Author Archives: Humphrey Hawksley

The Lib Dems must draw up a road map to take us out of the abyss

As opportunity unfolds with the current political crisis, the Liberal Democrats could appoint a unit to examine three issues on which the Party can lead. Coupled with its grass roots organization, these initiatives, messaged skillfully, could help propel the Party into government. Their aim would be to ensure that:-

The United Kingdom’s political system never again produces the geographical and economic divide that has led to a critical mass of citizens feeling ignored and left-behind.

Europe’s modern institutional structures create both regional cohesion and sovereign flexibility so that the type of divisiveness experienced in Britain is addressed long before it risks tearing the European Project apart.

The Liberal Democrats take a global lead in drafting new mechanisms for the international rules-based order and its institutions.

Once formulated, each could be presented for discussion so that minds can begin to reach beyond the acrimonious technicalities of Brexit towards a wider and more positive future.

We do not know how many of the tens of thousands new members are using the Party as a temporary ideological life-raft and how many are here for the long term to forge through to government and restore British values to the United Kingdom.

But we do know of the crying need to address issues that have led to today’s restlessness both here and around the world. On this, the Liberal Democrats, and the counter-part networks within Liberal International, are ideally placed to take the lead.

It is tempting in the middle of this crisis to focus on each twist and turn. But this is exactly the moment to task a team to take eyes off every-day events and map out a bigger picture.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 30 Comments

Liberal Democrats must lead in a new vision for Europe

Jo Johnson’s resignation underlines yet again the disaster that is Brexit.

But the repeated call for a second referendum puts a high level of responsibility on the Remain camp to flesh out details and consequences.

The Liberal Democrats, as the only party campaigning unequivocally for Britain’s membership of the European Union, must take a lead.

A second referendum would mark only the beginning of a momentum which must look far beyond the headlines and slogans of 2018.

Let us speculate, therefore, that there is a second vote and we win.

Then what?

Could Remain celebrations really light up Britain’s streets with political leaders mouthing off sound bites about healing divisions and the rest, while half the country feels cheated.

How can anyone think that will work?

Can a new government really tear up Article 50 and, tail between its legs, keep Britain in the European Union as if nothing has happened?

That will not do the business either.

There is one way out. But to take it on board we must accept that Brexit is symptomatic of a wider challenge. It accompanies an overall questioning of the European Project seen through the rise of the populist right, increased separatist demands and rebellion among the east and central European countries.

Brexit is the strand which has been put to the vote and the EU lost.

Any forward-looking institution would have reacted by looking publicly into what had gone wrong and how problems should be addressed. It would have allowed a formal debate on reform, ensuring that the discussion would be in the arc of our lives, just as the Brexit debate now is.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 39 Comments

Clegg and Alexander are pioneers for global Liberal Democracy

Let us put aside for a moment the cries of greed, hypocrisy and astonishment at Nick Clegg’s decision to take his job at Facebook and examine what it means for the cause of liberal democracy.

Facebook, together with other social media outlets, is one of two new forces upending the world order and the way we think.
The other is authoritarianism, led by China, where many countries now see government not accountable to an electorate as preferable to the muddled unpredictability of Western-style democracy.

The Liberal Democrats have two of their most senior figures in each of those camps.

Two years before Nick Clegg …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 53 Comments

High, positive impact for a hard-fighting political machine.

The Liberal Democrats are preparing for new leadership at a time when a gaping vacuum continues across the British political spectrum. Our strong and motivating voice is needed more than ever. The challenge is how to make it heard.

I wrote earlier advocating broad brush changes to the party (Get clever, get brave and reform to win,). I now follow up with four examples of initiatives that could give us high, positive impact with minimal paperwork.

First, investigate bad practice. In March, the party brilliantly uncovered EU nurses quitting the NHS through a Freedom of Information request. There needs to be a stream of such reports. Within our membership is an array of skilled investigators from the security services, lawyers, journalists and others. Investigative units could uncover bad and illegal practice in housing, the environment, the health service and so on with results fed through our MPs and peers to hold government to account.  This would require an element of top-down management, but if handled effectively, one stunning investigation after another could have the public on the edge of their seats, expectantly waiting to see what appalling misdeeds the Liberal Democrats uncover next. 

Posted in Op-eds | 170 Comments

Get clever, get brave and reform to win

As the Liberal Democrats are about to take on a new leader, one question looms large. Why, in its various incarnations, has this mainstream political party failed to win power for almost  a hundred years?

While we blame variously the right-wing press, the voting system and so on, the truth may lay closer to the party itself that needs structural modernization in three distinct areas – mission, message and management.

With the centre ground deserted, we have been handed an open goal, but have yet failed to score. Unless we act now with fast, brave and clever leadership, that goal will be scored by others.

First, the mission.

After the referendum, thousands of new members joined, believing the Liberal Democrats would design a new, big picture vision for Britain’s future and they wanted to be part of it. Instead, they were told to deliver leaflets on issues such as pot-holes and speed bumps because: “This is how we do things.”

Many began drifting away.

At September’s conference, I asked delegates how they thought we could win government.  “I don’t think we want that,” summed up a long-standing member. “It would be against our values.”

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 93 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarSteve Trevethan 16th Sep - 3:47pm
    Thank you for raising an important matter. Might it be the case that governments create money first and then tax some of it back? If...
  • User AvatarPaul Walter 16th Sep - 3:23pm
    Yes, if they had a majority mandate from a General Election based on a manifesto saying that. But none did.
  • User AvatarSean Hyland 16th Sep - 3:19pm
    Would it be too hard if once in a while the party put up a general notice with some rough figures/percentages - a kind of...
  • User Avatarnigel hunter 16th Sep - 2:27pm
    This coffee cup tax on Costa cups that the Tories stopped.That is one idea to re-introduce but at a cheaper rate. That is one idea...
  • User Avatartheakes 16th Sep - 2:27pm
    By the way, in the Gym yesterday and overhead conversation about Brexit. "Aye, it is getting like the 1640's, Johnson needs to be careful, I...
  • User AvatarTerry 16th Sep - 2:23pm
    Worth noting, Richard, that £100 in 1988 = nearly £300 in 2019. All in favour of more personal thanking, though.
Thu 10th Oct 2019