Brussels, meet Lib Dem MEPs

It’s been quite an emotional week.

There have been a few moments when I have actually burst in to tears.

The first one was when I saw this from Scotland’s Lib Dem MEP, Sheila Ritchie.

It was worth the pain and the tiredness for everyone who delivered leaflets and knocked on doors to ensure that everyone in Scotland now has a Liberal Democrat representing them at one level. The same goes, of course for most other places in the country. It’s so sad that we missed out in Wales and the North East – by tiny margins.

And here she is, at yesterday’s Edinburgh leadership hustings, with Scotland’s first LIb Dem MEP, Elspeth Attwooll, who served for 10 years from 2009.

It’s been great to see our MEPs tweeting photos and videos of their orientation in Brussels.

Antony Hook sets off on his new commute – which is a little easier than Sheila Ritchie’s:

Luisa Porritt is right to point out that 75 years ago, Europe was at war. Thanks to the EU, the continent is at peace.

Caroline Voaden did a video diary:

And there’s something extra special about Bill Newton-Dunn’s re-election.

The lift seems more Hogwarts than Parliament building

And Judith Bunting has a picture of the outside:

Super to see them all gathered round one table and getting down to business.

Barbara Gibson may not have photos but she has something infinitely more enjoyable:

Jane Brophy shows that Willie Rennie is not the only one who can do photo-ops with animals:

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Great photo and exciting to see folks heading off to work in the European parliament. However, I think we have to stop placing peace solely at the feet of the EU. For a start, the EU did not exist until the early 90’s, by which time it was a totally different institution than the steel and coal arrangement post WW2 involved in reconstruction (indeed placing this on the EU also neglects the WTO and World Bank’s earlier incarnations at the same time). We should also reflect that peace was certainly also maintained culturally, through social change and a desire for peace from the bottom, not just top-down from institutions. It also neglects the crucial role in peace played by NATO, in ensuring the Cold War remained a proxy war (I think this and the existential threat of the USSR played a far greater role than the EEC and its earlier setup). Finally, it neglects the role played by the increasing inter-dependence caused by the wide adoption of economic liberalism i.e. the global market, making states dependent on each other, thus war less likely (linked more widely into ‘Democratic Peace Theory’). Absolutely the EU and its earlier incarnations played a role, but it’s just not true to place it as – the – instigator of peace, we should portray a more balanced view of it having a role in this.

  • David Becket 9th Jun '19 - 2:05pm

    Agreed Doug. The EU has played a part in ensuring peace, but it cannot take the lions share of the credit. Those supporting the EU must be very careful, overstating the case for the EU plays into the hands of the Brexiteers. Doug is correct, we need a balanced view and that must start with our MEPs.

  • John Marriott 9th Jun '19 - 2:49pm

    Better make the most of it. It just might not be for that long!

  • Lorenzo Cherin 9th Jun '19 - 4:28pm

    Brtain and Northern Ireland, the whole UK, there, great that Naomi Long has joined in, we need to be far more linked with the terrific party that is the Alliance!

    So too we must see that the peaceful history of over half a century becoming three quarters of a century does give the Common Market, EEC, and EU a lot to be praised for, despite its need for reform, and its faults, a real achievement ongoing…

  • @ Doug “Finally, it neglects the role played by the increasing inter-dependence caused by the wide adoption of economic liberalism i.e. the global market, making states dependent on each other, thus war less likely”.

    Here we go again, the panacea of ‘economic liberalism’, They used to believe that in the Asquith Liberal Government up until 4 August, 1914 – especially that old Gladstonian, John Morley,who resigned.

  • Nom de Plume 9th Jun '19 - 5:09pm

    Thanks for bringing all these tweets onto one thread, Caron. At least LDV has a positive view of the EU parliament. A rarity in the UK. I liked the personal impressions. I didn’t know there was a floor 5 1/2.

  • Richard Underhill 9th Jun '19 - 7:48pm


  • Joseph Bourke 9th Jun '19 - 8:38pm

    On the issue of the role played by the increasing inter-dependence caused by the wide adoption of economic liberalism i.e. the global market, making states dependent on each other, thus war less likely it is woth recalling “The Great Illusion” by Norman Angell published and received to great critical acclaim in 1909.
    Angell’s thesis was that “the economic cost of war was so great that no one could possibly hope to gain by starting a war the consequences of which would be so disastrous.” For that reason, a general European war was very unlikely to start, and if it did, it would not last long. He argued that war was economically and socially irrational and that war between industrial countries was futile because conquest did not pay.”The ‘Great Illusion’ was that nations gained by armed confrontation, militarism, war, or conquest.” Angell, writing in the years after the Boer War had not maintained that a war was impossible, rather that it would be futile.
    The author, however, perhaps enamoured at the rapid expansion of global trade in the late Victorian and Edwardian period had paid scant attentiion to the classical history -specifically the so-called “Thucydides Trap”

  • @ Martin In answer to you question, none of the above.

    Economic and social thought didn’t freeze in aspic in 1859. I identify with a strong Keynesian economic approach combined with a strong Beveridge welfare policy – in a determined attempt to curb the excesses of global capitalism exploiting its workforce – and interventionist in a determined attack on poverty and global warming – as per the UN Alston Report on the UK.

    I’m instinctively sceptical of the honours system (which some Lib Dems seem addicted to) and regard that and the hereditary system as irrational…..

    Robbie Burns says it :-

    “Ye see yon birkie, ca’d a lord,
    Wha struts, an’ stares, an’ a’ that;
    Tho’ hundreds worship at his word,
    He’s but a coof for a’ that:
    For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
    His ribband, star, an’ a’ that:
    The man o’ independent mind
    He looks an’ laughs at a’ that.

    A prince can mak a belted knight,
    A marquis, duke, an’ a’ that;
    But an honest man’s abon his might,
    Gude faith, he maunna fa’ that!
    For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
    Their dignities an’ a’ that;
    The pith o’ sense, an’ pride o’ worth,
    Are higher rank than a’ that.”

  • @ Martin “I am not sure why you mention the honours system; I see little evidence that Liberal Democrats are ‘addicted’ to it”. A visit to Spec Savers might be advisable, Martin.

    Can you tell me how many Liberal/Lib Dem M.P.’s have been given knighthoods since the then Sir David Steel renewed Lib participation in the 1980’s ? I’ve lost count but when you’ve researched it do tell us how many. More than a single taxi load or minibus is my guess.

    Maybe you haven’t reflected on an oft expressed view of the electorate – and Rabbie Burns – ”Who does he think he is’. I’ve heard it many times on the door step that joining ‘the establishment’ is hardly a sign of being ‘a radical man of the people’.

    “His ribband, star, an’ a’ that:
    The man o’ independent mind
    He looks an’ laughs at a’ that.”

    Here’s a signpost for you :

    What price a Lib Dem peerage? – Seth Thevoz … – Liberator Magazine…/liberator-371.pdf
    Seth Thevoz describes how his academic research has revealed the scale of donations by those nominated for the Lords. Liberals have a credibility problem.

  • I’m not a big fan of the honours system either. I haven’t worked all these years for the party and local people in order to be honoured. However, shouldn’t people be recognised in some way if they do exceptional work for the community? I would certainly be interested to learn how David Raw would do this or indeed any other contributor to LDV. Here in Todmorden the local town council appoints honorary citizens and the people so honoured are those who have made outstanding contributions to the local community. For example a woman who has devoted her entire working life to the local library was honoured this year.

  • @ Mick Taylor I’d certainly get rid of all the outdated ‘Empire’ connotations, Mick.

    The French got rid of 19 ministerial orders in 1963 – replaced by just four ‘Ordres national du Mérite’. Worth a look at – but I supposed they chopped off their monarch’s head later than we did.

    Todmorden seems to have a good system…. and I remember watching that great Halifax lass Hannah Cockroft being a made a Freeman (sic) of Calderdale. She was told she could drive her sheep through the town.

    My favourite is that great Unitarian son of Todmordian, John Fielden….. a man of great simplicity and integrity of character. He was happy with to remain ‘Honest John Fielden.’

  • Richard Underhill 10th Jun '19 - 12:18pm

    There is a task for new UK MEPs although Tory Leavers would prefer they did not exist.
    A potted history is that Romania had a dictator who sided with the Axis powers in WW2.
    After the war Stalin nibbled off bits of neighbouring countries and incorporated them in to the USSR, hence Kalingrad (ex Germany) Moldova (ex Romania) a substantial shift in Poland’s borders westward and northward (ex Germany) and an eastern portion of Czechoslovakia (a victim again, not an enemy).
    After the EU enlargements of 2004 (10 countries) and 2007 (Bulgaria and Romania) there are smaller aspirants affected by Moscow’s “Near Abroad” and maybe Ukraine, maybe Georgia.

  • There’s a touch of ungenerosity, I think, in sneering at Liberals who accept Honours, and especially peerages, which have the nationally beneficial effect of enabling one who has done good political service in the Commons to continue to contribute to parliamentary work after his or her spell as an MP. Of course it is disgraceful that Tories and Labourites can do so too.

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