Brexit: Do we follow Jeremy Corbyn or revert to Theresa May’s plan?

With regard to Brexit, two options remain for the Liberal Democrats. They are unpalatable. Our very newfound strength represents unconverted electoral energy. We must not overplay our hand.

There is no legitimate option to Remain without attempting reform. We cannot just hope that the far-right does not swell and that our fulsome democracy is not irreparably damaged and left as an empty shell of majoritarian rule. The likes of Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson know how to pipe the tune to destruction.

These are not hollow (Project) fears. We must guard against them as vigilantly as we try to prevent No Deal.

Our options:

Jeremy Corbyn. He offers us a government of national unity to stop No Deal. Then a General Election that we’ve been chomping at the bit to fight. Then – he assumes he’ll win, but we’ll see about that! – a referendum. For this we must accept Jeremy Corbyn as a neutered Prime Minister for a little while. And – I know my fellow Scottish LDs won’t want to hear it – IndyRef2 for the SNP’s support.

Or:

Theresa May. Well… Rory Stewart or Yvette Cooper, to be precise. A Tory-lite/ centrist-Labour to ram through Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement followed by negotiations to affect an EEA-type deal. No Deal averted. BRINO or not, democracy is spared. It respects “Leaving the EU” – the original mandate, not the mystical “Brexit” that means only “Brexit”. Influence surrendered, but “sovereignty” returned. Should a Brexit-y government return, they could pursue a “Harder” Brexit. Or a government of our ilk could restore us to full membership. No referendum necessary, we would heed the screaming warning to avoid such divisive binary elections to settle highly complex issues. As with Corbyn, we avoid the worst, but pay for it in other ways.

There is no time left for dreaming of good options. The consequences of failure are too great. But to facilitate Brexit for these free market fundamentalist fools? They’ve had three years. Longer! They still have no plan. And we’re expected to countenance more years of negotiations to see us lose our influence and deliver a “BRINO” to our ingrate incompetent ideological opponents? No; we have every right to Revoke.

But we have no right to revise. The referendum was not illegal. People were not brainwashed. We didn’t lose because of that bloody bus or data-driven targeted advertising. And we need to be honest about what revoking means. It could be a wound from which our democracy may not recover.

Brexit happens – and we control the damage – or Corbyn facilitates a referendum.

I understand reticence to follow Corbyn. I think he’s a poorly veiled anti-Semite with more respect for our enemies than allies. I don’t want to see his socialist dystopia in which we’re forced to eat our pets! But he has something we need and we have something he wants. Let him have it; if only for a little while. We aren’t in a position to aim for it; yet. 14 MPs and an unconverted swell in support. We should not overplay our hand. Nor forget our primary aims: to avert a No Deal disaster. To maintain the Union. Most importantly: to protect our liberal democracy. Then win that referendum and general election.

There are 10 weeks to go. We have two choices. Neither is palatable; but both are workable. Our liberal democracy and its values are threatened. We must stand ready to defend them. The only way to do that is by standing ready to compromise; whatever that entails with regard to Brexit,

* Johnny McDermott is a Glasgow university Law graduate who is studying for his masters with a focus on moral and political philosophy. A fairly recent Liberal Democrat member, he was inspired to join the party when Sir Paddy Ashdown, a man he greatly admired, died.

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46 Comments

  • Paul Barker 22nd Aug '19 - 6:40pm

    Honestly ! Caron goes on Holiday & the whole site goes crazy.
    Its entirely legitimate for us to fight for Remain, we don’t change our minds because some illiberal loudmouths shout at us.
    To answer the question in the Headline – “Niether”.
    Now can we get back to stopping Brexit, if we can.

  • John Marriott 22nd Aug '19 - 6:46pm

    I have to say that I agree with much of what Mr McDermott has said. Even with a GNU, whether led by Corbyn or someone else, nothing is straightforward. Although I voted to remain three years ago, I did it pragmatically, because I was not happy with the political direction of travel of the EU. Clegg’s (in)famous response to the question how he saw the EU in ten years’ time did it for me. If the EU is not going to change, a Norway style solution would be one I could support. We are a middle rate country with a history of which I can generally be proud. The reason for our high position in the economic league is largely down to financial services, which could more easily move elsewhere than a manufacturing business. We do and will in future continue to punch above our weight; but, like an outstanding cruiserweight, would struggle against the superheavyweights. Yes, in certain aspects some might see our adopting a Norway position as making us a vassal State; but probably less so than if we were to collapse into the loving arms of Donald Trump’s USA.

    As Johnny McDermott says, the most important thing is to avoid No Deal. That might, to quote WSC, be “the end of the beginning”.

  • Paul Barker 22nd Aug ’19 – 6:40pm…………………….Honestly ! Caron goes on Holiday & the whole site goes crazy…………….Its entirely legitimate for us to fight for Remain, we don’t change our minds because some illiberal loudmouths shout at us…………To answer the question in the Headline – “Niether”…….Now can we get back to stopping Brexit, if we can………..

    Oh dear, We’ll do anything to stop Brexit but we won’t include that nasty Jeremy Corbyn in our plan. BTW what is your ‘cunning plan’ that will deliver ‘Remain’ without Labour support? As for illiberal loudmouths this party are the ones shouting ‘Nonsense!”

    Sadly, in the real world, your ‘”Neither” will deliver the third option, a no-deal brexit.

  • Bless if only we could tagalong and compromise. That won’t work, it is either revoke or no deal, why because the hard right you fear so much don’t want to compromise and won’t no matter how much you offer them. They are working on the principle of “Take a step towards ne they say, as you do, they will step back and say, take a step towards me” and they will eventually get you to the place they always wanted to be. So compromise away they won’t and they’ll eventually get everything they want
    Are they not reasonable people you say, in a word No; and you he foolish to think they are.

  • David Evershed 22nd Aug '19 - 8:50pm

    Corbyn is not going to win a vote of no confidence when parliament resumes.

    Today Nick Boles was another independent MP to say he would not vote against the Conservatives whilst there was a chance of a Leave deal with the EU.

  • If it has to be revoke, let it be revoke. If parliament in its wisdom wants another go at leaving the EU the other side of a referendum or a General Election (or both!) revoking Article 50 does not prevent it so doing.

  • “The referendum was not illegal”.

    Really? It broke electoral law, people were convicted and fined. And the country was indeed brainwashed, some would say, by many years of antiEU propaganda. It was the Sun wot won it.

  • There is a new interesting possibility. UK’s vote in EU meetings will be delegated by power of attorney to Finland. I’m not quite sure how this works, but would it be possible, that the majority of the parliament would ask that Finland, as the representative of UK in EU meetings, would ask for extension to UK’s membership? 🤔

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/boris-johnson-no-deal-brexit-news-eu-meetings-finland-votes-uk-a9072956.html

  • Richard Underhill 22nd Aug '19 - 10:50pm

    Johnny McDermott: We have a Scottish leader, who knows the SNP.
    Paul Barker: Yes we should stick to our principles.
    David Evershed 22nd Aug ’19 – 8:50pm
    “Corbyn is not going to win a vote of no confidence when parliament resumes.”
    This is in two parts:
    1) Only the current leader of the opposition can move the vote of no confidence and be legally effective
    2) If the vote is carried, their is no automatic consequence of who would be the next PM. Personally I think a double act of Ken Clarke and Harriet Harman could work, as in Northern Ireland, effectively coequal despite the job titles.

  • Johnny McDermott 22nd Aug '19 - 11:28pm

    John Marriott gives an honest opinion on Europe, which is becoming rarer to come by these days and commendable with the tight ranks and strictly held party lines of the FBPE sort. I’m sure many of the Social Liberal Forum-type leaning will agree that many aspects of the EU are deeply troubling and require reform. I’m pretty sure most (though perhaps not openly anymore) would acknowledge some reforms are necessary, a view that seems to be – if no longer rising – holding steady across the continent as represented by the various anti-EU parties. If we’re somehow staying, we’ll need to have that discussion. Being late to be passionate about Europe (as much as we should’ve been during referendum) should not be overcompensated with faux passion and a carte blanche attitude to the EU.

  • Johnny McDermott 22nd Aug '19 - 11:28pm

    Martin – this is a great difficulty I didn’t acknowledge in the article. The impact compromise will have on that unconverted energy. I guess that’s part of what the article is aiming at: encouraging members and supporters to prepare for a softening of stances and greater willingness to work across party lines. Toning down the Twitter wars and learning to live with our Remain “allies” since eventually we’ll need to learn to do the same with our possibly vanquished and “betrayed” Leave foes. Preparing us for compromise will help to hold on to support. Genuine support, anyway. Some will always come and go on single issues, and there is none greater than this. So I recognise it is an issue that cannot be ignored. I would note we’re not the only party facing such a dilemma. Corbyn risks much of his traditional base by reneging on pledge to Leave. If he is prepared to take a risk for the national good, how can we claim to be the reasonable party ready to get the job done if only Corbyn was willing to make some sacrifices?

    I don’t believe discussing the need for reform is lecturing our EU partners. If we’re staying that’s what they remain: our partners. We can’t possibly advocate Remaining as silent, tail-between-legs, apologetic members unwilling to confront the EU’s problems. That wouldn’t do much more for our position in the world that Brexit. The parts you highlight are undoubtedly its greatest achievements, but it is notable they are political projects, not economic. Those need the greatest reform and immediate attention (I believe Brexit has done the EU a favour in that respect; never have they been so united as such a perilous and turbulent time).

  • Johnny McDermott 22nd Aug '19 - 11:29pm

    As David Evershed points out – the independent group… I’m not even going to try to remember the name and anyway, there’s more than one, right? They need to be ready to make some compromises of their own. I’d gently suggest they have less cards to overplay (or blew their hand in March) than we do. Far less. Frankly, I’d rather see those with liberal values under the Lib Dem banner railing behind Jo. Or willing to do what is necessary to avoid No Deal and make certain – since Corbyn’s anti-Semite credentials are likely to be the barrier to compromise – there are legal guarantees that ensure he cannot remain in No 10 without an electoral victory. Like us, they need to order their priorities.

  • Johnny McDermott 22nd Aug '19 - 11:31pm

    I agree with your sentiment Geoff! I meant what I said – I think we have a moral right to revoke. For a month or two over the summer it was the attitude I took. This farce. Actually waiting longer until they figure out the Brexit riddle, in fact, doing it for them? But I think the cost of ignoring the referendum, rather than overturning it thus bringing along the sceptics and winning back some Brexiteers (at least, winning back their faith in democracy). The best way to overturn, the only one that has been offered up, is a GNU. Branding it illegal – even if those people who were convicted were evil masterminds rather than daft wee boys – isn’t helping us. That aspect didn’t turn it. We had plenty of money to spend on data-driven advertising and no laws preventing either side from doing it (that may be an oversight in the law, but it is not “illegal”, it cannot be). If we’re gearing up for a second referendum, we should probably ensure these issues are straightened out in advance. These issues are troubling and frustrating. But they don’t give a full account of why we lost. I’m not going to pretend I know what they all are!

    I’ve gone on longer in the reply than the blog (which the comments section function is not pleased with – sorry!), so going to pause for an episode of American Dad or something and absorb the McKellen/ blog-publishing excitement!

  • Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party promised in their 2017 manifesto to respect the result of the EU Referendum which was in favour of UK independence. They also seemed to be opposed to a second referendum. Then they shifted position and were in favour of a Customs Union and some kind of nebulous association with the Single Market. Now Labour seems to be offering a second referendum on some unspecified deal and a promise to campaign to Remain in the EU. As a Jeremy Corbyn supporter and Labour member, but also an enthusiastic supporter of independence from the EU, it is the bitterest irony to me that in order to realize Tony Benn’s socialist dream of independence from Europe I have to vote not for Benn’s Eurosceptic acolyte, Jeremy Corbyn, but for Boris Johnson or Nigel Farage! Funny old world, isn’t it? Labour’s reneging on its manifesto promise to respect the referendum result, and its reinvigorated Blairite policy of opposition to Britain’s independence from Europe is not going down well in our heartlands, I hear. Not that the Liberal Democrats should take heart from that, as the recipients of Labour’s pro- independence voters will certainly not be them. In the 2017 GE the Lib Dems campaigned for another plebiscite and to Remain in the EU. If that was as universally popular as you suggested and are still suggesting, your party should be the party of government now. As it is, the Lib Dems managed to secure only a handful of seats, and are now buoyed up by a group of dissident Labour and Tory MPs who are afraid to face by-elections. Doesn’t bode well, for your intended revocation of Article 50, does it?

  • David Allen 23rd Aug '19 - 1:16am

    “I don’t want to see his socialist dystopia in which we’re forced to eat our pets!”

    I rather think that it is Johnson’s No Deal dystopia which is more liable to force us to eat our pets!

  • @Johnny McDermott
    “There is no legitimate option to remain without attempting reform”
    I’m afraid you really are barking up the wrong tree there. Cameron’s efforts to get the EU to reform were laughable. That’s because the EU as a political entity is not susceptible to any kind of reform. Why? Because reform would negate its central function which is to protect the interests of big capital and the privileged. Labour’s commitment to “Remain and Reform” is equally risible and just as doomed.

  • “Really? it broke electoral law, people were convicted and fined.”
    Oh, come on. Have you forgotten the list of people who have been convicted and fined and even gone to prison for breaking electoral law during parliamentary and local elections?
    I don’t recall anyone using that as a justification for overturning the result of the whole election. By the way, The public expect politicians to say one thing at elections and do the opposite when they achieve power. They would be astonished if they didn’t. Did I hear someone say something about tuition fees?

  • @Mack
    Because the referendum was advisory a lot of the sting was taken out of what the Electoral Commission could do in terms of punishment. If it had not been advisory it is almost certain that the Electoral Commission could have ruled it invalid (and may very well have done so). My complaint to the EC and ASA about the lies from the official Leave campaign and UKIP was met with “We have no power to intervene”.
    I submitted a motion to conference to try to allow electoral advertising to come under the remit of the ASA and for a body like the OBR to officially fact check political statements. Unfortunately, it was rejected but I have appealed against that.
    Truth telling in politics has never been more important.

  • Nonconformistradical 23rd Aug '19 - 8:09am

    @Mack
    “Oh, come on. Have you forgotten the list of people who have been convicted and fined and even gone to prison for breaking electoral law during parliamentary and local elections?
    I don’t recall anyone using that as a justification for overturning the result of the whole election.”

    Elections have been rerun in this country – Tower Hamlets mayoral election (https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-london-32428648) and some local elections in Birmingham (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/west_midlands/4406575.stm)
    In these cases the problems were related to specific areas, therefore the elections in those areas were rerun.

    In the case of the 2016 advisory referendum the pack of lies was spread over the whole country – therefor the nationwide referendum should be rerun. But as pmknowles points out – the referendum was advisory and the Electoral Commission say they have no power to intervene. So it was open to those who seem to have an inbuilt hate of the EU to use the result as if it was mandatory.

  • William Fowler 23rd Aug '19 - 8:40am

    I actually enjoyed the OP’s writing style but given the damage done to the LibDems by tuition fees when in coalition, the damage would be exponential in comparison if supporting any deal to leave the EU just because it was better than no deal… the end of the LibDems would be nigh!

    BTW, the SNP defy logic in “supporting” a second referendum or revoke as a positive result would negate the need for another Scottish referendum. Whilst Labour’s Marxist Paradise can only happen if we are completely free of EU restraints. That only leaves the LibDems as an honest remain voice (along with some smaller parties). Hopefully Jo et al are able to articulate this in a way that gets to remain voters.

  • So Mack,
    A supporter of Jeremy and a proud socialist who has to vote Depeffle or Fromarge. Some socialist are you, all that matters to you is your precious Brexit. You might as well stick national in front of the socialist because that is your direction of travel, no matter how much you bleat otherwise.

  • Endlessly repeating “advisory” doesn’t make it so. It was stated throughout the campaign that the government would act on the result of the referendum whatever that result was. On top of which triggering article 50 was overwhelmingly backed by parliament.

  • Alex Macfie 23rd Aug '19 - 9:07am

    Glenn: Government promises have no legal significance at all; they are not binding on anyone other than the government ministers who originally made them. And Parliament may have voted to trigger Article 50, but in doing so did not bind itself to seeing the process through. Parliament cannot bind itself — that’s what Parliamentary sovereignty means.

  • @Nonconformistradical
    Prior to the EU referendum, a Tory, Remain supporting government delivered a leaflet to to every household in the country at a cost of 9 million pounds. It contained many inaccuracies but never did it suggest that the Referendum result would be advisory. Indeed, that same Tory, Remain supporting government and the House of Commons that voted for the plebiscite never ever gave any widespread indication or promoted the idea generally that the referendum was in any way advisory. It was implicitly understood by the majority of the public that the decision would be binding for a generation. The assertion that it was advisory was one of several contemptible post hoc strategies instigated by those opposed to our independence from Europe in order to discredit the result of the 2016 Referendum. A referendum entered into in good faith and with the assurance by the government that it was binding. Cameron’s leaflet itself is still available online. Go take a look at it. It specifically states that the referendum is a once in a generation decision. Nowhere does it suggest that what it calls “an important decision for the UK” is in any way advisory. It repeatedly uses the word “decision” and never qualifies it with “advisory”
    It is therefore not hard to understand why those who voted in good faith for our independence (and equally many of those who voted Remain) are disgusted at the way in which their vote is still being cynically traduced and discredited by the Liberal Democrats and other Remain parties with a contempt that is inimical to our country’s democracy. There is no justification whatsoever for the referendum to be rerun. In fact it is essential now that we get out of the binary, referendum loop which will spiral us to disaster, and return as soon as possible to normal, non-plebiscite based politics.

  • Bless Glen those inconvient facts

    The EU referendum was won based on a corrupt campaign, but the courts can’t void the result because the referendum only advisory, according to the barrister who took the government to court.

    https://www.lbc.co.uk/radio/presenters/james-obrien/brexit-referendum-corruptly-won-but-result-stands/

    Tick, tock bad times are coming who are you going to blame, because I’ll be blaming you and I won’t be alone.

  • Bless, bless bless bless. Bless? Bless (bless). Bless bless. Bless bless bless bless bless.
    Bless bless, bless. Bless bless!

  • @Frankie
    You are completely wrong about me. I am a proud democratic socialist and always will be. In 2015 I voted for Ed Miliband who actually eschewed an EU referendum. I voted for him and Labour, even though I passionately support Britain’s independence, because I believed that liberating people from the yoke of the Coalition’s harsh austerity was far more important. The EU has always been inimical to democratic socialism, and our continued presence in the EU would nullify much of Labour’s 2017 manifesto. But the issue now transcends Europe. It is about the contempt with which a democratic vote for independence is being traduced and disavowed. Until we honour that vote and leave the EU we cannot restore the public’s faith in democracy or belief in fair elections.

  • Laurence Cox 23rd Aug '19 - 10:36am

    I think that all Party Members need to accept that the EU has serious problems: for example its treatment of migrants, where only Angela Merkel comes out with any credit, and now decisions like ending the Cites ban on the export of baby elephants

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/baby-elephants-eu-ban-giraffe-africa-zoos-zimbabwe-china-trade-a9074861.html

    We have to accept that this is a result of the EU expanding too rapidly, so that a significant minority of its member states have become democracies in name only and do not have the standards that we and most of the original members share.

    Whilst we need to stop Brexit, we also need to recognise that the EU cannot continue as it is; it really needs a new Treaty of Rome to allow those countries (perhaps five of the original six, excluding Italy) to proceed faster towards political unification while other countries remain in an outer ring where there is free trade (the original EEC) without unification. I suspect that most Remainers and Brexiteers would be happy with a compromise like this.

  • Maybe we can learn from Canada. I have become a regular listener to the CBC weekly political podcast The House (https://www.cbc.ca/radio/podcasts/current-affairs-information/the-house/): everyone is so polite! I have also just read a brief history (A Little History of Canada by Nelles). From the history I take away two lessons about our current political situation:

    1. Geography is a powerful force
    2. Nations can become very divided, but over time find a way back together

    While the second point is reassuring, the first point is probably more relevant to this thread. After much conflict, Canada became a British colony. Britain invested in Canada, and the bond with Britain was strong. But, over time the bond with the USA became stronger because of geographical proximity (trade was easier etc). As a result, Canada broke away from Britain, and now has greatly reduced its connection.

    So it seems to me, our bond to Europe will ultimately be strong again whatever anyone says or does, because of geography. We could thus avoid a great deal of unnecessary discord by accepting this, and settling now on a strong relationship.

    On a personal note, my preferred ranking for the strong relationship options are:

    1. Remain in the EU
    2. Move to Common Market 2.0

    However, because of the referendum, option 2 might now be the more stable one.

  • Johnny McDermott 23rd Aug '19 - 11:49am

    Mack – I think many LDs find aspects of EU discomforting. It seems you’re enjoying yourself and this blog is a little schadenfreude for you as we fail to compromise on the poison we pick! I admit I thought Corbyn had a point on the “balanced approach”. Trying to compromise and find a way that pleases none but maybe all can live with, represented a divided country. But he’s lost you, right? He could’ve never kept you in Labour once that calculation was made.
    With reference to earlier question about being realistic about electoral chances if we compromise on Corbyn or Remaining, I’d suggest Mack provides us a key example of the one-issue resigner. There is nothing to be done to keep you in Corbyn’s non-leaving Labour, is there? Does that mean everyone like Mac will leave and abandon Labour at the polls? Possibly. I doubt it. The Labour loyalty for life thing is powerful. I don’t think we quite have that, though, do we? So maybe gambling with our newly expanding base is a terrible idea. But only if we acknowledge then we are more interested in our party’s electoral chances than achieving our objectives – No No Deal, GE/ Ref in whatever order we can win. That failure to put the country first may have a much more damaging effect than compromising across party lines. (This kind of covers William Fowler’s point on tuition fees/ consequences of broken promises too, will return to SNP one)
    I have many messages from Mack and I’m taking too long to reply to each, realise the conversation has moved on quite a bit. I don’t agree with that assessment of EU. As with Brexiteer assessments, it lacks nuance and is just a different type of EU straw man. Do probably agree with point on illegality and fact it’s never been a source of “cancel the election” before now. The fees comment may sting, but where does it stop? The legal campaign to prosecute Johnson over the bus was a sorry sight to behold and deeply misguided. To legalise our politics in that way would have chilling effect. Gina Millar’s case was a fine thing to uphold Parliamentary sovereignty when even Parliament could not; but individual prosecutions on every lying soundbite a politician regurgitates is folly.

  • Johnny McDermott 23rd Aug '19 - 11:57am

    Really interesting points on the effect of the campaign’s advisory nature, pmknowles. I think the realistic consequences of the EC rejecting the referendum would’ve been terrible. Brexiteers painted it into a bias body against them, they could’ve painted a proper Jackson Pollock had this “unelected, undemocratic” and board of “liberal  elites” overturning a democratic decision.
    I agree we need to tighten up these laws. But I worry about “truth”. We want politicians to tell the truth. But we don’t want a system for tying up politicians in legal action every time it suits their opponents or if their opponents have failed to win the political argument. The courts aren’t meant to regulate political disputes of an ideological nature. That simply substitutes (more “unelected” and “undemocratic”) judges’ opinions for our own. They work best with Millar type cases – adjudicating a legal dispute over political process. 
    Once we have a body that decides what the truth is, we may not be able to put genie back in bottle. Fact checking is probably best handled by the media and the responsibility to decide remains with us.

    I think we’re getting distracted with the advisory question, however. My memory was that it was legally not binding, but politically speaking would’ve been bonkers to ignore. That said, if you remember as I do, there was NO chance of Leave winning. Very few thought the advisory part really mattered. These are issues to consider before future referendums (which I’m pretty set against seeing in future, except to resolve previous ones). We’d be far better expanding public consultation and considering assemblies for moral issues to enhance public participation in democracy.

  • The Conservatives have lost all credibility around Brexit and so we need to see what’s left. If we can constrain Labour to act in the nation’s interest, we might be able to salvage something from this debacle. At least it’s worth a try with so many other issues that need addressing.

  • Johnny McDermott 23rd Aug '19 - 12:00pm

    David Allen: this is why I did a massive Costco run the other day! Stockpiled the cat’s biscuits too, in case we need to fatten her up…

  • Johnny McDermott 23rd Aug '19 - 12:06pm

    This “There is no justification whatsoever for the referendum to be rerun. In fact it is essential now that we get out of the binary, referendum loop which will spiral us to disaster, and return as soon as possible to normal, non-plebiscite based politics.” by Mack rounds off a strong sounding argument against rerunning the referendum on the basis of it’s having been illegal or advisory.

    That’s exactly why we ought to stick to the now, what we do next and how we ensure any referendum (for which there are many justifications – chief amongst them the fact democracy is not static nor decisions final; HS2 and Heathrow T3 prove that) is won. That last part is key – let’s win the next one, not go out of our way to win the last one by default via invalidation arguments. We really don’t have time.

  • Johnny McDermott 23rd Aug '19 - 12:10pm

    I don’t want to continue down the illegality path, but would note that article about the legal case that failed is not evidence that avenue is worth pursuing, Frankie. It’s the exact opposite. (As have been the attempts to tie Johnson up for his bus lies). Courts as a last resort to govern procedure – like Millar cases – far more effective.

  • The ‘it was only advisory’ line makes anyone espousing such action akin to an Arthur Daley salesman hiding behind the ‘you should’ve read the small print’ excuse.
    Does anyone want to go there.

  • Geoffrey Dron 23rd Aug '19 - 6:46pm

    https://news.sky.com/story/john-woodcock-labels-jeremy-corbyn-a-national-security-risk-as-he-quits-labour-11440440

    I’m with John Woodcock. Corbyn is a threat to national security and shouldn’t be allowed into no.10 except on the basis of having won a GE. If LibDems are minded to allow him credibility even as an interim PM, they’re entitled to do so, but count me out. At least it’ll put an end to my musings on whether to join the LDs.

    BTW, I don’t support JW with regard to replacing Trident for reasons stated on another thread.

  • It seems strange, at least to me, that whilst past evidence shows that the ;risks to national security’ are almost entirely from the Rees-Mogg sort of background rather than the allotment tending end of the spectrum, it is the left who are deemed to be the threat.

    Remember how it was those leftie unions who were deemed to be dragging the country to bankruptcy until it turned out that it was the Capitalists who really knew how to do the job.

    Remember how it was Milliband who, as the son of a man who hated Britain, had marxist ideas (Clegg, Alexander and Davey certainly thought so) now it’s Corbyn. It matters little that Corbyn’s ‘marxism’ is the sort that would pass for mainstream left of centre in most of Europe, in a Britain those policies have become dangerous and extreme.

    Regarding a party that professes to stand up for the weakest in society it seems strange, but perhaps it’s just me, how much contrast there is between Jo Swinson’s and Jeremy Corbyn’s record on such matters.

  • Mick Taylor 24th Aug '19 - 8:17am

    I am a little tired of the ‘Corbyn is a threat to national security’ trope. I don’t agree with his aim of a socialist UK, but if at a General Election the people of our country were to vote for it – as arguably they did in 1945 – then as a democrat I would accept that his party had the right, until the next election, to put their policies into practice. Just as the UK voted Labour out by 1951, it could do the same with a Corbyn Government.
    At the next election, we should put forward our vision for the UK and not spend our time giving Labour publicity by attacking them.

  • I really wouldn’t bother spending scant resources attacking Labour. They are quite capable of fulfilling that role themselves aided by by the right wing trolls and national media. The right wing aided by their willing Lexiteers are the real threat and that is where the effort should be made.

  • Geoffrey Dron 24th Aug '19 - 3:21pm

    @Mick Taylor – you may be tired of it, but it’s the truth.

    This is a guy who associates with enemies of the West and hates NATO.

    I have more respect for the opinion of John Woodcock, a hard working constituency MP – even allowing for disagreement with him and majority of HoC over replacing Trident with an underwater deterrent – than yours.

    I’m sure LDs will put a positive case at the GE, but there is nothing wrong with pointing out the unfitness of Jezza for office, even Leader of the Opp.

  • Rodney Watts 26th Aug '19 - 12:05pm

    Johnny, wish I’d joined this thread earlier, as you have raised some important points and yet more points raised in comments. Whilst I only rejoined the LD’s this year after a break of ca 10 yrs, because of Brexit, I first joined the old Liberal Party in 1970, having left the Labour Party. (perhaps I was among the first to identify as social democrat). Brexit has sadly revealed the lack of honesty, integrity & even legality in certain quarters including some members of some political parties & members of none.

    Some issues transcend party — being not so much left or right, but right or wrong. We therefore need to press ahead to achieve Remain, and I am happy to cooperate with Jeremy Corbyn pro tem in spite of his weaknesses. The one thing he is not is anti-semitic as you feel. I say that as a Jewish activist. Unfortunately he is mainly the victim of scurrilous accusations by certain Jews who are more concerned about protecting Israel than truth and justice for all peoples. I would suggest referring to :
    https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/ where you will find their submission to the EHRC plus other statements explaining relevant law as well as how “anti-semitism” fits into current discrimination legislation. There is an impressive list of prominent Jewish supporters including law professors, QC, and Naomi Wayne who was the EHRC enforcer for Northern Ireland. When I was first alerted to the Campaign against Anti-Semitism’s complaint to the EHRC I made a defensive submission as one , who as national vice president of the student association of the UNA had worked to get the first Racial Discrimination legislation through parliament in 1965 when Labour was in power. Again this was a campaign about right and wrong, transcending party politics.

    The above leads to a consideration another day of the unfitness for purpose of the so-called IHRA definition of anti-semitism.

  • Johnny McDermott 28th Aug '19 - 10:47pm

    But… and I’m back to a Benjen Stark “everything a man says before the word but doesn’t count” kind of but: I’ve found myself checked not only by Rodney’s comments, but also Corbyn’s behaviour over the last few days. A little stubborn and self-interested at first, he had a legitimate claim to captain the ship, or try anyway, if only by the numerical support he could command (on his own; on our own we command 14 votes).

    If properly curtailed – his caretaker status – i.e. no radical economic or security reforms. Pretty much no domestic policies beyond maintaining services at current levels (a pathetic state of affairs thrust on us by Johnson). The objectives of resolving the GE/ 2nd ref or soft brexit compromise approach going forward.

    We must go in with no red lines. We *lost* the referendum. We have no “right” to a new one, though I want that and think it would be a democratic move if done legitimately. I don’t think it would be a division-quelling move. But that aside – we lost. We must be prepared to compromise to avoid catastrophe. Even if that means giving up on “Remain”.

    But..! And this isn’t a Benjen Stark but this time – we can rejoin. One day. Maybe. If youth and numbers are on our side, we can do it. We protect democracy. We neuter the Brexit Party’s push for a majoritarian tyranny mockingly branded “direct democracy”. Then we begin a grassroots campaign to find a way back to common sense politics by consensus.

    I stand by my conclusion. We must stand ready to compromise.

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