Shifting alliances that might swing the election | Letters

Readers respond to Nigel Farage’s decision to stand down Brexit party candidates in Tory-held seats, and the possibility of Labour joining a progressive anti-Brexit pact

Is this the new politics that Nigel Farage has been promising at successive elections: no consultation within the Brexit party before announcing the decision to stand down 317 candidates (Farage urged to give Tories free run at Labour seats, 12 November)? There are likely to be many unhappy prospective candidates and their teams of helpers who thought they were going to be part of Farage’s Brexit revolution and who should now be seeking refunds as the party is not fit for purpose. But spare a thought for longstanding supporters of the Tory party, already feeling alienated by their party’s continual tacking to the right, who can only speculate about the behind-the-scenes concessions that will have been offered to Farage (In the Tory heartlands of the commuter belt, remainers may revolt, Journal, 11 November). Perhaps this group of switchers will be prove critical in denying Johnson the majority he craves?
Les Bright
Exeter, Devon

• The promise of peerages, knighthoods and other “honours” have long been a key element of government weaponry, traditionally exercised with circumspection by whips in shadowy corners of the Palace of Westminster. But Brexit appears to have a driven coach and horses through discretion around Lords nominations, with the Conservatives apparently offering a peerage to Nigel Farage in advance of his Brexit party withdrawing candidates from Tory-held seats. This comes on the back of Theresa May’s resignation honours list, including a life peerage for a Labour MP who had consistently supported her Brexit deals. Where this leaves the House of Lords Appointments Commission, charged with vetting the propriety of all nominations, remains to be seen.
David Hinchliffe
Labour MP for Wakefield, 1987-2005

• Polly Toynbee makes the very timely and pertinent point that those opposed to Brexit need to present a united front at the election (Farage’s Brexit move means remainers’ pact is now urgent, Journal, 12 November). However, she needs to address her arguments to Labour. As long as Labour refuses point-blank to withdraw candidates in any constituency, a full remain pact is impossible. The Liberal Democrats, the Green party and Plaid Cymru have bitten the bullet and done deals in 60 constituencies. It is now entirely up to Labour. It is the key test of whether it is at heart a pro-Brexit party or not.
Michael Meadowcroft

• In exchange for standing down candidates, the Lib Dems should ask Labour for a manifesto commitment to electoral reform. It would be a win-win situation for progressive politics.
Robert Saunders
Balcombe, West Sussex

• Polly Toynbee’s optimism is as absurd as the Liberal Democrats’ posturing. We should not forget that the Lib Dem economic philosophy is cut from the same cloth as the Conservative version. How progressive is that? We should also remember that political liberals in Britain are just as fearful of socialism as are conservatives. This is as true of 21st-century Britain as it was of the Weimar republic in the early 1930s. How progressive was that?
Michael Bowers
Talgarth, Breconshire

• Polly Toynbee rightly urges an electoral pact between Greens, Lib Dems and Labour. But even without a formal agreement among progressives, Toynbee is correct to say “don’t believe anyone who claims to know which way the wind is blowing”. Chris Curtis of YouGov is spot-on: “Farage’s decision … will likely make very little difference”. Jeremy Corbyn is already using Farage’s shift to move the campaign narrative away from Brexit and on to Labour’s preferred ground of Tory austerity versus Labour hope. For the benefit of Tory remainers, Jo Swinson tweeted: “The Conservative party are the Brexit party now”. As Will Tanner of the centre-right thinktank Onward says: “It would be a mistake to say that this is a completely game-changing moment that means Boris is on course for a huge majority”.
Joe McCarthy

• This is a plea to voters in North Somerset, a safe Tory seat as the other parties never agree to putting up one anti-Tory candidate in election after election. This disenfranchises a large part of the electorate who wish to overturn years of neglect by successive Tory governments. We watch with horror the growing number of food banks, the homelessness in our cities, the overcrowding in our schools, the complete disregard for climate change and the stealthy privatisation of our NHS. Please put aside party politics and agree on one candidate who just might overturn the Tory majority. Otherwise we are probably in for a rightwing dictatorship under Johnson and a crash out of the EU will be the least of our troubles.
Maggie Malone
Pill, North Somerset

• Should Nigel Farage’s standing down of Brexit party candidates in favour of the Conservatives be viewed as a Brexit deal alliance or a Brexit no-deal alliance? Realistically it can’t be both. Nobody seriously believes that that an EU free trade deal could be negotiated within 12 months (or six months, given the July deadline for transition extension) and thus either Johnson will extend or there will be no deal at the end of 2020. The likely counter-argument to this is that “nobody thought he could get the deal he did”. That perhaps carries weight if interpreted as “nobody thought he would go back to the initial deal Theresa May had rejected and throw the DUP under the bus”, but raises the question as to who will be thrown under the bus this time. The only certainty is that some proportion of the British electorate will be – as this alliance is selling two mutually incompatible propositions.
Colin Garwood
Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire

• Join the debate – email

• Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit

• Do you have a photo you’d like to share with Guardian readers? Click here to upload it and we’ll publish the best submissions in the letters spread of our print edition


The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
The Guardian view on general election 2019: A fleeting chance to stop Boris Johnson in his tracks | Editorial
Editorial: The mood may be one of despair, but this election is critical to the country’s future. The best hope lies with Labour, despite its flaws


10, Dec, 2019 @7:13 PM

Article image
Cross-party cooperation to defeat the Tory right | Letters
Letters: Readers respond to Paul Mason’s call for a popular front electoral pact against the new Conservative government and its rush to Brexit


04, Aug, 2019 @4:42 PM

Article image
Election panics, polls and prophecies | Letters
Letters: Guardian readers respond to the news that Britain will once again take to the voting booths on 12 December


30, Oct, 2019 @6:20 PM

Article image
10 key marginal seats that may define the general election
Which battlegrounds political parties are preparing to contest in one of the most unpredictable elections in decades

Kate Proctor

03, Nov, 2019 @6:34 PM

Article image
General election: Party leaders cross country in final push for votes – as it happened
Labour and the Conservatives in scramble for votes on the final day of campaigning

Nadeem Badshah (now); Andrew Sparrow, Aamna Mohdin and Kate Lyons (earlier)

12, Dec, 2019 @12:07 AM

Article image
Farage’s Brexit move means a pact among progressives is now urgent | Polly Toynbee
He’s made a hard Brexit much more likely. Remainers have to work together, says Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee

Polly Toynbee

11, Nov, 2019 @6:54 PM

Article image
An election is on the cards. So what do the polls tell us? | Gideon Skinner
We know what the parties’ strengths and weaknesses are, but predicting what that means in terms of seats is difficult, says pollster Gideon Skinner

Gideon Skinner

04, Sep, 2019 @1:39 PM

Article image
Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn clash in ITV election debate over 'NHS for sale' claim – as it happened
Follow live as prime minister and Labour leader take part in first TV clash of the campaign

Andrew Sparrow (now); Haroon Siddique and Alison Rourke (earlier)

19, Nov, 2019 @11:19 PM

Article image
Question Time leaders special: Johnson challenged on trust, racism, austerity and the NHS – as it happened
Leaders of Labour, SNP, Lib Dems and Conservatives questioned by BBC audience

Andrew Sparrow (now); Mattha Busby, Matthew Weaver and Alison Rourke (earlier)

22, Nov, 2019 @10:58 PM

Article image
It’s Tory remainers – not Labour leavers – who are the real key to this election | Paula Surridge
A third of 2017 Conservative voters also voted remain. Will fear of Jeremy Corbyn keep them away from the Lib Dems? asks academic Paula Surridge

Paula Surridge

15, Nov, 2019 @4:03 PM