Tag Archives: featured

Vote Leave: Strong democratic case for referendum on the Brexit deal

When Liberal Democrats have talked about offering a referendum on the Brexit deal, they have had tonnes of abuse shovelled at them from outraged Brexiteers. We’re undemocratic, they say. We’re not willing to accept the will of the people. How on earth giving the people a say on whether their government has interpreted their wishes correctly is undemocratic is beyond me, but to the Boris Johnsons, and Iain Duncan Smiths and Theresa Mays of this world, it makes sense. That would be the people with power who don’t want it challenged.

Tony Blair is the latest figure to come in for the disapproval of the Brexiteer zealots, which now appear to include the Labour leadership. I’ll just leave this tweet from Robert Hutton here, just as an aside:

What’s interesting is that Tony Blair didn’t say much different what Nick Clegg and Tim Farron have been saying since the referendum. It’s hardly surprising that both Liberal Democrats expressed approval.

We can be absolutely certain that had the vote on 23rd June been 52-48 in favour of Remain that the Leave campaign would have been arguing for a second referendum already.

But a referendum on the Brexit deal is an entirely different thing. So what did Vote Leave have to say about that? Well, in January 2016, before we even knew the date of the referendum, Vote Leave’s director Dominic Cummings, the guy who came up with the £350 million a week for the NHS pledge which was dumped within hours of the result being known, gave an interview to the Economist. Twitter is full today of how this is still being linked to from the Vote Leave website.

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Lib Dems can be the most digitally innovative party

With an influx of 4,000 new members in less than a month, it is fair to say that the Liberal Democrats’ message on Europe has struck a chord with many people who feel disconcerted by the path to hard Brexit which Theresa May has set our country on. But what do those new activists know about our other policies?

Since starting my new role as Head of Digital Content at the Liberal Democrats, I have applied a few key principles to everything that we do. One of these is particularly pertinent to the area of policy: we must look outwards and talk to the wider public, not just to ourselves. To do that, it needs to be clear what we stand for. That is why in my second week we launched the new “Our Vision” section on the party website.

“Our Vision” features a brief overview of some of our key messages in 12 core areas. I hope this will become a useful resource for both party activists, when advocating what we stand for, and the wider public, when considering us as their party of choice. In the coming weeks we will be developing these sections with new videos and additional reading for those who want to see the detail.

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Islington’s Liberal opportunity

Islington is one of the most liberal places in the country. Cosmopolitan and confident, Islington was a natural home for the Liberal Democrats, but when voters moved on from Iraq, Labour moved back in. Labour hold 47 of 48 borough council seats (the other is a Green) and have held both parliamentary seats for longer than I’ve been alive.

I am relatively new to front line politics, but then so too are most of our members. Islington’s membership soared past 700 last week and from these newcomers, a majority of our executive have been elected into a Lib Dem role for the first time.

Our first action day of the year last Saturday was a spectacular success. 60 local members came out in the rain to help deliver four different wards across our two constituencies and for many, it was the first political thing they had ever done. An Islington veteran told me afterwards over a drink that she’d never seen anything like that level of enthusiasm, not even on general election day.

Our local residents are enthused as well and it was the first Lib Dem leaflet they had received for at least a year.  Since we delivered our bundles, dozens of residents have emailed through our contact address asking how they can join the party, asking how they can help locally, and of course there are always, always pot holes to fix!

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My time living on the streets of Cheltenham

As I woke up from my third night on the streets, I started to feel it.  Sleep deprivation had kicked in, so the word didn’t come to me immediately and it still hasn’t as I start to write this article at home in the warm.  Feeling unable to move my mouth to speak properly or even bring to mind the right words wasn’t a side effect I’d imagined.

Stretching in a vain attempt to rid my bones of the deepest imaginable chill, I was sure about one thing: I was in a very different position to the other people who had spent that Saturday night in the nooks and crannies of Cheltenham town centre.  As a council cabinet member for housing, I knew I could make changes to help and had already started to ask myself what should be done.  And answering that question is how I had found myself waking up on the streets.

As anyone involved in the public sector will tell you, the starting point of answering any question is usually some form of consultation.  This means anyone who may be affected by a policy change can have their say.  But in the case of rough sleepers or street people you can’t really ask the people whose lives will be most impacted.  When somebody’s main tasks every day are gathering a few pounds for a meal, staying warm and then finding a place to sleep, why would they bother to take part in something like a council consultation?  And if they’re living on the streets or in insecure accommodation it’s pretty unlikely they’d even find out in the first place.

To get over this hurdle I carried out my own hands-on consultation and my experiences over those three nights will stay with me for the rest of my life.  I won’t be able to shake off that uncomfortable feeling – the name of which I still can’t bring to my sleep deprived mind – for some time.  I’ll always remember the feelings of vulnerability and I’ll always remember the bone-creaking cold.

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Lord John Shipley writes…Five foundations for the Housing White Paper

The lack of affordable housing in the UK is at crisis point. On average, house prices are now almost seven times people’s incomes and over 1.6 million people are on housing waiting lists in the UK, including 124 000 homeless children. This means that the Government’s White Paper on housing has been highly anticipated. But it needs to be extraordinarily ambitious to tackle the severity of the housing crisis.

It is too late then to simply paper over the cracks. We need a radical, far-reaching and comprehensive approach to housing. That is why the Liberal Democrats are calling for a complete overhaul of the housing system, with an emphasis on five key solutions.

Creating more affordable homes for rent

20% of the population lives in private rented accommodation. And yet, private sector rents have become unacceptably high in many parts of Britain, most notably in London. Many renters are now paying more than half their disposable income in rent.

That is why we have been calling for government investment in a new generation of quality homes for rent that are affordable for those on low and middle incomes. This means increasing the access to finance for councils and housing associations and reversing the sell-off of higher value homes.

Because the need for affordable homes for rent is now so severe, this should be accompanied by an increase in the use of offsite construction, or prefabs, to speed up the house-building process.

However, Brexit has complicated this picture. That’s because building costs will increase significantly due to the rising cost of imported materials and because it will be harder to recruit vital workers from Europe who are needed in some parts of the UK and to create the certainty necessary for investment.

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Lamb and Mulholland to abstain on Article 50 vote – what does this mean for the party?

In news which should surprise nobody, both Norman Lamb and Greg Mulholland have said today that they will be abstaining rather than voting against the Article 50 Bill.

The three-line whip tells MPs to vote against if there is no referendum on the final deal with an option to remain in the EU.

Greg Mulholland explained his decision to the Yorkshire Post:

“The outcome of these negotiations is hugely important to the British economy… So I support there being a referendum on the terms of exit so the British people are the ones who decide what our relationship with these nations will be,” he said. ” as I have made clear, including to constituents, I do think that these negotiations should be allowed to commence and that I would not block them doing so, so I will not be voting against Article 50. “What is crucial is that all MPs scrutinise the progress of the negotiations and continue to push the Government to ensure British businesses have access to the biggest market in the world. “I will support sensible amendments to the Bill to ensure the Government does keep Parliament and the British people informed, that our NHS is protected and that British businesses do continue to be allowed to trade with European nations without damaging and costly tariffs and barriers that would harm them and the British economy. I also believe that we should seek to agree that British people living on the continent should be allowed to stay and that EU workers who moved here because we were part of the EU should also be permitted to stay and contribute to our economy and public services.”

Norman wrote about his decision in an article on his website

I fully believe that Remain voters and politicians across all parties must play a key role in influencing negotiations, to ensure that we avoid the damage to the economy and the country’s international status that a Hard Brexit would bring. My personal preference is for the Government to fight for full access to, and preferably membership of, the Single Market, and I will continue, alongside my Liberal Democrat colleagues, to seek to achieve this. I continue to give my full support to Open Britain’s campaign “to keep Britain tolerant, inclusive and open to Europe and the world”.

The Liberal Democrats are united in our opposition to a damaging hard Brexit, united on the Single Market, and united in our determination to make sure the British people have the final say over the final Brexit deal. I fully support our leader Tim Farron and my colleagues inside and outside parliament in campaigning for these outcomes.

However, I have already committed, in public, not to block the triggering of Article 50. It’s no secret that I have an honest disagreement with the party’s position to vote against the triggering of Article 50 unless the Government guarantees a referendum on the terms of the final Brexit deal. Given the vote of the British people on June 23rd, I am not prepared to vote to block the triggering of Article 50 when the bill is brought before Parliament.

Irrespective of my views of the outcome of the referendum, there is a democratic principle at stake, and I feel very strongly about this. When we voted to hold the referendum, we did not set out any preconditions for triggering Article 50, in the event of a vote to leave the EU. I do not see how we can introduce them now. I have therefore made the difficult decision to abstain on this vote.

No Liberal Democrat MP will vote to trigger Article 50

So what does this mean for the party?

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Zulfiqar Ali can win in Stoke-on-Trent but he needs your help!

This week we have had activists in helping from Tunstall, Burslem, Trentham, Chell, Chell Heath, Stoke, Oakhill, Boothen, Fenton, Etruria, Shelton, Longton and as well as all these places from across the City of Stoke-on-Trent we have had a great number from north Staffordshire generally.

And yesterday when at the last minute we issued a plea for clerical help in the office I was grateful for those who came – they have us well on the road with the postal vote mailing, but we need more people urgently.

But in the course of a conversation with one of the activists (their second visit so gold star to them) they whispered “of course a few people think you can’t win and are in fourth place”.  At that moment I could have hugged her and the scales fell from my eyes.

Look round your own town, city, community, village and where you live. Who has been the dominant political party for the last 50 years and have they done a good job?   Here in Stoke it’s Labour and they have failed.  failed the City, failed the people, failed to achieve the positive change that was possible.  This City wants and needs something else.

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarDJ 26th Feb - 5:22pm
    After Nick Clegg forgot to think about how Brexit would impact on Wales it's great to hear a liberal and Welsh perspective. It's great to...
  • User Avatarfrankie 26th Feb - 5:13pm
    Clottie, If you look at what brave Brexiteers believe and what the SNP believe they are actually the same. Brave Brexiteers it's all the EU's...
  • User AvatarDJ 26th Feb - 4:51pm
    Education, after health, is probably the second biggest responsibility in Wales and it's so important that the wider party supports Kirsty as she goes about...
  • User AvatarMike S 26th Feb - 4:45pm
    I think younger people generally are simply so interconnected now (the Facebook, Smartphone generation), that they SEE the world so differently to what we did...
  • User AvatarMike S 26th Feb - 4:28pm
    @ Peter "The problem with the preamble is that it is a destination (an end-point rather than a “starting point”) and not a route map....
  • User AvatarClootie 26th Feb - 4:26pm
    ...and yet Scottish LibDems continue to put the Imperial Union first rather than fight for the Scottish nation to have its vote respected. The video...