Tag Archives: paddy ashdown

Lord Malcolm Bruce writes… Liberalism revitalised

I want to respond to the challenges issued by Paddy and Vince during our conference.

Paddy said the party was “intellectually dead.” Vince said our position on another referendum was disrespectful to the electorate.

Let me take on Vince first. We and our predecessors supported UK membership of the European Community from its inception. The SDP was created largely because of Labour’s equivocation over British membership. We campaigned unstintingly for Remain and we remain convinced that the UK ‘s interests are best served by being a key member of the European Union.

Yes, by a narrow margin the country voted Leave but we have not changed our view and, given that there is no clear idea of what kind of relationship people want – in or out of the single market – let alone the hundreds of cooperative agreements built up over the last 43 years.

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Paddy Ashdown’s naughty thoughts

When you or I have naughty thoughts, we tend not to share them with 30,000 people. Paddy Ashdown on the other hand….

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Some questions for More United

In a blaze on social media. the More United project, supported by Paddy Ashdown, launches this morning.

It’s certainly ambitious:

MoreUnited.uk is a new movement setting out to change British politics. We’re going to transform the way politics is funded, giving a voice to the millions of open and tolerant people in Britain who feel the political system no longer works for them.

It has a Facebook page here and you can follow it on Twitter here.

They intend to fund candidates who subscribe to a series of pretty broad principles:

 A fair, modern, efficient market based economy that closes the gap between rich and poor and supports strong public services

A modern democracy that empowers citizens, rather than politicians

A green economy that protects the environment and works to reverse climate change

An open and tolerant society where diversity is celebrated in all its forms

A United Kingdom that welcomes immigration, international co-operation and a close relationship with the EU

There some example policies to flesh this stuff out.

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Paddy Ashdown to endorse new progressive liberal movement

Paddy Ashdown is one of the names behind a new progressive, liberal political movement which will campaign on issues close to many of our hearts. It will set out ideas on political reform, our role in the world and demand a second electoral test of any Brexit settlement.

The Guardian reports:

The initiative is not a political party, nor an attempt to create a new centrist one on the model of the SDP in the 1980s. But if the movement were to succeed in attracting subscribers to a website, it could intervene in politics by recommending specific candidates at the next election.

The proposal is one of many ideas floating on the centre-left in the wake of the EU referendum and will be formally launched within a week. It is likely to support a second endorsement of Britain’s exit from the European Union if circumstances required or permitted, as well as welcoming immigration and globalisation, a green economy, modern democracy that empowers citizens and a fair economy that seeks to narrow the gap between rich and poor.

It is understood a collection of convenors would seek to give the initiative political direction and oversee the gathering of names though to mid-September. Sources involved in setting up the movement stressed it would be a gathering point, and would not seeking to stand candidates at elections, but if as many as 200,000 were prepared to sign up, a new centre-left force could be formed that could endorse a specific existing party candidate at as many as 50 seats at the election.

At the weekend, Tim Farron talked about this sort of realignment to the Independent:

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Realignment of the left – an idea whose time has come?

Paddy Ashdown and Tim Farron have both suggested in recent days that those on the progressive side of politics need to work together to oppose the Tories and deliver change.

Of course, a defining part of Paddy’s leadership of the party was his desire to see closer co-operation on the left.

The Tories need to be beaten, now more than ever, even more than in the 1980s. Their destruction of the country then almost pales into insignificance to the damage they have done with their self-indulgent EU related civil war. How do we achieve it, though, while retaining the integrity of individual parties, most particularly this one? The last thing I want to see is the Liberal Democrats being the smile on the face of the right-wing Labour tiger.

It’s vital that we have a party that stands up for civil liberties and individual freedom in a way that neither Conservatives or Labour have managed.

Politics Home reported an interview with Tim Farron with BBC News in which he talked about the need to work together across party lines:

Asked about the prospect of a merger that would mirror the deal between the SDP and Liberal party that formed the Liberal Democrats, Mr Farron suggested the referendum campaign had led to a reconsideration of the party divides.

“Amongst the things that I think we’ve got out of the referendum is that we’ve discovered, lots of us, who have worked across party boundaries, that we’ve enjoyed doing so,” he told BBC News.

“I shared a platform with many people I won’t embarrass by naming, who they discovered and they discovered we had more in common than just our belief that Britain should be in the European Union.”

When pressed on whether he was open to the idea of a new party, he replied: “We shouldn’t put any construct or constraint on what might happen next. People could come to us, they could set up another party, who knows. But there needs to be a realignment – otherwise we’ll be left with a Tory government forever.”

In today’s Sunday Times (£), Paddy Ashdown has floated the idea of a progressive movement, talking about how political parties have failed the public:

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LDVideo: Paddy: Don’t let other people determine your future

In a video for the European Movement, of which he is President, Paddy Ashdown urges people to make sure they vote, and vote Remain tomorrow.

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Paddy: Pooling sovereignty with our friends does not diminish our sovereignty, it increases it

Yesterday, Paddy Ashdown made a speech about Britain’s place in the world. You can watch it here. He tells a story at the very end, that’s quite chilling, about the hideously barbaric human rights abuses in the Balkans and his first meeting with war criminal Radovan Karadzic.

Here’s the text:

A senior German Minister said to me the other day “Whenever I sit down in a room to negotiate with my British colleagues in a European meeting, their first question is always the same – which way to the Exit? You Brits spend so much time trying to find the way out, that you never have the time to build the alliances which are there to be built, to succeed. But now I realise, you would rather go, then win.”

Exactly so!

Canning and Castlereagh would be spinning in their graves.

A couple of weeks ago, I heard Liam Fox on Newsnight go one further. I think I quote him precisely, for I wrote it down at the time: “If we leave, we will bring the EU to its senses”.

Leaving aside the unreality of that statement – as though, the morning after a Brexit vote, millions of European citizens would sit up startled in their beds and say to themselves “Oh heavens! the Brits have left. Now we must come to our senses”.

Leaving aside, the age-old British arrogance about our place in Europe, which lies behind that statement.

Leaving aside also what it tells us of the attitude of senior Brexiteer Tories in this Government, to negotiations with their European partners.

Leaving all these things aside, as an expression of the isolationist mind set of the Brexiteers Dr Fox’s belief that “if we leave the Europeans will come to their senses” must rank alongside the famous Times headline – “fog in Channel, Continent isolated” -.

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