The TIG: a committee that will forever be in search of a purpose

Posted on

Everybody is talking about the TIG. The so-called Independent Group emerged this week. And I have already summarised my view of its economics, which I very strongly suspect will never change, which is why I will never have much time for it. But what is its significance?

I have struggled with this question. The best answer I can come up with is that it is an indication of frustration. And, maybe of self-incrimination by those involved that they cannot yet come to terms with.

The scale of frustration at the state of UK politics is, I suspect, unprecedented. The failure of the UK’s two largest political parties to provide anything close to leadership over Brexit overwhelms all other concerns. The result is alienation at unprecedented scales, that cannot but have political, economic, social and further constitutional consequence in due course. The TIG just typifies that.

What do I mean? Simply that I think the MPs involved have simply walked away. I know there are other concerns, and Luciana Berger has a special and apparently well-justified concern. But I do not think that this would have happened but for Brexit, so I believe it fair to consider it the unifying element.

Now, it so happens that I share a desire with the TIG to stay in the EU. I think it rational to do so, I know those who disagree. But since this does not make me a supporter of the TIG this cannot be sufficient reason for its creation. So what is that?

And this is where any discussion stumbles, because answers are hard to find. Can it really be that the TIG is about glorifying the politics of 2010-15 as Anna Soubry and Chris Leslie both imply with their barking back to the halcyon days of austerity from Cameron, Osborne and Clegg, feebly opposed by Ed Miliband? Surely not? 

But what then? And the answer is apparently absent. It is simply about managerial politics. That is the argument that ‘the world would be better if people like us were in charge’. For too long this is what the people of the UK have bought.

As I have already argued this morning this may still be true for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, but in each of these cases ‘people like us’ will now mean politicians from those places, and not England. But for England, long the home of the middle manager who can only function well in a system made by committee that removes all chance of flair being displayed, what does this now mean? 

The answer is the doldrums. And the TIG is evidence. For all those involved the reason for leaving is that the committee of which they are a part has ignored them for too long. There is no evidence they have an alternative plan. They’re just bored with being ignored.

And why the remorse that I also suggest exists, with which they need to come to terms or fail? That is the sense each must have when the initial euphoria of liberation passes (as it will) that they have been wasting their time. 

This they will only appreciate when they have to say what they are about. And I simply don’t think they know that. There is no sense of purpose amongst them.

I thoroughly dislike the ERG. I do not think Corbyn’s old style socialism has the answers needed to deliver the changes we need that are best described as a Green New Deal. But both at least have principles and ideas, even if they are misplaced. But the TIG? That has nothing to offer at all. They are a new committee, but one that will forever be in search of a purpose. That is what will drive the members’ remorse when they look back on their past political careers in time to come when they have ceased to hold any political office.

The UK needs massive political transformation. It has to be principles-based. It has to answer real need. It has to be sufficiently pragmatic to take people with it. And the narrative has to be compelling.

What is very apparent is that in England right now the major parties (including the LibDems and the TIG) cannot provide this.

Maybe no one can without electoral reform. 

But whatever the answer is, it will have to be green. There is now no other way. Every other party is simply going to fringe that green to provide emphasis. The narrative of saving the planet will have to prevail for all. That is the paradigm shift that has to come. And the TIG is nowhere near appreciating it, which is why it is irrelevant.