Tag Archives: vince cable

Why Vince Cable is wrong to call for an end to free movement

Vince Cable is fundamentally wrong to suggest that there is no great argument of liberal principle for free movement and his case for ending free movement is weak. He ought to revise his views to be in more in keeping with liberal values which, in the face of rising and fierce anti-migrant rhetoric, are sorely needed.

His assertion that ‘British opposition to immigration is mainly colour-blind’ is simply not true.

Fears and prejudices were purposefully stoked during the referendum with explicit scapegoating, disingenuous scaremongering about Turkish migrants and in particular Farage’s appalling blatantly non-colour-blind Breaking Point’ poster campaign.

Hate crime has soared since the referendum.  The vast majority of the targets of xenophobic incidents and abuse have been EU migrants in particular citizens from Eastern European countries.

Islamophobia and associated crimes have also risen exponentially. Note the 25 serious incidents of anti-muslim hate crimes recorded in the three days after the Brexit vote. People are explicitly abusing muslims in the streets ‘because we voted out’, shouting ‘shouldn’t you be on a plane back to Pakistan? We voted you out!’

The EU referendum vote has unleashed an ugly force of racism where those who hold prejudiced views feel emboldened to shout, abuse and attack people in the street, post excrement through people’s letter boxes and rip off people’s hijabs in public. 

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 84 Comments

Vince Cable calls for end to EU free movement

Vince Cable writes for this week’s New Statesman arguing for the end to the EU’s free movement of people.

He builds on the themes he initially set out on an article for this site just after the referendum – which turned out to be our most read article of 2016.

In the New Statesman he writes:

As a liberal economist, I welcome freer trade and globalisation in general; and as a political liberal I oppose attempts to fence people in. I naturally value the freedom to travel around Europe for business or pleasure with minimal restriction.

But I have serious doubts that EU free movement is tenable or even desirable. First, the freedom is not a universal right, but selective. It does not apply to Indians, Jamaicans, Americans or Australians. They face complex and often harsh visa restrictions. One uncomfortable feature of the referendum was the large Brexit vote among British Asians, many of whom resented the contrast between the restrictions they face and the welcome mat laid out for Poles and Romanians.

He goes on to argue that while there are benefits to immigration, they are not as conclusive as we would like to think for the country. He sets out what he thinks is the way forward:

The argument for free movement has become tactical: it is part of a package that also contains the wider economic benefits of the single market. Those benefits are real, which is why the government must prioritise single market access and shared regulation. Yet that may not be possible to reconcile with restrictions on movement. The second-best option is customs union status, essential for supply chain industries.

I do not see much upside in Brexit, but one is the opportunity for a more rational immigration policy. First, it will involve legitimising the position of EU nationals already here. It must involve a more sensible way of dealing with overseas students, who are not immigrants and benefit the UK. The permeability of the Irish border must lead to a united Ireland in Europe. And, not least, there can be a narrative in which control on labour movements is matched by control on capital – halting the takeovers that suffocate the innovative companies on which the country’s future depends.

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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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Tim and Vince write for the Times on the need for ministers to provide leadership on Brexit strategy

Tim Farron and Vince Cable have written for the Times’ Red Box website setting out what they think should happen in negotiations with the EU and in economic strategy as we face a self-induced Brexit recession.

As Nick Clegg said before the referendum, so called Project Fear was understating the impact Brexit would have. We are also suffering a void of leadership and some very unrealistic thinking from the Brexit camp who, as we discovered, didn’t really have a plan.

We can’t hang about, they say:

Business and investors won’t wait around forever to see leadership.  Many first tier organisations will simply pack their bags and go unless they see a path ahead.  Meanwhile our smaller businesses, and particularly those in high risk/ high innovation sectors will feel the squeeze as bank lending dries up as it did in 2008.

Two things need to be done. You get the feeling this was filed before yesterday’s extraordinary events:

The first can only be done by leaders of Leave – those who wish to lead us into the new unknown – and in particular, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove.  They must now show his vision for the UK and provide a clear plan for Britain’s relationship with the EU.  To reassure the market they, and other potential prime ministers, need to make clear that membership of the single market is the priority ask for any negotiations.  Businesses need to know that, whatever else, their key relationships will not have to fundamentally change.

It will require real leadership, rather than populist platitudes.  It may mean securing a deal which pleases no one and does not address many of the concerns raised by leave voters about immigration and freedom of movement.  Leading is about making choices, it’s now time for Boris and Gove to tell us theirs.

The second urgent priority must be the responsibility of the current government.  There is now every likelihood of a Brexit recession.  If the government acts now, by abandoning its already unnecessary financial straitjacket and allowing capital investment and stimulus support to flow into precarious parts of our economy, we might avoid the worst impacts on jobs and livelihoods. The economy could be stimulated through the Network Rail Capital Project and local authorities being allowed to borrow to build houses. The £250bn the governor of the Bank of England has put aside could be put into the Funding for Lending and the Regional Growth Fund.

Of primary concern must be our most innovative industries.  Those businesses on the cutting edge are likely to see funding from traditional financial institutions dry up as banks revert to their core business model.  Giving serious financial help and stability to these industries is vital to ensure their long term future in the UK.

The British Business Bank, set up by the Lib Dems in Government, is a crucial part of the support for business that’s needed:

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Vince Cable: European single market represents a British vision of an open Europe

Britain has attracted the world’s top companies to invest here, creating jobs, on the basis of access to the European single market. That’s what Vince Cable told an audience in Bristol earlier this week. Far from being an invention of straight-banana obsessed bureaucrats, the EU represents a British vision of an open Europe, he added. Here is his speech in full.

It is great to be here in Bristol celebrating the best in British manufacturing with the leaders of our top manufacturing companies.

Manufacturing still provides half of our exports, three quarters of scientific innovation and two and a half million relatively

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Liberal Democrats for Free Trade

Vince Cable at Social Liberal Forum conference 19th July 2014 - photo by Paul Walter

In my view, trade benefits all countries. It spreads technology and good practice; it stimulates competition and rejuvenates economies.

Vince Cable, less than six months after being appointed Business Secretary, said that back in 2010 as he welcomed the EU-South Korea trade agreement.

Liberal Democrats should loud and proud make the case for Free Trade.

It ought to be inconceivable that we have to have this argument again.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 69 Comments

GCHQ apologises to gay people

 

The boss of GCHQ has apologised for banning gay people from working for the organisation right up until the 90s. Robert Hannigan was speaking at a conference run by Stonewall, when he referred to a spy called Ian who was sacked in the 1960s for being gay.

After seven years of exemplary service, with very strong prospects for the future, he was interrogated on suspicion of being homosexual, he was summarily dismissed and escorted out of the building. He got no support from anyone in authority at all, even his union, and no-one ever followed up to check on his well-being or to show any compassion. Not surprisingly, his health suffered and the psychological effects of that humiliation were long-lasting.

… Their suffering was our loss and it was the nation’s loss too because we cannot know what Ian and others who were dismissed would have gone on to do and achieve.

Whenever a group of people are excluded from areas of employment and expertise for reasons that have nothing to do with their competence, then we have to ask what could have been achieved if they had been included in the pool of talent. There is always the question about ‘what might have been’ if the organisation had been completely free to choose the best candidates for a job.

What caught my eye, though, were the references to Alan Turing in Hannigan’s speech:

But in our building he is revered as a genius, as a problem-solver who was not afraid to think differently and radically – an example to others. And in the horrifying story of his treatment, a small ray of light is that he was not abandoned by all of his colleagues at GCHQ – many stood by him and our then Head of Cryptanalysis – chief code breaker – testified at his trial.

… We did not learn our lesson from Turing.

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarFiona 22nd Jan - 12:09pm
    This is a big and complex one, but it is of course right to acknowledge that many of the 52% voted Brexit because they were...
  • User AvatarDJ 22nd Jan - 12:06pm
    "The Tories are not breaking up the UK. When it happens it will be the inevitable consequence of devolving power." False. The Tories were perfectly...
  • User AvatarGeoffrey Payne 22nd Jan - 12:03pm
    This is absolutely what we should be doing. I know where I live in Hackney which is a Remain stronghold that it is easy to...
  • User AvatarNick Cunningham 22nd Jan - 11:54am
    A don't understand this argument democracy should stand still because one camp has won a referendum by under 4% in their favour. Democracy does not...
  • User Avatarexpats 22nd Jan - 11:41am
    WW, Perhaps you should start with our leadership? Demanding a re-run of the referendum in every speech, because those who voted out (your 'left behinders')...
  • User AvatarRichard Underhill 22nd Jan - 11:23am
    Peston-on-Sunday's use of the word "Panglossian" without explanation, at the end of the programme, was interesting, but elite. Oxfor, Chambers, Slang and BBC dictionaries did...