Author Archives: Joe Otten

Rumours of talks with the Conservatives put to bed

The Times is reporting discussions between Conservative and Liberal Democrat chiefs of staff.

Before we get all breathless about ‘deals’ being struck it is worth noting that Times is no suggesting that so much as

The Conservatives confirmed that they had spoken about working together on areas on which they agree. The two parties have a number of shared priorities, such as mental health …

And the Press …

Posted in News | 25 Comments

LibLink: Nick Clegg – a deal can be done on freedom of movement

Writing in the Financial Times, Nick Clegg shows how, as on many other issues, British politicians are wrongly blaming the EU for the consequences of decisions taken in Britain affecting immigration from EU member states.

Crucially, there is far more latitude for member states to apply restrictions to freedom of movement than is commonly appreciated. The Belgian authorities aggressively deport EU citizens who do not work and cannot support themselves. Under EU law, the UK authorities could do the same for EU citizens who have failed to find work after six months. Access to Spanish healthcare requires registering with

Posted in LibLink | Tagged | 29 Comments

It could have been the economy, stupid

One of the strangest things about this last election was how little the economy featured. Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, was unseen. The Conservatives didn’t bother to cost their manifesto. Nobody wanted to talk about the Brexit black hole – not even the Liberal Democrats much, I mean couldn’t we have promised to fund £60bn of spending by not leaving the EU? It would have made the point.

Why? Theresa May and her advisers never really understood the economy, only that it was something that the Conservatives generally get the credit for being sounder on with the larger part of the electorate, and that if you say nothing, you have more freedom of action after you have won your big majority.

Posted in Op-eds | 11 Comments

On deals and no deals

Tim Farron was challenged this morning on the radio whether the decision by the local party to stand down in Brighton Pavilion respresented some sort of deal. It isn’t, and nor should it be.

For all my long standing political differences with the Greens, I, like Tim, am relaxed about this decision. We weren’t going to win in Brighton Pavilion, and it is only fair that the Greens have a voice in parliament. Their politics are really quite bad in some ways but it is better they have a voice than are silenced. And tactically, I’d rather see a remainer …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 13 Comments

Taking on the Conservative message on ‘strength’

There’s an insightful piece by Tony Blair in the Guardian yesterday on how Theresa May has framed this election in terms of the Brexit negotiations. While aimed at Labour readers, we have the same need understand what it is we are facing.

Blair observes that

Essentially, the Tories … have hit on a way of getting votes by presenting the election as about “strengthening the prime minister’s hand in the Brexit negotiation”, ie, they have turned a partisan Tory vote into an act of national interest.

Of course, all parties run for election on the basis that a government formed by them is in the national interest. But in this Brexit context, the Tories have hit on what seems a plausible objective claim that they actually need a big majority to represent the country adequately in what is without question a really tough negotiation.

This argument has real cut-through. This is why ignoring the Brexit issue or trying to play it down as one issue out of many just won’t work.

Posted in Op-eds | 43 Comments

My take on the decision to go to the country

My thoughts so far:

1. The timing is reasonably good before Brexit negotiations start in earnest. We are likely to lose a few weeks, and Article 50 day would have been a better choice on this count.

2. The PM is going on about the strength of her position, and how important this is in negotiations. There’s a certain amount of bluster here. A successful election reinforces her position in the House of Commons – it does nothing to induce EU governments to give us what we want.

3. The Tories are complaining about opposition existing and opposing. This must mean the SNP …

Posted in Op-eds | 34 Comments

++++++Breaking: Theresa May announces General Election on June 8th

Theresa May’s announcement has just finished. There will be a vote in the House of Commons tomorrow – a two thirds majority is required to call a General Election. Labour have said they would back this, but they could perhaps thwart the timetable if they wished.

May’s theme seemed to be that the opposition parties and the Lords were getting in her way and weakened her ability to do the job, and to negotiate in Europe. Quite how a majority in the Commmons is not good enough, reflects more I think on her leadership. And, frankly, if this opposition is too …

Posted in News | 123 Comments

Recent Comments

  • User AvatarTorrin Wilkins 24th Jul - 10:27pm
    Cia: I supported EFTA+EEA as a short term transition deal during the referendum to sort out a separate deal. I think it was a mix...
  • User Avatarfrankie 24th Jul - 10:26pm
    Torrin, I like gradualism. countries change, the world changes but I'd rather it changed gradually than by major upheavals. The problem with dramatic change like...
  • User AvatarTorrin Wilkins 24th Jul - 9:56pm
    Yeovil Yokel: On the doorstep I will tell people about party policy. I am not giving them a reason to vote for me but for...
  • User AvatarCia 24th Jul - 9:53pm
    I don't see how your position is actually a compromise. You seem to advocate for a so-called 'Soft' Brexit, and disagree with those who want...
  • User AvatarGlenn 24th Jul - 9:47pm
    I don't think so. I think From the 1990s onwards and especially under Blair there was an attempt to recast Britain as a sort of...
  • User Avatarfrankie 24th Jul - 9:39pm
    Perhaps that is the solution, in the EU without our MEP's the money saved could be classed as a rebate, declare victory and move on....