Tag Archives: featured

Catherine Bearder MEP writes…Brexit, one year on

A lot can change in a year.

On 23rd June 2016, I was left heartbroken after a tough and exhausting referendum campaign saw a victory for an insular nationalist vision of Britain.

The vote to Leave has divided our country in a way even ‘Project Fear’ could never have imagined.

After the referendum, we were told that the populist right was on an unstoppable rise. Geert Wilders, Netherland’s answer to Donald Trump, would storm to victory in the Dutch general election; Marine Le Pen would triumph over the established political consensus in the French Presidential election; and the Liberal Democrats’ fight to keep Britain in Europe was laughed off.

But a lot can change in a year.

Our ALDE sister Party, VVD, secured victory in the Netherlands with a lead of over 8 points. Voters in France chose a pro-European liberal vision of hope as Emmanuel Macron overwhelmingly won the Presidency and obtained an absolute majority in the French Parliament.

And in the UK, it’s still all to fight for. Theresa May called a general election to ask the electorate to force through her destructive Brexit and the public refused to give her the mandate.

The latest polling on Brexit shows big movement – 53 per cent of people now back the Lib Dem position for a final say on the Brexit deal.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 16 Comments

A candidate’s tale: Part 2

Today Richard continues his account of his campaign in Macclesfield in the General Election. You can read Part 1 here.

We planned a campaign to make maximum use of social media – the leafleting of the 21st Century. (Don’t worry. We had plenty of leaflets too!)

Having practiced our high-visibility public-facing events – canvassing and hustings – we captured them in photos and posted through Facebook and Twitter, so people could see we were out there talking to the voters, taking the campaign seriously. A weekend’s events could be spread …

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No Normtroopers this time – Norman Lamb won’t stand for leader

Well there’s a surprise. I had honestly thought that Norman Lamb would stand again to be leader.

This afternoon, though, he has ruled himself out in an article for the Guardian:

I have just fought a gruelling campaign to win my North Norfolk seat. Attempting to win a seat for the Liberal Democrats in an area that voted quite heavily to leave the EU was bound to be a challenge. Not only was the party’s position on Brexit toxic to many erstwhile Liberal Democrat voters in North Norfolk, but I found myself sympathising with those who felt that the party was not listening to them and was treating them with some disdain.

I abstained on article 50 because I felt it was wrong in principle to vote against, given that we had all voted to hold the referendum in the first place. For many in the party that abstention was an act of betrayal. I have been accused of supporting a hard Brexit – the last thing I want – while a Lib Dem source told the London Evening Standard this week that the abstention “looks like he can’t make a tough call”. It is actually quite tough to go against your party, and I did it on a matter of principle.

He’s realised that his position on the EU puts him at odds with a large number of members, especially since so many joined after the EU referendum. 

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A candidate’s tale: Part 1

I was the Liberal Democrat candidate for Macclesfield in Cheshire at the June General Election.

Six weeks earlier, after Theresa May’s as-it-turned-out vainglorious decision to go to the country, Macclesfield Liberal Democrats had found themselves in need of a candidate. And I answered the call.

The last time Macclesfield elected a Liberal was William Brocklehurst (junior) in 1910, and for the last 100 years they have returned only Conservatives (or Unionists) to Westminster. Alas, I was not able to celebrate William’s centenary by retaking the seat.

But I did hold on to the lion share of our vote from two years ago, and held on to our deposit, in the face of a fierce squeeze from Labour backed up by the tactical voting sites and some pretty underhand use of questionable numbers.

And, in spite of being in safe Tory territory, I never felt it was a no-hope seat.

In fact, I remain convinced that a seat like Macclesfield is winnable by a Liberal candidate. Maybe more in five to ten years than five to ten weeks. Where the Tory MP gets 53% of the vote this time, same as last time, Labour’s surge mopping up UKIP votes isn’t ever going to be enough. To reach into that 53%, you need to put together a coalition that picks up not just the moderate Labour voters, but the centrist, Remain-inclined Conservatives too along with the core Liberal vote. And only a Lib Dem is going to do that.

I was incredibly lucky to have a local party who were full of enthusiasm, fired up to resist Brexit, absolutely certain that our message was the right one for Macclesfield – which it is. On top of that, we had a team full of the talents we needed: organising people; organising logistics; designing literature; running social media. No one expected us to be much more than a paper candidacy, but we were determined to be as much more than that as we could manage.

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Sarah Olney writes…We should be pleased if the Conservatives can’t form a Government

Of all the things I regret about my time in Parliament being so short, one thing I really don’t mind is that I never got to hear a Queen’s Speech.  Cornerstone of our democracy it may be, but it’s really just a festival of flummery that I can do without. I can’t imagine how it must have been in today’s 34 degree heat, dressed in one’s best, squashed into the Lords to hear Her Majesty read out the Government’s plans for legislation.  Hats off to my former Parliamentary colleagues, and those who have recently joined them, for enduring it.

But at least it was short.  Just nine minutes to sum up not one, but two years-worth of Bills.  And, for Liberal Democrats, there was much to be pleased about.  Not only has Mrs May ditched her plans to scrap the triple-lock on pensions and free school meals, she’s also backtracked on the dementia tax, promising instead to “consult”.

Liberal Democrats will also be pleased that a key provision of our own Renter’s Rights Bill, outlawing letting agents’ fees to renters, will make it into law.

The speech focuses instead on the Government’s plans for Brexit, providing details of the Great Repeal Bill (apparently already being dubbed GeRBil in some quarters, which should please those Liberal Democrats who never miss an opportunity to post a picture of a fluffy animal), and various enabling legislations to set up our own regulations post-Brexit.  The key message here is that hard, soft, clean, red, white, blue, grey, whatever, Brexit will happen and the main Parliamentary activity for the next two years will be getting ready to implement it.

What’s infuriating about this Queen’s Speech are all the issues that it fails to address.  Speaking to residents in Richmond Park over the last six to seven months, I know that their key issues are funding for public services, particularly schools and the NHS, policing and security, immigration and housing.  It may be an untypically wealthy and well-educated area, but I very much doubt that we’re different from the majority of the country in these concerns.  There is nothing in the Queen’s Speech about any of this.  The appalling Grenfell House fire last week has surely concentrated attention like nothing else on the failure of housing policy over the last few decades, and urgent action is required.  Not only has the Government got nothing to say, it tells us that it won’t have anything to say for at least two years.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 33 Comments

BREAKING NEWS: Vince Cable announces his candidacy for Leader

A statement from Vince Cable MP:

Today I am announcing that I will be a candidate in the forthcoming Liberal Democrat leadership election. I wanted to do so on Lib Dem Voice, the leading forum for discussion amongst our membership.

With 20 years on the national political stage I am passionate as ever about our liberal values. I am ready to commit my energy, enthusiasm and experience to the task of leading the Liberal Democrats through what will be a period of chronic uncertainty. With the prospect of another election looming large, we must be ready for the fight.

Brexit negotiations have begun. The government is split and weakened; Labour is equivocal about Europe. The Liberal Democrats alone have a consistent and principled, outward looking, and approach to the issue. We must fight for the British public to have a final say on the government’s deal with a chance to stay in the EU if the deal is not good enough. To achieve this, we will need to work with like-minded people in other parties.

As Shadow Chancellor I secured a hard-won hearing for the party on the economy, warning of the 2008 financial crisis which has been a source of economic weakness, great inequality and political anger ever since. In government for five years as Secretary of State for Business I created a distinctive Lib Dem vision for the economy with a long-term industrial strategy, promotion of science and innovation, banking reform, investment in young people via apprenticeships and the promotion of socially responsible capitalism. With the economy approaching the Brexit iceberg, Liberal Democrats need more than ever to warn of the dangers ahead and the need for a new course.

Posted in News and Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged and | 198 Comments

Jo Swinson MP writes..The role I want to play in our party’s leadership

It feels like an age since I was knocking on doors in the pouring rain in the final hour before polls closed, then hearing the shock of the exit poll on the car radio heading home to a hairdryer and somewhat less bedraggled attire for the count.

Yet here we are just a few days later, embarking on an election for leader of the Liberal Democrats.

I went to see Tim on Wednesday afternoon to tell him I thought he should definitely stay on, and I was excited at the prospect of putting myself forward to be Deputy Leader.  I was stunned when he told me he would be resigning that evening.

Listening to Tim’s dignified statement, outlining the personal turmoil he felt during the election, I can’t fault him for deciding to step down, but I feel very sad that it came to this.  Tim has done so much for our party.  In the devastating aftermath of the 2015 election, to build a record membership and increase MPs by 50% in just 2 years is a massive achievement.  Just as important, is that we now have our most diverse Parliamentary Party ever.  We owe Tim a massive debt of gratitude.

Since his shock announcement, I have been overwhelmed by so many lovely messages from people I know, and from many members I have not yet met, encouraging me to stand for leader.  I am touched and flattered that you look to me – and I am determined to play a key role in our party’s leadership.

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Recent Comments

  • User Avatarfrankie 26th Jun - 6:18pm
    All you say may very well come to pass, but even when faced with inevitable disaster do not under estimate the desire of the brave...
  • User AvatarGlenn 26th Jun - 6:15pm
    What you call hard Brexit is simply the default setting if no agreement is reached. Apart from that this seems like another startling example of...
  • User AvatarPaul Murray 26th Jun - 6:08pm
    Well thank goodness the EU is there to show us dumb Brits how to run our sad little lives.
  • User AvatarMike S 26th Jun - 6:03pm
    Sorry predictive text - should say: The NHS is unaffordable, it’s going to collapse, so we’ll put a penny on income tax to *rescue* (not...
  • User AvatarDave Orbison 26th Jun - 6:01pm
    Bolano 2 "The Lib Dems need to make up their mind as a party on the Coalition – moving forward as a centre-left party regretting...
  • User AvatarMike S 26th Jun - 6:00pm
    @ Joseph Bourke "4. Uninspiring manifesto on key voter issues – NHS, Education, Housing, Low Pay etc" @ Peter Watson "i.e. we believe in Policy...
Sat 1st Jul 2017