All welcome to the first Liberal Democrat European Group Conference

ldeg-logoThe next 5 years will be amongst the most important for the Liberal Democrats, for Britain and for the European Union.

Liberal Democrats face three important European challenges, to:

  1. Elect, or re-elect, Liberal Democrat MPs to ensure, as far as we can, that the UK government is constructive about the European Union as a means to advance the UK public’s interests.
  2. Win any referendum on Europe.
  3. Return a large group of Liberal Democrat MEPs in 2019 to fight for the interests of our constituents and a more liberal and democratic Europe.

These challenges are all important. All the people we care about in our communities will be affected by these three events. None of these three challenges will be easy to meet.  Nor can we wait.

We all know that campaigning for the General Election is well under way. IN and OUT campaigns are already organising for a referendum. The 2019 European Election campaigns will begin as soon as IN wins any referendum.

The first stage of work in relation to the referendum and the 2019 European Elections, before we hit the streets with our leaflets and canvassing sheets, is to think hard about the case we must make to persuade people for the UK to be in Europe and to have a more Liberal Democrat Europe.

The catastrophe of May 2014 showed that some (possibly a lot) of what we have been saying and how we have said it needs to be considered afresh. We need to identify for people what is the point of voting IN in the referendum and for voting Liberal Democrat for the European Parliament.

It is necessary, but absolutely not enough on its own, to consider the facts and evidence. We must also consider the values that underpin our case. It is values that order facts into a narrative, build a compelling emotional connection, and inspire large numbers of people to vote.  Our case must also be plain and to the point.

We must consider the fundamental questions of successful political leaderships: who am I, who are we, what’s our common purpose?

To facilitate thought and discussion about these issues, the Liberal Democrat European Group is organising its first annual conference. This will be at University College London on Saturday 31 January 2015.

It is open to every Liberal Democrat member. The key speakers will include MPs, MEPs, journalists and people from leading think tanks. It will be a chance for every Liberal Democrat member to get involved in frank discussion about how and why we must meet these challenges.

You can register here. I look forward to seeing you.

* Antony Hook is a Liberal Democrat MEP for South East England and has practised as a barrister since 2003.

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  • We Will be out of EU before 2019 🙂

  • Conor McGovern 27th Oct '14 - 3:45pm

    Looks like the bird is getting starry-eyed about the EU. 😉

  • Tsar Nicolas 27th Oct '14 - 6:12pm

    will NC say whether he supports paying the £1.7 billion bill?

  • “will NC say whether he supports paying the £1.7 billion bill?”
    It’s a question Nick Clegg is running scared from. Let’s hope someone asks him on his radio show?

  • Tsar Nicolas 27th Oct '14 - 8:24pm

    @John Dunn

    “It’s a question Nick Clegg is running scared from.”

    It’s not the only one. I have yet to hear him issue a statement on the 1% at Clacton on October 9.

  • Richard Fagence 28th Oct '14 - 9:37am

    I’ve just booked my ticket and look forward to attending. I’m assuming that the small collection of pessimists, nay-sayers and ‘let’s get Clegg at every opportunity’ diehards who spend most of their days searching LDV for topics they can disagree with or carp about won’t be attending. I won’t miss them if they don’t.

    There are days – and this is one of them – when I wonder why I read LDV.

  • Well said Richard. The fact that one must defend the right of these anti Clegg trollers to post their stuff on LDV does not prevent us from being fed up to the teeth with them.

    I’ve just booked my ticket too. There has never been a more important time for pro EU peoople not just to come to the aid of the party but fight with others to save our position in Europe. To me this is even more important than the Scottish issue.

  • “…these anti Clegg trollers..”
    So it’s trolling to ask a political party in government what their policy is on handing over £1.7 billion of UK taxpayers money to Brussels ? So Lib Dems have drifted so far from public accountability, that asking valid questions is now labelled as trolling??

    So instead of being gratuitously offensive,… what is your stance on the £1.7 billion EU bill?

  • Drew Durning 28th Oct '14 - 3:28pm

    @John Dunn – I think the point that was being made is that LDV, as quoted in the by-line, is “by and for Lib Dem supporters”. It is not the question that is troll-like, it is where it is made. It is of course open to UKIP supporters to make comments and very occasionally useful to get the Little Englander viewpoint, (although the Daily Mail and similar shout these viewpoints louder than the right-wingers on LDV) but lets face it, the only reason for a UKIP supporter commenting here is to be negative, not constructive, and the comments about Nick Clegg can get personal.

    The UKIP supporters that do comment may not consider themselves to be trolls, but must know that by commenting on a website “by and for Lib Dem supporters” they are at best being provocative and at worst being rude or maybe “gratuitously offensive”. So there is the potential to have some troll-like qualities from the viewpoint of the Lib Dem supporters who the website is aimed at.

    I’m sure I won’t discourage you and those like you from commenting further on this site but I would point out there are plenty of places for open debate between the parties and their supporters where your comments would be sought out and have more relevance. Nick Clegg’s radio show is a good example and all the major newspapers have comment sections below each online political article.

    Talking of which, I’m sure Nick Clegg will provide his view regarding the EU bill on LBC if not before. It is a big figure and therefore does need to be justified in detail. It does look like the UK ONS statisticians may have gold-plated the black economy figures, so hopefully there can be a downward revision based on a more comparable approach to how other countries approached these figures. From a Lib Dem perspective (which is, of course, why you are visiting this website) we are happy to be in the EU club and happy to abide by its rules. You won’t find a Lib Dem afraid to say that, It’s Labour and the Conservatives that are running scared of UKIP.

    To my Lib Dem colleagues,.. I’m also looking forward to the conference! It’s a great time to be in the only party with a clear understanding of the UK’s national interest.

  • Tsar Nicolas 29th Oct '14 - 7:15am

    @Drew Durning

    the implication of your post is that Liberal Democrats automatically support anything the EU Cmmission does and everyone else is just a UKIP supporter.

    Moreover, you also imply that your answer awaits a pronouncement from Nick Clegg – it’s a bit like papal infallibility, isn’t it? Not worthy of the Party I supported from its inception in1988.

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