Archive for the 'The Independent Group' Category


Since TIG was formed the Tories have enjoyed leads of between 4% and 11% in the standard voting intention polls

Friday, March 15th, 2019

Assessing the impact new group after its first month

It is now almost a month since Chuka Umunna and others made their much publicised departure from LAB joining the new the Independent Group. The Wikipedia table above shows that’s happened in the standard voting polls since.

These are separate from the surveys where there has been a special prompt for the new grouping which has produced some quite dramatic outcomes. In many ways responses have been dependent on the format of the question that it is put in the online surveys.

In the standard polls the interesting column in the table is the “others” one. This is where you would assume those who planned to vote for the Independent group at the next election would make their choice. As can be seen the “others” figure has not been unusually inflated with the exception of the two YouGov polls where Nigel Farage’s new Brexit party has been included in the prompts.

TIG is not yet a political party and we really have no idea how it sees itself developing. But we have one and possibly two sets of major elections coming up in the next few weeks and the question is whether TIG will seek to put up candidates.

If it was following the SDP model of the early 1980s it would be flooding the local elections and picking up seats and certainly participating in the Euros if those in fact take place.

A problem about TIG not being an official party is that it makes it harder to participate in elections. Certainly independent group candidates could stand but there would be no logo attached alongside the candidate’s name as you would see in relation to other parties.

We’ve also had Tom Watson’s new grouping within LAB which might have had an impact in stemming the flow of defectors though what Watson’s objectives are in the long-term we do not know.

Chuka and his colleagues need to decide pretty quickly what they are trying to do to avoid just being a historical footnote.

Mike Smithson


The seven’s great strength is that they’ve not tried to be too ambitious

Tuesday, February 19th, 2019

The Independent Group is a vehicle designed for flexibility

In March 1981 I was working at BBC News on the day of the famous Limehouse declaration which saw the launch of the SDP, the last big break away from the Labour Party. This was a massive development which until yesterday shaped our views of what a breakaway should look like.

What Chuka and the other six MPs did yesterday was so different to 1981 because they weren’t creating a new party. The group they’ve designed has one initial purpose and that was to be a vehicle for them to leave Labour and provide a means for others to follow from the Tories and other parties.

This meant that they did not have to have a policy platform and go through all the machinations that would have been involved in the creation of a new party. The group might well at some stage lead to that but politics is in such a flux at the moment that it was wise not to be too rigid in what they created.

This also helped with the required secrecy in the days leading up to yesterday. There was knowledge that a number of Labour MPs and some Tory ones weren’t comfortable with where the two old parties are at the moment but there was little idea what would be announced yesterday morning. This made it harder for continuity Labour to attack them and the media focus has been on the departure alone.

    Having a new party would have given Labour something specific to attack and undermine from day one. Instead the focus has been on the state of Corbyn’s Labour.

The idea that has been floated many times of a grand body of rebels from the Conservatives and Labour joining with the Lib Dems and the Greens and so on might still happen but it needs to develop organically and will be very influenced by events.

So it is entirely feasible for those Conservatives who feel under pressure to join the Chuka group without taking on board a preordained policy platform.

My guess is that the group will want to go on making the headlines and that some Tory MPs will join quite soon each development getting more coverage.

Mike Smithson