Next steps for the Radicals
On accidentally starting a political party
Anyone looking for evidence of how technology is transforming politics need only consider the one-day-old history of the Radicals. Yesterday evening I was browsing Twitter, depressed by the gaping void in British politics where a dynamic liberal force should be, and speculatively invited followers to email if they felt the same way. My friend Jon Worth offered to set up a web page and Twitter account to promote the exercise. All this was entirely independent from my role at The Economist.
The result was overwhelming and far beyond what I had expected. Thousands of people have indicated their interest, many offering to volunteer their time and skills to launch a possible new organisation. Rather prematurely, Ladbrokes are offering odds of 100/1 on the Radicals winning a seat at the next election.
This response is fantastically heartening. It proves that there are large, untapped reserves of support and skill on the liberal part of the British political spectrum. In the absence of responsible leadership from the Conservatives, effective opposition from Labour and a distinctive, compelling offer from the Liberal Democrats people are ready for something new. It is clear that there is a great opportunity here.
It is also clear from the — entirely unanticipated — scale of this unplanned experiment that taking this forward would not be compatible with my job as Berlin Bureau Chief for The Economist. But I do not want this remarkable network to go to waste. So having spoken to a number of supporters this morning I am arranging to hand it over to a committee in Britain that might, if it opts to do so, advance the Radicals to a next stage. Details of the committee will follow soon.
What this next stage could entail is not yet clear and will be up to the committee to decide. Perhaps the Radicals can collaborate or even merge with one of the several other nascent groups and proto-parties in this political space. Or perhaps this initiative, popular and prominent, is the one around which others should congregate. In any case it is clear that the initial goal of this exercise — to show that there is an appetite for such a party — has been met, and exceeded.