Independent Group/Change UK collapsed at the beginning of June (2019) five months after it began. Its demise was inevitable given its abject lack of vision and policies and its reluctance to work with other Remain supporting parties in the EU elections.
When Independent Group launched itself professional centrists danced with glee. Below are some of their comments made at the time.
Columnist Sonia Sodha in Guardian 18th February – “In today’s uncertain political climate, this small group of independents may well pick up a few MPs from the Tory ranks and have a greater impact on Brexit and British politics than one might expect from their numbers in the coming months.”
Columnist Katy Balls in Guardian 18th February – “As the Conservatives can keep any losses to a small handful of MPs then the creation of the Independent Group will be seen as a win for the Tories.”
Columnist Ian Dunt in Politics.co.uk 20th February – “It was meaningful, in a way that went far beyond the events of today and spoke to something far deeper in our national character. It stood against the poison of the age: the constant toxic tribalism that has infected our political debate. It wasn’t just that they sat together. This was a cultural moment as well as a political moment. The signs are positive. A YouGov poll for the Times today found extraordinary levels of support for the new group. It is perfectly realistic to imagine that within a month or two, they could have 30 or so MPs. Once they get past 35, they overtake the SNP as the third party and get a guaranteed place asking questions at PMQs. The moment is primed for something to truly shake up the way this country does politics. This could be it.”
BBC reporter Norman Smith 20th February – “Visuals matter and on that front methinks these guys r up and running.”
Columnist Gaby Hinsliff in Guardian 20th February – “I know as hacks we’re always claiming things are historic moments/tipping points/pivotal but this genuinely feels like one.”
Broadcaster Robert Peston 20th February – “Anna Soubry, Sarah Wollaston and Heidi Allen all big hitters. Significant loss to the Tories. These are remarkable days in British politics, both main parties fraying at the seams and at risk of total rupture. More Labour defections to come, and maybe quite a lot more.”
Columnist Jane Merrick in iNews 21st February – “This year, it is the turn of the centrists to get their own back: the disrupted have become the disrupters.”
Columnist Jonathan Friedland in Guardian 22nd February – “This grouping could benefit from its very vagueness, becoming a blank screen on which disenchanted voters, looking for something new, project their hopes.”
Columnist Matthew D’Ancona in Guardian 24th February – “The foundation of the 11-strong Independent Group of formerly Labour and Tory MPs has been so refreshing. They must continue to act with dignity in the face of seething social media fury – especially strong from some Corbynites, whose treatment of the escapees has been reminiscent of Scientology’s hounding of ‘suppressive persons’.”
Broadcaster Gavin Esler in The National 25th February – “TIG MPs have sent such a shock through Labour and the Conservatives that even the dimmest and most stubborn leaders might recognise they need to change course.”
University lecturer Richard Carr in Independent 26th February – “In under a week and a half the new Independent Group of MPs has changed the course of British politics. Luciana Berger, Mike Gapes, Chuka Umunna and others have shown that there is still an innately reasonable element within British politics.”
Related blog: Change UK: Soft conservatism