As hate crime rises, Farron and Pidgeon visit vandalised Polish Centre

Probably the most awful of many bad aspects of the referendum is that that very small section of the population who are racists and bigots feel emboldened. They think they have 17 million mates. Social media is awash with reports of attacks and the Police say that reports of hate crime are up 57%. While only a tiny minority of Leave voters are racists, they all need to take some responsibility, alongside the Leave campaign, for allowing this appalling behaviour to flourish.

It’s not just in the last few weeks, though. This prejudice has been stoked endlessly by the media and both Tory and Labour governments for long enough. If they had done what Holly said, years ago, we might not be in this mess now.

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Tim and Vince write for the Times on the need for ministers to provide leadership on Brexit strategy

Tim Farron and Vince Cable have written for the Times’ Red Box website setting out what they think should happen in negotiations with the EU and in economic strategy as we face a self-induced Brexit recession.

As Nick Clegg said before the referendum, so called Project Fear was understating the impact Brexit would have. We are also suffering a void of leadership and some very unrealistic thinking from the Brexit camp who, as we discovered, didn’t really have a plan.

We can’t hang about, they say:

Business and investors won’t wait around forever to see leadership.  Many first tier organisations will simply pack their bags and go unless they see a path ahead.  Meanwhile our smaller businesses, and particularly those in high risk/ high innovation sectors will feel the squeeze as bank lending dries up as it did in 2008.

Two things need to be done. You get the feeling this was filed before yesterday’s extraordinary events:

The first can only be done by leaders of Leave – those who wish to lead us into the new unknown – and in particular, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove.  They must now show his vision for the UK and provide a clear plan for Britain’s relationship with the EU.  To reassure the market they, and other potential prime ministers, need to make clear that membership of the single market is the priority ask for any negotiations.  Businesses need to know that, whatever else, their key relationships will not have to fundamentally change.

It will require real leadership, rather than populist platitudes.  It may mean securing a deal which pleases no one and does not address many of the concerns raised by leave voters about immigration and freedom of movement.  Leading is about making choices, it’s now time for Boris and Gove to tell us theirs.

The second urgent priority must be the responsibility of the current government.  There is now every likelihood of a Brexit recession.  If the government acts now, by abandoning its already unnecessary financial straitjacket and allowing capital investment and stimulus support to flow into precarious parts of our economy, we might avoid the worst impacts on jobs and livelihoods. The economy could be stimulated through the Network Rail Capital Project and local authorities being allowed to borrow to build houses. The £250bn the governor of the Bank of England has put aside could be put into the Funding for Lending and the Regional Growth Fund.

Of primary concern must be our most innovative industries.  Those businesses on the cutting edge are likely to see funding from traditional financial institutions dry up as banks revert to their core business model.  Giving serious financial help and stability to these industries is vital to ensure their long term future in the UK.

The British Business Bank, set up by the Lib Dems in Government, is a crucial part of the support for business that’s needed:

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Progress in York – our report back after 12 months in joint administration

A little over twelve months ago, the Lib Dems in York entered into a joint administration on City of York Council. It wasn’t an easy decision to take, but we knew that having increased our representation by a third despite the disappointing national picture, we had a real opportunity to deliver on our manifesto commitments to the people of York.

I am very grateful to many colleagues in the city, including fellow Executive Members, Councillors, local party activists (and our very new members this week!) for their ongoing work.  A year on, we thought we’d let you know how we’re getting on.

Greenest City in the North

We promised to take steps towards York becoming the Greenest City in the North, including working with residents to reverse the decline in recycling rates and developing a plan to cut the Council’s carbon emissions. Additionally, we committed to reintroduce additional winter Green Bin collections and rule out cuts to the frequency of Grey Bin collections.

This was confirmed just two months after the election, as our Emergency Budget in July last year financed the reintroduction of 2 Winter Green Bin collections and scrapped Labour’s proposal for extra Green Bin charges. Our increased investment has funded a new recycling campaign and we have re-established a Green Jobs Task Group.

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The Liberal approach to immigration

The Liberal approach to dealing with the unpopularity of immigration and immigrants is to challenge that concern. It’s to robustly make a positive case for immigration as a policy and — crucially — immigrants as human beings.

The Liberal approach is to shift attention unfairly directed at them to where it belongs: Government unwillingness to fund housing, the NHS and other public services.

The Liberal approach includes strongly differentiating between migrants and refugees, which lately have all too often conflated by media and politicians, so that everyone understands the different reasons that people want to be welcomed into the UK, be they economic migrants, asylum seekers, refugees, students, or any of a host of other categories that people in different circumstances will find themselves in.

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Good news – a big Liberal Democrat by-election gain from the Tories in Surrey

A massive 27.4 increase in the vote saw the Liberal Democrats gain a Council seat in deepest Tory Mole Valley last night.

The other two by-elections from last night saw us field candidates where we hadn’t before, attracting almost 5 and 14% respectively.

Congratulations to new Councillor Joe Crome and his team for such a brilliant result. Here’s what he wrote about himself for the Dorking Advertiser:

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Controlled migration with free movement – squaring the circle

No matter how we try and fool ourselves, migration issues played a substantial part in the Leave vote, and many Remain voters, myself included, voted to remain despite reservations about immigration levels. Doubtless racism played a part, perhaps 2 million of those Leave votes representing the percentage that the BNP received in 2009. The racists didn’t stop being racist, they simply moved to a new home. But over 90% of the 33 million voters were not racists.

When you dig down further as to why people are concerned about migration there is a common theme. As a country we have hugely expensive housing whether buying or renting. We have a creaking and overcrowded public transport infrastructure that is painful to negotiate and roads with commuter jams at 6:00am. We have a healthcare system that cannot cope with the demand yet struggles to pay off PFI stupidity promoted by Brown. We have schools that cannot deliver the quality our kids deserve and in some areas are hamstrung by the number of children with a poor grasp of basic English. Our infrastructure was not built for the numbers of people now trying to use it, and yet still more come in never-ending numbers. Patience has snapped and we must deal with it.

Freedom of movement is a precious right, for me probably the most important, although when it was first established it was reasonably balanced. The freedom to import labour at will, whether for agriculture or high tech projects, is critical to our economic success. And the EU will not allow us the benefits of unfettered access to the free market without freedom of movement whatever fantasyland Boris is currently living in. So we are in a near impossible position. What we need in terms of free trade relies on conceding free movement that we cannot cope with.

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Lord Paul Tyler writes…An early general election

All the runners in the Conservative Leadership steeplechase may be denying that they would seek a General Election before 2020, but I suggest that you should examine their track record in terms of broken promises.   If the Labour Party is still suicidal, and if the dishonest Brexit commitments are beginning to unravel with devastating effect on people’s expectations, what Prime Minister could resist the temptation to go to the country?

In any case, there will be a strong reaction to the imposition of a new PM and Government on the whim of a 130,000 electorate.  Where is our much vaunted “Sovereign Parliament”, and the demand that our democracy must “take back control”, in that process?  When Cameron was elected there were 253,689 eligible members of the Tory Party, down from 328,000 when they selected Iain Duncan Smith.

In such circumstances, the new Leader could justifiably claim a moral duty to seek a new mandate from the whole country.

I have challenged Ministers to confirm that an early General Election – this year or next – would be contested in the current constituencies, with no boundary changes or reduction in the number of MPs.  Not for the first time, they seem clueless – you can see our exchanges here

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarDavid Pearce 2nd Jul - 12:45am
    Glenn, freedom of movement is an issue because Leave have made it an issue. We are in an insane position because they failed to explain...
  • User AvatarStevan Rose 2nd Jul - 12:11am
    "People who voted leave should be ashamed of themselves" The overwhelming majority of people who voted Leave are not racist and do not condone this...
  • User AvatarStevan Rose 1st Jul - 11:55pm
    @ Chris Bertram. Well said. Migration is vital to the economic and social well-being of this country. Immigration policy needs to be generous in spirit,...
  • User AvatarPaul Pettinger 1st Jul - 11:23pm
    The Party has played a blinder in the last fews days, serving as a centre point for people who want to live in an open,...
  • User AvatarAndy Hinton 1st Jul - 11:21pm
    I'm late to this party, but: Holly is right, fighting the liberal fight on immigration means properly addressing the challenges created by migration, rather than...
  • User AvatarCassieB 1st Jul - 10:51pm
    Bill > As it is here is where we are one week on: When absolutely nothing has changed (i.e. we are still in the EU)...