Tuesday 16th May - Speaking to a packed-out rally in London, at the Progressive Alliance Launch event last night, Progressive Alliance champion Clive Lewis called on progressive voters to unite in the spirit of the post-war Labour and Liberal partnership to offer the country a bigger, better future.
Lewis, the Labour candidate for Norwich South and a former infantry officer who served a tour of duty in Afghanistan, told nearly 1,000 attendees in London:
“The Labour Party at its birth and during its strongest influential era has always been a progressive alliance.
Lewis invokes post-war spirit to thwart the Tories
“When we lionise the great reforming government of Clement Atlee, let us never forget the great pillars of that government were built on the intellectual works of William Beveridge and John Maynard Keynes.”
Speaking about the prospects for future collaboration between progressive forces, Lewis added:
“We need a vision that will genuinely transform the direction of our country and build relationships with other nations in a meaningful way but also a vision which understands that peace, real security and real democracy are always built on the foundation stones of justice and mutual respect.”
Sophie Walker of the Women's Equality Party, echoed Lewis:
“The hardest job in politics is stepping out of the trenches into no man’s land and to find common cause.”
Representatives of many other progressive stripes were present – Naomi Smith (Liberal Democrats); Siân Berry and Jonathan Bartley (Greens); along with journalists Paul Mason and Zoe Williams of the Guardian. Sirio Canos (Podemos) also attended and Yanis Varoufakis (formerly Syriza) made a special appearance via video, demonstrating the international relevance of the Progressive Alliance.
Claire Sandberg, a senior staffer to the Bernie Sanders for President campaign and an advisor to the Progressive Alliance, finished proceedings by placing UK developments in an international context. She said:
“We’ve seen over and over again the same old establishment politics cannot be the force that defeats the politics of hatred and fear. The only thing that can defeat it is a progressive alternative that can unite people to change things and make their lives better.
“We’re not here because it’s easy but because it’s necessary. We’re here to make progressive collaboration possible.”
Over the next week, Sandberg and the Progressive Alliance are organising half a dozen 'Barnstorm' events, an innovation from the Bernie campaign, focused in and around marginal constituencies. She explained:
“On the Bernie campaign we realised... we had to just jump in, get everyone together in a room and get them organised from just one event
“We trialled this in Brighton and Lewes with more than half the attendees at each one committing to organising door-knocking sessions in their constituency and we’re now going to be Barnstorming across the country.”
We had a fantastic launch event last night, with people from across the political spectrum coming together to create the change we want to see. As Clive Lewis told us:
“The future is not inevitable, the future is what we collectively make it. We have fought and overcome bigger obstacles in our history. But we are only strong when we stand together and offer a vision that says we stand for something bigger, something bolder, something better.”