Vince the Lib Dem Eurosceptic on the “extraordinarily historically important” European single market

Vince Cable - Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsI’m grateful to PoliticsHome’s Paul Waugh for reporting Vince Cable’s words stressing the importance of the EU’s single market at a time of deep austerity in the western world:

“State aide cuts to the heart of the big debate which is rippling though our country at the moment which is about our future within the European Union. I have to say that this whole issue of raising again in a fundamental way British membership and the terms of membership is a massive disruption and deeply unhelpful in my job. I have to spend my time talking to business people, British and international, trying to have the confidence to invest here and create employment and the recent uncertainly is just deeply uncomfortable for the country. I think the warning shot across the bows yesterday from the United States was actually quite helpful as well as very timely.

“The core of the debate, at least on the economics side about the British membership, is the role of the single market and it’s worth remembering why that’s important here to the UK. First of all it is the part of the European project that the British, more than anybody else, helped to create and shape. It is extraordinarily historically important because if we look back at the history books and the interwar period, whenever there has been a financial crisis there have been 3 phases: the collapse of the banks, the financial runs of the kind we had in 1989, all was followed by a deep recession all was followed by nationalism and protectionism, and it’s the single market rules that prevent that historical precedent from being repeated again…”

It’s a powerful argument — the more so as Vince is, within Lib Dem ranks at any rate, one of the more Eurosceptic politicians.

* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.

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25 Comments

  • “all was followed by a deep recession all was followed by nationalism and protectionism, and it’s the single market rules that prevent that historical precedent from being repeated again…”

    I totally agree about the vital importance of the single market and keeping to its rules.

    With that in mind, does Vince have any comment about the massive wedges of cash that France is using to prop up PSA Peugeot Citroen. If European consumers weren’t buying their cars, they might be buying more UK made Hondas.

  • @Cllr Mark Wright: I agree. But there’s definitely been a change in the national discourse. Treat this as purely anecdotal, but I’ve found that that confident, knee-jerk euroscepticism has already been mollified among my friends. But I am hopeful that the Lib Dems will argue for the EU, while demanding reform.

  • A market yes apolitical and tied to market only NO thats what we getting though a united states of Europe no thanks

  • John Roffey 12th Jan '13 - 9:05pm

    Is there any conflict in the ‘Democratic’ in the Party’s name, that the majority want to leave the EU and that the policy of absolute support for our membership of the EU by the Party is the primary, or at least significant, reason that UKIP now register as the third most popular party – replacing the Lib/Dems?

  • maggie Smith 13th Jan '13 - 12:54am

    It is intriguing to watch how the business men who the right wing thinking public normally hold in such high opinion when it comes to the myth of job creation, the seemingly endless philanthropy of the less than living wages they pay and the never ending chants of “business knows best, let the markets decide, these people don’t get to the positions they do by being fools!”….

    Right up until it’s reported that the majority express the opinion that the UK’s trade would be damaged (or is being damaged by the uncertainty) by the prospect of us leaving the EU), these very same businessmen then become undemocratically elected, know nothing, self interested, interfering idiots.

    That aside, I am interested to see how the Lib Dems combine being in the coalition with the most knee jerk anti-EU tory party we have seen for a long while, given this parties position on Europe.

  • maggie Smith 13th Jan '13 - 12:56am

    I should add for clarity that I am a believer in the UK being a full and active member of the EU.

  • John Roffey 13th Jan '13 - 8:20am

    @Cllr Mark Wright

    I am not sure that what you say withstands examination. Until recently, when UKIP’s popularity surged, the three largest parties have been clearly supportive of our membership. Apart from the occasional highlighting of the excesses of the EU, in general the MSM is supportive of our membership – with the BBC being extremely bias in this respect. If there has been any ‘telling’ to the electorate – it is that membership of the EU is unquestionably to our advantage.

    The most general concern about our membership is the loss of sovereignty that ‘ever closer union’ brings, the loss of self determination as a nation in the removal of the people’s democratic rights to decide what policies are best for the nation when choosing a party to govern.

    Apart from this, their has been an ever increasing recognition that the main political parties have practiced a ‘monumental deceit’ with their approach to our membership of the Union.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2255506/Monumental-deceit-How-politicians-lied-lied-true-purpose-European-behemoth.html

  • Richard Hill 13th Jan '13 - 9:55am

    I think trying to force the EU onto an unwilling electorate will, in the long term, play into the hands of some of the not so pleasent elements of British society.

  • Maggie Smith 13th Jan '13 - 10:06am

    @Jedi
    I’m sorry, I’ll try to do better, allow me some time to formulate an adequate response.

  • Peter Chivall 13th Jan '13 - 11:03am

    If the Single Market is the ‘bottom line’ on any Tory-inspired attempts to renegotiate terms of our membership of EU prior to any promised referendum on membership, then we are already there. All the current Employment Rights legislation which the Right so object to have only had to have European dimensions because successive British Governments in the last 30 years have chosen to ignore the needs of employees with the result that Britain is the clear leader in any ‘Race to the Bottom’ to outbid Thailand, Phillipines etc for employers looking for cheap and easy to sack labour.
    The National Minimum Wage, Working Time Directive and other pro-employee measures were only taken up because the European Commission insisted on a Level Playing Field between Whitehall and the City’s attempts at becoming a Second World Economy and the genuinely advanced economies of France and Germany.
    Finally, those who pretend the Euro is a failaure because of the endemic corruption of Italy and Greece should consider this – when the the Euro was introduced a dozen or so years ago it was only worth 65p. Today, Google headlines 83p. Not so long ago, when New Labour, cheered on by the Tories, allowed all our Banks to become Casinos which then went bust, the Euro was at parity with Sterling.
    We would all be so much happier and more successful if we tried to learn from 21st Century societies like Germany and france – proud and self confident in their culture and traditions; modern liberal and democratic in their industry and institutions. Unlike the Right, who want Britain to be 1955 all over again, but with Colour tv and Central Heating.

  • Sid Cumberland 13th Jan '13 - 11:56am

    The best way for the UK to diminish its sovereignty is to try and be a trading partner with the EU while withdrawing from its decision-making bodies. This would mean we have to follow EU rules and regulations while having no say in how they are formulated.

  • Alex Macfie 13th Jan '13 - 5:53pm

    John Roffey: “Democrat” just means we support democracy. It is not the same thing as campaigning for whatever (we think that) the majority wants. You are conflating democracy and populism.

  • John Roffey 13th Jan '13 - 6:59pm

    @ Alex Macfie

    Is that democracy as in ‘the will of the people’? That which is sacrificed on the alter of ‘ever closer union’? Heaven for the career politician – highly paid jobs, little or no responsibility or accountability. Paradise for the global corporations for whom this whole charade has been created?

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/jul/21/global-elite-tax-offshore-economy

  • Alex Macfie 13th Jan '13 - 9:03pm

    John Roffey: You miss my point. Democracy does not mean everyone has to slavishly support the majority opinion. By that logic, there could never be any legitimate opposition party, since the very existence of an opposition is anti-democratic as it goes against the will of the people who have voted the government into power.

  • John Roffey 12th Jan ’13 – 9:05pm
    Is there any conflict in the ‘Democratic’ in the Party’s name, that the majority want to leave the EU and that the policy of absolute support for our membership of the EU by the Party is the primary, or at least significant, reason that UKIP now register as the third most popular party – replacing the Lib/Dems?

    =================================================================

    1=Democratic? Do you mean the Social Democratic Party? I only ask as I have been told they no longer exist and to be honest I thought my party was called the Liberal ‘Democrat’ Party. I am not being pedantic, if you are going question us based on our name, get our name right?

    2=Democracy, in our system at least, means citizens vote for their representatives and their representatives debate on what they think is right before voting on the conclusion. (Yes, the idiots guide to the word, but lets not waste hours on this point.) Our representatives think membership and active participation in the EU is a good thing and are now debating that.

    3=A referendum fuelled by lies leaves us with First Past the Post elections still, I think this shows that referendums in our current political system are one of the worst ways to achieve a Democratic outcome. PS I am not against referendums, I just think they require voter engagement on a much stronger level.

    4=Democracy has nothing to do with the will of a majority. It is about the will of the people, both in the different majorities and the minorities.

    5=We do not support the EU in absolute, in fact, Nick Clegg has openly criticised the EU’s functions when the EU gets it wrong. As does any Liberal.

  • Alex Macfie says :
    “Democracy does not mean everyone has to slavishly support the majority opinion. By that logic, there could never be any legitimate opposition party, since the very existence of an opposition is anti-democratic as it goes against the will of the people who have voted the government into power.”
    Sorry Alex your understanding of what democracy means, is a little bit strange.
    Once a vote majority is cast that does not go your way, it is not about ‘slavishly’ supporting it, it is about accepting it. This also explains why opposition is not anti-democratic. This is because you accept the current majority vote, but continue to argue your case as to why things should change at the next round of elections.

  • Alex Macfie 16th Jan '13 - 1:12pm

    John Dunn: John Roffey was questioning whether the Lib Dems are “democratic” because we support a policy on Europe that allegedly most people oppose. This implies that to be a “democrat” you have to slavishly support majority opinion, which is a misunderstanding of what it means to be a democrat. [Anyway it's just a name: no-one claims that the Russian Liberal Democrat party is either of those things.]

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