Author Archives: Caron Lindsay

Why Lib Dems should not stand aside in favour of Labour Remainers

Last night, Liberal Democrat PPC for Canterbury Tim Walker announced he was stepping aside in favour of Rosie Duffield, the sitting Labour MP. 

There is no doubt that Rosie Duffield is a good person who supports remaining in the EU. She holds values that are compatible with ours and, should she ever choose to join the Liberal Democrats, she would be warmly welcomed. However, she represents a party that is not committed to Remain. To stand aside for her would send the wrong message to the millions of people who are relying on Jo Swinson and the Liberal Democrats to stop Brexit.

Liberal Democrats have already stood aside in 20 seats, 17 as part of the Unite to Remain initiative and 3 against prominent independent remainers. Our willingness to work with others to achieve a remain objective is not in doubt.

There is one thing in common with the people we have stood down for. They represent parties who wholeheartedly support remain or are running as independents. We are the strongest voice of remain and in no circumstances should we stand aside for a representative of a party which is not committed to Remain.

Let’s go through that Labour policy again. They would go back to the EU, negotiate another deal, put that to their conference to work out whether they support the deal or remain, and then have a People’s Vote. Would they really negotiate a deal and campaign against their own efforts? I doubt it. Labour would deliver Brexit and any Brexit damages the country.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | Leave a comment

WATCH: Jo and Layla at the Rally for the Future – We have to do better for the next generation

On Saturday, the first big Lib Dem election rally took place. The main subject was our policy of providing free childcare to children from 9 months of age – which will make life so much easier for families. What was really good is that this event was family friendly. Babies, toddlers, teenagers were in the audience including Jo’s own two sons.

The speeches were punctuated with toddler babble. It was a joy.

Jo and Layla spoke.

Watch here:

Layla remarked that she had never known such a friendly reaction on the doorstep.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 6 Comments

Luciana Berger: Being in the Liberal Democrats is so refreshing and so positive

When I saw Luciana Berger at Conference  in September, she looked happy and relaxed as she toured the stalls in the exhibition. She said then that she felt very welcome in the Liberal Democrats.

Many of us hoped for a long time that she would come across to us.

In an interview with the Independent, she contrasted her new life in the Lib Dems with the appalling, horrible abuse she suffered in when she was in the Labour Party:

Being in the Liberal Democrats is so refreshing and so positive. I can have disagreements with people and we do so in an adult way where people don’t shout and scream at you and hurl abuse in your direction.

Her last meeting in the Labour Party was very different:

I attended my last Labour Party meeting in October last year and vowed never to go back because it was so unpleasant – it was so toxic, there was no humanity in the room.

The attitude was very much that she should be more loyal:

She says the abuse was regularly dismissed by Labour members in her Liverpool Wavertree constituency, who responded to her recollections by sitting stony-faced and suggesting that she should be more supportive of Jeremy Corbyn.

The instances of anti semitic abuse from the far right, far left and Brexiteers made her physically ill at one point this Summer. You would think that anyone hearing the sorts of things outlined in the interview would react with compassion and empathy.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | Leave a comment

Christine Jardine: Brexit is sucking the life out of our politics

Christine Jardine was on Sophy Ridge this morning talking (among other things) about how Brexit was sucking the life out of everyone meaning that we couldn’t concentrate on the huge issues of the day like Brexit and the NHS.

The amusing thing is that this clip is both being promoted by the party on its social media channels and trashed on Guido Fawkes.

Guido reckons that Christine is saying that Brexit is more important than the union. Which is a cheek given that Brexit as proposed by the Conservatives is more of a threat to the union than anything I have seen in my lifetime.

If we stop Brexit, we strengthen the union.

Sophy Ridge asked Christine about the leaders’ debates.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 30 Comments

A question to Federal Conference Committee as they open registration for Spring Conference

Despite the general election, our conference timetables have to proceed as normal. So this week, registration for Spring Conference in York opened.

You will definitely want to be there. Even when our party was out its lowest ebb, Conference is still the best fun you will ever have in your life. And it’s in York, which is a gorgeous city. And the food and beer at the Mason’s Arms, just down the road from the Conference Centre is delicious.

You can register here.

But I have a question for the Federal Conference Committee. If you register now, you get your conference pass for £60.  After 20th December, just 8 days after the election, the cost rockets up to £95.

Now, most of us are knocking ourselves out campaigning for the General Election. We’re out in the cold and dark on a daily basis. Campaigning is not cheap. You have to pay to travel -and many of us are travelling to our nearest target seats. And we’re all getting asked to contribute to local and national campaigns. 

Posted in News | 5 Comments

Scottish Liberal Democrats’ bright campaign launch as party overtakes Labour in poll

The Scottish Liberal Democrats launched their campaign in Cramond on Thursday mornings. The bright umbrellas provided a contrast to  damp  grey  surroundings.

Alistair Carmichael and former Leader Lord Campbell of Pittenweem joined Willie Rennie, North East Fife candidate Wendy Chamberlain and many activists.

Willie Rennie told the assembled crowd:

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 8 Comments

Remembrance Sunday reflections

Charles Homer Bosworth was my great grandfather. In his face, I can see my Dad, my Uncle Bob, my Uncle Peter. My Dad was called after him. Known as Homer, he lived in Codford in Wiltshire. Born in 1888, he served in the First World War and gets a mention in the Codford Roll of Honour:

Charles Homer Bosworth served in the British Army during World War 1 and spent time in Russia as part of his service.

Until last year, that was as much as my sister and I and our cousins knew about his first World War Service. Then we got in touch with our Dad’s cousin in the US and he was able to tell us some more details. Apparently, Homer’s time in Russia involved being captured by the Bolsheviks and held in a cattle train car. Thankfully, he and his colleagues managed to escape, otherwise I would not be here today.

Homer continued to serve this country, joining the RAF. By the time World War 2 broke out, he was 51 years old and could have retired. Just two weeks in, he was one of 519 people killed after HMS Courageous was torpedoed off the course of Ireland.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 2 Comments

My favourite election moment of the week

It’s a toss up between Jo Swinson and arriving at a visit in Auchtermuchty and Willie Rennie and Alex Cole-Hamilton being, well, themselves.

Yesterday, Jo visited North East Fife

The typo in this, from a Courier reporter, is very amusing, but I just loved the exuberance of it.

The baby is Daphne Grint, 5 month old daughter of Scottish Lib Dem environment spokesperson Rebecca Bell.

And it’s Willie himself who provides the other iconic moment along with Edinburgh Western MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton. And there wasn’t a farm animal in sight.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 1 Comment

Full details of historic Unite to Remain arrangement announced

Full details of the seats affected by the Unite to Remain arrangement have been released.

The Liberal Democrats will stand aside in 17 seats while the Greens and Plaid Cymru will stand aside in 43 seats across England and Wales.

This will give us a better chance of getting more Remain MPs elected.

Scotland is not part of this because we are the only party advocating remaining in both the EU and the UK and so could not step aside for the SNP who are wanting an early independence referendum.

The seats affected are as follows:

Green Party: Brighton, Pavilion, Isle of Wight, Bristol West, Bury St Edmunds, Stroud, Dulwich and West Norwood, Forest of Dean, Cannock Chase, Exeter (9)

You will notice a lot of familiar names in this – seats we hold and key targets:

Liberal Democrats: Bath, Bermondsey and Old Southwark, Buckingham, Cheadle, Chelmsford, Chelsea and Fulham, Cheltenham, Chippenham, Esher and Walton, Finchley and Golders Green, Guildford, Harrogate and Knaresborough, Hazel Grove, Hitchin and Harpenden, North Cornwall, North Norfolk, Oxford West and Abingdon, Penistone and Stocksbridge, Portsmouth South, Richmond Park, Romsey and Southampton, North Rushcliffe, South Cambridgeshire, South East Cambridgeshire, South West Surrey, Southport, Taunton Deane, Thornbury and Yate, Totnes, Tunbridge Wells, Twickenham, Wantage, Warrington South, Watford, Wells, Westmorland and Lonsdale, Wimbledon, Winchester, Witney ,York, (40)

Wales

Green Party: Vale of Glamorgan (1)

Liberal Democrats: Brecon and Radnorshire, Cardiff Central, Montgomeryshire (3)

Plaid Cymru: Arfon, Caerphilly, Carmarthen East and Dinefwr Dwyfor, Meirionnydd, Llanelli, Pontypridd, Ynys Môn (7)

In addition to these arrangements, we can confirm that we are also stepping aside in three further seats: Beaconsfield, Broxtowe, Luton South

This arrangement gives us the best chance of not just getting Remain MPs elected, but a good number of Liberal Democrats.

Speaking after the details were announced, Jo Swinson said:

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 31 Comments

That Remain Alliance is go…

So it looks like the efforts of Unite to Remain are about to bear fruit.

For some months, difficult negotiations have taken place. Now, a result has been achieved in tens of seats which will see Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru or Greens stand down in favour of one Remain candidate. Details fo the seats in question will be announced tomorrow.

Jo Swinson said:

We are delighted that an agreement has been reached.  We would like to thank Unite to Remain for making this possible.

Posted in News | 17 Comments

Norman Lamb: My job was to give people a voice

The thing I was most scared about during the 2015 election was not having Norman Lamb as a Minister any more. He had done so much for mental health and I was worried that some Tory (because I feared they would win) would just undo all his work.

A House of Commons without Norman in it is a poorer place. Yesterday he gave his valedictory speech in the Commons, and he talked about how important it was for politicians to give those without power a voice and change the system to give them power.

Norman, all the very best with whatever you do in the future. We have not always agreed, but you have been one of the best Government Ministers I can remember. Your compassion and understanding towards mental health and those who suffer mental ill health was an example we should all seek to follow. Thank you.

I very much endorse the remarks of the right hon. Member for Aylesbury (Sir David Lidington) about the nature of our political discourse and the importance of treating each other with courtesy and respect.

The right hon. Member for Derbyshire Dales (Sir Patrick McLoughlin) talked about the truths that he was told by his wife in private and the very own special relationship that he had with his wife. I want to start by thanking my partner for life, my wife Mary, and our two sons Archie and Ned for the support that they have given me throughout the 18-plus years I have been in this place. There is no doubt that the work that we do here takes its toll on our families and our loved ones. We always have to remember that and acknowledge the enormous sacrifices that loved ones make as we try to do our work here.

I also want to thank my amazing parliamentary staff, in my constituency and in Parliament, who have shown such loyalty and dedication to me over so many years. I thank the Lib Dem party activists in North Norfolk who have shown me enormous loyalty throughout the time that I have fought there. I have spent 29 years campaigning in North Norfolk because it took me 11 years to beat that lot over there to win my seat the first place. So many people have stuck with me through that period, and I am enormously grateful for it.​

I thank the teams that have supported me in my role as Chair of the Science and Technology Committee and during the time that I was privileged enough to be a Minister of State in the Department of Health. Everyone will understand that, as a Liberal, I did not imagine for one minute that I would become a Minister, and then suddenly I found myself responsible for something that I cared a lot about in the Department of Health. It was the most invigorating time of my professional life, but it was made possible by amazing people who showed great dedication and commitment in supporting me through that journey.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 4 Comments

Jeremy Corbyn embraces his inner Brexiteer

Jeremy Corbyn suggests today that we could leave the EU without damaging  our economy and public services. He’ll tell an audience in Essex, according to the Independent:

Mr Corbyn will say: “If you want to leave the EU without trashing our economy or selling out our NHS you’ll be able to vote for it.

He’ll outline a Labour policy that involves negotiating a new deal and then the Government will decide after that whether it will back the deal in a referendum or vote for Remain.

Kier Starmer sounded very uncomfortable as he explained all this on the Today programme this morning. When asked if Corbyn was a leaver or a remainer, he sounded very hesitant as he told us that Jeremy said he voted remain last time.

Starmer has spent the last couple of years being undermined by his party’s leader at every turn.

It’s significant that Corbyn is talking up Brexit the day after Nigel Farage said that his Brexit Party  was going explicitly after Labour votes. In fact, Labour stands to lose far more by failing to come out full throttle for remain. There has been a steady stream of Labour people coming across to the Liberal Democrats because  of our unequivocal position on Brexit.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 11 Comments

Jo: Lib Dems will take any action required to make sure voice of Remain heard in debates

Surrounded by Lib Dem women candidates and MPs, Jo Swinson this afternoon said that the Lib Dems were considering legal action to make sure the voice of remain was heard in the leaders’ debates. Watch her here.

An hour or so later, Sky announced that she would be invited to take part in their debate:

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 2 Comments

LDV’s election chill out zone

Any election is hard work.

This one, taking place in the cold and dark, is going to be even tougher.

We’ll be providing a regular slot which reflects the lighter side of the campaign.

Send us your funny stories from the campaign trail to [email protected] or tweet me on @caronmlindsay. You can DM me if you want your story to get out but your anonymity to be preserved…

My first proper election canvassing session yesterday was a wet affair. The rain held off until I was at my furthest point from my lift home. It was proper rain, too – the sort that reminds you of the scene at t he end of Four Weddings and a Funeral.

One of my  highlights of this weekend was finding out that one of my fellow campaigners was a Strictly superfan. I wasn’t expecting that from him, but it’s good to know that when it’s cold and dark, we can talk sequins, voltas and throwaway oversways.

Alex Cole-Hamilton woke up with a start, though:

For those of you who don’t know, Minivan is the Lib Dems’ canvassing app. It’s been really good to see our new MPs’ looks of delight and confusion as they get used to it.

I actually sync my data on the way round as I’m always worried that I’ll drop my phone in a puddle or something and all the info will be lost.

I also want trousers like Sam Gyimah’s. He wore them at the Conference rally where he was unveiled as a new MP.  Did he get them specially or did he have them already?

I’d also take Jo’s or Siobhan’s jacket. I’m loving that fashion seems to be very on brand for Lib Dem messaging at the moment.

Tune of the day

Posted in News | Tagged | Leave a comment

Labour’s refusal to back Remain is “Red meat for Lib Dems”

Labour’s Rebecca Long-Bailey, talking to Sky News presenter Sophy Ridge, refused to say whether Labour would back Leave or Remain in a referendum on any deal.

The Labour position is that they would form a government, negotiate their own deal and then put it to the public, but can’t say at this stage whether they would back Leave or Remain in that referendum. They don’t dare say Remain because their leader is not committed to that position and they daren’t say Leave because they will lose even more votes to us. But if they have negotiated a deal, the presumption has to be that they will back it. I mean, they aren’t going to say to the people “Don’t back this great deal we’ve done”, are they?

And they think that this is credible? They want their voters to do the equivalent of buying a lucky bag.

Sky News reporter Rob Powell said that this was “red meat for the Liberal Democrats.”

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 27 Comments

Sal Brinton complains to ITV about Jo Swinson’s exclusion from Leaders’ Debate

If you are incensed about the decision to exclude Jo Swinson from the ITV leaders’ debate due to take place on 19th November, sign our petition here

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn are running scared of debating the woman leader of the strongest party of Remain.

The voters of this country deserve to hear from Jo Swinson on the debate stage, not just from two men who want to deliver Brexit.

Sal Brinton wrote to  ITV Chief Executive, Dame Carolyn McCall to raise an official complaint about Jo’s exclusion:

Here is her letter in full:

Dame Carolyn McCall
Chief Executive, ITV
2 Waterhouse Square
138 – 142 Holborn
London EC1N 2AE

Dear Dame Carolyn,

I am extremely disappointed that ITV are planning to exclude the Liberal Democrats from your General Election debate on 19th November.

Corbyn and Johnson both are pursuing Brexit and represent the two tired establishment parties. A debate between just them offers no real alternative and stifles the conversation.

The voters of this country deserve to hear from a Remainer on the debate stage, not just from the two men who want to deliver Brexit. They deserve to know that there is another way. That there is a Party they can vote for who will offer a real alternative. That the Liberal Democrats will stop Brexit and build a brighter future.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 14 Comments

Matthew Parris to leave Conservatives and vote Lib Dem

The extreme hard Brexit Conservatives have lost another moderate voice.

Matthew Parris announced in his Times (£) column that he would be voting Liberal Democrat in the coming election.

When it becomes clear which way the wind is blowing, “count me out” may be all that’s left to you. But if it’s all that’s left to Philip, Anna, Antoinette, Dominic, Guto Bebb, Ken Clarke, Sam Gyimah, Justine Greening, Oliver Letwin, Anne Milton and Rory Stewart, proper Conservatives every one of them … then count me out too and I hope that in their place I would have been as brave. I am a conservative not a Liberal Democrat but will unhesitatingly vote Lib Dem to defeat Tory zealotry over Europe, this time.

He was pretty scathing about the new Conservative leadership.

So here I find myself, unwilling to support a leader who is a stranger to honesty or principle and who surfs a foolish populist wave for the sake of ambition alone, leading a governing party whose centre of gravity has shifted decisively away from the broadly centrist political force Conservatism once was. Johnson has come; Johnson will finally go; but now most likely ambushed from the right. We all have our breaking point, but for me the time has arrived to give up hoping for a return to Tory sanity.

You can feel his pain at leaving his political home of half a century:

Posted in News | 44 Comments

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn are too scared to debate Jo Swinson

So, ITV is holding a leaders’ debate of sorts.

They’ll have two divisive men fighting out which form of brexit they want on 19th December.

I can’t think why Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn  don’t want to be shown up by an assured, articulate, likeable woman presenting the argument for remain with vitality and emotional intelligence.

Ed Davey said they were running scared:

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 28 Comments

Jo Swinson: The Prime Minister this country really needs

This country is suffering because we have a Prime Minister and a Leader of the Opposition who play up fear and division. Britain needs a leader who can cut through the noise and grab people in the heart, highlighting the best of us, not the worst. We need someone to inspire us to be for each other, not against each other. Jo Swinson is that leader.

She combines humour, candour and plain speaking to bring people in. She reaches well beyond the liberal democrat comfort zone of our party by connecting with people. The way she wrote about the birth of her son Gabriel for his first birthday in June was absolutely beautiful. Don’t click on that if you are at all troubled by descriptions of childbirth.

And, during the Summer, after Boris Johnson, the man who famously toured the country in a bus with a great big lie on the side,  revealed that he liked to paint model buses, there was this:

When you connect with people on that very human level, they are much more likely to listen to what you have to say about the future of the planet, about what needs to happen to make our lives better.

Jo has an exceptional ability to communicate complicated messages in a way that means something to people. “Putting people and planet first” is practical and engaging.

And when did you last hear a politician talking about a loving country? We need more of that.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 22 Comments

Jo: Is he going to run scared of debating with a girly swot?

The smell of chicken pervades the political atmosphere this morning.

Probably the most predictable aspect of this General Election is that Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn would try to cut Jo Swinson out of the Leaders’s Debates. I mean, why would they want to be completely shown up by a fresh, original opponent with compelling arguments?

And so it looks very much like they are doing just that.

Jeremy Corbyn’s spokesperson told the BBC

However, when asked about a three-way discussion with Ms Swinson, the spokesman replied: “There are only two people who can be prime minister at the end of this campaign and I think the British public have a clear right to see them debate head-to-head on TV and hear their cases.”

And when Jo put Boris Johnson on the spot in  Parliament yesterday, he ignored her, choosing to make some bizarre crack about how Lib Dems were about dither and delay on Brexit. You couldn’t actually get much clearer than “Stop Brexit.” Watch here:

The exchange in full from Hansard:

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 15 Comments

Jo on Today: This election is the chance to stop Brexit and deliver a positive, liberal future

Jo Swinson gave her first interview of the election campaign to the Radio 4 Today programme.

She said that neither Jeremy Corbyn nor Boris Johnson were fit to lead the country. Brexit would damage our public services and our economy and people now have the opportunity to stop it and the way to do that is to vote for the Liberal Democrats.

She highlighted how we are winning all over the country in places which voted to remain and to leave. In May we beat both Conservatives and Labour. She says that Leave voters respect the fact that we stand up for what we believe in.

She said that hundreds of seats are within range for us, even those with massive majorities. She pointed out that in 2015, the SNP overturned massive Labour majorities.

Both Labour and Conservative parties are offering different versions of Brexit while the Lib Dems offer a positive, liberal vision for the country.

I’ve known Jo for 15 years now, and I’ve seen how she is by nature a very collaborative person. She has always worked across parties. I remember catching up with her in her Westminster office just after she became a minister.  While we chatted, she signed a huge pile of letters to every MP saying that her door was open to them, writing personal messages on many of them. Her first instinct was to reach out across Parliament – even though by that stage the atmosphere there was deeply tribal.

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged and | 3 Comments

Jo Swinson’s message for Diwali

Here’s Jo Swinson’s message for Diwali:

 

Today, we join Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and Jain communities to celebrate Diwali.

Across the country, streets will come alive with dazzling light displays and homes will be adorned with extravagant decorations, all to mark the festival of lights.

As families and loved ones gather to celebrate the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness, let us all hold on to Diwali’s central message of joy, community and new beginnings. Our country’s strength lies in the rich diversity of its people and it is our duty to create an environment where people of all faiths, beliefs and worldviews are welcomed and embraced.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 1 Comment

Sunday morning media open thread – Chuka on Sophy Ridge, Jo on Marr

UPDATE: Summary

3 things about Lib Dem plan for election on December 9th:

Rules out no deal as it only comes into force if EU grants an extension

Prevents the PM changing the date of the election

Makes sure that PM can’t ram his awful bill through Parliament.

Conservatives dismiss it and Labour is in two minds – Diane Abbott says maybe and Jon Ashworth says it’s a silly stunt to get us on the telly.

Both Chuka and Jo emphasised how our preferred solution is a people’s vote but it doesn’t have the numbers because Labour won’t support it. They also point out that if the Withdrawal Agreement Bill gets through it will be on the basis of Labour votes.

Here’s the blow by blow account.

We have two Lib Dems on the main Sunday morning politics programmes this morning. No doubt they will end up being interviewed simultaneously, but we’ll have the details here.

Sophy Ridge will interview Chuka Umunna on Sky News and Jo Swinson will be on Marr.

So far on Ridge, Nicky Morgan has dismissed the Lib Dem calls for an election pre Brexit and says that if the Government doesn’t get its way, it will keep asking to see if MPs will change their mind.

Yet they won’t give the people the chance to change their mind on a decision made by a narrow majority 3 years ago when things have massively changed since then.

It’s also interesting that a common Tory theme is that we’ll spend 2020 on two referenda – a People’s Vote on Brexit and on Scottish independence. Of course, stopping Brexit would make demands for an independence referendum much less likely.

And, obviously, people need to be told that spending a few months of 2020 on a people’s vote is much better than spending much of the 2020s on trade negotiations and a potential no deal crash out at the end of next year.

Philip Hammond now saying that he wants to get Brexit sorted before an election. He says that he will run as an independent in any election if he doesn’t get the Tory whip back. And he makes clear that he won’t be toadying to the current leadership in order to get it.

He says that he expects that Parliament will amend the Withdrawal Agreement Bill to give itself more powers and in ways that are going to be difficult for the government.

The highlights of Chuka’s interview:

Loving how Chuka has got into the Lib Dem habit of outlining three things:

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 27 Comments

Sensational LIb Dem GAIN and boost for Jane Dodds

I have incredibly fond memories of Llandrindod Wells this Summer. I spent a very restorative weekend there and in many beautiful villages delivering leaflets and canvassing. I was so proud when Jane Dodds won.

So I am particularly thrilled to see that we have crushed the Tories in a by-election in Llandrindod Wells, taking a Powys County Council seat from them by some margin.

We didn’t stand a candidate last time.

It’s a really good sign for the General Election. Congratulations, Cllr Jake Berriman and the wonderful Llandrindod team.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 46 Comments

Ed Davey: Lib Dems will push for a referendum

We are trying our best to win a People’s Vote, said Ed Davey tonight.

Speaking to Channel 4 News, he talked about Boris Johnson’s failures, and said that Lib Dems would continue to work with other parties to try to secure a People’s Vote. Watch here.  He added that the important thing was to hear about an extension to Article 50 first then work out where to go next.

He pointed out that an election wouldn’t necessarily solve the Brexit issue but a People’s Vote would.

He noted that Labour had failed to support our amendment to the Queen’s speech today. It called for a People’s Vote but wasn’t called because it didn’t have Labour support.

So all that fuss last night was simply a smokescreen to detract from their failure to do what most o their supporters want.

Channel 4 later reported that the Government was going to go on strike if it didn’t get its own way on Monday.

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 11 Comments

Of course the Lib Dems oppose exposing our NHS in future trade deals

If you’re seeing attacks from Labour types on social media tonight, saying that we didn’t vote for their amendment which, amongst other things, called for the NHS to be protected in future trade deals, ignore them.

Political parties often do this. It’s a silly game and I don’t like it when we do it, either.

It goes like this.

You lay down an amendment that has a bit of good stuff in it, and you combine it with something that another party just isn’t going to go for. Then when they don’t vote for your amendment you go after them on social media.

Today Labour’s amendment read as follows;

At end add ‘but respectfully regrets that the Gracious Speech does not repeal the Health and Social Care Act 2012 to restore a publicly provided and administered National Health Service and protect it from future trade agreements that would allow private companies competing for services who put profit before public health and that could restrict policy decisions taken in the public interest.’

Now I know that many, including me, in this party had concerns about the reforms in the 2012 Act. But there was some good stuff in there, on social care and on mental health, both issues very important to us. So even if we think that the Act isn’t perfect, we would go with amending rather than appealing it.

So we didn’t vote for the amendment.We didn’t vote against it either. We abstained.  However, we have good form on the NHS and trade deals.  For a start, we have on very many occasions challenged the government on exactly this point. We do not want to see the NHS undermined by Donald Trump, thank you very much. Vince Cable used to challenge the government on this all the time. Look at this from February last year:

The Prime Minister’s non-answer to my question today can only infer that our NHS is indeed for sale under the Conservatives.

Her pathetic non-committal response, failing to even mention our health service once, stands in stark contrast to guarantees given in 2015 by the EU trade negotiator with the US during the TTIP negotiations that our NHS would be protected.

Unfortunately Brexit Britain, standing on our own, will be in a far weaker negotiating position.

 

Ed Davey said here that “we must make sure that the NHS is not up for grabs in any trade deal.”

Jo Swinson also talked about the danger to the NHS during the leadership campaign in an interview with the Standard. 

At the time of the Brexit vote we had Obama. Now the world is much more unstable. There’s the rise of China, Putin, strong men leaders — do you want to be at the mercy of these superpowers? They aren’t going to be giving us great terms on a trade deal; there’s chlorinated chicken, the NHS is on the table. Frankly that is a cause for concern.

We need to be a wee bit careful when we are under social media attack from Labour or (or SNP types for that matter). We can be inclined to think they must somehow be right – when in fact the trolls are at best grossly misrepresenting the facts.  It is hardly surprising that Labour want to throw some mud to deflect attention from the fact that their MPs helped get the awful Withdrawal Agreement Bill over its first parliamentary hurdle last night.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 54 Comments

Super Lib Dem Lords on Super Saturday: Jeremy Purvis on the potential break up of the UK

At the weekend, Lib Dem Lords basically tore apart Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal, highlighting its danger to our prosperity and to the very make up of our country. Jeremy Purvis highlighted the threat to our country.

For the first time in our union’s history, part of our union will be under the legislative authority of a foreign entity in which the people living in that area will have no representation. Part of our union will have the laws governing its economic policy and trade regulations set by a foreign entity whose rules they will have no say in. Taxes affecting businesses and consumers will be set by that foreign entity but their representatives will have no vote on them. To be clear: according to the schedules to the new backstop, 371 laws and regulations that would not apply to Great Britain would automatically be applied to Northern Ireland. On 1 October, the noble Lord, Lord Duncan, stated:

“Any deal on Brexit on 31 October must avoid the whole or just part—that is, Northern Ireland—being trapped in an arrangement where it is a rule taker”.—

That is what the Government propose today. The Conservative Party frequently lauds the fact that it is the Conservative and Unionist Party owing to its role in the defeat of Irish home rule, but it now puts in front of us a proposal for the UK to be one country with two systems. We can see elsewhere in the world how effective that is. Yesterday, this “one country, two systems” Brexit was hailed by the Foreign Secretary as terrific news for Northern Ireland because it will stay aligned with the EU. Presumably, he will now say that doing so is also open to Scotland.

The deal is utterly contrary to the Government’s position when they adopted the UK internal market framework, which this Parliament debated, and when they explicitly said that there would be no division within the four nations of the union. Given that it is also the opposite of what Boris Johnson presented to ​the DUP conference, when he said that this would never happen under a Conservative Government, there is little surprise that the lines in the sand have been washed away by waves of duplicity. As my noble friend Newby said, in January the noble Lord, Lord Callanan, stated:

“We will give an unequivocal commitment that that there will be no divergence in rules between … Great Britain and Northern Ireland”.—

The House can make its own mind up about where equivocation lies. Yesterday, the Home Secretary spoke doublespeak with alacrity on the BBC. She claimed that the deal takes back our laws—but not the 371 of them that apply to Northern Ireland and, therefore, the jurisdiction of the European court. She said that it takes back our borders— but it creates a new border between the nations of our island and, as the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, indicated, a new European Union border within the United Kingdom for the first time in our history. She said that it takes back control over our money—but we will be a tax collector for the EU, and the UK bodies in Northern Ireland will be forced to apply EU taxes that they have no role in determining.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 7 Comments

Super Lib Dem Lords on Super Saturday: Sarah Ludford – No progressive politician could vote for this deal

Sarah Ludford is very much in our thoughts at the moment. It’s only three weeks since her husband, Steve Hitchins died. On Saturday she was in her place in the House of Lords pulling apart this appalling Brexit deal. She reminded peers that it was being sold to the Tory right wing as a delayed no deal. She talked about how it would mean more bureaucracy for businesses in Northern Ireland and all of us as we lose things like our pet passports and seamless access to healthcare. She warned of the effect on workers’ rights, saying that no progressive politician could vote for the deal.

My Lords, I am pleased to follow the noble Lord, Lord Reid; I agreed with every word. I found the opening remarks of the noble Baroness, the Leader of the House, somewhat perplexing. She reproached those of us arguing against Brexit for not arguing for a federal Europe. The clue is in the name: “remain”. We just want the status quo, not to expand or change our existing terms of membership.​

I agree with Tony Blair—not something I used to say. He rightly says that the Government are using the,

“sentiment of ‘let’s get it done, let’s get it over with, end the agony’, to sweep away proper scrutiny of what is a profoundly bad deal for our country”.

Tony Blair is right that:

“You don’t take a decision of destiny through a spasm of impatience”.

Boris Johnson had previously damned the division of Northern Ireland and Great Britain through regulatory checks and customs controls down the Irish Sea, declaring that:

“No British Conservative government could or should sign up to any such arrangement”.

Now, he says that this is a fantastic arrangement. It is a looking-glass world. Can the Minister, in winding up, clarify how these arrangements comply with Section 55 of the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Act 2018, which makes it unlawful for the Government to enter into arrangements whereby Northern Ireland forms part of a separate customs territory from Great Britain?

It is astonishing that the Chancellor refuses to give us a new economic analysis, but both government and independent figures suggest that every household will be around £2,000 worse off than even under Theresa May’s version—a drop of 6% or 7% in GDP. The weaker Canada -minus trade relationship that this Government envisages, compared with Mrs May’s association agreement, will worsen that prospect. The Home Secretary, Priti Patel, told Radio 4 yesterday that access to the customs union and single market would be good for Northern Ireland’s economic stability and security. Excellent. So why is such access being torn away from England, Scotland and Wales? It would be good for us too. Instead, the Government want to cut the rest of the UK adrift from the continental internal market. This does not honour the heritage of Mrs Thatcher.

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 6 Comments

Super Lib Dem Lords on Super Saturday: Dick Newby on the economic impact of the Deal

The House of Lords also sat on Saturday. We’ll be publishing or Lib Dem Lords’ s speeches in full. First up is Lib Dem Lords leader Dick Newby who said that the Government was trying to avoid scrutiny of a deal which would have a detrimental effect on our economy and the union.

My Lords, your Lordships’ House is sitting on a Saturday for the first time since 1983 and for only the fourth time in 80 years. These occasions have typically been to debate a serious foreign threat to the vital interests of the United Kingdom: the outbreak of the Second World War, Suez, the Falklands. Today, we sit on a Saturday to try to resolve a serous internal threat to the unity and future of the Conservative Party. There is no reason, other than the Prime Minister’s macho commitment to leave the EU by 31 October, for the Government’s decision to recall Parliament today.

Such a timetable is a complete abuse of the parliamentary process. It does not allow the appropriate impact assessment to be made, for the relevant Select Committees to consider the proposals, or for the Commons and your Lordships’ House to give proper consideration to the withdrawal Bill. It barely gives us time to read and compare the documents. The withdrawal agreement itself—some 535 pages—was available for the first time for noble Lords to pick up from the Printed Paper Office just this morning.

We certainly have not had time to identify and work out what some of the changes mean. For example, the sections in the political declaration on dispute settlement and the forward process have been substantially rewritten. Why? Parliament is being asked to approve these changes with no effective ability to question Ministers on them. It is a disgrace.

It is, of course perfectly understandable for the Government to want such a timetable, because if they were to give Parliament time to look at the deal properly, a number of its highly undesirable consequences would become clearer. There would, for example, be time to have an economic assessment. Latest figures from UK in a Changing Europe suggest that the hit to GDP of this deal would be about 6.4%. This is broadly in line with the Government’s own analysis of last November, which suggested that, with the kind of restrictive immigration system the Government have in mind, such a deal could have an even bigger effect. For the north-east, north-west and the West Midlands, the fall in GDP would be considerably higher again.

There would be greater time to expose the fact that, as a consequence of the new deal, EU components of goods manufactured in the UK will no longer be treated as of domestic origin. Given the low proportion of UK content in cars, for example, this would have the effect of making it impossible to export any car manufactured in the UK to a third country duty free, even under a free trade agreement. This raises the spectre of the end of bulk car manufacturing in the United Kingdom.

More time would enable us to examine the threat to the level playing field on environmental standards and employment rights, which were guaranteed in Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement but are now relegated to the eminently amendable political declaration, with no presumption there that we should follow future improvements in standards under EU rules. More time ​would give us the opportunity to question whether, as the Conservative John Baron has claimed, the Government see this deal as leading to the equivalent of a no-deal Brexit at the end of the transition period next year.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 1 Comment

Labour MPs surely can’t support the bonfire of workers’ rights in Boris Johnson’s deal

One of the many compelling reasons to stay in the EU (alongside peace and prosperity) is the protection that workers get from being in the single market.

To create a level playing field, there are minimum standards on things like maternity leave, TUPE (protection if your job is outsourced), working hours and paid holidays. Certainly our current law goes beyond the minimum protections in many ways. However, if we leave the EU, all bets are off. We simply can’t trust the most right wing government in living memory with workers’ rights.

If our rights were safe, surely they would at least have kept in the pretty weak protections Theresa May put in to try and entice Labour MPs to vote for it.

But, no. The author of Article 50, John Kerr, told the Edinburgh March for Europe in September that UK negotiators had asked for all the labour, social and environmental protections to be removed from the Withdrawal Agreement..

The People’s Vote campaign outlined the other day exactly what the differences were. There’s a lot of shall and should in the previous version. Now it’s more “these are a thing.”

The first quote is from Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement

“With the aim of ensuring the proper functioning of the single customs territory, the Union and the United Kingdom shall ensure that the level of protection provided for by law, regulations and practices is not reduced below the level provided by the common standards applicable within the Union and the United Kingdom at the end of the transition period in the area of labour and social protection and as regards fundamental rights at work, occupational health and safety, fair working conditions and employment standards, information and consultation rights at company level, and restructuring.”

What Boris Johnson’s legally-binding Withdrawal Agreement says on workers’ rights:

“AIMING at continuing to promote balanced economic and social development in the area, in particular in terms of labour conditions, and continuing to ensure the highest levels of environmental protection in accordance with Union law”

 TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady condemned the proposals and called for MPs to reject the deal:

I understand this is a difficult time. But defending working people’s rights is at the heart of everything trade unions believe in. For the sake of working families now and in the future, we can’t support a deal that will trash those rights. We ask MPs to vote against it.

And our Chuka Umunna made an apt analogy on Twitter:

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 20 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User Avatarfrankie 13th Nov - 10:21am
    Bless Peter I think we all understand the answer, hence why you are desperatly frailing around trying to ignore the question you can't answer "...
  • User AvatarRichard Underhill. 13th Nov - 10:10am
    Gary J 12th Nov '19 - 8:43pm "If they had survived it would have been right to detain them and return them whence they had...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 13th Nov - 10:03am
    @ Innocent Bystander, A currency issuing government can involuntarily default on a loan taken out in gold or another country's currency. Maybe you are thinking...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 13th Nov - 9:50am
    @ Paul Reynolds "Germany, Netherlands and Scandinavian countries have shown that this path is not necessary......." But have they? Neoliberals and ordoliberals like the German...
  • User AvatarRichard Underhill. 13th Nov - 9:41am
    https://www.carolinevoaden.org.uk/news
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 13th Nov - 9:39am
    @ Paul Reynolds "Germany, Netherlands and Scandinavian countries have shown that this path is not necessary......." But have they? Neoliberals like the German model which...