Spoiler Alert by David Jones

People can be quick to complain about the shortcomings of professional politicians, often with good reason, but every now and then we’re reminded how foolish it would be to leave things to the amateurs.

This week we saw the launch of “Renew”, an anti-Brexit party that promises to put the issue of Britain’s departure from the EU front and centre.

Because, presumably, they think it’s slipped people’s minds up until now.

The party’s leadership team announced at their London launch that they’ll field candidates across the country at the next General Election to “threaten those MPs that are not changing their minds”. One of the three on stage, James Clarke, swaggering like a fifteen year old after a pint of cheap cider, announced that Renew was the “military arm” of the Remain movement.

Thanks James, but the Remain movement will choose its own spokespeople, and my guess is that it’ll lean towards those who don’t talk inflammatory nonsense to get attention. With the horror of Florida’s Parkland school shootings fresh in the memory, this is a bad time to be sharing your toy soldier fantasies.

Renew isn’t as new as you might think. A number of its mouthpieces have been down this road before. In Bermondsey and Old Southwark in the 2017 General Election Labour’s Neil Coyle, with 31,161 votes held the seat from LibDem Simon Hughes and just about staved off the challenge of James Clarke, who polled a plucky 113.

113 votes. Take the hint, James.

Another of the Renew leadership team, James Torrence, is a former world champion in competitive debating. So maybe these are people who just miss being the cleverest kid at school.

Even if we take them at face value and accept that they want to syphon votes from Brexiteers, the plan doesn’t stack up. Electoral history and plain common sense tells us that independent spoiler candidates, particularly single-issue protestors, are more likely to take votes from mainstream candidates whose positions they most closely copy.

When you tell people the only thing you care about is Brexit, then some of those people might just be confused enough or uninformed enough to think you’re the only party that cares about Brexit.

When you spread the irresponsible falsehood that professional politicians – all professional politicians – are not to be trusted, you don’t just insult those who’ve dedicated their lives to public service, you fuel the fire that’s already swept an unqualified opportunist into the Oval Office and lowered the tone of public debate on both sides of the Atlantic.

So here’s a message to “Renew”:

You’re nothing new. You’re nothing helpful. You’re the spoilers. You’re the ones who can’t do any good but might just do some damage.

There’s already a mainstream party that’s resolutely anti-Brexit. It’s also engaging in progressive debate on healthcare, education, housing and the environment. It’s on the right side of the argument on the issues that matter, and, inch by inch, it’s winning.

If you’re serious not only about reversing Brexit but also about:

• Investment in and renewal of the NHS
• Practical housing solutions including compassion and respect for the homeless
• Commitment to excellence and purpose in education
• Tackling climate change and keeping Britain green

Then vote for the professionals.

Vote Liberal Democrat.

This article was first published on David Jones' blog at https://www.waywelivenow.com/2018/02/21/spoiler-alert/

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