then do bring this article to their attention.

In any case if you support the vision above then do make yourself known.

I am donating my time, which as a self-employed professional means I;m donating lost earnings.  I am looking to others to provide the cash for:
  • Party costs such as social media marketing
  • An election Fighting Fund for whenever the next General Election is called
  • In due course premises and admin personnel as The Just Party grows
  • Some remuneration for myself whilst I remain involved, if more than my spare time is needed
Donations up to £500 can be made by anyone anywhere, anonymously if you wish. Higher sums by arrangement.  Membership is also available, though you may not yet be ready to relinquish any existing party membership.

Donations of £10, £20, £50 or whatever would be very gratefully received.  This can be done through the GoFundMe site here.  Thanks!

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