News reaches us that the Labour Party are trying to come to some sort of arrangement with both the Lib Dems and the Greens in Stoke Central in an effort to keep Paul Nuttall out of parliament. This tells you that Labour really do think they will lose the seat to UKIP in a few weeks time; it is also a continuation of the extremely flawed re-launch “strategy” being pursued by Corbyn at present.
For starters, what would such an alliance be founded upon? Is it just an anti-Tory, anti-UKIP thing? That has never been enough and won’t be now. The most logical issue to gather around would be Brexit, only Labour are voting to enact Article 50 with nary a realistic notion of amendment of any sort, so why would the Lib Dems and Greens lay down arms for another MP to be Brexit voting fodder given their respective positions on leaving the EU? It makes no sense then from a Lib Dem or Greens perspective, unless you think that letting UKIP get another MP in the House will open the floodgates to Farage’s bunch, which given the history is highly debatable at best.
But there is something much deeper at stake for Labour. What has kept the party going for the last century, still managing to become a party of government through Ramsay MacDonald, the SDP split, the longest suicide note in history, John Smith’s untimely death, you name it, has been the essential religiosity attached to the project. In a way you don’t see in any other British political party, Labour activists view their party as a vehicle for good in the country; in fact, the only vehicle for good that really, really matters. If the leadership waters this down, it threatens the very heart of what has kept Labour alive. If the “progressive alliance” takes precedent over the fortunes of the party itself, then the whole point of the Labour Party would be irreparably damaged. It is already facing meltdown; confusing their brand with the Greens might help save a seat or two along the way (and this is really questionable), but it puts the end of the party in clear sight.
A lot of people within Labour figure its all over but the counting anyhow and figure it would be better to do anything possible to prevent Nuttall gaining a foothold in the Commons. This is admirable in many respects. But in order for it to work, really work, they would have to admit to themselves first of all that the Labour Party is unquestionably doomed. Having realised this, they could then do whatever it would take to form this “progressive alliance” and this would include voting against Article 50 to get the LDs, Greens, SNP, whomever else, on side with the whole thing. Short of this, it will fail miserably, and Labour will end up in the worst of all worlds: debasing their brand by trying to form alliances that don’t even come off, all while losing by elections in previously safe seats along the way.