Patriotism, Brexit and the clamour for reform

It’s been over a year since the EU referendum and months since the snap General Election. The Remain/Leave debate trundles on and the constant repetition of key messages from each side of the debate now largely falls on deaf ears. On most topics each campaign and their primary spokespersons still maintain positions in absolute opposition with minimal evidence of concession. There is little to no debate, simply rhetoric. In my experience it’s often been an impersonal, fear based, economic argument for Remain or an emotional but limited argument for Leave. We deserve better from both. Why should we, as the British people, settle for absolutes on both sides that so greatly lack imagination? 

Our different forms of patriotism need to find common ground and I believe it’s possible to do so. Our Government and their opposition have both given up on their belief in the benefits of European Single Market membership so we need centrists to hold them to account. At the same time we must acknowledge that there are issues with accountability and sovereignty in the EU that need to be discussed and addressed in detail. Above all we should loudly refute the idea that there isn’t a common ground for most people across the Brexit debate.

It strikes me that we demand so little of our Government. Perhaps this is because of a lack of faith in politics. Given recent developments it feels that Brexit lacks any real ambition and has become a face-saving exercise for the Government. What’s worse is that Brexit has become a distraction from other important work the Government needs to focus on.  The general election highlighted the public’s desire for other substantive reforms – reforms to address the inequality in our nation and demands to ease austerity. Also, crucially, I think it helped highlight a lack of direction. We’re one of the financial centres of the globe, a trade, industrial, and tech giant – but what’s our goal? What are we driving towards? It is this lack of direction and purpose that I feel helped fuel the Leave campaign, opening the door for a damaging nationalist sentiment.

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No, Vince Cable will not be launching new anti-Brexit party with former Mail Political Editor

You do have to wonder if the @jameschappers Twitter account is a parody or has been taken over by the Brexiteers who are tweeting from some holiday bar for fun. It’s doing some seriously weird stuff at the moment, including suggesting that Vince Cable is going to be launching Chapman’s new anti Brexit Party on 9th September. Seriously.

No, he isn’t. It is that simple.

Jim Waterson of Buzzfeed has chapter and verse:

He quotes a Liberal Democrat spokesperson as saying:

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Vince: Trump state visit would be “completely wrong” after Charlottesville comments

“Fine people on both sides” said Donald Trump of the horrific events in Charlottesville at the weekend. I suspect most of you reading this site will, like me, utterly reject the notion that you can go to a demo, stand on the same side as people carrying swastikas and dressing kids up in KKK costume and be a “fine person.”

Vince Cable has condemned Trump’s remarks and has renewed Liberal Democrat calls for the offer of a State visit to be withdrawn.

He said:

The events of the last few days have shocked and appalled the entire world.

Images of Nazis, marching in American streets, terrorist attacks on peaceful protestors. Every world leader should be able to condemn that.

Donald Trump’s response to these tragic events has been shocking.

He has shown that he is unable to detach himself from the extreme-right and racial supremacists.

The fact he remains highly dependent on White House advisors from the extreme-right shows he is firmly anchored in this detestable worldview.

It would be completely wrong to have this man visit the UK on a State Visit.

The government should be following the far more prudent example to relations with the US President set by Angela Merkel in Germany.

Tim Farron first called for the State visit offer to be withdrawn in the wake of Trump’s first attempt at a travel ban the week after he entered the White House.

It is pretty awful to have a Government that is so dependent on the hope of a trade deal that they won’t condemn the way he has reacted. We’ve spent the last 70 years at the heart of an organisation that has fought for human rights and democracy across the world. Now we are going to be entering a period of excessive pandering to all sorts of dodgy characters because we need their trade and will probably have to take it on whatever terms they demand. It will be a far cry from the days when we could roll up with 27 of our mates and tell them to get lost with their chlorinated chicken. 

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Notes from a new Councillor: Taking Action

Many residents have contacted me with road concerns. I was warned before the election that roads would take a lot of my time! The list goes on and on: potholes, drainage, dips in the road, worn surfaces, pavements, kerbs, broken bollards, street-lighting, etc.

Is it worth my time? Yes. Getting a pavement cleared so that a mum with a pushchair can get through makes a difference. Getting a cycle route tidied of overgrown hedge keeps cyclists on the cycle path and safe. Working for new street-lighting protects young people as they walk home from school in the winter months. Improving drainage means people can access a recreation ground rather than walking through standing water to the gate.

I think I underestimated how much little things can have a big impact on people’s lives. And how, by sending an email or meeting with a county officer on a particular issue, not only will it improve the situation for one resident, but for many.

One reason I got involved in politics a couple of years ago was because of inequality. I think what I like most about being a county councillor is giving local people a voice. Listening to their concerns, hearing their concerns, and representing them. We live in an unequal world at many levels, socially, economically, educationally, opportunity.

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Vince’s six questions for David Davis on the customs union

Vince Cable has set out six questions the Government must answer after the “constructive ambiguity” in its document published yesterday told us not a huge amount. The questions seem designed to reveal whether the government’s position is actually based on any evidence about the impact of its options or whether the options are just a fig leaf to cover up the deep divisions in the Cabinet.

Vince said:

The government is offering two ways forward but won’t tell us which it prefers. That’s no doubt because cabinet ministers can’t even agree amongst themselves.

These plans are more concerned with papering over the cracks within the Conservative party than protecting our economy.

All those industries that depend on membership of the customs union, from the car industry to aerospace, still have no clear idea what is coming down the track.

All they know is that instead of jumping off a cliff in 18 months, the government now wants to do so in a few years’ time.

The government must come clean over the real costs of these plans for British businesses and consumers.

And on to the six questions:

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Could you be a future leader?

ALDC are recruiting the 2017 group for the ALDC’s Future Leaders programme at our November Kickstart and are asking could you be a leader in your area?
Whether you are standing for election next May, a key member of the core campaign team in your local constituency and ultimately looking to be a leader in your area, this could be the ideal opportunity for you.

This is an excellent training and development programme for Liberal Democrat activist and Councillors who are hopefully going to be the stars of the future.

It’s a free programme (including transport, accommodation and food) thanks to G8 funding based at ALDC’s residential Kickstart weekend on the 24th-26th November 2017 in Stone.

The group have a chance to undertake training and development for themselves in their progression as key activists in their areas, potential ‘leaders’ of local campaigning. This year the programme has a particular emphasis on young campaigners (under 30 years of age) and BAME campaigners.

If there are people on your local party who would benefit please encourage them to apply.

To apply for one of the bursaries, please send in evidence of current campaign activity (such as what you already do to help your local party) along with 200 words about why you want to be considered for one of these coveted places to [email protected].

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The other new party of the moderate liberal centre

Hardly a day goes by on my social media feeds without some form of the following conversation:

Commentator/political has been: What we really need is a new moderate centre party in the UK, standing up for all the internationalist, tolerant liberal values that Corbyn and May have abandoned.

Liberal Democrats: Helloooooo!!!!!

Every time somebody calls for a new centre party, a puppy dies, goes the tweet.

It is always more an observation than a plan. Starting from 0% and 0 MPs and councillors is always going to be harder than starting where we are. But I don’t think the commentators and has beens are being obtuse. There are reasons they are not all saying we should join the Liberal Democrats, and I’d like to reflect on those reasons and what we can do about them. Do please all submit further articles expanding this theme.

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarDaniel Walker 17th Aug - 10:18pm
    Glenn, I meant currently-ascendant within the Tory party, rather than "currently running the country", although they are doing that too with assistance from the DUP.
  • User Avatarfrankie 17th Aug - 10:03pm
    Glen, I suggest you read the new-statesman link then come back and tell me you want to put your faith in the Tory government. All...
  • User AvatarGlenn 17th Aug - 9:56pm
    Daniel, Would the be currently ascendant tory party that lost it's majority? Minimum being the operative word and not actually very good at it either.
  • User AvatarDaniel Walker 17th Aug - 9:39pm
    Come now Glenn, there's plenty of EU Labour Laws which are continent-wide, and collective bargaining and union membership are protected by the ECHR, so apply...
  • User AvatarJoe Bourke 17th Aug - 9:31pm
    David, I think the issue of inter-generational equity is a crucial one, particularly housing affordability. For too many, buying a house has become out of...
  • User AvatarDavid Evans 17th Aug - 8:33pm
    Joe, Yes there is a good argument that the much smaller numbers of earlier graduates have already paid their fair share. of contributions to the...