I have to say I do feel for my friends in the Labour Party – those people whose views on many of the issues of the day are not wildly dissimilar to mine. They stuck with Labour through Iraq and the erosion of civil liberties despite feeling uncomfortable with both of these things. And now they are faced with a leadership delivering them at the feet of Theresa May and her Brexiteers.
When you have devoted a huge amount of your life to working for a political party, you have a huge amount of your social and emotional ties wrapped up in it too. It’s not easy to walk away from.
I understand those ties because I feel them for this party, an organisation to which I have devoted more than two thirds of my life.
I wouldn’t ask or expect my friends to leave Labour – although I think most of them could be quite happy in the Liberal Democrats – because that has to be a personal decision for them. I’d welcome them if they did decide to join us and I will certainly find ways to work with them on the issues where we agree, most notably in opposing the Tory/Labour hegemony on Brexit.
This is the biggest thing that this country has done in my lifetime. The shock waves will be felt for generations. The vote was knife-edge close, so the government should have to prove itself at every step of the way by being scrutinised within an inch of its life – ultimately by the people of this country being asked to ratify the Brexit deal or not. Yet the Labour Party under Corbyn has capitulated and given the Tories free rein.
So I won’t be asking my friends in Labour directly to join us. They can make their own minds up about where their future lies. But I do extend an invitation to all those people out there who vote Labour, or who maybe have never been involved in party politics before but who are deeply uneasy about what they see unfolding before them.
Tim Farron this afternoon recorded a short video in which he outlined the two reasons why Corbyn’s relaunch is bad news. Firstly, the obvious Brexit one, but secondly and as importantly, having a Trump on the left is not a good thing. Populism is bad news wherever it comes from.
— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) January 10, 2017
He also sent an email to Lib Dem members entitled “We’ve got to talk about Jeremy” saying:
We’ve known for a while that Jeremy Corbyn has never had his heart in fighting to protect Britain’s place in Europe.
But in a speech today, he went even further. Under his leadership, Labour will write the Conservatives a blank cheque on Brexit.
He’s abandoned the single market, he’s abandoned freedom of movement and he’s abandoned pro-European Labour voters.
After today, there’s only one home left for them – the Liberal Democrats. That’s why, I want to extend a hand to Labour voters, who like us – and unlike Jeremy Corbyn, want to see an open, tolerant and united Britain.
Will you help me extend that hand, by asking them to join the real opposition today?
We have an incredible opportunity to build our party and bring in the thousands of progressive Labour voters who share our values, but we need to ask them to join the Liberal Democrats and help lead the real opposition to this Conservative Brexit Government.
Alistair Carmichael took apart Jeremy Corbyn’s proposal on pay as only he can.
If the salary cap is just the first idea from the new Trump style Jeremy Corbyn then 2017 may have some much-needed levity. You wonder what is coming next. Building a wall would be the obvious one. Most likely it would be built around to rest of the Parliamentary Labour Party.”
In one regard Corbyn is like Trump – they share an utter disregard for how things actually work, whether it is the rest of the world or other people’s money. He is letting down the millions of ordinary people who need a progressive force that is serious about stopping the Conservative Government. That is when the joke stops being funny.
While the Labour Party want to take lessons from the most divisive political figure in the world, Liberal Democrats will continue to champion an open, tolerant and united society. We can only hope that he doesn’t start to ape Trump’s use of Twitter.
* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings