Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #470

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 470th weekly round-up from the Lib Dem blogosphere … Featuring the five most popular stories beyond Lib Dem Voice according to click-throughs from the Aggregator (19-25 February, 2017), together with a hand-picked seven you might otherwise have missed.

Don’t forget: you can sign up to receive the Golden Dozen direct to your email inbox — just click here — ensuring you never miss out on the best of Lib Dem blogging.

As ever, let’s start with the most popular post, and work our way down:

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LDV’s Sunday Best: our 7 most-read articles this week

7 bestMany thanks to the 17,400 visitors who dropped by Lib Dem Voice this week. Here’s our 7 most-read posts…

Even the Daily Telegraph says Leave was wrong, wrong and wrong (35 comments) by Antony Hook

Stoke and Copeland results show how far the Liberal Democrats have come in two years (71 comments) by Caron Lindsay

++Copeland by-election: Lib Dems more than double vote share and move up to third place, beating UKIP (6 comments) by Paul Walter

Vote Leave: Strong democratic case for referendum on the Brexit Deal (5 comments) by Caron Lindsay

 LibLink: Kishwer Falkner: How I will vote on Article 50 (72 comments) by Mary Reid

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Lib Dem Lords vs the Article 50 Bill: Sarah Ludford: Brexiteers fear the people realising the disastrous truth

The Lib Dem Lords have made some cracking contributions to the debate on the Article 50 Bill. Ahead of its next Lords stages, we’re bringing you all the Lib Dem contributions over the course of this weekend. That’s no mean feat. There were 32 of them and cover more than 30,000 words. You are not expected to read every single one of them as they appear. Nobody’s going to be testing you or anything. However, they will be there to refer to in the future. 

Our Lords excelled themselves. Their contributions were thoughtful, individual, well-researched and wide-ranging and it’s right that we present them in full on this site to help the historian of the future. 

After two days of debate, it fell to Sarah Ludford to sum up for the Liberal Democrats. She brought together all the strands of the debate. She took on the two days of vitriol that had been directed at the party from the Brexiteers. What were they frightened of, she wondered. They were, she said, so keen to stamp on dissent for fear of the disaster of Brexit being realised by the people. She summarised the massive negatives to business, to jobs, to prosperity, to EU nationals and their British families and made the case for a referendum on the deal.

There were times during this mammoth task of putting all the speeches up that we wondered what on earth had possessed us to think that it was a good idea, but we now have in one place a comprehensive rebuttal to everything the Government says on Brexit. Our lot did us proud as they drove a coach and horses through the Government’s arguments. The sheer vitriol they took from the Brexiteer zealots shows that their arguments were very effective.

My Lords, I draw the attention of the House, and perhaps the Daily Mail, to the fact that my receipt of an MEP pension is in the register.

We have had a long and intense debate, with many excellent speeches. I concur with the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, in thanking Gina Miller for the fact that we have had this debate. It has been a marathon rather than a sprint, just as the Brexit process itself will prove to be over possibly a decade of blood, sweat and tears. Those who swallowed the myth perpetrated by some Brexiteers that it would mean “With one bound, we are free” are going to be cruelly disappointed. This is just one of the many disillusionments to come. Another is the unravelling of the notion that leaving the EU will solve all our problems. There are in fact many sources of valid dissatisfaction, grievance and frustration among the people of the United Kingdom today. To most of these problems, Brexit will bring no relief but there is no spare capacity in this Government to focus on anything but Brexit. As Tony Blair so rightly said in his recent speech:

“This is a Government for Brexit, of Brexit and dominated by Brexit. It is a mono-purpose political entity”.

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Lib Dem Lords vs the Article 50 Bill: Andrew Stunell: Hard Brexit will cripple the construction industry

The Lib Dem Lords have made some cracking contributions to the debate on the Article 50 Bill. Ahead of its next Lords stages, we’re bringing you all the Lib Dem contributions over the course of this weekend. That’s no mean feat. There were 32 of them and cover more than 30,000 words. You are not expected to read every single one of them as they appear. Nobody’s going to be testing you or anything. However, they will be there to refer to in the future. 

Our Lords excelled themselves. Their contributions were thoughtful, individual, well-researched and wide-ranging and it’s right that we present them in full on this site to help the historian of the future. 

Andrew Stunell started by pointing out one irony. The Lords making the most noise about democracy and how the Lords had to do what the Government had said because it was the will of the people were the very ones who argued against the Lords being reformed and elected.

His main point was about the effect on the construction industry of Brexit. Government plans require it to grow by 35%, yet the many combined effects of Brexit would cause it to shrink.

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Davies, has given me a wonderful introduction to what I was going to say in any case. Leaving the European Union is strongly against the long-term interests of the United Kingdom and it will hit hardest those citizens who rely most heavily on public services for the well-being of themselves and their families, and for whom economic prosperity is crucial for their job, the roof over their head and the money to pay for the services on which they depend. Several noble Lords have urged us to surrender the best interests of those hard-pressed citizens without a fight, misusing words like “democracy” and “accountability” to do so. But it is not anti-democratic to speak up for the views and interests of the 16 million people on the remain side of the debate, and it would be anti-democratic to leave their voices unheard in Parliament.

However, I also note a paradox. The same noble Lords who complain so bitterly about those of us in the House who have the temerity to speak up and say that Brexit will leave Britain weaker and poorer, diminished abroad and shrivelled at home, are also, almost without exception, against this House actually being representative of public opinion. While my noble friends have consistently advocated and fought for the democratic accountability of this place, our critics in this debate have argued over the years that a representative and accountable second House is the last thing they want to see.

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Lib Dem Lords vs the Article 50 Bill: Paul Strasburger: PM chooses to destroy, for ever, Tory reputation for economic prudence

The Lib Dem Lords have made some cracking contributions to the debate on the Article 50 Bill. Ahead of its next Lords stages, we’re bringing you all the Lib Dem contributions over the course of this weekend. That’s no mean feat. There were 32 of them and cover more than 30,000 words. You are not expected to read every single one of them as they appear. Nobody’s going to be testing you or anything. However, they will be there to refer to in the future. 

Our Lords excelled themselves. Their contributions were thoughtful, individual, well-researched and wide-ranging and it’s right that we present them in full on this site to help the historian of the future. 

Paul Strasburger did not mince his words. He came up with a very good analogy from business – what would you do if your chief executive decided to remove the company from its biggest market and concentrate on customers that you didn’t know so well.

My Lords, we find ourselves in a situation that most of us would not have thought possible a year ago. Our Prime Minister seeks not only to invoke Article 50 but also to needlessly destroy our country’s tariff-free and frictionless access to the largest market in the world, thereby doing serious damage to our economy. Stranger still, this is not some dystopian, Corbynista nightmare—it is a Conservative Prime Minister choosing, at a stroke, to destroy for ever her party’s reputation for economic prudence. She is putting at risk the prosperity that our country has enjoyed since we joined what was then the Common Market. She will also be undoing the success of the coalition in pulling our economy back from the brink after the 2008 crash. She and her party will not be forgiven for their collective madness when everything goes pear-shaped—as it surely must.

What is this lunacy for? It is for a small reduction in immigration, which in itself will damage our economy. Can it be that Mrs May is so scarred by her failure to meet the impossible target of cutting immigration to below 100,000 in her six years at the Home Office that she is hell-bent on having another go through the most extreme and damaging of Brexits?

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Lib Dem Lords vs the Article 50 Bill: Alan Watson: EU divorce brings disaster, division and catastrophe

The Lib Dem Lords have made some cracking contributions to the debate on the Article 50 Bill. Ahead of its next Lords stages, we’re bringing you all the Lib Dem contributions over the course of this weekend. That’s no mean feat. There were 32 of them and cover more than 30,000 words. You are not expected to read every single one of them as they appear. Nobody’s going to be testing you or anything. However, they will be there to refer to in the future. 

Our Lords excelled themselves. Their contributions were thoughtful, individual, well-researched and wide-ranging and it’s right that we present them in full on this site to help the historian of the future. 

Alan Watson recounted his experience working for Roy Jenkins in the Commission decades ago. He talked about the importance of building a positive partnership with the EU – something there is little sign of at the moment.

My Lords, I declare a historic interest and note that I have no contemporary interest. I worked with the late—and great—Lord Jenkins in the European Commission for just over four years, at the end of which period I decided to come home. It was an interesting revelatory moment with regard to working within the European Commission, because when I attempted to resign, the head of personnel, who as it happens was an Englishman, said, “You can’t possibly do that—you are a fonctionnaire permanente!”. He meant every word. However, I persisted, and came home. I took my pension agreement with me at that point and I no longer have one from the European Commission. I make that clear.

On 15 June, a number of days before the referendum, we had a debate in this House on the referendum itself. By then, it was already clear that the referendum was in many ways dangerous, certainly divisive, and likely to be damaging. But for me, the most important thing about it was its folly. It was an unnecessary referendum, a miscalculation, and a high price has been paid. However, for the time being, as many noble Lords have said, this is water under the bridge. Cruel events over the next two years may well change the electorate’s perspective, but meanwhile, what can be done? I find three imperatives compelling and possibly hopeful.

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Lib Dem Lords vs the Article 50 Bill: Martin Thomas The Charge of the Brexit Brigade

The Lib Dem Lords have made some cracking contributions to the debate on the Article 50 Bill. Ahead of its next Lords stages, we’re bringing you all the Lib Dem contributions over the course of this weekend. That’s no mean feat. There were 32 of them and cover more than 30,000 words. You are not expected to read every single one of them as they appear. Nobody’s going to be testing you or anything. However, they will be there to refer to in the future. 

Our Lords excelled themselves. Their contributions were thoughtful, individual, well-researched and wide-ranging and it’s right that we present them in full on this site to help the historian of the future. 

Martin Thomas compared the rush towards Brexit to the disastrous Charge of the Light Brigade. He also highlighted the huge cost of leaving the EU. Where would we find the tens of billions? The Government seems to have no plan on how to deal with this.

My Lords, the Telegraph reports today that the EU Bill for a Brexit divorce is €60 billion. It is made up of existing annual budget commitments until 2019, pension obligations and other longer term liabilities. The European Commission concedes that the United Kingdom should be allowed to offset against that Bill its share of the assets of the EU, perhaps between €15 and €20 billion, so we are left with a net hefty €40 billion or so to stump up as the price of divorce.

What does the Government’s White Paper say about this prospective liability? Absolutely nothing. Do the Government agree we have a price to pay? If so, how much? We do not know. This is not a poker game, and this is just one card in a whole stack of cards. The Government’s argument is that to disclose our negotiating position on any issue would harm our national interest. I do not believe for a moment that that is the reason for their reticence. If you do not disclose your hand, and keep your cards close to your chest, there is no measure by which the public can judge whether your negotiations are a success or failure. Whatever deal can be dragged out of the negotiations can then be termed victory. That is exactly what David Cameron did a year ago. The Government cannot be seen to fail. Where they create a desert, they call it peace.

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarManfarang 27th Feb - 4:14am
    Lorenzo I remember going to the British Embassy Bangkok during the 1990s and seeing a very angry Northern Irish man whose Thai wife had been...
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 27th Feb - 2:28am
    Eddie You say it as it must be said. Do say more about the income problems, are these deportations or threats to people who are...
  • User AvatarManfarang 27th Feb - 1:36am
    Mrs Clennel was given indefinite leave to remain in the UK after her marriage. But periods spent back in Singapore caring for her elderly parents...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 27th Feb - 1:29am
    I'm butting in from Copeland on this thread because of comments above. There should be some expert analysis, but as a local campaigner I see...
  • User AvatarManfarang 27th Feb - 12:50am
    And now Manchester Gorton.
  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 27th Feb - 12:24am
    Thanks Lorenzo. On this particular issue I have a family member worried about getting deported who has educated me a bit on the topic. At...