Tag Archives: eu referendum

In protecting the liberal age, the charge of elitism must be avoided

There is a sense that if an election happens at any time in the next year, it will be fought out as much on values as economic policy. The argument is no longer just about fairness and equality. It is also about a philosophy of life.

Fears that the liberal age is now under threat both from Right and Left has the potential to galvanise those who have previously taken our liberal traditions for granted. The #libdemfightback has the potential to happen.

Identifying the 48% Remain voters as fertile ground for the Liberal Democrats was a fast and valid response, not just a sound political gambit for a party polling so low but one that was true to the party’s internationalist values.

Remain voters are desperate to embrace a coherent narrative and the liberal attitudes held by many of them will only turn into Lib Dem votes if that narrative is provided.

But that should only be the beginning. The Lib Dems must also respond powerfully and clearly to the illiberal, isolationist and anti-elite sentiment that lay behind Brexit.

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Nick Clegg: We need more than warm words and bromide from May

In his first few hours as our EU Spokesperson, we’ve had more sense from Nick Clegg than we’ve had from the whole government in the four awful weeks since the referendum.

Tonight he was on Radio 4’s PM programme saying that it was really important that we started to see some detail from the Government on its plans for Britain’s exit from the EU. We need, he said, a very detailed plan to extricate ourselves from the complex web of economic and legal ties between us and the EU.

He said that if the Government wanted to retain the closest possible ties with the single market, their own backbenchers would kick off.

You can listen to his interview here from about 39:30.

In a piece for the i newspaper, Nick pointed out a few discrepancies between what the Tories say they want and the likelihood of it happening without compromise:

Theresa May can’t, for example, promise that we will be able to enjoy all the benefits to our economy that full access to the world’s largest borderless single market will bring, without accepting freedom of movement in return. So which is it? What matters more – our economy and jobs or clamping down on immigration?

David Davis, Theresa May’s new Brexit minister, appears to believe the single market is just a free trade arrangement. It isn’t. Free trade means removing tariffs so that companies can trade without paying different levels of tax on the goods they buy and sell. But the single market is much more ambitious. It is about harmonising all the standards and regulations that apply to goods and services across Europe, so that companies can trade with each other on a truly level playing field.

So it’s good that someone is on the case. He sets out his own plans:

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Vince, Brexit and inequality: a day at the Social Liberal Forum Conference

Vince  Cable SLF Conference 2016The alarm call at 4:30 was pretty brutal. I suppose it was my own fault. I could have been sensible and not have drunk large quantities of wine at a wonderful dinner with friends and got home before 12:30, but you only live once and all that.

So, I felt a little weary heading off to London for the Social Liberal Forum’s annual conference.

The event took place in the Resources for London building – definitely worth going to if you are planning a similar event. It’s a super space with halls and breakout rooms all on one floor. Our Mary Reid has a leading role in organising this event every year and she always does a brilliant job. Everything is run with efficiency and the programme is planned so that there is enough time for socialising and networking.

The theme of the day was Inequality Street, looking at the various types of inequality in our country, why it’s so bad and how we deal with it. It was based around the 2009 book The Spirit Level, which showed that the countries with the highest levels of inequality also had the highest levels of all manner of social problems.

The day started with a minute’s applause to remember two great social liberals we’ve lost this year – Eric Avebury and David Rendel.

The vote to leave the EU meant a significant re-jigging of the programme to give us an opportunity to discuss the implications of the vote and what we should do about it. Investigative journalist Shiv Malik, Jonny Oates, David Howarth, Lindsay Northover and Sal Brinton shared their thoughts with us. 

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Engaging with disgruntled Leave voters

Beside the ongoing drama around Westminster, there’s an urgent task to be done among those who voted to leave the EU and are beginning to regret it. This is crucial for the country, and wise for us as well.

I’m thinking of those taken in by false “promises” — there isn’t an extra £350 million a week for the NHS, or an end to free movement of people, Brexit doesn’t mean an end to fishing quotas, and “taking back control” now sounds like a joke. They were already alienated and this is not helping.

We’re hearing stories of Brexit hitting places that voted for it: Lush moving from Poole, Forterra mothballing plants in Accrington and Claughton. Vacancies and job prospects are down. We need a more constructive response than a brutal “You voted for it”.

If Labour were acting as a proper opposition rather than embroiled in in civil war, they would be highlighting further betrayals from the Tories: most startling is the abandoning of plans to move to a budget surplus. If it were to be so quickly abandoned now, why was it clung to for so long despite fuelling misery for millions? How many voted Leave because of that pain?

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A Dutch liberal MEP’s perspective on Brexit

Last week, Dutch MEP Sophie in”t Veld made a speech in the Parliament about Brexit. Conference goers will remember her from Bournemouth last year where she gave a keynote speech.

Here are a few key quotes:

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Be optimistic post Brexit

The best thing you can do for your country now is to be optimistic about the opportunities ahead. This nation does its very best when dealing with a problem and working out a solution. A trading nation, an outward looking people, both hallmarks of the UK for many years, with no sign of our zeal for global trade and responsibility to be a global force for good diminished. We should not allow those who can only see doom and gloom to dominate the discussion of the way ahead, instead, we should listen most to those who principally see opportunity as the brightest future, and will strive tirelessly to achieve and negotiate excellent outcomes for Britain, the remaining EU and indeed our worldwide trading partners.

Nor should we forget our responsibility to othersÖ The UK has had a proud record of achievement in providing foreign aid, and getting involved on the ground in situations that are desperate. We are no stranger to difficult situations, providing leadership, resources, direction and real hope to many. In such ways, Britain has remained Great, and that same spirit to engage with the difficult decisions, create positive change, and tackle major directional changes is exactly what is required now on our own shores.

As Liberal Democrats, we have an opportunity at conference to consider our response and create policy that protects the principles we hold dear whether the UK is in or out of EU. In my view, campaigning to rejoin the EU would be a mistake and be out of step with many of those who are looking for a party to vote for post UKIP, however we should be very active in promoting a pro ‘working together’ agenda as we have for many years. We should reach out to our contacts and continue to display what is bright and good about the UK, its people, its businesses and its future.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 53 Comments

Hopefully this will be the last stunning day in British politics for a while

Well, well, well. Yet another stunning day in British politics.

There we were expecting two months of two candidates touring constituency Conservative parties. And then suddenly we hear that we’ll have a new Prime Minister on Wednesday evening.

Our Prime Minister exits the stage humming a bar of the West Wing ending theme tune.

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Recent Comments

  • User Avatartheakes 27th Jul - 4:12pm
    How can there be a snap election?. The Government would not call a Vote of No Confidence in itself, if it did and won there...
  • User AvatarAshley 27th Jul - 4:04pm
    Those were the days. I think Liz still has some liberal instincts. I'm hopeful.... And tbf you often get more liberal measures from tories than...
  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 27th Jul - 4:00pm
    I can't think of much else waste I mean, not could. Amend that if you can. :)
  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 27th Jul - 3:58pm
    Not a member, but I'd like to any planned increases on higher rate tax payers scrapped (but not additional rate payers). I want the re-introduction...
  • User AvatarLiberal Neil 27th Jul - 3:54pm
    Happy days. Liz was very much the radical protestor in those days. We also did some direct action against the M11 extension around that time...
  • User AvatarDav 27th Jul - 3:41pm
    Biggest reason for voting for Hillary ? She’s not Trump, and that’s about it. Nearly 320,000,000 Americans, and they manage to find the two least...
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