We cannot turn a blind eye to the Brexit anger

The unravelling of the Brexit vote – and parallel calls for a second referendum – is gathering pace. There may be hope for us in this, but there is also a massive warning which is crucial to the viability of liberalism in our country.

The referendum result was a triumph for illogicality. Many of those who voted Leave stand to lose most, through everything from endangered employment rights gained through the EU to the security of jobs reliant on trade with Europe. So we need to look deeper behind the reasons for the Leave vote, and when we do, we see a pattern that was evident at the 2015 general election.

The old certainties of politics no longer fit those who voted Leave. Many people support the NHS but harbour deep hostility towards immigrants, especially migrant workers. People who have seen their safety nets taken away through cuts to public services – all originating from the credit crunch of 2007-07 which was caused mainly by reckless financial instutions overreaching themselves – are understandably angry with those who appear to have kept their affluence while they themselves are fearful for their livelihood and can’t make sense of changes to their high street wrought by globalisation.

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Sal Brinton writes…Nominations for Party Awards are open

It’s that time of year again – the Party Awards season, and the nominations pack is now up on the website. The awards recognise the exceptional and dedicated work our members do in our communities and this is your chance to tell us who we should be recognising.
The following awards are open for nomination:

President’s Award – open to any Party Member elected to public office and who has demonstrated excellence and commitment.
Harriet Smith Liberal Democrat Distinguished Service Award – open to any Party Member never elected to public office and who has demonstrated excellence and commitment.

Belinda Eyre-Brook Award – to recognise the efforts of people working for our elected representatives in their local areas – from local party employees, to political assistants to council groups, to people working in MPs’ constituency offices.

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We must speak for our EU Citizens in the UK

eupetitionCanvassing during the referendum in the London borough of Merton one point came up on a surprising number of households – what was going to happen to people from the EU living here if we voted to Leave. We were only canvassing people entitled to voted in the referendum but in many cases the person who opened the door was from the EU and their partner was British. It was often said slightly jokingly with people saying they could tell us how their British partner would be voting ‘or else’ but with an undertone of concern. As the polls got worse the concerns got greater and at out street stall in Morden the Saturday before the vote several people spoke of real concern – as one women put it to me ‘my son loves his school, my husband has a good job and we have a nice flat. I don’t want to leave and go back to Italy – this is now our home’.

With the result – and what seem to be increasing attacks on immigrants those concerns have only got worse Last Saturday we held a street stall in Wimbledon asking people to sign our petition that people from the EU who are here should be able to carry on living and working here without any concern about any worries – and that the same thing should apply to British citizens in the rest of the EU. We had a quite extraordinary response – I have never seen anything like it. People were queuing up to sign , shaking our hands and thanking us for taking up the issue. There is a real concerns about the uncertainty which makes it impossible for people to plan for the future.

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Sorting Out the Political Mess

I am concerned about many of the issues that people have been discussing on Lib Dem Voice and the media over the past few days. The big issues being:

  • The referendum was actually about issues other than the EU and indeed immigration–in particular: gross inequality in our country; how austerity has created winners and losers when it comes to many cities and regions; and the opportunity this represented for people to punish the political elites.
  • The Leave campaign seem to have pedaled out a lot of untruths—especially the inability to be able to stem immigration in the post-Brexit world and our

Posted in Op-eds | 21 Comments

Uncrossing the wires in the IP Bill

The average age of the House of Lords is about 70 years old. Yet it has been left up to us to scrutinise, amend and improve the highly technical and technological Investigatory Powers Bill after its easy ride through the House of Commons.

Today, in the Bill’s Second Reading, I urged peers from all sides to not shy away from the technical nature of the Bill and to tackle the issues it raises head on and with gusto. Fundamentally this Bill will govern what powers our security services and law enforcement agencies have, under what circumstances they will be allowed to use them and how the use of these powers will be overseen. In all of this there is a balancing act to be done – it is the responsibility of the police and the security services to ask Government for the powers they believe they need in order to be effective and it is the responsibility of Parliament to balance those requests against the tests of necessity and proportionality.

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A reminder about the memorial event for David Rendel on 4th July

David Rendel at Anti-Iraq war demo 15th Feb 2003 Some rights reserved by Paul WalterThe life and legacy of David Rendel, Liberal Democrat MP for Newbury 1993-2005, will be remembered by his family, friends and colleagues at Newbury’s Corn Exchange on Monday 4th July 2016. All are welcome at the event which will begin at 1.00pm.

Donations in David’s memory may be made to Voluntary Service Overseas or Médecins Sans Frontières (UK); there is a Just Giving page for this.

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Our values and the Brexit crisis

We must quickly learn to cope with the new reality, and respond imaginatively, rationally and practically.  I applaud Tim Farron for doing so, and doing it well.

With a trickle of enquiries about whether Tim is acting ultra vires, party members will need reassurance that approved constitutional arrangements for policy making in emergency situations are being scrupulously observed. Federal Policy Committee should quickly provide reassurance, and should also circulate its plans to organise and channel the party membership’s central role in policy making during the crisis.

Meanwhile, back at the inferno, many established aspects of UK governance are under challenge, with new challenges arising constantly. Liberal Democrats need to seize the hour, to strongly re-emphasise the party’s radical political and constitutional reform agenda, developed over many decades, but corroded by the 2010 coalition agreement, and then undermined by the frustrating processes and unsatisfactory outcomes of the 2012-13 policy working group (of which I was a member).

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 22 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarGeorge Kendall 30th Jun - 7:47pm
    I've not signed the second referendum petition, because I think it's counterproductive at a time when few of the 52% seem to have changed their...
  • User AvatarJane Ann Liston 30th Jun - 7:40pm
    I think some Brexiters will have a rude shock when customs controls are reintroduced and there is a limit on the amount of e.g. wine...
  • User AvatarGary Fuller 30th Jun - 7:22pm
    Manfarang. I totally agree. I would say that progressives, whilst understanding the true nature/cause of the societal problems affecting many Brexiteers (namely poor governance at...
  • User AvatarLeekliberal 30th Jun - 7:19pm
    Your thesis that the Euro-states will move closer more quickly in the absence of the UK must be right but I don't think Thatchers's counter-productive...
  • User AvatarTony Rowan-Wicks 30th Jun - 7:00pm
    "We are the 48" should remain central to our current campaign. We've just got going with it - and we are finding new members who...
  • User AvatarJayne McCoy 30th Jun - 7:00pm
    Stevan Rose & Liam Birch I have already conceded these points further up the thread. My article sees the result absolutely as a wake up...