A "progressive alliance" of the centre-left parties (Labour, Liberal Democrats, Greens, maybe some Nationalists) to defeat the Tories is flavour of the month amongst many political columnists, (see, for example, here) though less so among the loyalists of all these parties. One of the major obstacles to a formal alliance is a clause in the constitution of the Labour Party which insists that their party must (must) field a candidate in every parliamentary constituency in every election.
The reasoning behind that is perfectly logical. Labour purists believe that they are fighting a class "war" for the workers against the capitalists. This belief may be backed up by adherence to the teachings of Karl Marx and the inevitability of the success of the proletariat, or, les pedantically, the Fabians, or Social Democrats such as Anthony Crossland in "The Future of Socialism." Theirs is a "cause" which must be fought for in every corner of the land.
With equal fervour the Greens believe, quite rightly, that life on the planet is endangered if we carry on behaving as we are, so their cause must be prosecuted in every corner of the world. We Liberals believe that Liberal Democracy itself, the battle to achieve the greatest possible measure of individual freedom compatible with the freedom of others, is on the back foot (as in the US, UK, Hungary, Russia and China, to name but some) and needs vigorous protection where it exists and proselytation where it doesn't.
Although neither the Greens nor the Liberal Democrats have clauses in their constitutions demanding that they fight every seat, where groups of dedicated loyalists exist they are reluctant to stand aside. So the Tories, lacking any fundamental beliefs other than that they are the best rulers (and some believing that they are actually born to rule) grab, under our primitive electoral system, the reins of power more often than not in spite of their minority status.
Fortunately, although a formal progressive alliance is for the moment not on the table, there are increasing signs, highly visible in the recent by-elections, that the parties least able to challenge the Tories, are wiling to to run low key campaigns and give the main challenger an almost free hand (as in Wakefield, for Labour, and Tiverton and Honiton for the Liberal Democrats)
However these are by-elections: they may shake the government but will not change it. So habitual Tories are more likely to "lend " their votes to the challenging party, or deliberately stay at home.
The big question is, will this "flexibility" extend to a General Eection, when there is the possibility of changing the party in power.
Fortunately, there are signs that it might.
An article by Paul Mason in this week's "The New European" appears under the headline "Only a progressive alliance can rid us of these morally bankrupt liars" and concludes:
"Even an informal electoral pact could wipe the Tories out for a generation. A short parliament, delivering PR and re-entry into the single market without any recourse to referendums, could be followed by the first general election in which everybody's vote counts."
This is important becasue Mr Mason is not just a journalist nor an academic philosopher in an ivory tower such as A C Grayling, but a left-wing Labour candidate.
An article in last Friday's Guardian (1st July) which discusses accusations that Sir Keir Starmer is operating a purge against left-wing candidates, claims that his defenders point to:
". . .the longlisting of avowedly left wing commentator Paul Mason for Stretford and Urmston in Greater Manchester, as proof candidates from that wing of the party are not all being vetoed."
Assuming it's the same Paul Mason, bring it on.