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Vince Cable just hit on the truth about a progressive alliance

The Lib Dem grandee was recorded speaking in West London in favour of the Labour candidate. 

Lib Dem grandee Vince Cable has been caught on tape sharing such scandalous information that the Conservatives have felt honour-bound to release it to the general public.

In the "secret tapes", Cable refers to Labour's Rupa Huq, who is defending her marginal seat of Ealing Central and Acton (for those millennials out there, she is also known as Konnie Huq's big sister). 

Cable, who is fighting to regain his former seat in Twickenham, lets slip that he gave Huq a lift home after a TV appearance and they "talked for a couple of hours". The former Coalition Business secretary then drops the bombshell: "It was very clear that on almost every issue our views were almost identical." He urges "our people around the country" to "think and act in a constructive way". 

Yes! Cable appears to be instructing voters to consider choosing someone who shares similar views to him, but has - for some reason or other - not ended up in the same political party. The European voter, used to proportional representation, may consider this a reasonable proposition, but they are wrong. Never mind that the Conservatives received 42.7 per cent of the Ealing Central and Acton vote in 2015, and the Lib Dems received a miserably 6.1 per cent. Never mind that neither Labour or the Lib Dems look likely to come close to winning "the Brexit election". Never mind that Theresa May's mandate so far seems to be "crush the saboteurs" aka the already disorganised and hapless opposition. Cable seems to be suggesting that the Lib Dems will not become the largest party in June, and that is a scandal. 

In fact, what I'll call "likeminded alliances" are already happening on the ground. The Lib Dems are standing down in Brighton Pavilion in return for the Greens standing down in Kemptown. The Greens are standing down for Huq. Open Britain, a campaign against hard Brexit, has offered Remain voters advice on tactical voting. An anti-progressive alliance is also taking shape - Ukip is considering not standing in seats occupied by pro-Brexit Tories

The problem for progressives is that what might seem perfectly agreeable on a long drive home from a TV studio cannot be rolled out in the country as a whole. London's Labour clan may consider an alliance with the Scottish National Party handy, but Scottish Labour bokes at the thought. And this isn't some kind of ideological puzzle that can be brushed aside - it's because the independence question has divided families and communities in a way it doesn't 400 miles south. Lib Dem and Labour voters may gather round the South West London dinner tables and bemoan Brexit together, but many Labour incumbents have to appeal to constituents who voted Leave.

You can argue, as Neal Lawson does, that Labour progressives should stop indulging the party's awkward squad and team up. But thanks to the fractures of two referendums, such an alliance will struggle to be intellectually coherent, at least if its supporters want to see the continuation of the UK. And, if the 2015 general election taught us anything, it's that voters are very quick to judge the compromises of coalition. The Tories are already talking up "a coalition of chaos".

So this is the real truth revealed by the Cable tapes. Progressive alliances may be local, opportunistic deals that can expire as soon as the political winds change. They may be MPs working across party lines on issues they can all agree on, like Brexit or welfare cuts. But invest too much ideological significance in these truces, or suggest that there is a lesson for the future, and you destroy the whole project. So keep it hush hush. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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Our union backed Brexit, but that doesn't mean scrapping freedom of movement

We can only improve the lives of our members, like those planning stike action at McDonalds, through solidarity.

The campaign to defend and extend free movement – highlighted by the launch of the Labour Campaign for Free Movement this month – is being seen in some circles as a back door strategy to re-run the EU referendum. If that was truly the case, then I don't think Unions like mine (the BFAWU) would be involved, especially as we campaigned to leave the EU ourselves.

In stark contrast to the rhetoric used by many sections of the Leave campaign, our argument wasn’t driven by fear and paranoia about migrant workers. A good number of the BFAWU’s membership is made up of workers not just from the EU, but from all corners of the world. They make a positive contribution to the industry that we represent. These people make a far larger and important contribution to our society and our communities than the wealthy Brexiteers, who sought to do nothing other than de-humanise them, cheered along by a rabid, right-wing press. 

Those who are calling for end to freedom of movement fail to realise that it’s people, rather than land and borders that makes the world we live in. Division works only in the interest of those that want to hold power, control, influence and wealth. Unfortunately, despite a rich history in terms of where division leads us, a good chunk of the UK population still falls for it. We believe that those who live and work here or in other countries should have their skills recognised and enjoy the same rights as those born in that country, including the democratic right to vote. 

Workers born outside of the UK contribute more than £328 million to the UK economy every day. Our NHS depends on their labour in order to keep it running; the leisure and hospitality industries depend on them in order to function; the food industry (including farming to a degree) is often propped up by their work.

The real architects of our misery and hardship reside in Westminster. It is they who introduced legislation designed to allow bosses to act with impunity and pay poverty wages. The only way we can really improve our lives is not as some would have you believe, by blaming other poor workers from other countries, it is through standing together in solidarity. By organising and combining that we become stronger as our fabulous members are showing through their decision to ballot for strike action in McDonalds.

Our members in McDonalds are both born in the UK and outside the UK, and where the bosses have separated groups of workers by pitting certain nationalities against each other, the workers organised have stood together and fought to win change for all, even organising themed social events to welcome each other in the face of the bosses ‘attempts to create divisions in the workplace.

Our union has held the long term view that we should have a planned economy with an ability to own and control the means of production. Our members saw the EU as a gravy train, working in the interests of wealthy elites and industrial scale tax avoidance. They felt that leaving the EU would give the UK the best opportunity to renationalise our key industries and begin a programme of manufacturing on a scale that would allow us to be self-sufficient and independent while enjoying solid trading relationships with other countries. Obviously, a key component in terms of facilitating this is continued freedom of movement.

Many of our members come from communities that voted to leave the EU. They are a reflection of real life that the movers and shakers in both the Leave and Remain campaigns took for granted. We weren’t surprised by the outcome of the EU referendum; after decades of politicians heaping blame on the EU for everything from the shape of fruit to personal hardship, what else could we possibly expect? However, we cannot allow migrant labour to remain as a political football to give succour to the prejudices of the uninformed. Given the same rights and freedoms as UK citizens, foreign workers have the ability to ensure that the UK actually makes a success of Brexit, one that benefits the many, rather than the few.

Ian Hodon is President of the Bakers and Allied Food Workers Union and founding signatory of the Labour Campaign for Free Movement.