Labour are now standing aside for the Greens in Brighton Pavillion having worked out almost certainly correctly that the Tories would have taken it otherwise. The Greens are in turn standing aside in – wait, where are the Greens standing aside for their progressive brethren again? I can’t keep track.
The “progressive alliance” idea is a very, very bad one and furthermore, is a real gift to May and the Conservatives. One, it plays directly into her “coalition of chaos” message, showing that on one side you have the Tories, and on the other, a ragtag bunch of parties with Corbyn as de facto leader. The Tories can also extrapolate anything they like from this for their own messaging: for Leavers, it’s that Labour wants to reverse the Brexit process really, as it wants to climb into bed with a bunch of parties explicitly running on a Remainer ticket; for Tory Remainers, that all non-Tory parties have to offer is a sort of bland anti-Toryism, one that isn’t rooted in anything real.
From a pro-European perspective, the “progressive alliance” routine is a complete disaster, as it makes it seem rootless and worse, explicitly anti-Tory, particularly when pragmatic pro-Europeans, those who want the closest relationship with the EU post-Brexit as is possible, need pro-European Tories more than pretty much anyone else. For the next five years at the very, very least, and much more like ten at the realistically least, the Conservative Party will be the only real game in town. The pro-Europeans hitching their wagon to a very loose and disorganised bunch of fringe and in the process of dying parties isn’t the greatest idea as a result.
The worst thing about the “progressive alliance” is that it won’t even work in anyway close to what those who espouse the idea say that it will. Surely there is more to being in a party that happens to not be the Conservative Party than it just not being the Conservative Party? Last time I checked, the Lib Dems are running on an anti-Brexit ticket while the Labour Party voted to trigger Article 50. Isn’t that an unbridgeable difference? There is also the little matter of the Coalition government of 2010 – 2015, which should have killed off this silly nonsense forever, but apparently not.
But for all of that, I haven’t even got to the real reason the progressive alliance rubbish is such a bad idea. One of the central questions of this campaign is: would you rather Theresa May was prime minister, or Jeremy Corbyn? As much as I dislike a lot of May’s project, I would still have to pick her. Part of the reason is that I would genuinely rather have almost anyone in Britain be PM other than Corbyn. Seriously, I’m not using hyperbole when I say that. Does this mean I can’t be part of the progressive alliance? Almost by definition. Which makes think of how many other people in this country either feel the same way or are to the right of my position and then do the maths.