It’s time to stand up for what we believe in… a manifesto is launched

Tonight, at an event in London’s East End, Tim Farron formally launched the Party’s manifesto for the General Election. This is what he had to say…

A couple of weeks ago, in Kidlington near Oxford, I met a guy called Malcolm. I say met…he came up to me in the street and started shouting at me.

You might have seen it on the news. Or the Internet.

In the end we actually got along. But he was angry with me for not getting behind Theresa May and backing Brexit. I think I calmed him down a bit when we spoke, but I don’t think I changed his mind.

And that’s fine. You see, when last year’s referendum took place I campaigned harder than anyone else to remain. I believed passionately that our children would have a brighter future if Britain remained in the European Union.

But we lost – and I accept that.

But that doesn’t mean I have changed what I believe.

I believe that our children will have a brighter future if we are inside the European Union. That they will be safer and better off. That our economy will be stronger and our country will have more influence in the world.

But just because I believe that doesn’t mean I think people who voted to leave are bad people. Of course they’re not. We just disagree.

You see, I grew up in Preston in Lancashire. And most of the people in Preston voted to leave. There are parts of Lancashire where two-thirds of people voted to leave.

Friends of mine did. Members of my family did. They don’t all admit that to my face, but I know they did.

Those people, they’re my people. I like them. They’re good people. Decent people.

And, as it happens, I liked Malcolm too. Once he stopped shouting at me.

But here’s the difference between me and Theresa May – I want Malcolm, and everyone in Preston, and every single one of you, to have your say over what comes next.

Nobody knows what Brexit will look like.

The choices Theresa May will make will affect your life and our country for decades – your job, your weekly shop, your environment, your safety, where you can travel to and where you can live.

And she’s already making choices that will affect those things, including the most profound choice she could make – taking Britain out of the Single Market.

That decision alone is a time bomb under our economy. And when it blows up it is going to take our NHS and our schools down with it.

It is going to wreck our children’s future for decades to come.

And it is a choice. Plain and simple. It wasn’t inevitable.

There was nothing on the ballot paper last June that said we were choosing to pull out of the Single Market. There are other countries that are outside the EU but inside the Single Market – just look at Norway or Switzerland.

There was nothing on the ballot paper that said that people and families from Europe who have made this country their home would be left in limbo, not knowing if they can stay in the country they raise their kids in.

And there was definitely nothing on the ballot paper that said we would turn our allies into enemies. Yet here we are, with our government making accusations of our neighbours and even threatening war with Spain.

The choices Theresa May makes – and the compromises she negotiates with bureaucrats in Brussels – will affect our children’s future for decades to come.

My children, your children, Malcolm’s grandchildren.

In June last year we voted for a departure, but we didn’t vote for a destination.

So I want you to have your choice over your future.

Someone is going to have the final say over the Brexit deal.

It could be the politicians or it could be the people.

I believe it should be the people.

You should have the final say on whether Theresa May’s Brexit deal is right for you and your family in a referendum.

And if you don’t like that deal, you should have the choice to remain in the European Union.

Giving you the choice over your future is exactly what our manifesto is about.

I want you to imagine a brighter future.

Imagine a future where our children can grow up in a country where people are decent to each other.

Where we have good schools and hospitals.

Where we take the challenge of climate change seriously.

Where give our teachers and nurses and soldiers the pay rise they deserve for the service they give our country.

Where we have an open, innovative economy.

Where we treat the poorest and the most vulnerable with compassion.

Where we don’t turn our back on desperate refugees.

That’s the Britain I love. That’s the Britain I want to lead.

But that’s not the future Theresa May is offering you. If you want to know the most revealing thing that has been said during this election, look at Nigel Farage’s Twitter.

He wrote: “Theresa May is using the exact words and phrases I’ve been using for twenty years.”

Think about that for a minute. The ‘exact words and phrases’.

The Prime Minister of our great country saying the same things that Nigel Farage has been saying for twenty years.

And not just the words and phrases. The policies too, that’s what UKIP MEP Patrick O’Flynn said this week.

Brexit never did just mean Brexit. For Nigel Farage, Brexit was always part of a package, a world view.

It’s a world view that includes shunning climate change…

…that includes shrinking the state by starving our schools and our NHS of the funding they need.

…that includes turning our backs on some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world, as Theresa May did when she shamefully closed the door to desperate child refugees.

That’s Nigel Farage’s world view. The same one that leads to Donald Trump banning Muslims and building a wall. The same one that Marine Le Pen tried to impose on the decent people of France.

Nigel Farage’s vision for Britain is now Theresa May’s. He has taken over the Conservative Party.

Anti-Europe. Anti-refugees. Slashing funding to schools and hospitals.

No wonder UKIP is standing down candidates and backing the Tories.

After all, who needs UKIP if the Government is doing what they want anyway.

Somebody has to stand up to them. Someone has to fight for the decent, compassionate Britain we love.

But it won’t be Jeremy Corbyn.

On the biggest issue facing us all in a generation, when all this is at stake, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour hasn’t shown up.

Jeremy Corbyn even ordered his MPs and Peers to vote with the Tories and UKIP.

Not against them. With them.

Before the vote on Article 50, he said he would order his party to vote in favour even if the Government made no concessions to them whatsoever.

So, surprise surprise, they didn’t.

Jeremy Corbyn didn’t have to do that. He could have voted with us to stay in the Single Market, or to give European citizens living here the right to stay. He chose not to.

Jeremy Corbyn has always been pro-Brexit – he campaigned against Europe for years – so we shouldn’t be surprised. But we should be disappointed.

Labour are supposed to be the opposition, but they haven’t opposed anything.

They are supposed to stand up for working people, but they haven’t stood up for anyone.

They are supposed to care about our children’s future, but they are letting the Conservatives wreck it.

They have lost the right to call themselves the opposition.

Labour has lost its purpose but we have found ours.

The brighter future we want for all our children is at stake. Our economy is at stake. Our schools and hospitals are at stake.

This is about the future of the open, tolerant, united country we love.

I am here tonight to tell you that we won’t roll over.

A few weeks ago in France, the two parties that had run the country for decades came third and fifth in the election.

Third and fifth.

The decent people of France decided that they did not want to just simply accept one of the two tired old parties. So they rejected them.

And when the two old parties had been eliminated, the decent people of France faced a stark choice: a liberal, pro-European candidate who believes in an open, tolerant and united France, and the leader of the National Front.

Hope versus fear. A brighter future versus a cold, mean-spirited one.

Nigel Farage pinned his colours to the mast. Just like when he backed Donald Trump in America, he backed the candidate who represented his world view – anti-Europe, anti-refugees.

He backed the National Front.

Well, the decent people of France chose hope over fear. And the National Front lost.

Don’t let anyone tell you the only choice you have in this election is between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn.

This election is about your choice and your future.

You can choose a brighter future where our children grow up in a country where people are decent to each other…

…where we have good schools and hospitals so that our children have a fair chance in life and our elderly are treated with dignity…

…where we have a clean environment and an innovative economy.

The more Liberal Democrat MPs you elect, the better the deal we will get on Europe.

The more Liberal Democrat MPs you elect, the more jobs and more money for the NHS and schools.

The more Liberal Democrat MPs you elect, the brighter the future for our children.

Theresa May and Nigel Farage’s cold, mean-spirited Britain is not the Britain I love.

The Britain I love is generous and compassionate.

The Britain I love is one where we are decent to each other.

The Britain I love is open, tolerant and united.

If that is the Britain you love too then this is the moment to stand up.

This is your chance to change Britain’s future.

I am here tonight because when my children are my age I want to be able to look them in the eye and tell them honestly that when the moment came to stand up for their future, I stood up.

I am determined that our children will grow up in a country where people are decent to each other.

I am here tonight because the Britain I love is not lost yet.

That’s the country I want to lead.

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25 Comments

  • Great speech Tim. We have to offer our younger people some hope for tomorrow. They really do deserve a better future.

  • Eddie Sammon 17th May '17 - 11:36pm

    There’s not a lot of difference between the new Conservative manifesto and Marine Le Pen’s 2017 programme:

    1. Conservatives: reduce immigration to the 10’s of thousands
    Marine Le Pen: reduce legal immigration to 10,000
    2. Conservatives: Extra charges for businesses who employ non-EU migrants
    Marine Le Pen: Introduce an additional tax on the employment of foreign workers.
    3. Conservatives: Charge non-EU nationals more for the NHS
    Marine Le Pen: prioritise French citizens in social housing

    One of the problems with these policies is that it affects migrants who are already here. People who are already resident in the UK need to be treated differently, especially legally resident. It’s no small matter, it causes great pain to some who have been here for many years and paying taxes too.

    The Lib Dem manifesto isn’t perfect, but as a statement of values I much prefer it to Labour and the Conservatives.

  • Richard Butler 18th May '17 - 12:03am

    Leavers embrace change and autonomy with confidence and a sense we are a potent nation. Such a shame to see so called liberals clinging to familiarity, terrified of change, Infantalised.

  • “Leavers embrace change and autonomy with confidence and a sense we are a potent nation…”

    How so? Please elaborate further on this interesting hypothesis, particularly where this ‘potent nation’ will be left as we depart from the biggest single market in the world…

  • Matthew Huntbach 18th May '17 - 12:39am

    Richard Butler

    Such a shame to see so called liberals clinging to familiarity, terrified of change, Infantalised.

    Comments like this rather than a serious discussion on the actual power of the EU are what convince me that the Leave campaign is run by fraudsters. You may have fooled most of the people, but you have not fooled me.

    I believe it is necessary to have international co-operation in order to keep power in the hands of the people and to stop it being taken over by shady elite extreme wealthy types. Without international co-operation, these types play one country off against another, so we have to bow down and scrape to them, saying “Please Masters, come and bring your money to our country, and we’ll scrap employment protection laws, and make cuts in public services so we can scrap taxes on you, our Lords”.

    That is what you Leave people are REALLY about.

  • Yeovil Yokel 18th May '17 - 3:55am

    Richard Butler – Words are cheap, the reality of Brexit is and will be expensive – I hope that you’ve got good insurance.

  • Michael main 18th May '17 - 8:38am

    An excellent speech which brought tears to my eyes. The problem is that with the awful press we now have,any people will see it. Go on Tom, for it !!ss we have now, how

  • Michael main 18th May '17 - 8:41am

    Go for it Tim – despite the press , go for it i j

  • @Richard B – “Leavers embrace change and autonomy with confidence…”

    No they don’t. Leavers are running from change and, as the inital negotiations with the EU have shown, we aren’t autonomous but rather dependent on the kindness of others to give us a trade deal.

    As for the “confidence” bit, the other member states aren’t the ones leaving, we are and we are doing so depite being one of the larger states whereas the smaller ones are staying as they do have the confidence to fight their corner.

  • @Matthew Huntbach

    ‘Comments like this rather than a serious discussion on the actual power of the EU are what convince me that the Leave campaign is run by fraudsters.’

    https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/peter-geoghegan-adam-ramsay/mysterious-dup-brexit-donation-plot-thickens

    i don’t normally go for conspiracy theories but this is worrying.

  • Ian Patterson 18th May '17 - 4:01pm

    Is our campaign actually working or are we going to be creamed again?

  • Martin Land 18th May '17 - 4:51pm

    @Ian. Campaign?

  • Ian Patterson 18th May '17 - 5:16pm

    @Martin Land a campaign that registers with the public, not wonks like us!

  • paul barker 18th May '17 - 5:26pm

    I dont know whats going to happen to us on June 8th, neither does Tim Farron or anyone else. Its not crazy to think that we might lose all our MPs or that we might double the number, we just dont know.
    What we do know is that its way too late to change our whole strategy & that blaming each other will make our result worse & more painful.
    At this point point the best we can do is carry on & cheer up.

  • I am terribly disheartened by the campaign from the national party.

    Almost nobody on the doorsteps wants a second referendum. They are either happy with the result, or think a referendum is what caused our problems in the first place. They are also much more interested in schools and the NHS, both of which are areas where we have strong, costed policies.

    I cannot fathom the logic behind making a second referendum the centrepiece of our campaign. Yet it’s everywhere, from social media to TV appearances. It appeals to a minority of a minority, and is preaching to the choir rather than the public. It seems to have been dreamed up by people who haven’t knocked on any doors. It throws MPs and candidates in Leave seats under a bus in order to appeal to a tiny number of people who are already with us.

    In the name of sanity, we have to change course now or we are headed for the rocks in three weeks.

  • Ian Patterson 18th May '17 - 6:42pm

    @Paul Barker slivers of hope would be nice.

  • Been talking with colleagues, several voted for us at several elections up to and including 2010. Tuition Fees and the betrayal then still rancour deeply, despite that two or three were going to back us once again but probably not now. They are heavily critical of our campaign. Their advice for God sake stop talking about Brexit, just criticize the government and its policies and plans, point out how much renationalisation alone will cost and rates of interest involved and say loudly and persistently what you would do like the one penny on invome tax for the NHS/Education etc.But forget Brexit for a couple of weeks, as one said the Lib Dems are talking about something which many people simply do not understand, it goes above their heads.

    In other words we have cocked up big time, totally misjudging the event, its a general election not a referendum, as well as voters perceptions and desires.
    I would like to go to party headquarters and scream at them, so angry and frustrated I feel, but cannot as I have responsible grandchildren duties the bulk of each day.
    Is it too much to hope that this epistle will be picked up by someone, Caron, Joe, anyone and they will run with it to the campaign team. A fresh start from Sunday, it may just save us from possible extinction.
    We have to listen to others not ourselves.

  • @ theakes I actually agree with you.

    Down to earth bread and butter politics needed that affect the mass ordinary people and families instead of the (what may well be worthy in themselves) pre-occupations of the few.

    I may have missed it (it can’t have been obvious) but did we pick up on the Tory nonsense on adult social care ?

    On the issues, despite a hostile press, Corbyn seems to be connecting better with ordinary folk than we are…….. because he’s addressing bread and butter issues that concern them.

  • paul barker 18th May '17 - 9:02pm

    To drop the central plank of our campaign 20 Days before the Vote would be mad. At this point we have no choice but to carry on as we are. Personally, I think The Polls are probably underestimating our support by around 4% but theres no doubt we have been squeezed.
    To anyone who thinks that Labour are doing well, I suggest a visit to Labour List to read the comment threads. Their morale is worse than ours.

  • Katharine Pindar 18th May '17 - 9:59pm

    We have to campaign, it seems to me, against the harm that May’s proposed hard Brexit will do if it is carried through, and for access to the EU internal market: not specifically emphasising a follow-up referendum, but speaking out against the harm which is impending which may lead to public demand for that referendum. That is a change of emphasis which indeed seems needful, and which canvassing today in Tim’s own constituency has convinced me of. Other than that, there is much good material in the Manifesto for us to focus on.

  • Roger Billins 18th May '17 - 10:18pm

    The whole campaign is a disaster. Most people think the Europe issue is done and dusted. We should have done what Starmer and Labour have done and saved the fight for later. That should have been obvious from the county council elections, where we all know the truth that in terms of expectation, we did worse than Labour. It is not too late to change and I will say it until I am sick-look at 1983 where we changed strategy and put on 10 points in two weeks. I know because I fought that campaign as a candidate. For God sake listen, we can skewer the Tories on the economy and the NHS.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 18th May '17 - 11:46pm

    Theakes, David,Roger

    What I do not understand is that we on this site are not listened to more , some of us have been saying for ages this is not the real way forward, and even some here saying it now, back then said I should not criticise Tim, when, though I voted for Norman, I like Tim as much and have supported him throughout these couple of years , with enthusiasm, but not on the current strategy .

    I think when he talks about everything but Brexit more listen, he is good on all topics , but many switch off.

    David Raw mentions Labour too favourably, their sums are a joke, though he is correct, they do concentrate on the main issues.

    I have said for so many months, since Corbyn, the country craves a mainstream centre left party and direction.

    France see that possibility in Macron.

    The uk are granting it to…May !

    What can we do ?

  • @ Lorenzo – “I have said for so many months, since Corbyn, the country craves a mainstream centre left party and direction.”

    The issue I suspect for the Marketeers was that they didn’t think this to be a big enough headline grabber to get the party noticed again when it was been totally ignored.

    You can’t do anything without a communication channel, so you have to take a risk to be as different and distinctive as you dare to get listened too, so that people then listen to other policies (selling these on the back of your USP if you like).

    I think what’s happened here is that:
    a) there was not enough resource to really gauge public opinion accurately in the first place and more importantly to see early enough that it was changing
    b) Only now is it becoming clear that this whole referendum piece is dead in the water, and if we’re honest probably has been for some time.
    c) it’s a very difficult call to make now to be fair because 3 weeks is very little time to change direction, get noticed for it and cement a new strategy quickly.

    It’s quite telling that more people here seem to be in agreement now than at anytime since I’ve been listening.

    Lets hope for everyones sake we are all wrong.

    Many agree with your statement above Lorenzo including me (for months now).
    But you know that already 🙂

    I really really hope we are wrong.

  • Andrew McCaig 19th May '17 - 1:37pm

    In Huddersfield we have been continuing local surveys in a target ward during the campaign (in quite Tory areas so far) and I would say only a small minority of people are voting against us because we support a second referendum, with a surprisingly large number of Leavers being in favour. Very few people have changed their mind over how they voted in the referendum and therefore the country would still be split evenly at the moment if there was another referendum. However most people are going to vote Tory or Labour, and I think the problem is that even if they want a second referendum they don’t think we will be in a position to deliver it.. Of course we only got 5.9% here last time so I can’t apply this to a seat where we are in contention..

    I think personally that the mistaken slogan is “No to Hard Brexit”, and I think we should relaunch with “Yes to the Single Market”. This is a clear position ruled out by both Tories and Labour, and was supported 51% to 26% in a YouGov poll only 2 weeks ago. It can be linked to every single other issue because the the other two have NOT factored the loss of GDP through leaving the Single Market into their manifesto promises.The problem with “Hard Brexit” is that the other two say they are against it as well, or just dismiss it (quite rightly) as meaningless…

    In Huddersfield everyone puts posters on lamp posts in the last 2 weeks of the campaign and we will be running with “Yes to the Single Market” as well as the candidate name posters and some “No to Hard Brexit”

  • Lorenzo Cherin 19th May '17 - 1:45pm

    MikeS

    You are one of the constructive moderate sensible people who I like to be kept on my toes by, and backed strongly by too , as me with you !

    Thank you for the response. I think , if you read my comments on another thread about the campaign , I say , we need to be a party that tells the whole story , and we are not and rarely do !

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