IN the last week, you may have noticed the new movement More United establishing itself as a real force on the UK’s political stage.
Inspired by the words of the late Batley & Spen MP Jo Cox, More United is a new political movement setting out to change not only the way politics is funded, but to get better MPs elected to Parliament.
First, the movement’s supporters voted overwhelmingly to support Sarah Olney, who just won the Richmond by-election, overturning Zac Goldsmith’s huge majority.
Second, it crowdfunded £100k from 3,000 people in just two days. That figure is now closer to £200,000. All of this money will go directly to supporting a new generation of more progressive politicians from across the country. We believe that by doing this, we’ll help better MPs to get elected, and change Parliament for the better.
More United is a first in Britain.
Unlike traditional politics, this movement isn’t concerned with party labels.
Instead, it draws on our fast-growing member base to crowdfund to support candidates from any party – so long as they stand by our progressive values.
I got involved with More United because I am tired of sitting back and watching while politics is being pulled to the extremes.
Whether it’s Donald Trump or or Ukip, the populist arguments and the language around the debate is, I believe, not representative of millions of moderate people in Britain.
By pledging to support candidates from across the spectrum, More United can transform politics so that Parliament is more representative of ordinary people.
Our political history has been so intensely party-focused that the idea of a party-neutral political force is one that we could only recently have imagined.
More United is bringing democracy to the digital age by allowing its members, across the country, the chance to vote online.
Our members come from all parties and backgrounds.
Many tell us they are turned off by party politics altogether.
But they are still intensely political.
They are worried about the direction the world is heading in and are alarmed by the post-truth, post-Trump political paradigm where nationalism is re-emerging as a dominant political force.
What they tell us they share is a belief in the values that make the UK great – opportunity, openness, tolerance, democracy and care for the environment.
As the far right becomes bolder and more powerful, More United is the place where the usually quiet, progressive majority are coming together to hold it back by creating something greater.
More United’s supporters voted to support Sarah Olney in the Richmond Park by-election, and many of them hit the doorsteps in Richmond having never campaigned for a political candidate before.
But they also share a desire for politics done differently.
Less selective fact-picking.
Less dog-whistle politics.
More constructive conversations.
More direct democracy.
And more of a focus on what unites us, rather than what divides us.
Which is why More United is not solely a ‘remainer’ movement.
If we’ve learned anything from Brexit, it’s that trading on divisions and denigrating people based on their beliefs around EU membership is exactly what we need to be working against.
There are plenty of people who voted for Brexit based on principles of democracy, who also believe that tolerance and diversity are a huge part of what makes Britain great.
The unity of people who share these values is what matters now.
Because together, we have a bigger challenge to face.
The far right is on the march, and as the world’s leadership lurches into nationalism, sitting back and hoping it will pass while blaming each other for its emergence is no longer an option.
For the majority of us who believe in openness, tolerance and fairness, we have to get up from our sofas and start to do something positive about it. That’s what More United is for.
Dan Snow is a historian, broadcaster and More United supporter. More details can be found at http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/more-united/