The case for pluralism

This is a difficult time to explore and advocate pluralism. Voting intentions are very volatile, and it is hard to draw definitive conclusions about the attitudes of supporters of different parties.

Current views amongst voters are undoubtedly coloured by the disastrous performance of the Coalition government which may well tarnish the idea that cross-party working is an unalloyed ‘good thing’. It is hard to argue with the Labour Party’s national critique of the Lib Dems that they promised to change the Tory-led Coalition but have failed in any real way to do so. Nick Clegg’s ‘apology’ for breaking his promises speaks volumes about the current leadership of the Lib Dems.

But tittle-tattle about whether this or that Lib Dem minister may be closer to Labour is a distraction. Pluralism is first and foremost about the views of voters, rather than the tactics of political parties and their leaders. Progressive pluralists want to see the progressive views of voters reflected in the actions of the political parties and so increase the likelihood of political change.

John Denham MP, who led the Labour Yes Campaign:

‘Support for progressive values and policies is not restricted to a single political party, as shown by our new analysis of polling data. A real desire to see progressive change means working with supporters of other political parties.’

‘Pluralism is simply a commitment to work with others, including members and supporters of other political parties if that increases our chances of achieving progressive change. While Labour values are most strongly supported by Labour voters, many supporters of other parties also share some of our values. No party today speaks exclusively for progressive opinion; none will do so in the future.

‘Progressive LibDem voters have been let down by their party; that’s just one reason why Labour for Democracy believes Labour can and should achieve an outright victory at the next election. But it’s also true that some in Labour have opposed Lords reform and electoral reform and other policies simply because LibDems supported them or because the LibDems might benefit.

‘A tribal, sectarian approach to other parties and their supporters will weaken the chance of progressive change at all. Pluralism is not about coalitions, electoral pacts or even electoral reform, but a willingness to put making a difference above narrow party politics.

A willingness to work with others will make progress more likely and do Labour’s electoral chances no harm’.

Paul Blomfield, Chair of Labour for Democracy:

‘All Labour members will work hard for every Labour vote. But whether we win the outright majority we seek, or end up with a hung Parliament, the change Britain needs will require the support of all who share our key values. Existing structures encourage tribalism, but Labour’s history has often been of working with others for progressive goals – in trades unions, community organisations, solidarity movements and defending the environment. Some of the changes we are proudest to claim – the NHS, the welfare state and devolution – would not have happened without the support of people outside the Labour movement. At a time when old allegiances to political parties are breaking down, yet organisations like 38 degrees are mobilising active and effective  support, we need that approach more than ever.’

2 thoughts on “The case for pluralism

  1. I believe that the main area in which our current political system lets us down is that of looking towards, planning for and committing to long term projects. Our politicians and their parties seem to be incapable of looking beyond their term of office and avoid entanglement in discussions on or taking sides on issues which do not bring them an immediate return. One sees the consequences of this when one visits other countries. Pluralism, I feel could certainly help to address this problem.

  2. I am interested in Labour For Democracy but it seems rather dissapointing in all honesty. Labour should seek to build a wide alliance with those who share Labour values but a Lib Dem-sympathising wing of the Labour Party is not the way forward. We need to be reaching out to Lib Dem voters, Green voters and Conservative voters not trying to flirt with their respective political parties. We should be convincing Lib Dem politicians to defect to us, not trying to prepare a Coalition in 2015.

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