An online movement set up after the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox is to start handing out some of the £370,000 it has crowdfunded to centrist “progressive” candidates in the general election.
A dozen candidates from Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens will benefit from More United’s funding, with would-be MPs getting up to £10,000 each.
Those in line for a cash injection include Labour’s Stephen Kinnock, Liz Kendall and Clive Lewis, Tessa Munt from the Lib Dems and Green co-leader, Caroline Lucas.
More United takes its name from Cox’s call for unity over immigration in her maiden parliamentary speech, where she argued: “We far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us.” (See full speech above)
More United is attempting to represent the 98% of the public who are not affiliated to political parties but want to be involved in politics.
Its £370,000 fund, which More United expects to double by polling day, is made up of donations of between £3 and £1,000, with the average donation being £30. The pot makes More United one of the biggest financial donors in the UK.
The group says it is backed by more people than any other project in the history of the crowdfunding website crowdfunder.co.uk thanks to donations from 12,000 of more than 80,000 supporters.
Here is a list of the 12 candidates More United is supporting:
Isle of Wight
Sutton and Cheam
In total, the group expects to help fund about 40 candidates and says it wants to support moderate Conservative candidates too.
Since its creation in July last year following Cox’s murder, More United funded and sent volunteers to back Lib Dem candidate Sarah Olney in her stunnng defeat of Zac Goldsmith in Richmond Park, and helped Labour’s Gareth Snell with volunteers when facing a UKIP challenge in Stoke.
But it makes plain it wants to be seen as non-party political, saying its aim is to “disrupt the political status quo by electing good people, from all parties, who support their centrist progressive ‘British’ values”.
The group is co-founded by former Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown, and supporters include Martha Lane Fox, co-founder of Lastminute.com, who is now a crossbench peer, and the TV historian Dan Snow.
Bess Mayhew, chief executive of More United, said:
“Our aim is simple. We want to reinvent mass participation in politics for the digital age. Today marks the start of that. Thousands of people who don’t want to join a party can use their collective power to make an impact.
“Our members are alarmed at the growing division in our politics and society, and they are telling us they feel relieved that there is something they can do to make a difference.
“We are doing something unheard of in British politics: we want people across the political spectrum to agree and unite around the values we share. We have supporters, we have money, we have a long-term plan, and we’re mobilising a digital disruption of the politics of the status quo.”
Kinnock, Labour candidate for Aberaeron, said:
“As politicians we need to reflect the best of our country and I don’t want to see the values we hold dear eroded by cynicism, division and intolerance.”
Lucas, Green candidate for Brighton Pavilion, said:
“It’s more urgent than ever that progressives work together to oppose an extreme Brexit, and to advance the values of a fairer democracy, a cleaner environment, and a more open society.”
Amna Ahmad, Lib Demcandidate for Sutton and Cheam, said:
“Shouty divisive politics puts voters off and it puts normal people off from standing up for their community.
“Tribalism has stood in the way of progress and this is the time to change that.”