Attack Leave’s Leaders, Ideas and Claims. Not Voters.

When our party, and the wider movement of people in our country who are broadly liberal, is at its best we are: understanding, tolerant, empathetic and open.

But there are times when some people “on our side” are less than that. There are some people who do not understand the difference between robustly defending an idea and being rude.

I know the aggression of the other side.  I know all about the trolling and harassment on social media.  In my years as a candidate I have had hate mail, someone follow me at night, silent phone calls and been signed up to junk mail lists.  You just ignore it and get on with the job.

But as Hillary Clinton famously said,

When they go low. We go high.

During the referendum campaign and since I have been brought to fury by the dishonest behaviour of the leaders of the Leave campaign and by Theresa May’s Brexit government that are the puppets of a handful number of rich, foreign-domiciled men who own most newspapers.

I believe there is a real possibility of Britain staying in the European Union.  That is because by  2019 or 2020:

  • If there is an exit deal (or if the government proposes to leave without one) it will be clear as day that it is less good than being a member of the EU;
  • There will not be £350 million per week suddenly available for the NHS;
  • Farmers and fishermen, among others, will not better off;
  • “Concern about immigration” will become more nuanced. There will be wider understanding that an older population needs immigration to pay for longer pensions and care;
  • Europe will face external challenges that shows we need to work together.
  • The younger people who voted strongly for Remain (73% of 18-25 year olds) will be a larger share of the population.
  • The reputation of the people who Leave voters trusted, Johnson, Gove, Farage (and now May) will diminish not increase.
  • Campaigners on our side will develop better ideas than before to communicate our case.  As I said to a public meeting in Oxfordshire last summer:

However much we talk here about the damage Leaving will do to science and jobs in Oxfordshire, I need you to think about how we explain better to people in Hartlepool [or other towns that voted Leave] that this matters to them.

Whatever, May says it will be difficult for her to go ahead, when her fundamental aim is re-election, if these factors change public opinion over the years to come.

In addition, I believe the following might happen (but as a constructive critic of the EU I don’t feel able to put it higher than might)  and if they did would further support more minds changing:

  • The EU responds well to external threats.
  • The EU makes internal reform that allows less trenchant Leave voters to feel their vote provoked change (which some of them say was what they wanted their vote to provoke).
  • The EU adopts more charismatic leaders who are able to make a direct, positive connection with the British people, who are meant to be their people.

Tim Farron is right when he says the only way to resist Brexit is to change minds.  Everything else (court cases, votes in parliament) is tactical but not strategic.  Our country’s future is at stake and there is all to play for.

There is a massive job of work for all of us to do.  If the events I have bullet pointed occur, we will have to campaign hard to communicate it to people.  To do this, we will make justified criticisms of Leave’s claims and their leaders’ conduct.

But the one thing that will not help, and drives me to fury is attacks by people who claim to want to help Remain on people who voted Leave.  Voters are not our enemies.  They are out families and friends (and if you don’t have any friends who voted Leave, you are a very unusual person).

I was angry today to see a Tweet, re-tweeted 100s of times, saying that Leave voters are “suicidal lemmings” with a picture of that animal.  The message of the Tweet is that if you voted Leave you stupid, self-harming, not even human.  It plays into a caricature of Remain supporters that we are all self-satisfied with our cosmopolitan intellects, sneering disdainfully at those who disagree.

I am not prepared to accept this being said about some of my friends and family, or about anyone.

More importantly, in the history of persuasion, insulting those whom you wish to persuade has rarely been a successful approach.

Reach out to people who voted for the other side.  Listen, understand and offer something better. Offer hope.  As a great Federalist said,

With malice towards none, with charity for all

We can save Britain’s future in Europe.  But we will not do it with insults.

* Antony Hook was #2 on the South East European list in 2014, is the English Party's representative on the Federal Executive and produces this sites EU Referendum Roundup.

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43 Comments

  • Tony Dawson 3rd Feb '17 - 5:32pm

    “as Hillary Clinton famously said,
    ‘When they go low. We go high’.”

    Not sure this is the best example to quote – but I agree with Anthony’s overall approach. We need to present a sufficient number of ‘Leave’ voters (about a quarter of them would be fine) with an alternative which addresses some of their genuine concerns.

  • Tim Farron’s passionate words about his good and honourable ‘mates’ who nevertheless voted ‘leave’ should be our model….

  • Richard Underhill 3rd Feb '17 - 6:03pm

    Antony: I am currently about half way through Tim Shipman’s book about the referendum “All Out War”. Ryan Coetzee’s focus groups found that many voters simply did not understand what George Osborne was talking about. The Chancellor had taken advice which worked for Boris Johnson’s campaign to be London Mayor and worked for the Conservative party in the 2015 general election, but he was wrong to use the same tactics in a referendum. For instance the warning about lower house prices in the event of Brexit was understood by house owners, but aspiring home owners aged 18-24 thought that lower house prices would be good for them.

  • Eddie Sammon 3rd Feb '17 - 6:19pm

    There is a section of liberals, on the right and left, who have drawn the following conclusions from Trump and Brexit: be tougher, be ruder, cede less ground.

    People don’t say the words “be ruder” but what else do they mean by “defend your ground, aggressively” (Matthew d’Ancona) or Matthew Parris saying just tell leave voters they are wrong and stop ceding ground.

    Telling people their opinions are wrong, and that’s the end of it, won’t win over any voters, which is why some journalists are now better opinion writers than politicians. So yes, try to listen to Anthony Hook and be respectful.

  • nigel hunter 3rd Feb '17 - 6:22pm

    The original tweeter should be found and corrected in the ‘errors of his way’ ,(might even be a fanatical leave stirring it). Equally we should continue to explain to the voters our position on Brexit and correct the misinformation that the Leaders of leave spread. Spell our message out in plain English.

  • gavin grant 3rd Feb '17 - 6:35pm

    “Love the Sinner but hate the Sin” is where we need to be. Lord Ashcroft’s published post vote polling on both sides of the Atlantic shows a very strong correlation on views as to whether multiculturalism, environmentalism, feminism, social liberalism, capitalism, immigration between Leave and Trump voters in one camp and Remain and Hilary voters in the other. We have two “tribes”. The former is older, over whelmingly “white’ and less educated – they are upset by the way their country is going and pessimistic for its future and that of their children. They feel let down and left out. Life is increasingly challenging and few politicians, business people, commentators or “experts” seem to either understand or care. Within this group are many that value “community” and “family”. They will rally to a political movement that provides genuine hope, listens to, works with and for their interests in creating a better future. For them Brexit and Trump carried few if any risks because they feel that it really can’t get any worse. That so many of our fellow citizens feel this way is an indictment of all “liberals”. We need to rekindle our community politics anchored in empowerment and enabling so those who feel left out and left behind no longer take that as their lot and their families futures. It’s a big challenge but liberals have the outlook and ability to respond to it to build that open, tolerant and united society that is inclusive of all.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 3rd Feb '17 - 6:56pm

    The way many Remainers talk about Leave voters is quite horrible. The issue is used as an excuse for many prejudices – prejudice against older people, prejudice against working class people, prejudice against people who have not been fortunate enough to have much formal education, prejudice against Northerners. This is despite the fact that many Leave voters do not belong to any of these categories, and many Remain voters do belong to some or all of these categories. It is probably the prejudice against older people that is the worst, and has sunk the lowest, with people openly speculating about how many Leave voters may have died by the time of a possible second referendum.

  • So so right Anthony
    Hearts and minds were never won by attacking your fellow citizens who are simply doing what they feel/think is the best option to provide for their families and themselves.

    They are not the enemy – absolutely correct!

  • @Catherine Jane Crosland

    Agree, absolutely spot on, it infuriates me also.

    What also infuriates me is though, even if it were true, that the leave majority was made up of Older people, working class, less educated, Northerners, this matters why?
    Is their vote and choice of how they wish to be governed not as worthy as a university educated middle class person?

    The snobbish prejudice that is on the rise in this country is really alarming

  • Matt/Catherine
    Could not agree more – your points or so so important and relevant

  • Hate the sin not the sinner is not going to be an attractive way of converting people who believe that they are not a sinner or that voting leave was a sin.
    Attack the leaders of Brexit for their lies? Take the beam out of your own eye first
    There will be an immediate punishment budget, there was not.
    There will be a recession, there hasn’t been.
    Growth will fall, it is now estimated to be around the same as it was before the vote.
    The I.M.F. has apologised.
    World war 3 has not occurred.
    Western civilization as we know it has not collapsed.
    I would love to see the type of changes the OP hopes for but until recently there has been no reason to believe there was any will, never mind a majority will to make it happen.
    My favourite quote from Junkers, ‘sometimes you have to lie’
    Perhaps a better starting point would be to accept that there are positive reasons for leaving and positive reasons for staying and try and explain why staying is the better of the two.
    The youth argument is a dangerous road to go down, they will not always be on your side.

  • I think getting angry over a lemming meme is an overreaction. The vote was lost and the best course of action is to target the remain vote by reaffirming our commitments to internationalism, free trade , equality of opportunity and tolerance.

  • I agree with you 100% Antony.
    And yet…
    Did anyone happen to see BBC ‘Question Time’ the other night? There was a woman in the audience, who said something like, “I was going to vote Remain. Then I went to the supermarket, and I saw all these straight bananas. And that’s the thing that changed my mind. I thought of all the silly regulations from Europe. So I voted Leave.”
    Now, when I watch Question Time I often sub-consciously think: what would I say if I was the LD on the panel? And I have to tell you that my response to this woman in the moment would NOT have been one of compassion or empathy. Which is probably why it’s a good thing that I have stayed away from elected office over the years!
    My point is, yes I agree with you. But lets not pretend its always easy to ‘go high.’ I couldn’t think of a way to respond to this woman that didn’t involve me telling her she had fallen for a lie and had voted against her own interests (and was therefore stupid or gullable). I know its all in the language we use. But we do think Leave voters were simply wrong,

  • Graham Evans 3rd Feb '17 - 11:47pm

    I think we have to distinguish between what is best in the short to medium term for the LD Party, in the belief that a strong Party will be in the best long term interest of the country; and what is the best way of ameliorating the adverse impact of the referendum decision. Given the fact that no one political philosophy or set of policies can ever please everyone, and there will always be winners and losers, at least in the short term, then surely the Party should direct its resources at a national level to Remain voters, as it is this group who are most susceptible to becoming LD voters. This does not mean that at a local community level we cannot try to address the concerns of Leave voters, but at a national level appeals to concepts like internationalism will not go very far with such voters, even though the issues arising from globalisation can only be tackled at a supranational level. And I am afraid that concepts like community involvement, so beloved by LDs, will do little to tackle the adverse impact of globalisation, the forces of which cannot be resisted by countries acting in isolation. “Take back control” was the biggest con of the Leave campaign.

  • ‘The younger people who voted strongly for Remain (73% of 18-25 year olds) will be a larger share of the population.’

    Would it possible to have accurate facts as well ? 66% of 18 – 24 years old’s didn’t bother to vote.

    34% of 18 – 24 year old’s actually bothered to vote, of which 73% voted Remain.

  • @Antony Hook

    “and by Theresa May’s Brexit government that are the puppets of a handful number of rich, foreign-domiciled men who own most newspapers.”

    Please please can we stop this. It was not the right wing media that lost the referendum campaign for you {or won it for leave} , no matter how you are so all desperate for someone else to blame. By simply saying it was the bias of the right wing media, you are diminishing the almost 17.5 million people who voted and voted Leave.
    I am sure leavers came to their conclusions by reading a variety of sources of information, following debates on TV, and even good old google etc.

    The reasons remain lost was because the EU did not take the reforms seriously in the Cameroon / EU negotiations, he asked for nothing and he get nothing in return,it was a joke. This hampered the remains camp campaign before it even got off the ground. Then there was the arrogance of the Government, thinking that they would win anyway, instead of putting forward a positive case for reaming in the EU, they resorted to threats and punishments instead, if we left.
    Nick Clegg painted an Image of the EU looking no different in a decade to what it does now,
    That was the crux of the remains campaign and that is why it was categorically rejected by the country and why remain lost.
    If people are not happy with the way EU looked now, why on earth would they vote to stay for something that was going to stay the same for another 10 years {Nick Clegg’s words}
    The majority of this country are not prepared to live with the status quo anymore and in an EU that is not the slightest bit interested in reforms. So they wanted out

    So please Teresa Mays Brexit Government is not the puppet of a handful of rich Newspaper owners, she is trying to carry out the will of the people as she was asked to do in the referendum results.
    Stop looking for someone else to blame all the time and start looking within from where your own side got it so terribly wrong

  • How can you argue against the ideas of the “straight bananas” people. They just reflect the hate of the Mail and there are very large numbers of them. There is little substance to engage with

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 4th Feb '17 - 8:18am

    Matt, I agree. The way some Remainers argue that the choice of Leave voters should just be ignored, seems similar to the arguments of people in the nineteenth century who opposed the idea of universal suffrage on the grounds that uneducated working class people were not fit to vote.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 4th Feb '17 - 8:28am

    Alistair, surely the correct response to someone who uses the “straight bananas” argument is just to politely point out that the EU has never ruled that bananas must be straight. But I really don’t think many people voted Leave just because of straight bananas.

  • Nicholas Cunningham 4th Feb '17 - 9:18am

    I think tolerance is sadly lacking on both sides. When one is called a traitor for supporting our membership it shows how little understanding there is in some quarters. Where I live a woman who been selling some literature for donkeys years, told simply to go home, unacceptable.

  • Spot-on! Yes, in my moments of anger, I have blamed leave voters, even despised them, particularly the elderly with little at stake in the future. This is wrong, gets us nowhere and changes nothing. I have repented!

  • I think a lot of people voted to leave because they were against the idea of EU interference, and the ongoing stories from the Sun, Mail, Express and various others were part of the reason a lot of people believed it was a problem.

    I remember being in the staff canteen a few years ago, and one of our placement students announced in horror that the EU was going to ban British sausages. She’d just read it in the Sun, and when I asked to have a look, the article didn’t even claim what she’d assumed. Granted, it hinted at it, but they’d carefully avoided the lie amongst all of the criticism. This person wasn’t stupid – she successfully completed an honours degree, although it is fair to say she still didn’t have the best analytical skills when it came to believing what was implied in the Sun.

    It was easy for me, a cynic, and used to reading other newspapers, to be highly sceptical about such stories, but if you read those papers every day, and are already primed to believe that bloody Brussels is up to no good, then intelligent people accept all sorts.

    If wondering how intelligent people can lazily accept fairly obvious nonsense without realising what’s happening, I suggest reading “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman, which explains an awful lot.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thinking,_Fast_and_Slow

    I recommend the book in general. It explains a lot about how some campaigns are so much more effective than you might have expected, and vice versa.

  • Nicholas Cunningham 4th Feb '17 - 10:42am

    Politics sadly, is very tribal, that is the nature of politic’s and always has been, but if we think it’s bad here, America takes it to a very different level. This might be off topic slightly, but what has saddened me is the divisions which the EU referendum has open up, family, friends, people who you work with, relationship in some cases have become strained, somehow this nation as to come together, it’s not going to easy.

  • If John Stuart Mill could say

    “I did not mean that Conservatives are generally stupid; I meant, that stupid persons are generally Conservative. I believe that to be so obvious and undeniable a fact that I hardly think any hon. Gentleman will question it.”

    I think I can safely say

    “I did not mean that Brexiteers are generally stupid; I meant, that stupid persons are generally Brexiteers. I believe that to be so obvious and undeniable a fact that I hardly think anyone will question it.

  • Matt I agree with much of what you post, particularly the point that Nick Clegg stating nothing much would be different in the E.U. in ten years time, was a major turn off to those thinking about staying but also wanting to see a shake up in attitude, process and policy in the E.U.
    I must apologise for misquoting Mr Junkers in my earlier post, what he actually said was-:
    ‘when things get serious you have to lie ‘ , in reference to the Euro crisis and Greek economy.
    Another good one is-:
    “Of course there will be transfers of sovereignty. But would I be intelligent to draw the attention of public opinion to this fact?,” in reference to whether Gordon Brown should offer a referendum on the Lisbon treaty….
    The man is a veritable gold mine of quotes that may concern people who are ambivalent about the E.U. Perhaps people who still hope to turn the leave decision around would do well to ask him to remain silent as often as possible, for as long as possible. Good luck.

  • @Tynan

    Agreed.

    Another remarkable quote from Junker

    ““Too many politicians are listening exclusively to their national opinion. And if you are listening to your national opinion you are not developing what should be a common European sense and a feeling of the need to put together efforts. We have too many part-time Europeans.””

    I couldn’t put my mark in the leave box quick enough

  • Katharine Pindar 4th Feb '17 - 8:19pm

    I am glad to have caught up with your helpful, sensible and constructive article, Antony, and pleased to read useful follow-up comments. Matt, you will be surprised to learn that I agree with much of what you have written here, on the lack of a positive case for the EU put forward by Remainers, the apparent unwillingness of the EU to reform, Nick Clegg’s anticipating no change there, and our general complacency about the EU. However, I do believe there is hope now, as Antony suggests, for us to remain, if we work at it. To me that work should include study with our European allies of how we want the EU to develop, with awareness of the changes that are occurring in the other nations and sensitivity to their needs and expectations. These years are times of alarm and despondency for many liberals and centrists in Europe, a time surely to work with them.
    On our approach to our own people, trying to win the changes of mind that we seek, I think as Graham Evans suggests that we should largely target Remain voters nationally, though trying to respond to Leavers’ needs at community level. But just as we could not recreate jobs destroyed by globalisation, so I think we should be realistic about Leavers. As Fiona said, probably many voted with the wish to end EU ‘interference’, and. as learned posts have taught us in previous threads, there is a large section of the population with fixed ideas tending to conservatism which can never respond to our open, outward-looking liberal attitudes, so we have to accept that, I think, and approach the many others.

  • @katharine

    Hi Katharine, hope your well and not to worn out after pounding the streets in your by-election, were in for some pretty awful weather next week so i feel for you guy’s and admire your determination.

    As far as the comments goes that I have seen from yourself and others that there seems to be genuine hopes of the EU accepting reforms, I can honestly say I have not seen this, can you please point me in the direction to where one of the leaders of a Major EU Member states i.e Germany, France, Italy has said anything meaningful about possible reforms, especially on the freedom of movement of people? Or anything from Junker / Tusk on the matter. Because all I have heard coming from any of these quarters is freedom of movement is a non-starter, non-negotiable and that simply will not be acceptable to the majority of the UK in my opinion.

    The only things I have heard coming out of the EU since the referendum has been how the EU should integrate more quickly, talk of a a European Tax Identification Number, EU army, rushing ever closer to becoming a superstate.
    How is that in anyway an EU that interested in reforms? I guess they are reforms, but reforms that are heading in completely the wrong direction and one’s that the UK has already rejected and would never agree to in a million years.

    The EU share of global wealth is due to shrink to just 15% of the worlds economy over the next 10 years. Given how hopeless the EU has been in the past at making trade deals due to their protectionist policies, do you really think the EU is going to abandon it’s approach and become what Liberal Democrats “say they are” Internationalists who believe in free trade.
    That is simply not going to happen with the EU.

    For the EU to see what is wrong, they first have to open their eyes. My fears are that the bright in your face colours at their new European Headquarters in Brussels has them all walking around dazzled and dazed

  • Arnold Kiel 5th Feb '17 - 7:47am

    We need to bury the idea that the EU can be stabilized and made more attractive through reform. With the UK, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Italy, the Netherlands, Bulgaria… each having a veto on anything, no consensus can be reached. And that is good. I want no EU-reform to be influenced or even driven by Farage, LePen, Wilders, Orban, or May.

    Even without reform, the EU could take many more good decisions today, but it cannot reach the required unanimity. Therefore, all of you who want a more effective or decisive EU should be honest to themselves: that would mean overruling national Governments more frequently; and most of you probably think: exactly right, but of course not the UK. So let us put this idea to rest.

    On attacking leavers: as they have voted against their own best interest, pity, not attack is the logical response. But how to reach them?

    In substance, leavers, Trump-voters, LePen/Wilders/Orban-voters want to be overvalued, i.e. they want their contribution to society respected and remunerated above and beyond their economic contribution. In a globalized economy, the market value of unskilled labor has been driven down and the cost of land in attractive places has been driven up. This squeezes their standards of living. Who would like that?

    They instinctively feel that they cannot work or educate themselves out of that hole, and resort to the idea to cut the influx of people willing to work harder for even less money. So these people vote for politicians or policies that promise to turn the clock back. Of course, a right wing media plays an important role in supporting this idea.

    Now one of two things will happen: either they get their way and learn that the clock cannot be turned back, and that trying to do so makes their lives even worse; the endgame of this could well be the collaps of western liberal democracy. Or the globally competitive minority buys their vote by subsidising their unproductive labor as much as possible. This is what I would try.

    The challenge is therefore twofold: more redistribution to bribe them into supporting forward-looking policies while labelling these transfers as justly earned income.

    But, quite honestly, don’t fool yourselves by engaging in a “truthful debate about legitimate concerns”. Their concerns are quite real. Addressing them means everybody will be poorer, so the answer must be compensation, not comprehension.

  • @john 4th Feb ’17 – 12:12am

    I think you are using old data since debunked:

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jul/09/young-people-referendum-turnout-brexit-twice-as-high

    This is what Nick Clegg quoted in his speech the other day.

    I always was a little suspicious of the Sky Data figure. In an area with lots of people that fall into this group (Oxford, students) we did indeed have only about a quarter of students in my hall registered to vote by the time of the May elections. But almost all of the city’s students would have been back at home by the time of the referendum and many who I spoke to were registered for the referendum but had not bothered to do so in Oxford for the locals. If that is applied to all the areas where there are lots of students it would easily explain some of the disparity.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 5th Feb '17 - 9:07am

    Katharine, in your comment you suggest that there is a large section of the population who are naturally conservative, and will never respond to liberal ideas. You also seem to imply that many or most Leave voters will belong to this naturally conservative section of society, and you conclude from this that we should focus on the 48 percent who voted Remain.
    Your comment reminded me of a song from Gilbert and Sullivan’s opera Iolanthe :
    “I often think it’s comical
    How nature always does contrive
    That every boy and every girl
    That’s born into the world alive,
    Is either a little Liberal
    Or else a little Conservative.”
    But of course Gilbert did not intend this to be taken seriously. He was commenting on the absurdity of the two party system of his day, and also the absurdity of assuming that the population was divided politically into two sorts of people, and that this was somehow natural and fixed.
    We all know, or should know, that there are really as many different political outlooks as there are people. Many people are liberal on some issues and conservative on others, and of course most people change their views on some issues over the years.
    It is probably true that there are personality types that make people incline towards being afraid of change, and preferring the security of the status quo, and other personality types that make people much more ready and eager to accept and
    embrace change. Perhaps these personality types might make people more inclined to be conservatives, or liberals (both with a small l). But many people are somewhere between the two, or have personalities which contain elements of both. And these personality types do not really explain why people voted Leave or Remain. It tends to be assumed that people who voted Leave tend to have conservative views in general. But as Remain was the status quo, many people voted Remain for conservative reasons of fear of change, and are probably not natural liberals. Voting Leave meant voting for change, and a for a step into the unknown – not something that would usually be expected to appeal to the “conservative” type. Many people who voted Leave may be very open to liberal ideas.
    If Gilbert was here today, I’m sure he would be gently ridiculing the idea that “every boy and every girl”, is born a little Remainer or a little Leaver.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 5th Feb '17 - 9:49am

    In my comment above, rather than “both with a small l”! I of course meant conservatives with a small c and liberals with a small l !

  • Ed Shepherd 5th Feb '17 - 10:46am

    “They instinctively feel that they cannot work or educate themselves out of that hole, ”
    And they are right. Working harder at a low paid job more often than not leads nowhere and leaves people feeling that they would have been better off on benefits. Education in England is extremely expensive: university fees have rocketed and are paid for by loans, FE college classes are drastically more expnsive than they once were, professional qualifications are very expensive. Faced with such difficulties, it’s no wonder that people have increasingly turned away from the conventional politicians who have not solved these problems.

  • @Arnold Kiel
    “We need to bury the idea that the EU can be stabilized and made more attractive through reform”
    ” I want no EU-reform to be influenced or even driven by Farage, LePen, Wilders, Orban, or May”
    Are you working for Junker? Please feel free to be more vocal with opinions like that you are a gift horse to the leave side. You do not want our Prime minister having any influence over EU reforms, Ha good luck with selling that to the people.

    “On attacking leavers: as they have voted against their own best interest, pity, not attack is the logical response.”
    “they want their contribution to society respected and remunerated above and beyond their economic contribution”
    You really are condescending, it staggers me how much. You will not drop this notion that “every leaver” comes from a poorly educated, working class or underclasses background will you. And besides no matter WHO pays out more in taxes / contributions etc. , we all have an equal right as citizens to decide what type of society, country, government we live in.
    What if I were to argue that a significant portion of remainers where “aspiring middle classes” heavily indebted through University fee’s currently working in menial unprofessional jobs without an actual pot to piss in, but living in cloud cuckoo land hoping that the EU is the key to turning round their fortunes? I would probably be screamed at from the rafters

    Arnold, everything you have said represents everything I despise about the EU and why I think we should leave.
    I am just curious as to how wide spread your hardcore views on the EU are within the party , because if it is as deeply entrenched as what I am fearing it is, then quite frankly I am probably wasting my time here on LDV and there is no hope of me or others like me ever being in a position to be able to vote for the party or support the party again

  • matt identifies a valid point not fully appreciated :

    “You will not drop this notion that “every leaver” comes from a poorly educated, working class or underclasses background will you.”

    This odd notion of linking the left-behind,.. with a low education,.. and a Leaver mentality, is much more tenuous than it first seems.

    The ranks of the left-behind are increasing beyond working class, blue collar work, into the domain of the middle class jobs. The ‘Precariate’, are a relatively new class of often middle class employed, who once enjoyed a lifetime tenure of work, and a very nice final salary pension to look forward to.

    Not anymore.
    As more organisations such as Local government and Universities, turn to short term contracts, and outsourcing, for [highly educated], middle management, lecturers, admin, and maintenance, then such kinds of [once] middle class work, are beginning to look a lot more precarious.

    How many very smart folk, have fallen for the hubris of believing they were just too important to the organisation to be ‘let go’?
    You can be the most highly educated, savvy, middle class person you know,.. but keep looking over your shoulder, because you might be closer to the expanding ‘tribe’ of the precarious left-behind, than you ever thought possible.?

  • Again, well put Matt. I too have voted for the party, on a local government level, and find some of the views expressed on this site very from people claiming Lib Dem affiliation to be very surprising, if not illiberal at times.
    Arnold, who is it that you would like to influence and drive reform in the E.U.?

  • Arnold Kiel 5th Feb '17 - 9:01pm

    @ Ed Shepherd, matt and J Dunn: Despite our differences in opinion on several issues, we seem to be in agreement that important and real grievances are behind many (not all, but enough to sway the result) leave votes. I fully acknowledge those, and do not find that condescending.

    I am shocked and awed that the responsible UK-politicians could deflect these from themselves and convert them into an economically suicidal hard Brexit, the exact opposite of the required answer.

    Of course “we all have an equal right as citizens to decide what type of society, country, government we live in”, but it would be better if all of us really understood the price. I insist that most leavers want a better life, not the poorer one they will now get.

    @Tynan, I can describe to you the direction of the EU I would like to see: I believe in an ever closer union, but one that is based on enforceable rules. A PM who wants to free her country from ECJ-jurisdiction does not believe in this principle. I am further convinced that only a united EU can be a global force in commerce, security, and defence that promotes freedom, the rule of law and prosperity. Again, Ms May has different goals. I would like to see a solidaric European response to the refugee crisis irrespective of individual countries’ geography. Finally, I am personally enjoying my freedom of movement without harm to anyone, and I want to keep it that way.

  • Arnold, you have very clearly outlined the gulf of opinion between us on this subject, most if not everything you hope for is the opposite of what I would support, I would have preferred the old three pillar model.
    Still the world would be a boring place if we all agreed, so more power to you.
    I look forward to maybe one day posting ‘ I agree with Arnold’.. anything is possible!

  • Katharine Pindar 8th Feb '17 - 12:57am

    Copeland by-election duties (interactive ones very pleasant) make dropping into LDV threads more occasional and nocturnal, and much of the above I read with interest without taking sides. But briefly to reply to Matt and Catherine where they cited me. Matt, thank you for your good wishes – mix of duties with much appreciated help from Lib Dems coming to stay over (the George Hotel bar did well from us all tonight in Keswick, as did the Trout’s in Cockermouth) means we are far from exhausted. (We ‘folks’, please, though, not ‘guys’, even with extra apostrophe!) As to EU states softening freedom of movement requirements, I believe that is being done in different ways by different states gradually and without proclaiming it, but the overall effect will be to deter. Moreover, any advance towards ‘a super state’ is neither possible nor sought by most states, which nonetheless must value their close co-operation in these dangerous times. So at least I see it, though you will not see it similarly. QED!

    Catherine, I can hum it as well, and while we retain First Past the Post voting, a binary division between the liberal-minded and the conservative-minded might still impress W.S.Gilbert as having some relevance (note of course from an Iolanthe fairy now much weathered!). Your comment is thoughtful as ever, reasonably dwelling on the complexities of personality types. But I think there is some sense in the ‘open’ vs.’order’division mooted by Professor Eric Kaufmann of the LSE and helpfully revealed to us earlier by Denis Mollison. Surely voting to leave was not voting for ‘a step into the unknown’ but, rather, a step back into the preferred order of the remembered or imagined past.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 8th Feb '17 - 1:52am

    Two clever ladies well schooled are they
    Catherine and Katharine too
    Who ever makes it through school today
    Hath a task to match you !

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 8th Feb '17 - 8:19am

    Thank you, Lorenzo ! 🙂

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