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The Independent Group will only succeed if PR is their central policy

5 30 292
20.02.2019

Optimism isn’t just a state of mind. It’s a political choice – one we all need to take. The animating ideal of progressive politics and equality movements is the belief in the possibility of a better future. So I observe the new and swelling Independent Group of MPs with curiosity, sympathy and a good deal of scepticism. I understand that eight Labour MPs felt they could not remain in their old party. I am not at all surprised to see three moderate female MPs defect from the Conservative party this morning to join their ranks. I do not underestimate the emotional toll of such decisions.

Luciana Berger has shown extraordinary fortitude in the face of relentless abuse; anyone who still doubts the reality of Labour’s problem with antisemitism needs look no further than a tweet from her former colleague Ruth George, the MP for High Peak, suggesting that the state of Israel might be among the backers of the new group (something she has since withdrawn). Anna Soubry’s efforts to steer the Conservatives away from the self-inflicted disaster of Brexit have earned her death threats. No wonder that in every statement given by these MPs, one phrase recurs: politics is broken.

This is a reality I articulated in 2015, when I co-founded the Women’s Equality party (WE). Since then, WE have marched in protests up and down the country with the slogan “Politics is broken” across our placards. But the other side of those placards reads “Reclaim politics”. WE had a vision for transforming our economy and our society. As yet, I cannot see any hint of such a transformative vision in the ranks of the Independent Group.

For a start, real change requires........

© The Guardian