Author Archives: Caron Lindsay

Vince: I’m a proud saboteur

Vince Cable’s debut Conference speech as leader will be very different from Tim Farron’s. We won’t find him bouncing about the stage. His style is quieter but no less compelling and interesting to listen to.

Below we get a flavour of the thing he’ll be saying tomorrow, establishing us firmly as the Party of Remain.

On Brexit

“A disaster looms. Brexit. The product of a fraudulent and frivolous campaign led by two groups of silly public school boys living their dormitory pillow fights.

“And now, thanks to Boris Johnson, they have degenerated into a full-scale school riot with the head teacher hiding, barricaded in her office.

“In the real world, we have yet to experience the full impact of leaving Europe. But we have a taste of what is to come in the fall of the value of the pound.

“Foreign exchange dealers are not point scoring politicians. Their cold, hard, unsentimental judgement has been, quite simply, that Brexit Britain will be poorer and weaker after Brexit than if we had decided to stay in Europe.

“Brexit was described by the Brexit Secretary himself as an operation of such technical complexity that it makes the moon landing look simple.

“It is a pity that the Brexit landing is being managed by people who would struggle to get their heads around a toddlers’ Lego set. They live in a world of infantile fairy tales.

On Labour

“We might have expected better from Labour. Many people got behind them in June, expecting a better politics and a better future from him.  They are already being betrayed.

“Today’s Labour Party isn’t into problem solving; let alone governing. Jeremy Corbyn’s acolytes are focused on how to maximise the contradictions of capitalism.

“You don’t qualify for the Shadow Cabinet these days unless you have studied the Venezuelan guide on how to bankrupt a rich economy.

“No wonder they back Brexit. No wonder they lined up behind Theresa May, maximising the chance of chaos and disruption.

“Then a few weeks ago the moderates briefly penetrated the Corbyn bunker. They persuaded him that collaborating quite so closely with the class enemy didn’t look too good.

“So, they have a new policy: to stay in the Single market and Customs Union, possibly; or to leave, maybe. Or maybe to stay in for a bit, and then leave.

“I am trying to be kind here: I am trying to understand what they are trying to say. I think the current line is, we should transition to the transition gradually while we prepare for a post-transition world.

“This is what they mean by the smack of firm leadership on the biggest issue of the day.

“But if Jeremy Corbyn sits on the fence any longer, he is in danger of being sliced up the middle by the serrated edge.

“He would do better to get off the fence and refurbish his revolutionary credentials.  Jeremy – join us in the Anti Brexit People’s Liberation Front!”

Political adults

“What the people want. What the country now desperately needs is some political adults.

“That’s you. That’s us.

“Fortunately, we are not alone. There are sensible grown-ups in the Conservative party and the Labour Party and the Greens. And beyond them are millions of people deeply worried about what is happening.

“We have to put aside tribal differences and work alongside like-minded people to keep the Single Market and Customs Union, essential for trade and jobs;

“Europe’s high environmental and social standards; shared research; help for our poorer regions; cooperation over policing and terrorism.

“Europe, of course, needs reform but you don’t achieve reform by walking away.

“Our position is clear: the Liberal Democrats are the party of Remain.

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WATCH: Willie Rennie’s speech to Conference

Willie gave one of the best speeches I’d heard him give. It was robust and clear – putting the Liberal Democrats back at the forefront of driving change in Scotland.

The text is below.

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In Full: Tim Farron’s speech to Conference

All former leaders get a keynote speech at the first Conference after they step down. Tim Farron’s was, as you would expect, loud, funny in parts, optimistic, loyal and ended by giving the party a serious mission.

There was a lot of love in the room for that man.

“I was at Euston the other day and a lady came up to me, half my size but still somehow able to look down her nose at me.

“She said ‘well, I’m not surprised you stepped down! Never trust a man who wears doctor marten shoes!’

“If only we’d known. I’d have worn the boots instead, cherry red with yellow laces up to my knees. And that would be the only thing I’d change.

“I’m not giving up, so this wont be a giving up speech. And I’m not retiring,

“I mean I turned down celebrity Dancing on Ice!

“Because Lembit Opik is a friend. Not a blueprint.

“Look, I’m not going to give you a long list of advice – I’m not Paddy.

“Just one bit of advice really, it’s this:

“If you have joined this party as a fast track to a career in politics, then your careers officer wants sacking.

“This is not the place if you want an easy life. It is the place to be if you want to make a difference.

“31 years ago I joined the Liberals.

“Like the rest of you I chose the tough route in politics, I chose that tough route knowingly.

“Any old mediocrity can join labour or the tories, hold office, be someone for a bit, but do exactly the same as any other careerist would have done.

“But I also know you can only make a difference if you are brave enough to be different.

“When I first got elected, getting lost on the parliamentary estate was pretty much a daily event. Its like going to big school for the first time. One night Greg Mulholland and I were trying to find our way out of parliament, and we got lost, its just possible that we might have had a pint.

“Anyway, we wandered into the house of lords lobby by mistake and Greg whispered to me ‘I think we’re in the wrong place’ to which the policeman on the door responded ‘not in the wrong place sirs, just 30 years too early.

“Which tells you something about how folks see the comfortable trajectory of the career politician.

“Anyhow, about a week later I decided to join year 6 of Dean Gibson Primary School from Kendal on their tour around parliament. Everything I know about what’s where in parliament I got from that guided tour.

“As the tour progressed we ended up again in the House of Lords lobby, and I got distracted by Geoffrey Howe moving rather slowly out of the chamber and into the lobby.

“I don’t mind telling you, I was rather star struck, I mean he was chancellor of the exchequer when I was at school!

“One of the kids saw who I was looking at, and she said ‘who is he?’ and I said ‘that’s Geoffrey Howe, he brought down Margaret Thatcher’ and she said, ‘who’s Margaret Thatcher?’

“Which goes to show that, you know, there is some justice.

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WATCH: Christine, Jo, Vince and others at the Conference rally

The Conference rally was as upbeat and optimistic and positive as you would expect that motivational event at the start of Conference to be. You can watch the whole thing below.

I’d heard earlier that Vince was not going to be making a speech, but he did. He came on and made some very serious comments about terrorism in the wake of the Parsons Green attack, praising the emergency services and condemning Donald Trump’s tweets. He then rather cheekily gave the speech that was more suited to the debate on Europe this morning, talking about the need for a referendum, a “first referendum on the facts” to give people the chance to #exitfromBrexit if they choose.  He was very clear – the Lib Dems are the party of Remain, not the party of a soft exit. No deal will be better than what we currently have.

There was an extended advertisement for ALDC as it approaches its Golden Jubilee. The best things were born in 1967, let me tell you. Veteran Councillor and former Council leader Kath Pinnock, Mayor of Bedford Dave Hodgson, younger former councillor Victor Chamberlain and newbie Becky Forrest all told how ALDC helped them. I certainly couldn’t contemplate running a campaign without their expertise, so you really should join them.

Having been through the Edinburgh West campaign, it was obviously quite emotional for me to see Christine Jardine up on the stage. The bit that brought the biggest lump to my throat was when she said that she was there for the working class kids like she was who don’t have the support that she had to get on in life. That is her driving force in politics.

It was great to see two people who had joined us from other parties – Azi Ahmad from the Tories and Cllr Andrew Cregan from Labour. They talked about what had brought them to our party and the welcome they had received.

Finally, Deputy Leader Jo Swinson brought proceedings to a close, saying:

Our clarity about protecting our place in Europe, and our unity behind this goal, have helped us reach out and achieve our highest ever membership.

“We achieved a fantastic string of council by-election gains, and an impressive result in Witney, where Liz Leffman slashed the Tory majority in David Cameron’s own backyard.

“And then there was our stunning and oh so sweet by-election victory last December in Richmond Park, where so many people travelled from all over the country to help elect the fabulous Sarah Olney.

“That victory had deeper resonance too, because it showed how people from different party backgrounds could come together to send a message about the kind of politics we want.

“Or more accurately, what we do *not* want.  The kind of dog-whistling, racist, personal attack campaign that Zac Goldsmith endorsed in his mayoral bid against Sadiq Khan is unacceptable and should have no place in our democracy.”

“We Liberal Democrats have an important message about the very character and values of our great family of nations.

“Fighting for Britain to stay modern, green and internationalist, forward-looking, open-minded, and open-hearted.

“As populist forces rise up across the world, Britain should be leading the fight to promote liberal values, not shutting ourselves off from our neighbours.

“Our economic and political systems are broken.  We need to shape a new and inspiring vision for the 2020s and beyond.

“That’s what will beat the rabble-rousing, hate-stoking rhetoric of populists on right and left.

“Britain needs a liberal voice now more than ever.

“We are that liberal voice.”

Enjoy.

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Lynne Featherstone’s speech in climate change debate

Here is Lynne Feathestone’s speech to yesterday’s climate change debate. The party passed entirely predictable policy – in summary, Paris Agreement is fantastic. Trump and the Conservatives are awful and we are the party of renewables and the green economy.

This is what Lynne said:

It was a glorious moment in time

The signing of the Paris Agreement

The world coming together to do the right thing

Thinking of future generations

Accepting responsibility

Taking real action to turn the tide

A moment in time

But time is not on our side

And the battle intensifies

Even as 97% of experts – so beloved of Michael Gove – agree on climate change

Even as the world agrees on Climate Change

Even as we have had the hottest summers

The wettest storms

Sea levels rising

And the fiercest hurricanes in history

Climate deniers still propagate untruths

It’s a hoax made up by the Chinese

It’s a scam

scientists are fudging the numbers

In my time as Minister for International Development

I saw first hand the impact that climate change is already having in some of the poorest areas of the world

I stood in Darfur and felt desertification under my own feet.

I saw with my own eyes the ravages that too little water in Africa and too much in Asia can bring.

I implored governments and leaders to stop the fight between peoples over scarce resources.

I visited communities learning to adapt to climate change.

Those living in areas already deeply affected by climate change don’t question its existence.

They see it. They suffer from it. They didn’t cause it.

If we don’t succeed in adaptation, mitigation and keeping temperature rise below 2 degrees centigrade – then the tide of human misery we have seen fleeing conflict will be as nothing compared to those fleeing the worst ravages of climate change

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What’s on at Conference today? LDV on the Fringe

Here is today’s shameless plug for the events LDV is putting on or helping to run.

At 1pm in the Bayview 2 at the BIC, we’ll be looking at the effect of Brexit on the Irish border and on Gibraltar. We have an incredibly illustrious panel. David Ford was until last year leader of the Alliance Party in Northern Ireland and is a former Justice Minister. The Hon Joseph Garcia MP is the Deputy Chief Minister of Gibraltar. I’m old enough to remember when the border between Gibraltar and Spain was closed. Being part of the EU sorted that out and Brexit casts a huge shadow over the daily lives of people on both sides of that border. Alistair Carmichael will be putting the party’s view. And if that wasn’t enough, we have scones. Lots of them. When we were thinking about refreshments, we thought they would be a bit different, but I thought it would just be a rather unimpressive plateful of miniature scones with a scraping of jam and cream. At our fringe last night, we had the most amazing spread. Large, warm fruit scones with huge bowlfuls of clotted cream and jam to help yourself to. They were utterly delicious and I didn’t need any dinner after eating one and a half of them – which is lucky because I didn’t have time to eat before the disco anyway.  I apologise to those I have offended by doing the jam and cream this way round. I’m from Scotland. You have to make allowances for these things. David Ford gave his perspective on the Irish border situation here.

Although some nationalists are suggesting that Northern Ireland should remain within the Customs Union while GB leaves (citing our vote for Remain), this would be at least as destabilising from a unionist perspective as border posts would be to nationalists, and would also create major difficulties for trade between the constituent parts of the UK.  While there may well be a need for a special deal for Northern Ireland, that is not the same as special status.

Despite the constitutional position, recent years have seen increasing integration of business and public services across the island of Ireland.  Justice agencies work in partnership to fight terrorism and organised crime.  We have a single energy market, significant cross-border supply chains (especially in agri-food), shared provision of acute hospital services.  Business regulation is different in Northern Ireland from that in England, Wales and Scotland.

All of that leads to the possibility that Northern Ireland could remain in the Single Market, even if the rest of the UK left.  It would be a unique arrangement, but might be a way of squaring the circle.

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What’s on at Conference today? The debates and speeches

Here’s your rundown of what’s on in the hall today.

You can watch it all on the Autumn Conference Live Stream here and follow the #ldconf tag on Twitter. Keep an eye on the Liberal Democrat Facebook page, too, for some real treats.

09:00-09:10 Report, Federal Appeals Panel
09:10-10:00 Report, Parliamentary Parties – your chance to question MPs, our MEP and Lords about their activities
10:00-10:45 Policy Motion: Armed Forces personnel – Recruitment, retention and welfare
10:45-12:30 Policy Motion on Europe after Conference voted overwhelmingly (377-97) to suspend standing orders to do so. Vince pretty much made his speech in favour of the amendment at the rally last night.
12:30-12:50 Speech: Jo Swinson MP

12:50-14:10 Lunch

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarDave Orbison 19th Sep - 3:37pm
    Lorenzo - bias yes I am. Aren't you? So let's be objective. LibDems are bumping along at 7%, Labour now at 43% and over half...
  • User AvatarFloating voter 19th Sep - 3:24pm
    She rightly warns about the dangerous state of the world and then launches into a puerile attack on the leader of Britain's most important ally...
  • User AvatarDav 19th Sep - 3:23pm
    Half hearted Half hearted? I seem to recall briefings from everyone from the Treasury to the ONS about how awful Brexit was going to be,...
  • User AvatarJames 19th Sep - 3:13pm
    Seems to be doing a decent job as a Government minister, but she might as well be doing it as a member of the Labour...
  • User AvatarOnceALibDem 19th Sep - 2:51pm
    Dav - probably quite differently given this: http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/855481/Vince-Cable-Liberal-Democrat-criticises-Jean-Claude-Juncker-pompous-self-important-Brexit
  • User AvatarJohn King 19th Sep - 2:47pm
    not at all strongly, Dav. Half hearted in fact, after the Brexit press cartel had twisted Cameron's arm to hold a referendum. But now we...