Archive for the 'Change UK' Category


The successor to Sir Vince Cable might currently be in another party

Tuesday, June 4th, 2019

It appears Change UK might be about to undergo some fundamental change, The Guardian report that

Up to half of Change UK’s MPs are poised to leave the fledgling political party after its dismal performance in the European elections.

Change UK’s interim leader, Heidi Allen, and the former Labour MP Chuka Umunna, who is the group’s spokesman, have been advocating closer cooperation with the Liberal Democrats, and are among those thought to be considering defecting to the party.

Other MPs may also leave the party, potentially including the former Labour MP Luciana Berger, who was the face of Change UK’s launch event. The MPs are holding a meeting on Tuesday lunchtime and an announcement is expected later in the day.

Umunna conceded last week that the party had “made mistakes along the way”, and suggested pro-remain parties should “work together instead of competing”.

However, the Guardian understands a core of five Change UK MPs – out of the party’s 11 – including the former Labour MPs Joan Ryan, Chris Leslie, Mike Gapes and Ann Coffey, and the former Conservative MP Anna Soubry, are determined to continue as a separate party.

One party source insisted Change UK would go on to field candidates at the next general election and said the group had been working on a policy platform.

All of this makes me wonder if we’re about to see some new entrants in to the Lib Dem leadership race, the rules state

‘Nominations will close on 7 June, with the new leader to take over on 23 July. Nominees must be an MP, have the backing of at least 10% of the Parliamentary party (i.e. one other MP) and be supported by at least 200 members spread across at least 20 different local parties.’

Now we live in rather interesting times and it is possible, I’ve asked for odds to be put up on Chuka Umunna, Sarah Wollaston, and Heidi Allen to be added to the list to succeed Sir Vince Cable, the latter two have always seemed to me to be closer to the Lib Dems than the Conservative Party long before they defected to Change UK.

Nominations close this Friday for the Lib Dem leadership, if it is going to happen, the Change UK MPs needs to defect very soon.



What happens to CHUK if it fails to win more a couple of MEPs a week on Thursday?

Tuesday, May 14th, 2019

If it can’t make progress under Euro elections voting system then its surely doomed

I have just received my freepost delivery of the CHUK Euros leaflet and I reproduce the pages that have words on it above. I’m sure many PBers will have seen it as well.

What is striking is how weak the leaflet with hardly any effort to try to persuade people to vote. Is it it is almost as if it has given up already.

The freepost distribution is one of the great benefits that the public purse provides to parties and candidates at election time. It is only available in a restricted range of elections but it does provide a means of communication that would not otherwise be available. The ability to get leaflets through every letter box for free is a massive tool. If you want to do more you either have to pay a delivery firm or else have a large activist base ready to spend hours and hours pounding the street.

So you’d have expected the new party to have put everything in to maximising the impact of the leaflet and frankly I don’t think what we see does that. It is hardly going to persuade voters that it is THE force to stop Brexit. Given the way MEPs are allocated CHUK needs to be polling at least at the 7% level to get a single MEP.

A week on Sunday the votes will be counted and if CHUK fails it will be hard to see its future.

It is not contesting the Peterborough by-election, it didn’t contest the locals and as far as I know it is not working to try to win an election anywhere else. So what is the point of a political party that simply doesn’t get involved in the election process?

Surely it is doomed.

Mike Smithson


The Tories slump to new lows in both Westminster and Euro polls

Saturday, May 11th, 2019

The blues down to 22% with Opininum WM poll

And for the Euros TMay’s party down to 11% below the LDs

There’s really little you can say about the latest two surveys from Opinium which have awful numbers for the Tories for both Westminster and the Euro elections in 12 days time.

Clearly this is an abnormal period with the blue team finding itself fighting elections that it never believed we’re going to happen and Farage’s Brexit party is taking every opportunity to rub TMay’s nose in it.

You have got to admire Farage’s far-sightedness. He established the new party when it was far from clear that there would be Euro elections and his gamble is paying of handsomely.

Also significant in terms of attracting tactical votes in the Euros is the Lib Dems moving to third place ahead of the Tories. Their whole strategy is about being seen to be the strongest voice for Britain staying in the EU and the hope is that the remain voters in other parties might decide to switch to them for this unique election. These number underline the case for that.

This is making CHUK, closest rivals, looking absolutely screwed with just 3% from Opinium for the the euros. In the complex way that seats are allocated in the European Parliament that sort of vote share is not going to produce them a single MEP. The problem as well is that this inevitably coincides with the Lib Dems getting some traction undermining a key reason why CHUK are there on the Ballot at all.

There might be more polling tonight and if there is this post will be updated.

Polling update – new ComRes with startling changes

Mike Smithson


Change UK have given a masterclass in how not to launch a political party

Saturday, May 11th, 2019

Their muddled thinking has killed their project

To be wrong once is inevitable, to be wrong twice is unfortunate, to be wrong three times is careless, but to be wrong as many times as Change UK have been is to show all the tactical and strategic awareness of a garden leaf trying to outwit a playful cat. It’s not merely that they keep losing the game; it’s not even that they don’t seem to know how the game’s played; it’s as if they don’t even know that there’s a game on at all.

Time and again, right from the beginning, they have made such basic errors in their thinking, their planning and their execution that if they’re to be remembered by history at all, it will be as an object lesson in how not to launch a political party.

We could list dozens of their mistakes but let’s keep it to seven of the bigger ones, as a demonstration of where they went wrong.

1. They failed to organise as a party at or shortly after defecting

You only get one chance to make a first impression, as the saying goes. Change fluffed theirs. From the first days, it was clear that the defecting MPs were far more animated by what they were opposed to (Corbyn, Brexit) than what they advocated. As soon as they left their previous parties and created a new group, it should have been clear that there could be no going back and that therefore the only options were to join another pre-existing party or to form one themselves. Having rejected the former option, they needed to define themselves before others defined them. They didn’t.

2. They failed to appoint or elect a leader

Minor parties get little media coverage and need to force their way into news stories and discussions. Having a clear leader who is constantly available, willing and capable of projecting their message is crucial: Change failed to appoint or elect one (and once they did, they might as well have not bothered). British politics has certain parameters parties are expected to conform to. If you ignore them, chances are you’ll be ignored yourself.

3. They failed to give themselves a clear name

Nothing sums up Change UK’s blundering more than the sorry saga of their name. They first picked one – The Independent Group – that said little about what they were for, before dumping what progress they had made with that and switching to Change UK, which also says nothing about what they stand for or against, yet still tagged on their previous name in a made-by-committee composite.

Their Twitter handle has changed so often that it’s hard even for interested politics watchers to keep track and their website is registered under the unintuitive . Remarkably, if you type into your browser, you’ll be redirected to the Lib Dems.

Contrast all this with Nigel Farage’s new vehicle, The Brexit Party – which implies all you need to know about it in about a second. Change could have taken a leaf out of the same book and called themselves the Remain Party and so tried to appropriate to themselves that generic mantle. Alternatively, if they wanted something with a longer shelf-life, the Centre Party would have defined where they stood in the political spectrum.

4. They failed to recruit members and build a movement

By chance, Change had a massive opportunity to build a political movement. Not long after they launched, a petition was registered on the government website demanding that Article 50 be revoked, which gathered an extraordinary six million signatures. These people should have been Change’s target voters and the coincidence of timing, plus the fact that no party was offering Revoke, meant that Change could and should have built a movement around that premise. Had they ridden the wave, they probably could have recruited tens, if not hundreds of thousands of supporters and members, as well as millions in donations and subscriptions. They failed to do anything.

5. They failed to establish a niche political position

New or small political parties need to offer something different: Change UK doesn’t. Following on from the point above, the obvious one was to move outright to Revoke, which is beyond what either the Lib Dems or Greens advocate (although the Lib Dems are getting there now). Sure, it would have been criticised by Brexiteers and others as undemocratic but if you’re worried about criticism, keep your head down and don’t defect. As an aside, going straight for Revoke and the 6m petitioners would have put huge pressure on the Lib Dems to follow suit, and on Labour to move more assertively to Remain, which would of itself have demonstrated their power and relevance, as well as advancing their cause.

6. They failed to contest the local elections

Having messed up on points 1-5, not contesting the local elections was probably a blessing. A lack of candidates, policies or organisation would probably have led to a smattering of poor results and an embarrassing contrast with the Lib Dems. At least this way no-one noticed. But a political party that doesn’t contest elections (they’re not standing in Peterborough either), is about as useful as a radio that doesn’t produce sound. On the other hand, if they’d got the earlier organisation right, they could have not only blunted (or prevented) the Lib Dem recovery but could have made themselves one of the stories of the night and then next few weeks.

7. They’ve failed to play the media game

Change UK seem to have the view that the world owes them a hearing. It doesn’t. Minor parties literally need to make the news if they want to be on it. Partly that’s about proactively badgering broadcasters and publishers that they want to be on but also it’s about putting on media stunts. Again, Farage knows what he’s doing there. Similarly, Caroline Lucas for the Greens has no trouble generating publicity for herself and her party by less orthodox methods, for example deliberately being arrested at demonstrations. Obviously, you need to play to your audience but the point is that far more politics happens beyond Westminster than Change is willing to accept or embrace.

What the MPs of Change UK failed to recognise – and to a large extent, still fail to recognise – is that they crossed a Rubicon when they left their former parties. By forming a new party, they are in direct competition with Labour and the Lib Dems (never mind the ill-will both parties have reason to bear, the former for the defection of the turncoats; the latter for them having rejected a direct defection). They are fishing in the same pools and cannot expect to be treated as fellow travellers in a common cause. That failure of understanding was amply demonstrated by Change blaming Labour (who are defending the seat) for reminding a proto-Remain alliance that Labour would actively campaign against the independent candidate the Remain parties wanted to back. Campaigning against your opponents is what you do in an election and what you can reasonably expect your opponents to do to you.

Where should Change UK go from here?

Trying to discern Change’s intended strategy from their actions is probably about as useful as looking for hints to Gaussian mathematics in a bowl of porridge. If they’d launched their party with flair and dynamism, they might well be in the mid-teens in the polls now. That might sound excessive but they peaked at 18% with YouGov in the week after they launched (three times the Lib Dem score, and against a 36% Con share – much has changed since February). Suppose they’d been able to sweep up much of the 6m Revoke vote: it could have been them rather than the Lib Dems making big gains at the local elections. In the medium term they could realistically hope to either replace the Lib Dems outright (in the same way that the Brexit Party will almost certainly replace UKIP), or to bargain for a merger from a position of strength, marrying Lib Dem experience, data and activists with Change support and members. That cannot now happen: they have nothing to trade.

Instead, their future must either take them out of politics altogether or into an existing party, which has to be the Lib Dems. Their initiative has ground to a halt through its own lack of momentum. Who would now join them, either in parliament or as activists and members? What purpose do they serve?

Change UK’s multiple failures, which of themselves must be hugely off-putting for potential recruits, have left them with no voice and no future. Given the difficulties and divisions within Labour and the Tories, there is still plenty of scope for realignment within Britain’s politics. To the extent that Change has any role in that, it is purely as a cautionary tale as to how not to do it.

David Herdson


If the latest Euro polling is right the Tories are near to being pushed into 4th place

Friday, May 10th, 2019


Over the last couple of days there been the first post local elections polls on the May 23rd Euro elections. As can be seen in the Wikipedia table the Brexit party is staying pretty stable in pole position with the Labour Party about 3% behind and the Tories much further down.

In fact the latest Opinium poll has the Tories on 14% with the Lib Dems up 5 on 12%. It was always going to be, though, that the Tories were going to take a hiding in these elections. Remember in 2014 when Farage’s then party, Ukip, party came top and the Tories were pushed into third place. They are still maintaining that position on the latest polls but the Lib Dems are moving up quite sharpish.

This is one of those elections when the polls might have some impact on how people vote. This might boost The Brexit Party and if the LD upwards movement continues could help them

What the yellows will be hoping to do is establish themselves as the party of remain with the hope of squeezing LAB, CON, GRN and  CHUK voters. We’ll see.

The betting is getting livelier and is likely to increase quite sharply as we get closer to polling day.

I have 32 pence of the LDs at 990/1 on Betfair to be top party. That’s now moved in sharpish but I am still expecting to lose my stake!

Mike Smithson


What we are seeing in British politics at the moment could be “The New Normal”

Monday, May 6th, 2019

So, here we are, losses for both main parties, laceratingly large for the Tories, some in surprising places, the Lib Dems and the Greens cock-a-hoop, the NOTA party making a fine showing and the inevitable calls for a change of leadership  – with May more at risk, what with being heckled in Wales and facing an EGM in June. (Perhaps Trump could orchestrate proceedings during his forthcoming visit. He has experience in saying “You’re fired!” after all – with his British Mini-Me already copying his “Lock her up!” slogan – and it may be the only act which might give him some measure of popularity in Britain).  Party spokesmen come out with their prepared responses.  “We must do Brexit” they claim, without even pausing to wonder whether an increased vote for explicitly Remain parties and Independents might suggest wider, different concerns.

Matters may become clearer after the European Parliament elections, of course.  Those cussed voters giving the Lib Dems a boost now might well catapult  Farage’s new party into first place in three weeks’ time. If he does as well as he expects, the cry will go up that this is what the British people voted for nearly 3 years ago: a No Deal Brexit with no messy compromises with dastardly Europeans and the ungrateful Irish out to trick honest British folk with sneaky backstops, let alone with those Marxists and their Customs Union.  Never mind that no-one back in the heady days of 2016 ever suggested a No Deal exit.  Quite the opposite in fact.  The easiest deal in history, the EU needing us more than we need them, those German carmakers, all forgotten or dismissed as the realities of negotiations kick in. It was not supposed to be like this.

Like all revolutions, the initial demand for a trading relationship shorn of the political stuff (this from a country which built an Empire on the back of and for trade) ends up being discarded for a pure untainted Year Zero approach.  Everything must be built anew. What existed before must be torn down.  Only a return to Eden – trading on WTO rules – is proper Brexit, apparently, even though this is a chimera in practice.  Any compromise with the Ancien Régime must be shunned.  The fact that even agreeing the first stage of Brexit has not turned out as promised cannot possibly be allowed to suggest that maybe Brexit was harder than it looked, that the EU might not agree to all British demands, that promises made were untenable or inconsistent with each other. The delusion that it should have been easy must be allowed to stand.

So the cries of “betrayal” and “traitors” rise up against those suggesting keeping existing rules in place for the time being to make it easier for Britain to trade goods across borders and earn its living.  Such heresy.  Middle-aged MPs who have never traded so much as an apple become incoherent with rage when discussing customs forms or rules of origin.  And how appropriate that it should be those with French surnames (Farage, Francois) leading this revolution – or trying to.  Let’s hope that like an earlier attempt to reorder Europe, it doesn’t end up in war and dictatorship, with Francois as our podgy little corporal strutting round the stage exhibiting his martial skills (weekends only).

In all the discussion about what a proper Brexit is or whether any form of Brexit can be agreed, what the point of it was or is seems utterly forgotten, a mere footnote to the need to honour a vote, largely, it sometimes seems, to minimise Brexit’s impact on the political parties themselves.  Possibly this is because the much vaunted benefits are proving illusory: immigration from the EU is down but is being replaced by non-EU immigration. EU rules will be followed in all sorts of areas but with no input into them, a form of taking back control which silently makes the case for Remaining rather better than Remainers themselves.  And any trade deal with the EU will give them endless cherry-picking opportunities.  Britain could very well end up with similar obligations to EU membership but few of its advantages.  Little wonder that Brexit’s benefits are now so little discussed.  Like WW1 soldiers in the trenches: “We’re here because we’re here because we’re here because we’re here” seems to be Brexit’s justification.

More delusions abound.

We must do Brexit but not be defined by Brexit”.  Whether the Tories do Brexit or not, they will be defined by it for a generation or more. A normally pragmatic and un-ideological party has become obsessed by one policy above all, to implement Brexit, any type, doesn’t matter what, anything at all so that they can mention one thing in the “What we did this Parliament” column when it comes to the next GE.

We must honour the referendum. Yes.  But why? Well, one very good reason: ignoring a vote when you have told the people that you will implement it risks a dangerous disillusion with democracy, unless the people tell you that they have changed their mind. Still, implementing a decision largely because you are worried about the consequences of not doing so rather than because of all the advantages it will bring is not the best way create a consensus that will last.  The political and  social consequences of doing so could be quite as messy and unpredictable as asking the people a second time.

Referenda in a Parliamentary democracy, in a country unused to them, can be unpredictable and divisive.  The 2016 referendum has created or maybe enhanced a divide quite as sharp and bitter as the left-right one.  Might not a second one risk aggravating matters further?  The risks are very real.  Yet it may only be another popular vote which has any chance of allowing a decision to be reached with some sort of consensus behind it, though this too may be yet another delusion.

We must put Brexit behind us.” Oh dear.  Where to begin?  The Withdrawal Agreement is barely the start of the process.  There will be years of trade negotiations, with all sorts of political, economic and social consequences, seeping into every aspect of our politics for the foreseeable future and affecting pretty much every area of policy-making.  It will define how Britain sees itself, how other countries see it, how other countries deal with it.

We must talk about what really matters to most voters: jobs, housing etc…  This is the saddest self-delusion of all.  The political parties are desperate to return to politics as normal. So are many Remainers.  But many voters voted for Brexit precisely because they wanted a change to politics as normal.  They wanted their problems, many ignored for years, acknowledged and dealt with.  They wanted to tell those who had neglected them to pay attention. Their vote has certainly jolted the political classes. But the all-consuming nature of Brexit has sucked up all the political oxygen, has made it exceedingly difficult for those political, social, economic problems which led voters to say “Enough: we want change” to be addressed coherently or at all.

The political will, the political space, time, energy, thinking needed to address the plight of the left-behind, let alone the many other issues the country needs to address – how to earn its living, for instance, social care, AI, the dominance of technology companies, migration, even, God forbid, its relations with its neighbours – simply isn’t there and won’t be there for the foreseeable future, no matter who is in government or how many fine speeches they make about the JAMS or against austerity. Brexit – whether it happens or not – and its consequences will consume British politics for some time to come.  This is the new normal.





Blow for Change UK as it tried to complete formalities ahead of the possible May Euro elections

Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

As if the people aren’t confused enough as it is

It has just been reported that the new party, change UK, has had its party logo rejected by the Electoral Commission on the grounds that it could “mislead voters”.

Apparently the emblem was a black square with the initials TIG and the hashtag “#change”.  Apparently the Commission took the view that the new party’s chosen emblem was not sufficiently well known.

But Change UK should be registered in time to take part in the coming Euro elections, if those are indeed to be held in the UK, on May 23rd.

In the convoluted voting system devised by Labour for the 1999 Euro elections voters do not choose candidates by name but rather put their cross against one of a range of parties. On the Ballot form each party logo figures above the list of candidates who have been chosen to represent them.

Without a logo the list of names of Change UK hopefuls will appear but will look slightly odd and that might just have an impact on their ability to attract votes in the election.

Ever since the rebel Labour and Conservative MPs left their parties in February the new grouping has had issues with branding.  It initially called itself the Independent group, and it is only been in recent weeks that the new term Change UK has been introduced. You can see the problem because they were known initially as TIG.

So when voters turnout on May 23rd they’re going to be faced with some unfamiliar changes in Britain’s party structure.  For as well as Change UK UKIP which won most MEPs in 2014 has now, of course split, and will remain on the ballot but will have to compete for that area of the vote with Nigel Farage’s the Brexit party.

Mike Smithson


So TIG becomes Change UK in time for the possible Euro Elections

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019

This could be good branding for possible Euro elections

One of he potentially big developments that came out at the end of last week was the decision by the Independent Group to seek registration as an official party under the name of  Change UK.

The grouping, of course, features the LAB MPs who left Corbyn’s party in February followed by the three women Tory MPs who left their party a few days later. It is the only grouping that has more women than men.

If there are European elections in the UK on May 23rd, and that is very dependent on events over the next 10 days, then the UK would be bound to participate. Its reported that election administrators are taking precautionary steps to ensure that if this does happen that they can make the arrangements in time.

Elections to the European Parliament in the UK take place under a system call the “closed party list.” Unlike general elections where voters indicates the individual of their choice in Euro elections they take a box against a party which field a list in each region. So a party’s name could be crucial.

It is this structure that has been very helpful to UKIP and indeed at the last Euro elections in 2014 the party finished top in the UK.

My guess is that the new party’s planned name Change, if that is acceptable, may be potentially very potent in a European election structure. We’ve all heard at different elections people making the call to “vote for change” and the new party has taken over the phrase. Under this banner it will be able to brand itself as the body that that seeks to do something differently.

I think that is quite smart and could potentially be very useful should the elections take place.

What is really interesting is what the relationship Change UK will have with the Lib Dems. What’ll happen if there is a parliamentary by-election in Brecon a seat at the Lib Dems used to hold – where the MP last month pleaded guilty to expenses fraud. That’s likely to trigger off a recall petition which could open the way for a by-election perhaps in early July. Change UK wouldn’t want its first Westminster by-election standoff be a fight with the LDs

Mike Smithson