Category Archives: Op-eds

WATCH: Christine Jardine’s maiden speech

Christine Jardine made her maiden speech this afternoon. The text will follow when it is available.

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May’s Brexit setup denies remaining EU states what she wants to recover for Britain: sovereignty over their nation(als)

As the Brexiteers slogan “take back control” clearly shows, the taking back of government control not only over your own territory, but also over the whole of your population, nation, (in short: “national sovereignty”)  is a central plank in the whole, over-ambitious and under-estimated, undertaking that is Brexit.

But in Theresa May’s proposed treatment of EU citizens in the UK, she in two ways denies the governments of the continental states who, very sensibly, choose to remain in the EU (and, conversely, some British citizens) what she herself wants to “take back from Brussels’ clutches”: national sovereignty.

She does that first by insisting that the fate of EU inhabitants of the UK will exclusively be decided by British courts (and authorities), and that London will (negotiating with  Brussels) co-decide the cutoff date of the 5 year term you need to get a “settled status” in the UK.

And, because she and Brussels agree that it will be a mirror image operation, the fate of UK citizens in continental EU states is thus left to their respective national courts. Well, the courts in Poland and Hungary are being transformed into the servants of regimes that have heavy prejudices against fundamental West European and British values like the Trias Politica of separate powers, liberal democratic values, western education (George Soros’s university) and women’s rights (work beside family life, abortion). The less agents, carriers of western ideals and freedoms living in Poland and Hungary, the better, is the way Orban and Kaczyński think about guarding what they call the sacred “National Identity” of their “embattled” nations. See the way they marginalized liberal opposition amongst their own citizens, and how Kaczynski’s people humiliated Tusk (and Orban the professors/students of Soros).

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Liberal Democrats need a distinctive message

When I was blown up in Iraq I knew I had to join the Liberal Democrats. The party needs to find its purpose again.

There was a brief silence after the bomb blast. Then shouting, nervous laughter. The Iraqi policeman I had been meeting pointed at the shattered window and stammered, “Shay aadi,” a normal thing. We were both uninjured, but I learned later that several guards had died outside the building. It was 2005 and I was in a Baghdad. Car bombs were normal. As I left the building I noticed a severed, charred hand on the ground.

I was working on a security assistance project. I had been an “on-balance” supporter of the 2003 invasion and felt that it could leave Iraq a better place. But after the realisation that the coalition had lost control, I knew that we had unleashed a terrible whirlwind. The existence of Islamic State now is a direct consequence of the 2003 invasion and its aftermath.

Later that day as the shock of the bombing began to fade, I went online and joined the Liberal Democrats. This was the only party that had taken the correct stance on Iraq. It had done so in the face of media hostility and accusations of a lack of patriotism. But it wasn’t just about Iraq: in 2005, after eight years in power, Labour had done little to tackle inequality and continued to promote international finance as the best engine of economic growth; Vince Cable had started to raise concerns over the unsustainable credit boom as early as 2003. And Labour continued to cling to an unfair electoral system and an appointed legislature stuffed with cronies.

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A personal reflection on the General Election, its aftermath and liberalism

I allowed my membership of the Liberal Democrats to lapse a while back but I took that decision without rancour.

My involvement had not been passive I stood for local council and campaigned vigorously in other elections.

I liked the party, still do but I just couldn’t live with the position it had taken on Brexit.

Another principled stand by yours truly, one of many over the years.

So as the General Election came upon us my personal focus was on the need to stop the Conservatives winning.

At the start of the campaign their arrogance and swagger was worse than ever and they are pretty bad at the best of times.

My election activity largely focused around the need to get a hung parliament which would then hopefully lead to some form of PR for future elections.

Like many other carers campaigners I wanted to see the future of adult social care high on the agenda, of course Theresa May did that for us with her dementia tax proposal.

A crucial moment in the campaign which I believe contributed in no small way to her losing her parliamentary majority.
On election night itself I stayed up hoping for Tory losses.

The social media campaign to get young voters registered, Corbyn mania and what I felt was a strong campaign by Tim Farron gave me hope.

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WATCH: Layla Moran’s maiden speech

There is a plot afoot for all the newbies to make their maiden speeches during the Queen’s Speech debate. We’ll bring them to you. Here is Layla Moran’s from yesterday. The text is below:

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Reprise: Vince Cable to liberals: Don’t despair, go local, celebrate identities and embrace social democratic policies

I wrote this in April after seeing Vince give a lecture in Edinburgh. Now that he is extremely likely to become leader, it’s worth giving this another airing because he had a lot to say on the issues of the day. 

Last night, Vince Cable gave the annual John G Gray Lecture to the Scottish Liberal Club in Edinburgh. John G Gray was a leading Scottish figure in the fightback from near extinction in the middle of the last century. He was at one point the only Liberal councillor in Scotland. Vince observed that at the same time as he was successfully fighting a ridiculous proposal for a ring road in Glasgow, Gray was doing the same in Edinburgh, making sure that a proposal that would have damaged much of the city’s heritage never came to fruition.

The subject of his talk was Brexit, Trump and the Crisis of Liberalism. He set out four things that we should do to stop the “insidious” politics of populism and nationalism taking root.

Firstly, he looked at some of the reasons for populism taking hold. History has many examples, from the South Sea Bubble, to the Depression to the 2008 crash, of economic heart attacks being followed after some years by populism. When people lose out, they turn to the extremes and we have over the past decade seen the fall in post war living standards. Significantly, the measures used to keep the economy afloat, low interest rates and quantitative easing, ensured that pensioners’ savings didn’t grow. That resulted in discontent and nostalgia became a powerful emotional driver.

He warned that as the populists fail, the search for a scapegoat would turn on the judiciary and the other elements which underpin our democracy. He highlighted the Daily Fail’s talk of the enemy within – where the Lib Dems were top of the list. Populists do what they can to delegitimise anything that gets in their way. 

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There are worse things than a coronation for Vince

Early this morning, I got an email from Ed Davey. He asked if he could send us a post for publication late afternoon, early evening.

“Of course!” I replied. And then I went into a brief explanation of how we were going to be neutral in the leadership contest, and how we would be very even-handed between the candidates. I concluded, flippantly, that I was just randomly mentioning that for no apparent reason.

I knew that there was a pretty strong expectation that Ed would stand and that some serious work had been done on putting a campaign together.

I was really looking forward to a contest. For once, I was going  into a leadership election with no idea who I was going to support. It looked like it was going to be a contest between two liberal heavyweights. Instinctively, I’d veer towards Vince, but he’d been a bit too accepting of Brexit for my liking last Summer – a line he has significantly softened in recent months, even before the election was a twinkle in Theresa May’s eye.

So when Ed’s article arrived at lunchtime, I sat open-mouthed, reading it over and over to make sure I’d understood it right. And I blubbed a bit, because I’m way too soft, as he talked about his family and wanting to be there for them. I thought some of the ideas he had for the future of the party were bang on:

And to be a winning party of reform, we must start telling the British people who Liberal Democrats are, and what we stand for. And not simply what and who we are against.

We must also be super-ambitious – just like radical centrists in Canada, France and The Netherlands. If they can win from third place – or from “no place” like Macron – why can’t we?

And in answering that question, we need to be self-critical. While we’ve had some success in recent times – not least with the amazing rise in membership – our election defeats have been crushingly bad.

We need to reflect why – and then ensure our party is fit-for-purpose – able to provide the platforms for future winning campaigns.  We owe it to the huge number of amazing campaigners in our party, who have worked their socks off, and not yet seen us win.

So, I’m sad he’s not standing. But, do you know what? I’m bloody thrilled that he’s one of our MPs. We may only have a dozen, but they are a quality bunch. A Golden Dozen, you might say. We have real expertise on the economy, on equalities, on business, on science, on rural affairs, on climate change, on health in our little bit of the Commons. We probably punch above the Labour and Conservative Party’s weight as well as our own. 

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarJayne Mansfield 28th Jun - 9:37pm
    @ Lorenzo Cherin, You re absolutely correct. Vince Cable is no racist. The argument seems to me to be, does the party accept that immigration...
  • User AvatarPeter Watson 28th Jun - 9:31pm
    @David Allen "Facing both ways is always the ideal political position" Ironically, I think this encapsulates too much of the Lib Dem approach. Even on...
  • User AvatarJohn Bennett 28th Jun - 9:25pm
    If my Open University degree acquired 43 years ago, and paid for at the time, costs me money in the last few years of my...
  • User AvatarFrank Bowles 28th Jun - 8:55pm
    Excellent Christine, well done!
  • User AvatarNoel Davies 28th Jun - 8:54pm
    I should begin by thanking people for the largely positive reception this first attempt at writing something for LibDem Voice has received. I felt minded...
  • User AvatarEamonn 28th Jun - 8:52pm
    Great article and one that makes me feel hopeful that perhaps the Lib Dems may one day become a home for those of us who...
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