Renew began in 2017 when a group of individuals, including James Torrance and James Clarke, stood as independent candidates in the 2017 general election. They joined forces to oppose the institutional and fractured parties that had brought the UK to a political crisis.
In the autumn of 2017, the party registered with the Electoral Commission and started recruiting candidates from outside politics. By Christmas, following positive coverage in the press, over 200 potential candidates had applied.
Following our official launch in February 2018, we embarked on our Listen to Britain Tour, visiting 22 towns and cities, meeting Renew supporters, holding street stalls, addressing students in schools and universities and conducting over 5000 surveys.
In May 2018, Renew stood candidates in local elections in London and the North East and went on to merge with the Advance Party in September. At our Inaugural National Assembly in November, we brought candidates and members together for a day of debate, discussion and training, launched our policy platform, a new website and branding, and announced our first group of official candidates.
April 2019 brought us the Newport West by-election, where Renew’s first parliamentary candidate, June Davies, won almost 4% of the popular vote. This was followed by the European elections, where we supported Change UK’s effort to break down the 2-party system, and more local elections that gave Renew its first two elected councillors, John Bates (Morecambe) and Eric Cooper (Bedford). After our first Summer Conference in Birmingham, former MEP Julie Girling was ratified as our Interim Leader.
In the 2019 general election, Renew stood 4 candidates in Edinburgh, London, Kent and Liverpool. Many of our candidates stepped aside in order to avoid splitting the progressive vote and support our focused campaigns elsewhere. During that campaign, our message was heard by thousands of voters, who will no doubt remember our name and what we stand for. It was an invaluable experience to our candidates and campaigners and leaves us better equipped for future elections, both local and national.
Renew is now looking to the future of the party and the country. This will involve cooperating with other like-minded groups and ensuring that our grassroots project continues to grow and thrive so that in the next general election, we can take on the major parties as equals.