Author Archives: Caron Lindsay

For new members: The Lowdown: How the party works and what it has to offer

Welcome to the thousands of people who have joined the Liberal Democrats over the past few days.  This is basically a repeat of a post that I did last year when many joined the party in the wake of the election result in the hope that it might be useful to tell you a little bit about how our party works and give you a bit of an idea of the opportunities open to you. If you are not yet a member, read it and think it sounds appealing, sign up here.

What do we believe?

Before we get into the nitty gritty of organisation, the best statement of who we are and what we’re about can be found in the Preamble to our Constitution which underlines how we believe in freedom, opportunity, diversity,  decentralisation and internationalism. Here’s a snippet:

The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. We champion the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals, we acknowledge and respect their right to freedom of conscience and their right to develop their talents to the full. We aim to disperse power, to foster diversity and to nurture creativity. We believe that the role of the state is to enable all citizens to attain these ideals, to contribute fully to their communities and to take part in the decisions which affect their lives.

We look forward to a world in which all people share the same basic rights, in which they live together in peace and in which their different cultures will be able to develop freely. We believe that each generation is responsible for the fate of our planet and, by safeguarding the balance of nature and the environment, for the long term continuity of life in all its forms. Upholding these values of individual and social justice, we reject allprejudice and discrimination based upon race, colour, religion, age, disability, sex or sexual orientation and oppose all forms of entrenched privilege and inequality.

We have a fierce respect for individuality, with no expectation that fellow Liberal Democrats will agree with us on every issue. We expect our views to be challenged and feel free to challenge others without rancour. We can have a robust debate and head to the pub afterwards, the very best of friends.

Your rights as a member

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1000 new members join Lib Dems as Farron says “We will keep the vision of an open, optimistic, hopeful Britain alive”

So I still haven’t gone to bed yet. I feel just about alive. There seems little point in sleeping now as I need to get up at 4:30 tomorrow morning to catch a flight to London for Federal Executive where we have a whole day of constitutional amendments ahead of us. I suspect we may mention the Referendum result as well. Just a bit.

“I’m for the 16 million, the 48%” said Tim Farron in a speech on the referendum result. By 1pm,1000 people had joined the party, reminiscent of the surge last year.

Tim’s speech was heartfelt and hopeful. He was furious about the way the campaign had been fought, so divisive and deceitful. He understood the concerns of those disengaged people who had voted for Leave but he also empathised with young people, who had voted for Remain in huge numbers but “whose future had been taken away by older generations” who had enjoyed the benefits of greater European integration.

He also announced that 1000 new members had joined the Lib Dems today.

You can watch the speech here on the party’s Facebook page. It darned well made me cry. Up until seeing it, I had been shocked. This tugged at the heartstrings. .

I am devastated and I am angry. Today we woke to a deeply divided country.

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So what’s going to happen about Scotland?

Not every part of the UK has voted to leave the European Union. Every single council area of Scotland has voted to Remain, all but one of them by a significant margin,with most over 60%. In total, 62% of Scots voted to remain, 38% to leave.

The SNP is naturally making noises about a second independence referendum. Of course they are. It’s what they do. If we were them, we probably would too. Their manifesto was pretty explicit that they would consider they had the right to a referendum in these circumstances:

We believe that independence offers

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5 am: Disaster looms

The people appear to have chosen to leave the EU.

Yet again I find myself on my sofa in the middle of the night watching a disaster unfold before my eyes.

This one, though, is going to hurt much more than the election nights of the past five years. I’m not quite saying that they can come back, all is forgiven, but the ramifications of tonight for the country are so much worse. Our future opportunities and standing in the world are all heading down the toilet.

Already we see the pound in free-fall,  making the Prime Minister’s predictions during the campaign seem positively optimistic.

Yet people didn’t believe him. They didn’t believe that a Prime Minister would put us in this position if he thought it would do us so much harm? Well, that’s what happens when you have a Prime Minister who is weak, who chooses to pander to factions within his party against the interests of the country.

He is not fit to hold office, yet it’s hard to see anyone in his party who would be less bad as we face economic chaos.

It’s not just the economic chaos, which will hit the most vulnerable as the Tories now inevitably roll back the size of the state. It’s what this means for the politics. It gives a boost for the sort of right wing ideology that make any liberal sick to the stomach.

I feel numb. I fear for what this means nationally and internationally.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 16 Comments

Referendum Results open thread

So, it’s all over bar the counting.

First of all, thanks to every single person who pounded the streets and melted phone lines today getting out the Remain vote. You are all legends. I want to say a particular thanks to the fantastic West Lothian Stronger In team.

If you are not going to a count, the best thing I can advise is having a nice mug of cocoa and going to bed. Seriously. Set your alarm for 4-ish. It’s likely that nothing is going to even start to become clear before then and, as Stephen Bush wrote in his guide in the New Statesman,  it’s likely that Leave will be well ahead in the early part of the night and that’s just bad for the blood pressure.

This has been the most unpleasant few weeks in politics that I can remember. It was when someone told me in all seriousness outside Morrisons this afternoon that if we voted to stay in, 76 million Turkish people would be arriving here in September. It’s total nonsense and straight from a Leave campaign leaflet.

I asked them to think about how that would happen. When in history had an entire population of a country just upped and legged it to somewhere else? I asked them to think about the logistics of moving half way across a continent. How much would it cost? What arrangements would have to be made. I asked them to think about the number of flights that would entail. Would there be enough capacity for all those people? Of course not. I wish I’d brought to mind Meral Ece’s oft used stat that only 7000 Turkish people resident in Turkey actually have passports.

They got it in the end, but, sadly, because one side had been caught out in a lie, it didn’t make them trust the other lot. It made me more angry about Leave’s cynical manipulation, their barely disguised racism. I don’t actually think that any of Leave’s key figures are fit and proper people to hold office of any sort. I don’t think a Prime Minister should have them in his cabinet and he should be upfront about saying why.

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Rennie: EU Vote will define our country for decades to come

Willie Rennie has been travelling round Scotland on town centre tour over the last few days, urging voters to vote to remain in the European Union.

Here he is in Perth:

In his final pitch to voters he said:

Voters going to the polls tomorrow will be doing more than simply putting a cross in a box. They are taking a decision over the values that will define us as a nation for decades to come.

Open and outward looking or insular and closed. Ambitious and hopeful or timid and cynical.

We have a choice between building on the progress that we have made as part of the EU, or leaving and going it alone. The EU has helped protect human rights and workers’ rights. Our businesses sell their products all over Europe, supporting jobs here in Scotland and across the UK. Crime does not respect international borders and the EU helps our police work with other forces across Europe to keep us safe.

Tomorrow we can choose to work together or walk away from international cooperation that has helped keep the peace in Europe for more than five decades. We will choose to work together or walk away from something that has given us billions of pounds in trade, millions of jobs across the UK and has helped bring thousands of criminals to justice.

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The most brilliant event of the EU Referendum

strip the willowI’ve found this EU Referendum really difficult. It’s been a horrible, nasty, divisive campaign with the most uncomfortable racist and nationalist overtones. I can’t remember which of our lot said it, but they were right that the dog whistle has become a foghorn. The thought that within 48 hours, our country might choose the path of isolationism and blaming of the others, believing a campaign based on lies  is not doing anything for my anxiety levels.

This afternoon, however, there was bright spot.

Outside the Scottish Parliament, the folk group Lau held a ceilidh flashmob to call for a Remain vote. I heard about it yesterday on Facebook and I was gutted that I couldn’t go. I asked Hannah Bettsworth, the awesome almost graduate, former co-President of Liberal Youth Scotland and occasional Liberal Democrat Voice contributor to go instead. She initially demurred, but curiosity eventually got the better of her.

The Strip the Willow is the most bonkers, potentially lethal Scottish ceilidh dance. It basically involves lots of spinning at great speed. There have been times I have thought I was going to end up on the next island while dancing it.  It’s fast and fun.

Here, Jamie Ross from Buzzfeed and Lib Dem Scottish Parliament supremo Matthew Clark show people how it’s done. Matthew is the one with the grey trousers and black jumper.

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarHolly Matthies 1st Jul - 10:29am
    @Catherine disliked the fact that in the EU we were forced to have an immigration policy that discriminated against people from outside the EU. I...
  • User AvatarHolly Matthies 1st Jul - 10:28am
    Once the quota is met you must wait until a place is relinquished (though exit from the UK) My understanding from close relationships with people...
  • User AvatarJoan Hand 1st Jul - 10:27am
    Was this referendum really advisory and if so why were we not told, were we deliberately misled and why is it not being emphasised now?...
  • User AvatarJennie 1st Jul - 10:27am
    "Or we could just fix the infrastructure problems and stop blaming foreigners. How about that, rather than this constant stream of anti-immigration poison on what,...
  • User AvatarCatherine Jane Crosland 1st Jul - 10:26am
    It is important to remember that many people voted Leave for reasons that had nothing to do with immigration. Some voted Leave because they felt...
  • User AvatarBrian Paddick 1st Jul - 10:25am
    I am very grateful for the support and I am pleased to see new members joining. If we weren't sitting down, it would have been...