It’s hard to believe that it was only three months ago that the mainstream press gathered in London’s County Hall to watch the launch of The Independent Group, a group made up of seven defecting Labour MPs. Their core message was clear; both the main parties were unfit for power and were inherently looking backwards; they wanted to create a new way of politics, one that looks forward. Just a couple of days later they were joined by three Tory MPs from the moderate wing of the party; MPs who had simply had enough of their party’s handling of Brexit.
At that point, everything seemed to be falling into place. As the two main parties were continuing to be torn apart over how to leave the European Union, the Independent Group were gaining airtime in place of the missing Liberal Democrats, and even before officially registering as a political party were reaching double figures in Westminster polls. However, after a promising start, the newly formed party have now lost their way and a series of gaffes have seen them slide to averaging less than 4% in current polls.
The group which offered such hope to many (including myself) have now become the laughingstock of Westminster, and the party is dying before it even learned to walk. The party was mocked for its choice of name – the main gripe being there is actually a choice of names, it’s rather bleak looking logo and its campaign for this week’s European elections. As Stephen Bush highlights, the party needed to set up it’s campaigning arm quickly, and that speed encouraged gaffes.
The new party received more than 2,000 applications from supporters to stand for this week’s elections, and several candidates turned out to have rather controversial past opinions or tweets. Although they boasted many great candidates including Gavin Esler, former Polish prime minister Jan Vincent-Rostowski and journalist Rachel Johnson, revealing them all at once meant the names got lost in the news as opposed to the Brexit party who staggered out their ‘star’ names which included the sister of Jacob Rees-Mogg, and former shadow home secretary, Ann Widdecombe.