Liberal Democrats should commit to abolition of all global borders

The upcoming referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union is both an opportunity and a threat for the Liberal Democrats.  The party has an opportunity to define itself clearly as the most forward-thinking, internationalist force in British politics.  However, if it fails to do this then it risks looking like an irrelevant, also-ran defender of the status quo.

The 2014 European election campaign shows the threat that the party faces.  It was insufficient to simply argue that the European Union must be retained because it preserves jobs and helps our on-going effort to prevent climate change.  If we want to galvanise support then we have to offer a vision of the future, not simply a defence of the present.

Similarly, the Better Together campaign in the Scottish independence referendum ended up creating the impression in far too many voters’ minds that the Liberal Democrats and the other unionist parties were simply interested in defending the UK as it exists now.  That vote might have been won, but it was won in a fashion that did the victorious parties no good at all in Scotland.

If the Liberal Democrats are to emerge on the victorious side in the European referendum, and simultaneously enhance our reputation, then we must set out the values that underpin our belief in the EU.  The old Liberal Party did this extremely clearly in its constitution where it stated that it believed in creating a “United Europe” as a precursor to a “democratically constituted World Authority”.

An international border is an unacceptable infringement on human liberty.  The Liberal Democrats should be committed to the eventual abolition of all borders.  The formation of the United Kingdom achieved this in one small part of the globe.  A Liberal Democrat Britain should be committed to exporting this revolution across the continent and ultimately the world.

No one should be under any illusion that this would be a universally popular stance.  For the majority of the population it would be off-putting.  However, among the 20% of the electorate that Mark Pack and David Howarth have identified as our potential core vote it is this kind of positioning that will attract supporters.

From a practical point of view, co-operating across borders as a precursor to their elimination has much to commend it as a means of cutting defence spending, gaining meaningful influence over multinational corporations, combatting climate change and stopping beggar thy neighbour economic policies.

It is also a policy that flows from liberalism.  If we want to demonstrate to the public that it means something to be a liberal today and we are not simply a pale shadow of either Labour or the Conservatives, then we must be prepared to go further than our opponents in the direction that our principles demand.

The Liberal Democrats should be full participants in the campaign to keep Britain in the EU, but at every opportunity we should be pointing out that we would reverse any infringements on the free movement of people, we would support greater tax harmonisation and we would support greater co-operation on defence.

The EU referendum is a golden opportunity to define the Liberal Democrats in the minds of the public as Britain’s internationalist party.  We should be working now to create a more radical, integrationist policy approach to Europe in order to facilitate this.  At the same time, we should revive our commitment to going beyond the European Union towards a more united world.

* Andrew Chamberlain is a London-based freelance journalist, Liberal Democrat member and activist. He was a councillor in North Ayrshire between 2007 and 2012.

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60 Comments

  • Richard Stallard 11th Aug '15 - 10:34am

    This is a joke… right?

  • Relevant to the discussion of abolishing boundaries —

    … at the Beyond a Boundary conference held in honour of C.L.R. James – Trinidadian marxist intellectual and cricket writer – at the University of Glasgow in 2013.

    http://liberalengland.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/mike-brearley-on-socrates-and-clr-james.html

  • I agree with Sara Scarlett.
    .
    .
    .
    .
    I bet this comment gets through the censor!

  • Yes great. Remind me to leave my front door open.

  • Eddie Sammon 11th Aug '15 - 11:23am

    Of course an ideal world would have no borders, but this is fantasy politics, a bit like the smaller state article the other day.

    Worringly, this article suggests not only a goal, but to start taking borders down now. The concept of a core vote doesn’t really exist – this is a 20% strategy and that is it. You won’t get 35% of the vote by suggesting the solution to Calais is to join Schengen.

  • Eddie Sammon
    It won’t get any party 35%, but I haven’t come along a sensible alternative to international cooperation. And that is to only way to manage Calais etc.

  • (Matt Bristol) 11th Aug '15 - 11:43am

    I do agree with the propositions that borders can matter less than they used to and that partnership across borrders matters immensely, and I also happen to hold that in a modern democracy both internal borders (and potentially extrernal borders, where there is a pre-existing cross-border consensus, mutual respect and a good working relationship between states) could be potentially held open to question and not treated as involable gifts from God.

    But, sorry, Andrew, these two sentences in conjunction are rubbish: “The Liberal Democrats should be committed to the eventual abolition of all borders. The formation of the United Kingdom achieved this in one small part of the globe.”

    Well, no. The creation of the United Kingdom (which took place gradually over many years and involved several wars) created a larger kingdom within which several barriers (if not formal borders) continued to exist for some time.

    This is a classic piece of naieve, ahistorical, Anglo-centric pseudo-highminded liberal cant, co-opting the past to make facetious arguments that confuse, not clarify. I don’t think you’d find that would go down well in Ireland.

    You might as well say, let’s bring back the Holy Roman Empire or the Medieval Papacy as they were large organisatoins that tried to foster partnership across borders nominally based on common values.

    I’d much rather say: people and organisations seem to need borders in one form or another; let’s work to make sure that the borders of all kinds that do exist and continue to be created are negotiable, flexible and democratic and aren’t used to control and oppress people.

    It must be the silly season.

  • Maurice Leeke 11th Aug '15 - 11:46am

    But the solution to Calais IS to join Schengen, just as the solution to milk prices is to join the Euro.

  • Eddie is it 20% strategy or 2% strategy?

  • Eddie Sammon 11th Aug '15 - 11:52am

    Lol, David, well if you go for 20% you often get a bit less!

  • Oh dear.

  • Richard Underhill 11th Aug '15 - 12:07pm

  • Arguing for taking down international barriers is a good thing. (e.g. TTIP). However, these things must happen on a continental scale with multinational agreement. It goes without saying that a unilateral decision of any country to remove its own borders would literally be the death of that country.

    So, we should continue to work within the EU for lower border barriers, and to have the EU work with the USA, China, and others to start the things we have already done in the EU.

    One day, far in the future, if we do the things above, borders wont mean much. There’s no point in setting hares running by saying we intend to abolish our borders ASAP, because that’s just nuts and will se us wiped out in elections.

  • David Faggiani 11th Aug '15 - 12:42pm

    I think a lot of commentators on this site would do well to be a bit more polite about peoples’ articles here. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with them – far from it. But maybe keep in mind whether you are opposed to the idea in principle, in practice, in sense of priority or in detail, and then proceed to argue from there. Comments like “it must be the silly season” (something I’ve seen from other commentators, in paraphrase, many times) and other dismissive sarcasms are not helpful, welcoming or conducive to construction of policy. They are also intimidating, dispiriting and ultimately, useless.

    Try using this template. “Thanks for your contribution X! However/in addition to your point/ on the other hand/ have you considered…?”

    ….and that way we might get some actual conversations started here.

    Also, maybe this is a long-term, utopian goal. Good, maybe we should have some of those. Bravo Andrew.

  • Richard Underhill 11th Aug '15 - 12:50pm

    Andrew Chamberlain: Are you sure that the UK has abolished all borders? Imagine a planeload of British Citizens travelling by air from one part of the UK to another part of the UK. Airline security checks require passports, essentially domestic ID cards. Although the British Citizens are not crossing an international border they are unexpectedly stopped by UK Immigration Officers for a “routine” “spot” “quick” passport check, somewhere in the airport, not even at a control desk and not needing to show reasonable grounds of suspicion.
    Has it happened to you? It has happened to me. It was quick, unlike the usual two hour timescale for boarding.

  • Richard Underhill 11th Aug '15 - 1:22pm

    David Evans 11th Aug ’15 – 11:19am “Yes great. Remind me to leave my front door open.” Going out canvassing it is surprising how many people do leave their front door wide open, unlocked, or with keys in the lock on the outside.

  • Sarah Olney 11th Aug '15 - 1:45pm

    I like the idea of abolition of borders as a theoretical aspiration. (A former boss of mine in a trendy marketing agency would have called it a ‘thought experiment’). As an overarching goal, it could drive the development of foreign affairs, trade and defence policies. The idea that we – eventually – wouldn’t need to worry about national borders and were looking ahead to a day when everyone was equal and resources could be more effectively utilised across the globe, is surely a hallmark of liberalism.

    To adopt it as a campaign pledge would be ridiculous though. Being British is something that the majority of the public feel very strongly about – Churchill, the Queen, cups of tea, tweed jackets, Wensleydale cheese – all of that. Never mind the political and economic arguments, Britain is walled up inside a tremendous cultural and social bastion that the Establishment have carefully honed as a defence against the gradual leaching away of national significance.

    I always enjoys the annual Tory ejaculations about British values because, when challenged, they find it very hard to pin down exactly which “British” values are distinct from, say, Dutch values or Danish values. This backs up exactly what you’re saying of course – national borders are artificial barriers – we have as much in common with our national neighbours as we do with the people next door.

    But when people dry up their tea cups with their Royal Wedding commemorative teatowel, they know that they feel British and that’s special and important to them. We need to acknowledge that in our referendum campaigning and not dismiss it or threaten to take it away.

  • Lester Holloway 11th Aug '15 - 2:20pm

    Open borders within Europe or including the rest of the world… The article isn’t clear.

  • Richard Stallard 11th Aug '15 - 2:27pm

    “Being British is something that the majority of the public feel very strongly about”.

    No kidding?

    Our island race has resisted the foreign invader time after time, and we even put ourselves out to successfully sort out the mess the europeans got themselves into on more than one occasion (losing many lives in the process, including members of my own family). We achieved that by sticking together, by drawing on the support of the British Empire (arguably, the greatest the world has ever seen) and by being fortunate enough to have the English Channel as a natural border.

    No true Briton would ever countenance throwing away that proud heritage by abolishing borders on a whim.

  • Richard Underhill 11th Aug '15 - 3:09pm

    Richard Stallard 11th Aug ’15 – 2:27pm The Channel did not stop Julius Caesar invading twice, nor did it stop our cities being bombed from London to Belfast. The RAF did that, including experienced pilots from Poland and Czechoslaovakia. Canada was prompt to help, but is not in the Empire. The USA came into the war when they were attacked themselves at Pearl Harbour in the so-called “Pacific” ocean, and after Nazi Germany declared war on the USA in pointless support of their Axis ally.
    We were unable to prevent Nazi occupation of the Channel Islands, which they have not forgotten.
    We were unable to defend Singapore. We promised to defend Australia, but were unable to do so, which they have not forgotten.

  • (Matt Bristol) 11th Aug '15 - 3:20pm

    Um, I apologise for the ‘silly season’ comment David Faggiani draws attention to, which was gratuitious.

    I did overstate my language somewhat, but I still wish to critique Andrew’s misusage of British history in the strongest possible terms. The UK as it evolved in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries was not a harbinger of cross-border cooperaiton. It was a kingdom, getting bigger by conquest, diplomacy and dynastic acquisition. That was the point I wished to make.

    In the same way, and to be even-handed I would also wish to storngly highlight that I also regard which Richard Stallard has written above to also be cant rhetoric, recited as if it were analysis, when it is in fact nothing like it.

    I agree with what the original article says here (if the reference to elimination is removed):
    “From a practical point of view, co-operating across borders … has much to commend it as a means of cutting defence spending, gaining meaningful influence over multinational corporations, combatting climate change and stopping beggar thy neighbour economic policies.”

    But I also strongly agree with what Sarah Olney says, when she says ‘[people] … know that they feel British and that’s special and important to them. We need to acknowledge that … and not dismiss it or threaten to take it away.’

    I would be very uncomfortable with a form of liberalism that prevented localities and nationalities and even states drawing and re-drawing borders and even creating new borders. I am totally OK with many forms of attempts to make those borders impinge less oppressively on the lives of ordinary people.

    But as a liberal and a democrat who storngly values diversity as a hallmark of political liberalism, the old 60s Liberal aspiration to a ‘world authority’ is highly suspect to me and I would fight quite hard to stop it being front and centre in any LibDem manifesto.

  • Eddie Sammon 11th Aug '15 - 3:36pm

    I agree that Richard Stallard has gone too far by talking about “our island race” and glorifying the British empire.

  • Stephen Hesketh 11th Aug '15 - 3:48pm

    Richard Stallard11th Aug ’15 – 2:27pm
    “Our island race has resisted the foreign invader time after time”

    In that case Richard how do you explain the introduction of advancements such as agriculture and metallurgy from the Middle East and southern Europe, that we predominantly but far from exclusively speak (Germanic) English liberally sprinkled and enriched with words from all over Europe and further afield and that our ancient place names contain a huge number of ‘foreign’ elements – and that’s before we even start on our DNA.

  • Richard Stallard 11th Aug '15 - 4:22pm

    I said “resisted”.
    I didn’t say always successfully!

  • While I agree with the long-term aims of creating a Federal Europe and a democratically constituted World Authority we should not say we wish to abolish borders without the structures necessary to support the people in the borderless areas.

    Of course we should be working across borders to control the power of multinationals, fighting crime, combating climate change, protecting endangered animals and plants and stopping “beggar thy neighbour economic policies.”

    While limiting where someone can live is an infringement of their liberty, we need to be careful not to assume that the free movement of people from country to country is a liberal ideal. Free movement within a country is a liberal ideal. It is the role of a liberal government to increase the freedom of those people whom it governs; it does not have a duty to increase the liberty of those outside the country at the expense of those in the country.

    We have a history of internationalism. This is not a history that said the Armenians or Bulgarians who were being persecuted should all be allowed to move to the UK. It was a policy of stopping the persecution and endeavouring to get protections for those people in their country. When millions of Palestinians fled their homes in 1948 and 1967 we didn’t invite them all to the UK. Yes we gave the Huguenots asylum from Louis XIV, but this was about religious tolerance. Today our internationalism could be to bringing pressure to bear on nations or be like the no-fly zone that protected the Iraqi Kurds after the Kuwait War.

  • There is a problem regarding failed states and the huge numbers of people living in Africa who wish to live in Europe and/or the UK. The liberal response is not to invite all these people to the UK, but to assist them solve the problems in the areas where they live. This is why international law is important for liberals and why we believe in giving international aid to improve conditions for those people living in areas where their conditions are worse than ours.

    The EU does not work. Even in the UK there is pressure for people to move to south-east England and we have a centralised UK government. Liberals need to find solutions that work so that the economic pressures that encourage people in the UK to move to south-east England are nullified and then reform EU governance so these solutions can be applied across the EU, so there is no need for Greeks, Spaniards, Romanians or Bulgarians to move to the UK to have a better life. Then once we have sorted out the problem of migration in the EU we can apply these solutions to the rest of the world.

  • John Tilley 11th Aug '15 - 5:30pm

    Refreshing good sense and Liberalism in both Michael BG’s last two comments.

    Although this sentence had me thinking —
    “…When millions of Palestinians fled their homes in 1948 and 1967 we didn’t invite them all to the UK.”

    Perhaps for those who have spent 67 years in Prison Camp Gaza it would have been kinder if we had.

  • Richard Underhill 11th Aug '15 - 5:46pm

    Sarah Olney 11th Aug ’15 – 1:45pm “Being British is something that the majority of the public feel very strongly about – Churchill, the Queen, cups of tea, tweed jackets, Wensleydale cheese”
    Sir Winston Churchill had an American mother and a British father. In a speech in the USA he said that if it had been the other way round he might have become a US President.
    The Queen’s ancestors were German, hence the change of name to Windsor.
    Do you like Indian tea? or Sri Lankan? or Chinese?
    A choice of cheeses is also available from France, Italy, … .

  • Sarah Olney 11th Aug '15 - 6:17pm

    Richard Underhill – that was sort of my point. We can really only define Britishness in terms of symbols and tokens – scratch the surface and you’ll find that they’re mostly bogus. That doesn’t stop them exerting great power over the public.

  • Richard Underhill 11th Aug '15 - 6:29pm

    Sarah Olney 11th Aug ’15 – 6:17pm Yes.
    “But when people dry up their tea cups with their Royal Wedding commemorative teatowel, they know that they feel British and that’s special and important to them. We need to acknowledge that in our referendum campaigning and not dismiss it or threaten to take it away.”
    Presumably this is the upcoming EU referendum, coming maybe in June 2016. SNP, Greens and other will be running positive campaigns for different objectives with only three choices, Yes, No, abstain. We await the Labour leadershgip result and the Tories negotiations.

  • Andrew Chamberlain 11th Aug '15 - 9:03pm

    Thanks for all your comments, both supportive and otherwise. I’d actually forgotten that this was being posted today otherwise I’d have checked in and responded earlier.

    Nowhere in the article does it state that we should be placing a commitment to abolish international borders front and centre in our next manifesto. Politics is the art of the possible and our focus should be on the proposals for greater integration that can be agreed with our partners in Europe and elsewhere.

    There’s nothing in the article about unilaterally dismantling borders either. I’m not entirely sure what that means, other than in relation to immigration.

    With regard to the comments about people feeling British and therefore requiring a distinct demarcated British state – I’m British! I don’t regard myself as particularly Scottish or European. I like being British. I don’t believe that it is necessary for there to be a British state in order for me to continue being British, any more than it is necessary for an Independent Scotland to be created for people to be Scottish. Your national identity is a private matter and should have no bearing on your politics.

    I think Michael BG’s point about the pressures on people to migrate is perfectly valid. There has to be some transitional limitation on immigration, otherwise the country’s infrastructure would collapse. However, the limits that the Conservatives are pushing for are driven more by the Daily Mail than by real pressures on public services. Also, integration with the rest of Europe and North America can continue simultaneously with trying to assist the developing world.

  • Alex Macfie 11th Aug '15 - 9:23pm

    “The 2014 European election campaign shows the threat that the party faces”

    Yes, it shows the foolishness of agreeing to fight an election campaign on your opponents’ political territory. We made it about Clegg vs Farage when Clegg wasn’t even up for election, and European elections don’t decide a country’s position in the EU because the European Parliament legislates for the EU as a whole. We should have emphasised how the European Parliamnetary election was about competing ideologicaly visions for the EU as a whole, and talked about what our MEPs had done as LIBERALS to work towards a LIBERAL EU. Instead we agreed with Farage that the only allowable positions to take on the EU are uncritical support for the EU or withdrawal. It was as if the last UK election had been fought on whether you uncritically supported everything Whitehall and the government of the day did, or wanted to smash the British state. The ONLY way to have a sensible policy on the EU is to recognise that there are political, ideological differences in how people want the EU to look in the EXACT SAME WAY as there are for any nation state’s governance. And we need to OPENLY CHALLENGE people who pretend that there are not, instead of indirectly supporting their agenda.

  • phil doherty 11th Aug '15 - 10:15pm

    And you wonder why the Lib Dems are now the fifth party in British politics… and sinking fast. You are living in a fantasy world, one which the rest of the electorate does not reside. A place where the rest of the world does not reside either. This is pure fantasy politics at its worst… a bit like communism, a reasonable idea in theory but miles away from reality.

  • William Jones 12th Aug '15 - 7:49am

    More pure liberalism…looking forward to small book of essays coming out soon similar to the Orange Book. Possibly titled Liberalism for New Worlds.

  • William Jones 12th Aug '15 - 8:02am

    Is this essay two in a series from an exciting new book called: Liberalism for New Worlds? Look forward to the next essay – perhaps: “Body Liberty” or “Ultimate Free Trade”? Liberalism for New Worlds is written by PPE students while drunk in various student bars around the UK> http://www.libdemvoice.org/liblink-cllr-jayne-mccoy-council-intervention-drives-housing-market-47074.html

  • William Jones 12th Aug '15 - 8:02am

    Whoops didn’t mean to post a link in that comment…keyboard malfunction!

  • This is exactly the sort of thing Lib Dems should be shouting from the roof tops. We need to be a proper liberal opposition not Tory Light. The 20% will soon stand up and be counted too. Just look at Corbyn & Co.

  • Steve Coltman 12th Aug '15 - 9:34am

    This article makes me despair, but it does at least raise one interesting point – to whom do the Islands of Britain belong? Do they belong to the British people, or to the entire population of the globe? I firmly believe Britain belongs to the British people, and that we have an absolute right to decide who can share these islands with us, or not. I doubt you would need a referendum to discover what the British people themselves think, and I have little doubt that if this idea of abolishing national borders, and allowing free movement across the globe, if this were put to the membership of this party it would be shot down in flames. Of course, the membership in practice has very little say in policy, something that suits some activists down to the ground I suspect.
    Actually the article raises another point – do we ever want to be a realistic party of government? If we do we need to have policies that the people might actually want to vote for. Just because we only have 8 MPs, it does not mean we won’t have even fewer the next time round.
    The idea of world government was also raised. The reason why dictatorships such as the Soviet Union eventually collapsed was that even the Communist party members could see that there was something more attractive on offer beyond their borders. World government raises the spectre of a global dictatorship, but with no borders beyond which hope resided.

  • Must be mad to propose getting rid of all international borders!

  • Richard Underhill 11th Aug ’15 – 6:29pm
    “…people dry up their tea cups with their Royal Wedding commemorative teatowel, they know that they feel British …”

    Listening to the BBC farming programme on radio 4 this weekend I was astonished to hear Prince Charles speaking from his “home” in Transylvania (I am not making this up). Makes you feel proud to be Romanian!

  • Andrew Chamberlain 12th Aug '15 - 10:32am

    William Jones – There’s no point in the Liberal Democrats unless we promote liberalism. The party’s constitution should give a sense of the liberal future that we want to bring about, which is why the pre-1988 Liberal Party constitution contained a commitment to a United Europe and ultimately a world state.

    There’s nothing absurd about talking about the kind of world we want to create. If you’re not clear on where you want to go then how can you make policy to get there? Policy making without ideology descends into wooly populism. The problem with the Liberal Democrats at the moment is that we’re too similar to the other parties and too easily overlooked by the electorate. Some principled differentiation would help.

    At the moment, in practical policy terms, that just means standing up and supporting calls for tax harmonisation across the EU, co-ordinating fiscal policy and having deeper co-operation on defence.

  • Richard Underhill 12th Aug '15 - 12:32pm

    Sara Scarlett 11th Aug ’15 – 10:50am “Reading LDV is like wading through a stream of waist deep raw sewage dappled with the occasional nugget of gold.” Some people do this for fun. Please see BBC TV Countryfile swimming competition.

  • Jayne Mansfield 12th Aug '15 - 1:12pm

    @John Tilley,
    Prince Charles is descended from Vlad the Impaler.

  • David Faggiani 12th Aug '15 - 1:16pm

    I’ve expressed something similar before, but this is where I think it would be really helpful for Lib Dem Voice to provide a ‘summing-up’ function under opinion articles, which we could then vote on. In other words, a box with a simple multiple choice selection, which would indicate whether a majority of commenters basically agreed or disagreed with the author’s article.

    For this article, options could be something like A) “Yes, completely agree that Lib Dems should make abolishing borders internationally a central policy feature” B) “Agree with the principle, but think it shouldn’t be a priority for the Party” C) “Agree, but think we should focus on European integration (e.g. extending Schengen)” D) “Disagree that this is a good policy or aim entirely”. Obviously, an author could pick the options, and there could be a ‘none of the above’ box (and then you could just make a comment anyway, of course, for more nuance.)

    I think this would allow Lib Dem Voice to actually present some sense of general Party consensus opinion to the World, to the media, and to Conference. I would argue Conservative Home is very effective at doing this for the Tories. Just a thought! If people think this would dilute or simplify debate, maybe the ‘Vote’ box would only go up after, say, two days, or after 20 or so distinct people had commented on something, indicating the need for a ‘summing up’. There could then be a list of, say, the Top 5 ‘Most Agreed With’ article, perhaps on a monthly basis.

    Does anyone else think this would be good? I think I would prefer it to a system of ‘upvoting’ comments.

  • Andrew Chamberlain 12th Aug '15 - 2:06pm

    I think that’s a good suggestion, David. Incidentally, the article does only argue for C) in your list of choices. There are some opportunities for integration beyond Europe mainly relating to trade and environmental policy, e.g. TTIP, which the party should be enthusiastically behind, IMO.

  • William Jones 12th Aug '15 - 4:56pm

    Andrew Chamberlain – loved your essay, looking forward to the next one. Not sure this world is ready for it.

  • Thank you John Tilley for your supportive post. I wasn’t really thinking of those in Gaza or the West Bank, but those that fled to other countries, where they still live and some have the hope that one day they will be able to return to the home they, or their parents or grandparents fled in fear.

    @ Andrew Chamberlain

    “means standing up and supporting calls for tax harmonisation across the EU, co-ordinating fiscal policy and having deeper co-operation on defence.

    We have moved to closer co-operation on defence and sometimes we can even work together with other members of the EU on foreign policy.

    To have one economic policy for the whole EU would be a catastrophe a bit like the single currency. It is difficult enough for the UK government to manage the economy for the whole of the UK’s population of over 63 million. It would be much harder to do it for such a diverse area as the EU with its population of over 506 million. It would be impossible with the current EU structure and failure of the wealthy nations to support the poorer nations. As Liberals we call for tax raising powers for Scotland, Wales, the regions and local government this means we are against tax harmonisation. A fiscal policy that works in London doesn’t work in Newcastle or Scotland. It is clear that a fiscal policy that works for Germany doesn’t work for Greece.

  • Richard Underhill 13th Aug '15 - 1:51pm

    jedibeeftrix 12th Aug ’15 – 10:20pm Wow.
    The UK has a land border with the Republic of Ireland, a country which has been affected by emigration to the USA. Scotalnd has been affected by emigration to Canada and the USA. Gibraltar has had a land border with Spain since the Treaty of Utrecht. The Federal Republic of Germany had a partly proportional sysytem of elections because we insisted on it, as Allied Powers after WW2. And federalism. Modern Germany has the same systems and benefits from them accordingly. They comment that “It is a pity that the UK did not do these things for yourselves.”

  • jedibeeftrix 13th Aug '15 - 6:20pm

    “Modern Germany has the same systems and benefits from them accordingly. They comment that “It is a pity that the UK did not do these things for yourselves.”

    Why, Richard? Did we want or need them?

  • Richard Underhill 13th Aug '15 - 10:36pm

    jedibeeftrix 13th Aug ’15 – 6:20pm Yes, this is about good governance. Voters should get what they voted for, rather than a distortion through an electoral system which tends to produce landslides.
    Federalism is about devolution. For the sake of the mental health of the country decisions should be made at the lowest possible level. Ask John Cleese, he can make this serious point entertaining.

  • Richard Underhill 14th Aug '15 - 8:21pm

    After Spain and Portugal joined the EU we came to a crossing point. There was a depp ravine which would have been difficult ro cross in any vehicle, or on foot without climbing gear. There was a road bridge with modern booths at each end, unoccupied by any customs or immigration staff from either country.

    Before the UK joined the EEC my parents were living in Belgium. As a young adult with a parent our UK registered car reached a border post between Belgium and France and was waved through. We were not asked to produce individual passports, nor was the boot of the car searched.

    After the IRA announced a ceasefire my wife and i crossed from the Republic into Northern Ireland in a UK registered car and stopped at a border village to buy a local newspaper. Later we drove down the Falls Road.

    The reality is that it is difficult to effectively police a land border.

  • Apologies to the Editors – realised that this part of my previous comment this morning is more relevant here!

    A comment on here last week which I was surprised no one took on – said simply, that:

    “you can have a Welfare State or you can have open borders, but you can’t have both”. Agree? Disagree? Debate?

    I really do think that until we can give an articulate and credible answer to this – the perception of us by the majority of the electorate will not improve.

    Try answering on the doorstep – can’t be trusted on tuition fees and now you want to part the waters of the channel and let in anyone who wants to come and in the process the welfare state you are so passionate to protect collapses under the surge – and before people start choking on their Sat morning coffee – this IS what we’ll need to be able to answer

    debate!!!!

  • Richard Underhill 17th Aug '15 - 5:27pm

    jedibeeftrix Actually we are in the Schengen Agreement, for instance police co-operation is highly relevant.

  • Richard Underhill 17th Aug '15 - 5:30pm

    A tiny number of votes in Tory-Labour marginals decided the 2015 election, as in 1992.

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Recent Comments

  • User Avatarexpats 27th May - 6:32pm
    He didn't oppose the Good Friday Agreement, he opposed the Anglo-Irish Agreement a pre-cursor to the GFA, as did 6/8 parties in Northern Ireland. It...
  • User AvatarAndrew T 27th May - 4:42pm
    Excellent article.
  • User AvatarMichael BG 27th May - 4:19pm
    @ Matthew Huntbach I didn’t claim that the Iraq War was an attack on Islam nor did I suggest that Iraqis were like little children....
  • User AvatarMichael BG 27th May - 3:18pm
    I meant “deceased”.
  • User AvatarMichael BG 27th May - 3:13pm
    @ Jayne Mansfield “Michael may I just point out that dementia isn’t actually an illness.” My mother died from dementia, my recently decreased aunt had...
  • User AvatarAlan Depauw 27th May - 2:51pm
    The basic issue on which no-one seems to be challenging May, is why does her manifesto promise such misery? Why all the actual and relative...