Plaid Cymru and the Green Party's decision not to stand may have been pivotal.
Remain campaigners have slashed Boris Johnson’s majority to just one MP, after the Liberal Democrats overturned the Tories’ 8,000 vote majority in the Brecon & Radnorshire by-election.
The result has been hailed as a victory for the idea of a ‘Remain Alliance’, after the Green Party and Plaid Cymru stepped aside to boost Lib Dem Jane Dodds’ chances of defeating the Tories’ convicted expenses fraudster Chris Davies.
The Liberal Democrats won 13,826 votes with the Conservatives taking 12,401, a margin of 1,425. Plaid Cymru won 1,299 votes in 2017. Given the party’s rise in the polls since it suggests their decision to step aside could have been pivotal. The Greens did not run in the seat in 2017.
‘A turning point’
Newly-elected Brecon & Radnorshire MP Jane Dodds – who is leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats – said:
“This victory must be a turning point, not just for our communities here in Brecon and Radnorshire, but for the whole country too.
“People are desperately crying out for a different kind of politics.”
In a hint that the Liberal Democrats will work with other parties in the next General Election, she added: “There is no time for tribalism when our country is faced with a Boris Johnson government and the threat of a no-deal Brexit.”
Liz Saville-Roberts MP, leader of Plaid Cymru’s Westminster group and a leading supporter of the People’s Vote campaign, said:
“The victory of Remain cross-party co-operation and Jane Dodds in Brecon and Radnorshire last night will give those in Downing Street plotting a snap general election pause for thought, because it shows they cannot take the public for granted…
Green new deals
Wales Green Party said their decision not to stand was ‘vindicated’.
“I hope there will be other constituencies where parties can work together so that the people can make their voice heard and we can secure the final say referendum which is the only democratic way to solve this Brexit crisis.”
Anthony Slaughter, leader of the Wales Green Party, said:
“The Green Party’s decision was key…the Liberal Democrat majority was 1,400 votes. We got 1,300 votes in the seat in 2015, while Plaid Cymru, who also withdrew from the by-election, also got that many votes.
“Of course what we need is a change to the undemocratic voting system, to ensure that everywhere in every nation votes can express their political preferences, vote for what they believe in and get it. But until we elect a parliament in Westminster that will reform our system and bring our politics into the 21st century, we have to work within the system we have.”
The Green Party of England & Wales has been running a consultation with members on whether to support ex-Tory Heidi Allen MP’s push for a Remain Alliance at the next election.
In her comments, Sian Berry, co-leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, did not comment on the alliance directly.
‘Hope for a better future’
Leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson MP said the victory gave ‘hope for a better future for Britain’:
“The people of Brecon and Radnorshire have shown that the country doesn’t have to settle for Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn…
“We are thankful to Plaid Cymru and the Green Party for putting the national interest first and not contesting this by-election. We now have one more MP who will vote against Brexit in Parliament.”
Anti-Brexit group Best for Britain have been calling for parties to work towards a Remain Alliance for the next election. CEO Naomi Smith said:
“The success of Jane Dodds in Brecon and Radnorshire proves that when remain parties work together, they succeed.
Johnson’s majority could soon be cut to zero, as Tory MP Dr Phillip Lee recently revealed that he is considering defecting from the Conservatives, as he feels “politically homeless” over the PM’s push for a no deal Brexit.
“While the Leave side has an inherent advantage in elections due to its vote being concentrated between only two parties whereas the pro-EU vote is split across at least four, working together can clearly help beat those odds.
“More than 100,000 people have now signed our petition calling for these parties to work together. Now that we know it works, we will continue meeting internationalist MPs from all parties and use this model to prevent the Brexit extremists from getting a majority in the event of an election.”
A spokesperson for the cross-party progressive group Compass – which has been a driving force behind progressive alliances – told Left Foot Forward:
“If progressives don’t get organised, then a Regressive Alliance led by the new PM may crush the opposition in a snap general election. Plaid Cymru and the Green Party have shown that they understand this by standing aside for the Lib Dems in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election. It’s in the spirit of the Progressive Alliance that helped undo the Tory majority two years ago.
“But a Remain Alliance is not the same as a Progressive Alliance. We need progressives to come together on a joint vision for a transformed Britain, starting with our democracy. There’s no merit in a political project that wants to take us back to where we were before the 2016 EU Referendum and it won’t be well-placed to win an election.”
Brecon & Radnorshire, result:— Britain Elects (@britainelects) August 2, 2019
LDEM: 43.5% (+14.3)
CON: 39.0% (-9.6)
BREX: 10.5% (+10.5)
LAB: 5.3% (-12.5)
MRLP: 1.0% (+1.0)
UKIP: 0.8% (-0.6)
Josiah Mortimer is Editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter.
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