One thing that we learnt from the launch of the SDP in 1981 is that a new party has to achieve and demonstrate electoral success quickly. Although the Independent group has made great efforts not to be a political party it will achieve success faster if it can show in real elections that both LAB and CON voters and others are more inclined to it than the parties led by Mr Corbyn and Mrs, May.
Back in 1981 I remember the great sense of excitement when the new party fought for its first by-election at Warrington. The candidate was Roy Jenkins a previous LAB home secretary who had served as a European commissioner. The SDP Lost only after achieving a considerable swing against the incumbent Labour Party.
Roy Jenkins himself returned to Parliament some months later at the Glasgow Hillhead by election.
Coincidentally what is now only the second GB by election to be held this Parliament is due in the coming months at Newport West following the death of 84 of the incumbent Labour MP Paul Flynn. My guess is that Labour will seek to schedule it on the day of the local elections in early May.
A good performance there could be critical in determining the electoral potency of TIG.
A big question might be whether the Liberal Democrats will be ready to stand aside in the interests of helping the new grouping. Back in the 80s the old Liberal party and the SDP used to do that at by-elections to let the other a clear run.
These are the results from the last two general elections in Newport West.
Back at GE2010 the LDs had 17% which might be a good pointer.