Author Archives: Patrick Maxwell

Whatever happened to the ‘burning injustices?’

In her speech on the steps on Downing Street in July 2016, Theresa May said that her new administration would be committed to battling the ‘burning injustices’ that faced many in modern Britain. The promises to curb racial inequality among some of the most vital organs of law and state resonated well with the public and the new Prime Minister’s initial poll ratings were high. Over the course of her mainly disastrous premiership, May has decided to ignore most of her promises to the country in the face of the ongoing decline of any Tory Party unity, instructing

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How do we respond to the Labour split?

The news yesterday morning that there is to be a new breakaway group inside the House of Commons, the ‘Independent Group,’ is an historic moment. That may seem hyperbolic, but the anger and resentment displayed by those seven who have left the Labour Party was as damning as it was dramatic. It showed once again why Jeremy Corbyn is, and always has been, the wrong person to lead the Labour Party, let alone be Prime Minister. 

Talks of electoral alliances have of course led to discussions about how the UK’s main centrist party reacts. Echoes of the days of the SDP seem a bit early as the movement has not yet morphed into a political party yet, but if more join the group it could become both a serious challenge for Corbyn to overcome and also a friendly group for the Lib Dems to cooperate with in the Commons, with similar positions on Brexit. 

So far, there seem to be few plans to create another alliance. I think this may well be sensible. The new group define themselves as heavily on the social democratic wing of the spectrum, potentially in opposition to many of the more centrist-leaning principles of the Lib Dems. There is of course the danger that an alliance could damage the independence of our party, as going further to the the left would alienate many potential voters looking for a centrist alternative. It may well be a risk to hard to take for many inside the party, and the failure of the SDP to really change the political landscape still hangs in the mind. 

Vince Cable tweeted yesterday that he was ‘open’ to working with the new group and announcing that there will be discussion between the two sides over how to stop Brexit, which both the Lib Dems and the Independents see as a national disaster. We should welcome discussion over Parliamentary cooperation, but whether there is a public appetite from members and the wider electorate to see a merge remains to be seen. But any moves should definitely be treated with caution at this stage, I think.

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In Praise of the Backstop

As Theresa May goes to and for from Brussels once again the forlorn hope of getting reassurances on the Irish backstop, the Brexit process is stagnating, and the clock keeps on ticking towards March 29th. The hard truth for Theresa May, as revealed by the ERG, is that the hardline Brexiteers in her party will never accept any deal that comes back from Brussels. They saw any cooperation with the EU as suspect, and any hopes of securing their backing at the eleventh hour our woefully misguided, despite desperate hopes for a last-minute solution.

The backstop has, of course, been …

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged | 10 Comments

The Lib Dems must be the party of small business

As the staggering uncertainty around the Brexit process continues in Westminster, the risks faced by the millions all around  who back up the economy has been largely ignored. This must come into focus as the Davos conference comes to a close, an annual meeting of the global economic elite, the big business. While they sip away at their innumerable glasses of champagne, those who rely on Europe for frictionless and tariff-free trade are fraught with anxiety. The small-business community contains some of the hardest-working people in Britain, and they form the backbone of the economy. In the midst of the chaos in Westminster, the Lib Dems need to present themselves as the party of small business, the party of compassionate capitalism.

Early last the year, the Federation of Small Businesses said that it ‘saw the potential wins of an international trade policy’ that Brexit might present. It also said that it wanted to keep ‘the closest possible trading relations with the EU 27’ and that it was their top priority to secure a full, time-limited transition period for leaving the EU. Crashing out with no-deal would be catastrophic for the plethora of micro-sized companies up and down the country, with colossal delays and losses.

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What next?

Theresa May’s Brexit deal is dead in the water. This has been true for a while, but with no obvious mandate for the Withdrawal Agreement, however it is tweaked, the political future for the Prime Minister looks bleak. Her steel and resilience have been tested many times before and have so far survived, but the seemingly hopeless situation before her now may be the final time that Mrs May bleats out her rhetorical tangents. With a government in disarray and a poignantly undecided Opposition, the Lib Dems need to find a logical and realistic Parliamentary solution to break the impasse.

There is not yet any majority for anything in the House of Commons. The next few weeks may well change that, but it shall be a time of unprecedented turmoil and uncertainty. Mrs May was perhaps correct to say earlier yesterday that no Brexit has a more genuine chance of getting through Parliament than no-deal. Let us hope so. That said, it will certainly take some trying to turn over the referendum result in such a short period of time. 

The hard-Brexit rabble have proved themselves to be zealous and ineffective over the year, and their logistical failures in the Commons are doomed to continue. If there is a majority for one thing on the green benches, it is that against no-deal. The very notion of not having a proper and palatable relationship with the largest trading block in the world seems impractical at best and economically cataclysmic at worst. The first mission of the small yellow-striped army inside the Commons should therefore be to rally against such an eventuality. 

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 25 Comments

Brexit cannot be the sole issue of the Lib Dems

As the 29th of March comes ominously closer, the eerie reality of the political situation in Westminster is slowly becoming clearer. The Commons is in deadlock, with none of the solutions proposed gaining signification support on the green benches and party infighting rife. This is, however, nothing inherently new.

When faced with such monumental events such as these, the responsible and pragmatic response from our politicians would be a compromise.

A ‘Government of National Unity’ has been proposed, but in such times, the idea of unity it is, as always, an illusion. The country is evidently deeply divided, as is Parliament. No …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 37 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarMichael 1 22nd Mar - 6:32am
    Stonking result in Durham - congrats to the team there. I thought we might see a fall in vote share given that we had increased...
  • User AvatarArnold Kiel 22nd Mar - 6:27am
    Glenn, but all structures of wealth generation and security provision are international, mostly global. If you carve yourself out of them, your national vote has...
  • User AvatarRoland 22nd Mar - 2:34am
    @matt >"What about the Millions of youth unemployed across the EU, who have been forced to leave their families, friends and communities, due to this...
  • User AvatarDavid Evershed 22nd Mar - 2:17am
    Will supporters be shown on the Salesforce membership system?
  • User AvatarDavid Evershed 22nd Mar - 2:13am
    We should not confuse being better educated and well spoken with being well off - some are poor. Conversely, some poorly educated, poorly spoken and...
  • User AvatarRoland 22nd Mar - 1:08am
    @Peter Martin - "I don’t know if my opinion would be typical of most Leavers but I’d rather remain in the EU than accept May’s...