Author Archives: Antony Hook

The 3 most complained about TV moments connected to the EU Referendum campaign

“I wish to register a complaint…” are the opening words of Monty Python’s famous Parrot sketch.  A man has bought a parrot, which is clearly dead.  We are never told how he was tricked into believing it was ever alive.  The pet shop owner promises it is “resting”, “pining for Norwegian fjords” and deploys grandiose, Boris Johnson style, language in this pretence.

People register complaints with broadcasters and regulators about what they see and hear on television every day.  Many complaints are about political news content.

The UK Business Insider reports the three moments connected to the referendum campaign that attracted most complaints.

Top of the league is the debate between Cameron …

Posted in News | 2 Comments

“Brexit plunges UK economy to worst level since 2009”

The BBC, whom many people thought unfairly generous to Leave during the referendum campaign reports worrying economic data.

Data from Markit’s Purchasing Manager’s Index, or PMI, shows a fall to 47.7 in July, the lowest level since April in 2009. A reading below 50 indicates contraction.

Both manufacturing and service sectors saw a decline in output and orders.

The report goes onto say that most businesses are attributing the causes to “Brexit” (which appears to mean the vote to Leave, rather than leaving itself which has not yet happened).

Unless the economy improves in coming months we will be officially in recession.  A …

Posted in News | 14 Comments

EURef: Science already suffering – but how do we explain to Leave voters this matters?


I spoke for Remain at about 50 debates during the campaign.  Whether they were in village halls, church halls, schools or pubs, I mentioned science.

The EU sensibly allocates its science funds by competitive bids and for years a lot has come to universities and research companies in Britain.  The benefits for a society in which there are a lot of scientists and science work go beyond simple economics.  There is a cultural benefit too from having more people in our community who think with the logical, disciplined mind of a scientist.

If the …

Posted in News | 17 Comments

EURef: UK stripped of 2017 EU Council Presidency

The Presidency of the European Council rotates between the member states who hold it for 6 months at a time.  The UK was due to hold the Presidency in the second half of 2017.

Some people expected David Cameron’s pledge to hold an EU Referendum “by the end of 2017” indicated he planned to use the Presidency in a way that would then springboard him into a successful campaign.

He called it early and lost.  Now it appears there will be no UK Presidency in 2017.  The Independent reports it has been cancelled and the slot will be taken by another …

Posted in News | 28 Comments

Understanding Differences in the Canadian and UK Liberal General Election Strategies in 2015.

I recently reviewed Kenneth Carty’s “Big Tent Politics, the Liberal Party’s Long Mastery of Canada’s Public Life”, which was published after Justin Trudeau had become Liberal leader but before his sensational win in the General Election.  Liberals went from 34 seats to 184 seats and majority government.

As I noted in the review of Carty’s book, in his analysis the key planks of Liberal dominance of Canadian politics were expressing liberal values as national identity (being Canadian and liberal are the same thing, and we alone speak for all parts of the country), having a winner’s mentality (we will do whatever it …

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EURef: Peace, Prosperity, People – my speech from village hall debates

I’ve spoken for Remain and the Liberal Democrats at over 50 debates in this campaign – in villages halls, church halls, schools, pubs, universities, a science park and even one on a beach.  A lot of party campaigners have been doing this.  Everyone who is prepared to speak for our cause in public deserves a big thank you.

I like to speak without notes so I did not think there was a copy of my speeches as delivered.

Lewes May 2016 speaking cropped

But a kind supporter surprised me yesterday. She recorded one of my speeches, …

Posted in News | 4 Comments

EURef: Twitter made a difference to voter registration

The Data Driven Journalism blog has analysis of how often the Leave and Remain campaigns have been mentioned on Twitter.

One of the findings, is that link to register to vote was shared over 140,000 times on Twitter after 15 May, with a big spike around the registration deadline.

url used on twitter

As far as I know, only the registration website managers could know how many people clicked on that link from Twitter and registered.  But if someone delivered 140,000 pieces of papers with a registration form on we would say “well done” …

Posted in News | 9 Comments

EURef: Government needs to make the benefits of migration blatantly obvious

Doing over 50 debates, speaking for the Lib Dems and Remain, in the past few months I have seen that our arguments are more solid than Leave’s and win over undecided people.

A problem is that the points that people like me at a regional and local level, and Tim Farron nationally, are using are not the same as the less effective points being emphasised by Cameron.

You have to argue “the EU is good” not simply  “I’ll make it less bad”  or  “disaster if we leave” as the PM has done.

A factual point that has a big impact of many undecided is that EU citizens …

Posted in News | 27 Comments

EURef: *Anyone* can help by making calls through Connect

phone picture zoomed in

Local party Connect managers can create “phone bank only” Connect accounts for anyone who wants to help win a Remain vote by making calls through our system.

They can be anywhere in the world and it does not matter if they normally support another party.  All they need is a phone, a computer and a genuine wish to help Remain win.

Accounts for this purpose can be set to expire on 24 June.

Don’t worry about “giving away secrets”.  The way Connect / VAN works is well documented online as it …

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EURef: Animation – how Brexit will affect your family

Animation is a lovely way to get a message across.

Stronger in have this short clip on how Brexit would affect British families.


Posted in News | 2 Comments

EURef: Register to vote by tomorrow (Tuesday)

Tuesday, 7 June, is the deadline to register to vote for the referendum.

Please could every LDV reader think about who they could remind about registering.

People who may have overlooked registration include those who have recently moved home or students getting to the end of term.

You can register to vote here.


Posted in News | 1 Comment

Justin Trudeau Speech to Liberal Federal Party Convention

Our Canadian sister party, whose recent success has interested and inspired many of us, held its Federal Party Convention (which takes places every two years) in Winnipeg last weekend.

Here is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s bi-lingual speech (French parts have been over-dubbed into English).

Posted in News | 2 Comments

EURef: Get your posters up

correx board21 days today until the most important vote in our lifetimes.  The referendum will have consequences for decades and they will be for Europe, for Britain, for our local communities and for our great party.

We know that seeing posters for a cause makes people more likely to vote for the cause.

If you have not already done so, now is the time to put a poster up.

Weatherproof correx boards (for a stake at the end of the garden or on a balcony) can be ordered here for just £2.

Paper posters …

Posted in News | 4 Comments

EURef: Excellent guide to referendum issues by Mike Biden

The European Movement has published this guide to issues in the referendum.  It contains a wealth of useful information when speaking to people about Europe.

It has been compiled by Lib Dem campaigner Mike Biden from Winchester, who has done a fantastic piece of work for us all.

Some of the facts in it ,include:

  • For every £1 the EU spends, the UK economy has grown by £10
  • The EU’s plans for growth will add 7% to the UK economy
  • Only 1% of government expenditure goes to the EU.  If you earn £30,000 pa, your contribution is just £51
  • Prices of

Posted in News | 23 Comments

EURef: Lib Dem Image Stocking Referendum Supplies

in badge


All over the country Liberal Democrat local parties are getting to making an excellent job of campaigning for a Remain vote.

Lib Dem Image are now able to supply, badges, posters, t-shirts, stickers other items that will be useful for campaigning.

It’s al available to order here.


Posted in News | 2 Comments

EURef Round-up: Leave’s Turkey, Bank of Japan Warning, Major Retailers Back Remain

John Curtice on the BBC website analyses polling that shows Britain is a “divided nation” on the referendum – with age and occupational background, ethnicity and to a lesser extent gender strongly indicating which way a person in likely to vote in the referendum.

The Leave campaign’s lie that Turkey is going to join the EU anytime soon has been much ventilated in the last few days.  A Minister even asserted the UK has no veto on a new member joining.  The Prime Minister was robust in saying this is not true. The BBC have more detail.

Academic study has …

Posted in News | 5 Comments

Interested in acting on election expense frauds? Meeting for Lib Dems, 28 June 2016.



You will know that there is a growing story about possible widespread breaches of the law, amounting to criminal offences, by Conservatives at the 2015 General Election.

The people of this country suffer a disempowering electoral system, a press controlled by a handful of billionaires mostly living abroad, and a system whereby one or two parties can massively outspend all other election participants.  They can use power to reward their donors, making government a glorified client relations system.

Until the day when we can put right those failings in our democracy, the least the people thought we were entitled to expect was obedience to the law by those seeking to hole power.  If the law has been broken we will act to expose it and use the law to achieve a remedy.

Posted in News | 4 Comments

EURef: Campaign survey for local business



In my area I am collecting a Europe related survey of local businesses.

My survey asks about ways in which being in Europe may affect them.  It covers sales to visitors from Europe, customers in Europe and purchase of supplies from Europe.  It also asks about employment of Europeans from other members states and regulations – whether they support EU law on health & safety, equal pay, and so.  I ask how any of the regulations affecting business can be improved.  Finally, I also about general issues affecting local business, such as skills …

Posted in News | 4 Comments

Facts on immigration

Last Wednesday I went to a very useful presentation by the Samphire Project, a charity based in Dover.  Samphire do no promote a policy agenda but communicate accurate information about immigration, detention, asylum and refugees in the UK.

They covered some popular beliefs about migration and compared these to reality.  It was hughly educational.  I am far from a believer in tabloid panic about migration but I did not know that the number of asylum applications in the UK was only 31,000 last year.

This helpful factual graphic was available to share:




Posted in News | 43 Comments

EURef: Great Work by Brighton & Hove Lib Dems

2016-05-11 (2)Brighton & Hove Liberal Democrats have researched and produced a detailed guide to how their city benefits from being in Europe.  Please click on the image opposite to access it.

As local party Chair, Michael Wilbur writes in the introduction:

When talking to residents about the EU referendum, people often say that there are too many competing statistics, claims and counterclaims being thrown around and that this makes it hard to know who or what to believe. To address this gap, the Liberal Democrats have conducted research into the impact the EU has on

Posted in News | 4 Comments

Defending Lib Dem councillors to the hilt and following their example

Last week, I was called by a journalist who was looking to write a piece attacking local Liberal Democrat councillors in part of my region. He wanted to have a go at them for pledging to donate 10% of their pay to their local party to support campaigning on important local issues.  In some areas this practise is called “tithing”.

Part of the call went something like this:

“I understand you are a member of the Liberal Democrats’ Federal Executive and you were the candidate to take over from Sharon Bowles as MEP?”

“Yes that’s right.  Sharon was an excellent MEP and I am sorry the election result I was not carry on her work in the Parliament”.

“And I understand as a lawyer you have prosecuted bribery in the NHS.”

“No, it was a government department.”

“Ah right.  But you have called for the Lib Dems to take ethics more seriously.  I have an article here where you talk about something called the Nolan Principles.”

“Yes, they are very important rules for upholding standards. They need to be taken seriously.”

Posted in News | 15 Comments

EU civil servants can stand to become MPs or MEPs, why can’t UK civil servants?

European and British flags. European and British flags.

In recent elections, both the General Election or the European Election, Liberal Democrat candidates have included officials or civil servants working for EU institutions in Brussels.

There is no restriction on them standing in these elections.  I saw many of them do an excellent job.

On the other hand, UK civil servants are generally banned from standing as candidates to be MP or MEPs.

Isn’t it time to address this inconsistency and relax the rules that mean civil servants cannot be chosen by their peers to represent …

Posted in News | 9 Comments

EURef: Happy Europe Day!


European and British flags.

9 May is Europe Day.

The date was chosen because it is the anniversary of the military victory of the democratic Allies over fascism in Europe in 1945 and, in 1950, the date of the Schuman Declaration in which Robert Schuman, French foreign minister, called for a Coal and Steel Community to promote peace and prosperity.

The best way to celebrate Europe Day is to help the Liberal Democrats’ INTogether campaign.

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EURef: Connect is ready. It’s time for referendum canvassing

A great Liberal MP, John Bright used to say, “I believe in faith, hope and canvassing.  And the greatest of these is canvassing.”

Canvassing makes a difference.  Being canvassed by a party or cause increases the chance you will support them and increases the chance you will come out to vote. You can canvass on a street stall or on the phone.  You can do it online.  Still the most effective way, in my view, is going door to door, seeing people in person.

We are going to win this referendum.  We are going to win it by a big margin that

Posted in News | 4 Comments

When Canadian Liberals dealt with big defeat: merger, a new party or something else.


After becoming Leader of the Liberal Party in Canada, Justin Trudeau wrote an autobiography “Common Ground”.  The early chapters cover his life as the son of a Prime Minister, then his career as a bouncer, ski instructor and high school teacher. The book moves on to how he became a non-party political activist, then a Liberal candidate and (by just a few hundred votes) an MP in 2008, then party leader in 2013.

To me, a very interesting part of the book is that which deals with events after 2011.

In 2000 the Liberal Party was in government with 172 seats. They …

Posted in News | 9 Comments

Good luck today!

lib dem rosettes

Everyone in the UK has at least one election today.

Scotland, Wales, London and Northern Ireland are elected their devolved legislatures, and a mayor in London.

Large parts of England, particularly unitary authorities have local elections.

England & Wales are electing Police & Crime Commissioners.

Liberal Democrat campaigners have been working hard for all these elections.

A year ago, some people said the party was finished.  There is still a long way to go to build the Liberal Democrat party that Britain needs today. But in the last 12 months our candidates …

Posted in News | 4 Comments

Labour ex-MEP Skinner jailed for 4 years

peter skinner

Peter Skinner, the former Labour MEP for South East England has now been sentenced.  He was given 4 years by Mrs Justice McGowan, sitting at Southwark.

He was found to have misused £100,000 of public funds.  There will be a further hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act.  If the Crown apply “the lifestyle assumptions” in that Act, the burden of proof will be on Skinner to show that any money he received for any source in the last 6 years was legitimate.  If he can’t show that …

Posted in News | 6 Comments

EURef: Disenfranchised Brits lose in High Court


In a test case brought by two British citizens who have lives outside the UK for more than 15 years, the High Court has ruled that the state can deny them the right to vote.

It is estimated that 700,000 people are affected by the decision.  The Conservatives have pledged to scrap the restriction for future elections (in which they calculate it will assist them).

The court ruled that Parliament is entitled to restrict the franchise to those with a specified “closeness” to the country and also said it would be …

Posted in News | 19 Comments

EURef Roundup: Obama, Clinton for Remain, Le Pen for Leave, Recruitment hit by Brexit risk, Bognor and Brighton compared

Obama issues trade warning.  Defending his right to express a view, the President said:

I don’t anticipate that anything I’ve said will change the position of those who are leading the campaigns in one direction or the other, but for ordinary voters I thought it would be relevant to hear what the president of the United States, who loves the British people and cares deeply about this relationship, has to say.

Hillary Clinton also “warns against Brexit vote”, reports the Telegraph.

Britons could need visas to visit Europe, says pro-Brexit Justice Minister.

Marine Le Pen is looking to come over

Posted in News | 10 Comments

Book Review: Big Tent Politics, the Liberal Party’s Long Mastery of Canada’s Public Life

Recently, the Canadian Liberal Party’s sensational victory, to win its first General Election after three successive defeats and coming from third place when many thought it had no future as a party captured the interest of many Liberal Democrats and liberals throughout the world.  Justin Trudeau’s refreshing leadership, modern, likeable, down-to-earth without dumbing-down, inspires us.

big tent politics

I remember in 1993, the Liberals landslide win when the Conservatives reduced to just three seats. This followed Bill Clinton’s victory in 1992, which his opponents did not see coming (see Hunter S Thompson, “Better Than Sex”) and foreshadowed the UK Conservatives’ crushing, justified defeat in 1997. The 90s was a good decade for the centre-left.

I was travelling in Canada in 2002 when Jean-Chretien, the Liberal Prime Minister, announced his retirement.  Having just fought my first election, as the youngest Liberal Democrat PPC, it was fascinating to read in the Canadian press how a party so similar to ours ideologically grappled with the exigencies of government.

Posted in News | 16 Comments

Recent Comments

  • Stephen Glenn
    I well remember after taking 45 minutes to take my leave of the conference bar at Bournemouth running into Erlend holding court at one of the outside tables, as...
  • Neil Fawcett
    Kind words about one of the kindest of men. Erlend was one of those people who always left me feeling happier about the world. He will be sadly missed but...
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    @James I disagree James, we know what we stand for now, we just need to get out there and sell it. If we don't know what we stand for now, how are we goin...
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    Johnson's moral authority is shredded. But he never traded on it anyway, heavyweight successors are thin on the ground and Labour isn't ready to a be government...
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    @Brad Barrows I don’t know how old you are; but I assume you were around back in 1992. If you were then you will probably remember that Sheffield rally (“W...