Spring the Party

It would be wrong to say I’ve been quiet these last days. It would be fair to say I’ve been less noisy. Alongside the Dublin case, I’ve been working on this: Spring The Party.

I’m very lucky. I have some great friends in the music and creative industries. Serious people. “It’s a wonderful idea,” they said, “but completely impossible to execute in the available time.”

I have at last, with great reluctance, accepted they were right. And I will not be standing. It was impossible to stage the festival in the available timescale and without it there was no reason to stand.  I publish the short paper only in the hope there might be something to take forward after the General Election.

But here it is. If you’re one of those people who look at your country through the windscreen rather than the rear view mirror I hope it might spark some thinking about where we go now. Might there be something to take forward after the General Election?

Please do add your comments. Is there anything we might take forward?

[The above section edited for additional clarity. The Spring the Party paper remains unchanged].


Spring The Party
A new start. A brighter future.

Spring The Party is… A party to celebrate who we are. The most unconventional election campaign in political history. And the launch of a new political Party.

A party to celebrate who we are

The mood for progressives is sour. The election will feel unending. The result, inevitable. The outcome, depressing. And the alternatives, uninspiring.

But there is a profound yearning for an alternative, for optimism, and hope.

So we throw a party. A joyous, optimistic thing. Not political. Celebrating unity. 28 days long, each day ‘hosted’ (food, drink costume) by one of the member states. We have bands, and comedians, and writers, and thinkers, and artists, and designers.

And to deliver focus, and urgency, and to frame the contrast with the nation at large, and to make the party a national event, we stand a candidate (Jo Maugham QC) in Maidenhead against Theresa May. Jo has a good national media profile as a campaigner against tax avoidance and on Brexit.

And the national media will be monotone – and desperate for colour. And this, we will provide.

The most unconventional election campaign in our political history

Theresa May has an enormous majority. And is a relatively popular local MP. Nationally she is divisive. And Maidenhead voted overwhelmingly to Remain.

Labour is non-existent in the seat. And it is not being targeted by the LibDems. For an independent, without a local infrastructure, the seat is in practice unwinnable.


There are local pro-Remain groups. The seat has great symbolic value. And – most importantly – if we can inspire people with our celebration they will come again. They will come early, tomorrow. And knock on residents’ doors, and smile, and talk.

The launch of a new political party

The celebration will lay the foundations for a new political party. The strength of those foundations are our metric of success. We will collect members. We will build a brand. And we will raise funding.

Spring. A new start. A brighter future.

Spring is a party of the radical centre. Solutions for the world today and tomorrow. Not yesterday.

Honest: We will restore trust in our politics. We will not wheedle and lie to the electorate. We will tell people how it is and how we will fix it.

Fair: All must have the chance to prosper – working and middle class, men and women, black and white, gay, straight, able and disabled.

Progressive: For too long our politicians have kicked the can down the road. On the environment, on the NHS, on housing, on social care, on industry, on jobs. We will confront these problems, not ignore them. And we will solve the problems not their political cost.

And we already have policies to deliver these values.

And there is opportunity.

Like Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty, Labour’s left and moderates are bent on one another’s destruction. No one knows what the Lib Dems are for – other than the Lib Dems. And we vote for the Tories reluctantly, lacking an alternative.

It hardly needs saying that it is difficult for a new political party to succeed. But there are many ways to gain and wield political power. And the political landscape after the general election will prove the demand.

How does the story unfold?

Step One: Jolyon announces to The Maidenhead Advertiser that he’s standing. It filters out to the National Press. The website goes up, with a short biog, a teaser, a ‘register’ button and a ‘donate’ button.

Step Two: We announce the festival and some acts.

Step Three: We begin to release policies.

What next

There is a lot to do. But. If you build it, they will come.


26 thoughts on “Spring the Party

  1. I applaud all efforts to make ‘voting-for’ something a joyous event.
    As I nurse a notion of my own [Centred v much on ‘Remaining in the EU] – I’ll leave it there for the moment.

    Something ‘must; be done.

  2. This is precisely what the country needs. It’s imperative. All power to you Jo.

  3. Superb idea, do it.

  4. This is confusing. You are not standing? Someone should. Imagine how distracted she would be…

  5. Your policy – don’t look back, look forward with optimism to a partnership with the whole world – is exactly Theresa May’s policy!
    To seek to remain in the EU would be looking in the rear view mirror, not forward through the windscreen.

  6. I hope you still go through with this but you need to start planning it now for the next election, you’ll be needed than ever then. I also have a sneaky feeling the next parliament won’t last 5 years. Good luck and I’ll support you any way I can.

  7. As per Kevin above, this is confusing Jo! Are you standing…or abandoning the idea…or just abandoning the ’28 day party’ idea? (Oh, and see too this from Richard Murphy – http://www.progressivepulse.org – more Parties in the offing I reckon…time for an alliance?!)

  8. I’m not sure how much more clear I can be than this: “I have at last, with great reluctance, accepted they were right. And I will not be standing. It was impossible to stage the festival in the available timescale and without it there was no reason to stand.”

  9. Brilliant idea. Shame there was not enough time.
    Please continue for the future.
    Agree with poster above – someone should stand against T May.

  10. A great pity Jolyon because no-one seems to be challenging May in her own back yard. Maybe you can prepare for the next time round. Meanwhile, as George Monbiot says in today’s Guardian, it is time to hold ones nose (if necessary) and vote Labour. At least this would guarantee EU citizens security rather than May’s disgraceful ethnic cleansing threat.

  11. I love the idea of a political party that would actually focus on the real issues, like Housing. And I think people will be looking at a way of making their voices heard when (we assume) there is a big Conservative majority. What might work is an organisation which has a list of values and policies and then measures the government’s actions against them? There would then be a specific plan of action on opposing them if they do not match. For instance, on new grammar schools, clearly these would not match your values (assuming you will have an evidence based education policy) but instead of just saying how bad they are your organisation would go through the legislation with a fine toothcomb and come up with a specific plan of how we could fight them. And the same on other issues. This is of course the way that single issue campaigning organisations work but I’m not sure anyone’s tried to do it on a broader scale. So someone joins your organisation with a vague idea that they want ” a better Britain” and finds a list of specific actions which they can take IMMEDIATELY on various issues and a means of contributing ideas for future actions.

    Hope this makes sense – I don’t want to go on and on in case the idea itself is a waste of time!!

  12. Please reconsider. Please do it. I know it’s impossible but what’s the point in doing the possible? Impossible is
    – defeating the Luftwaffe with a few dozen Spitfires,
    – Leicester City winning the league,
    – feeding 5,000 people with a couple of loaves and a few fish.
    You cannot know how big a wave you will cause unless you drop the pebble in the pond. You might start a tsunami. OK, you might not, but you might.
    Please risk going to your grave regretting what you did rather than regretting what you didn’t do.
    Please do it. For all of us, just do it.

  13. So pleased you’re still keeping at it, but I don’t understand why you can’t stand as a candidate just because your party ideas won’t work. A candidate with a reasonable chance of knocking Cruella off her perch is a wonderful thought. The poor old Labour Party, god rest it, has lost the plot completely, so we badly need someone to fight for Remain.

  14. As with most of the comments above, although time is against you this time round, I believe you should consider starting “Spring” as soon as possible after the election so as to give yourself time to build up support and earn a prominent voice; my children need you.
    In the meantime, thanks for being a voice of sanity amid the cacophony of crap (sorry Lynton) to which we are subjected on a daily. if not hourly, basis.

  15. Whatever else you think of Liberal Democrat policies, on Brexit they stand for Remaining in the EU with the referendum on the terms as the preferred method for obtaining the democratic decision to do so.
    I hope that anyone who is thinking of setting up a new party or standing as an independent on a Remain platform in this election thinks carefully about the hazards of splitting the vote.
    Until we have proportional representation, having multiple Remain parties just makes Brexit more likely.

  16. The answer to that conundrum Michael would be for would-be LibDem voters to vote for the ‘Remain’ candidate.
    If for no other reason than the futility of thinking there would be any truth-telling in this imagined Ref2.
    Brexit is not so much about the EU in any case:Both May and Corbyn see Party-Political advantage in a 2-Party State. Neither will forgo the hold they think they have on power.
    Why can’t the LibDems stand on a ‘Remain’ platform, that’s the puzzle for me.

  17. Jolyon please reconsider. May must not be allowed to hold Maidenhead unchallenged.
    Maidenhead 2015 Election results: Turnout 72%
    Green Party 1915
    UK Independent Party (UKIP) 4539
    Liberal Democrats 5337
    May Theresa Mary 35453
    Labour Party 6394
    Greens + LibDem + Labour add up to almost 13,000 votes. 35,453 – 13,000 = 22,453 . If combined in a single Remain candidate, he/she would need to swing 12,000 of the 2015 votes from May to win. That’s 32% of her 2015 vote. It’s possible. The 72% tune out means there are another 14,000 voters.
    The parties must get together behind one Remain candidate in Maidenhead. If you aren’t going to stand, who else?

  18. With respect, I think you can do it. It will be difficult, but not impossible. Think Martin Bell in Tatton. Do you have a white suit? I think you would do well, and that sort of upset would be ground-breaking.
    I hope you change your mind.
    (I live in a proper marginal, usually Conservative, but Labour as recently as 2005 with also a deep Lib Dem streak; a strong Remain vote with a committed and so vulnerable Leave Tory MP. The only question is to work out which progressive candidate stands the better chance…)

  19. Pingback: Tax QC turned Brexpert Jo Maugham vows to stand against Theresa May in general election and throw 28-day party 'hosted' in every EU country - Legal Cheek

  20. Sounds a great idea. It’s what this country needs. Any chance of a candidate for Sleaford & North Hykeham. Our MP got elected last November in a bi election, then immediately walked out, not even making a speech, and paying tribute to the other candidates. Poor show IMO. Never heard of her since.

  21. This can be done selectively, in time, with intent. There are infrastructure prices in place in the movement. Kate Hammer has my number.

  22. I considered standing in Sleaford when my MP, Stephen Phillips, resigned last October, but I decided time was too short. However, I’ve spent the last few months writing a manifesto for a reform party (having spent 30 years thinking about how a healthy society should govern itself) and, while my proposals might be too radical for you, Jolyon, perhaps you’ll be interested in my perspective.
    I don’t think a new party would have much of a chance if it competes on day-to-day policies, even in the context of the Brexit split – it has to find a way to bridge that divide, and fight on territory that the other parties ignore. My feeling is that a lot of people who voted for Brexit were actually just voting for change and aren’t really all that concerned about Europe. The best chance for a new party to have an impact, in my view, is if it focuses on reforming the way politics and government works, and advocates reforms which will give people more of a sense of owning government.
    ‘Bring back control – from Westminster!’ is our slogan and entrenching local autonomy is one of seven key reforms we advocate. Local autonomy needn’t mean leaving the EU though, any more than it means local communities leaving Britain. I argue that our relationship with Europe should be treated as part of a broader constitutional question – how should sovereignty be distributed between different levels of society? – and until we’ve resolved that question we can’t possibly know whether the EU can meet our needs or not. Cameron’s attempt to get yet more special treatment for the UK certainly didn’t demonstrate that the EU is not open to reform which would improve it for all its members.
    If you’re interested, you can find our manifesto (and draft party constitution) at https://localsovereignty.com/

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