- Different position on the UK's political spectrum
- Disagreement with key LibDems policies, both related and not related to that position
- LibDems lack of traction to date, so lack of attraction to new supporters
- Need for an ongoing centre-left party
(1) POSITION ON POLITICAL SPECTRUM
The LibDems were formed in part from the SDP, which was itself a spin-off from the Labour party. The LibDems are therefore fundamentally left of centre. The new leader Vince Cable, who stood for election for the Labour party, has recently announced a core policy on promoting equality that belies that socialist background. Indeed, before Labour's lurch to the left under Corbyn, the LibDems sometimes appeared left of Labour on some issues.
The Just Party is to be centrist, and if anything slightly right of centre. This is principally merging MPs and supporters of Labour's centre left who don't feel they belong in Corbyn's Labour, and centre-right Conservatives who similarly no longer feel they belong there..
The end result on the Left-Right spectrum would be, simplistically and without showing overlaps:has been on the cards since last summer:
Should sufficient Labour and Conservatie people defect to The Just Party, it could and should become as large as the two original parties have been. The Just:Party would then be in a position to be in power, unlike any realistic possibility for the LibDems.
(2) DISAGREEMENT WITH SPECIFIC POLICIES
There are several policies on which The Just Party and the LibDems are in agreement, but several key ones on which there is no agreement:
(a) TAX RATES AND ECONOMIC MANAGEMENT
The LibDems and The Just Party are not on the same page as to managing the country's finances, and tax rates in particular. For example, the LibDems have consistently suggested an extra penny on income tax to specifically go towards the NHS. That is a classic left-wing proposal. But probably not the best one, even if we agree on how the NHS should look.
(b) SECOND BREXIT REFERENDUM
The LibDems are making a big play on there being a second referendum to approve whatever deal is struck between the UK and the EU over Brexit, just before the UK is due to leave in March 2019.
That is fine in theory, but not in practice:
- It prolongs the uncertainty for business.
- It also leaves it too late to make any systems changes, which if done earlier might be unnecessary and a waste of money.
- It would encourage the EU to go for a sub-standard deal in the hope the UK would decide to Remain in a referendum, which is likely to be the EU’s preference
But The Just Party would support a second referendum, for democratic reasons, if the UK government were to adopt a new approach to Brexit, such as the ‘Half-Brexit’.idea. This referendum should be no later than Spring 2018, once the EU had accepted any proposal in principle:
- To leave time to negotiate the detail
- To give business a better degree of certainty as early as possible
(c) ‘FIRST PAST THE POST’ AND ‘PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION’
The Just Party will not be campaigning for any form of Proportional Representation for three reasons:
- The British public rejected Proportional Representation in the ‘Alternative vote’ Referendum of 2011, triggered by the LibDems joining the Conservatives in coalition. The result was a massive 68:32 to retain FPTP. So FPTP is expected to be the political system in the UK for the foreseeable future
- The Just Party expects to gain power within the FPTP system, and has to plan to do so
- In any case there are pros and cons of Proportional Representation, as the referendum result indicates. A debate on the pros and cons of the various forms of PR would be a distraction from the principal objectives
For an MP to be elected under the FPTP system, the voters in each constituency need to believe the candidate has a realistic chance of winning. Whilst some people will vote with their conscience, most will vote for whichever leading candidate they prefer, or tactically against one they do not want.
The LibDems have generally failed to be in contention for most seats, perhaps because their support is too narrow in the centre left. The result is few MPs, far fewer now than they achieved in 2010. There are many reasons, and as a result there is no suggestion that the LibDems will improve much in the foreseeable future.
For a number of these historical and policy reasons, it is not expected that many Conservative MPs and supporters would wish to join them. Whereas The Just Party is offering policies that have broader appeal across centre left and centre right, as shown below. The two graph lines indicate what voters think they themselves stand on the left-right spectrum, per a ComRes poll in late 2014.
On paper The Just Party could command enough broad support to form a Government. That is our aim.
(4) NEED FOR AN ONGOING CENTRE-LEFT PARTY
But defectors from the LibDems to the Just Party will be equally welcome, if Just better fits their views. Conversely some Labour people will feel more comfortable with the LibDems, as a true centre-left party.
The 'danger' of this rearrangement is that if The Just Party gets the high levels of support that are possible, then either or both of the remaining hard-lelt Labour and hard-right Tory party will collapse. It is important to have at least two mainstream parties. The LibDems have an important ongoing role in the UK Parliamentary system.
There are sufficient differences between The Just Party and the LibDems to need to exist separately. Both parties have important ongoing roles.