The Independent Group is shaking up British politics

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I remember a conversation with a friend over Christmas. He repeatedly stated that, like many, he felt British politics was broken and proceeded to ramble on about the need for something new to help mend the division in British politics.

So, when I heard that 7 Labour MPs and 3 Conservative MPs had split from their party to form of The Independent Group (TIG), I thought this could be what we needed to save us from our damaged politics.

But as I read up on TIG, I was left wondering a pretty important question, what exactly are their politics?

I know what they are against; all MPs who broke away from their party seem to oppose Brexit. The Conservatives who left have cited their party’s shift further right and the former Labour MPs were also unhappy with how anti-Semitism within the party had been handled.

The group is set for talks with the Electoral Commission to discuss what they can do in order to register as an official party by the end of the year.

They have been branded a new centrist party who are vehemently opposed to Brexit, which just sounds like another Liberal Democrats. Yet they have found popularity with a portion of the British public.

Last week, an Opinium poll found that 5% of respondents said that if there was a general election tomorrow, then they would vote for TIG.

In the same poll, 7% said they would vote for the Liberal Democrats, and here lies my issue.

Anna Soubry and Chuka Umunna leave the group’s first meeting in London. Credit: The Guardian

I have seen nothing to suggest that this party is any different to the Lib Dems. As far as I can tell, they seem to be both from the same ideological group but TIG are gaining momentum within British politics.

Sir Vince Cable, leader of the Lib Dems, stated in a Financial Times interview that it would be “very damaging” for two centrist parties to compete in the same electoral space and “we are looking at joining with them, rather than joining them.”

Former Lib Dem leader Tim Farron even stated in an interview that it was “entirely possible” that the two could merge to form a new centrist party.

But the New Statesman reported that senior TIG sources have ruled out an electoral pact and their growing popularity will have Lib Dems worried.

I am genuinely intrigued to find out TIG’s policies when they come out with them and compare them to the Liberal Democrats’ but even if they are similar, TIG are the ones making all the headlines.

TIG has also hit Labour hard.

The exodus of Labour MPs seems to have woken the party’s senior figures to the real turmoil they are in and have made a real impact on the power dynamics within the party. Tom Watson, the deputy leader, went on The Andrew Marr show and challenged Corbyn to deal with what to address what he called “a crisis for the soul of the Labour party” or risk many more Labour MPs defecting to TIG.

Sir Vince Cable believes the Lib Dems and the Independent Group need to work together. Credit: New Statesman

7 Labour MPs leaving the party also seems to have forced Corbyn to back calls for a second referendum, something he clearly does not want himself. It appears to have been the only thing he could do to appease a large portion within his party, in a desperate attempt to make them stay.

I think in the long-term this could do Labour good. We’ve heard that Labour is in a crisis for a long time but now it feels that they are actually facing up to it.

Contemporary politics is ever-changing and increasingly unpredictable. For all I know TIG could fade away as quickly as they appeared. There is undoubtedly going to be teething problems as they all try to align their different ideologies to form their policies.

The repeated phrase their members keep using, “Politics is broken. Let’s change it”, may be extremely cheesy but I guess I give them credit for actually wanting to bring about change.

I think the formation of TIG demonstrates that politicians are also fed up of the state of British politics.

The cynic in me says that they are doing this for publicity, but maybe publicity is exactly what they need to bring about the change they talk of.

They believe that the system is broken and that they can be the ones to change it, but I’m yet to be convinced that they can bring about genuine improvement.

They’ve seen things within their respective parties that they disagree with, and have been willing to do something about out, but I’m holding out anything resembling real praise until they actually reveal their politics.

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