Category Archives: News

Cole-Hamilton: Defeating Brexit is our Everest

If you head to the Royal Mile at about two in the afternoon, you’ll be in for a big surprise. Our Alex Cole-Hamilton is one of the speakers at a Rally for Europe but he won’t be delivering the Europe stump speech many of us have heard many times. In fact, I’m probably more word perfect on it than I am the Sound of Music or the words of Abba Gold.

Today a new version of the Cole-Hamilton Euro speech takes centre stage and it’s just as good.

Here’s an extract.

Now I heard that Boris Johnson said that if we had to, in the event of no deal we could live without our EU workforce, that they only make up 3% of our health and social care workforce so we could probably tough it out. Boris, your spinal column makes up 3% of your body mass, try functioning without that.

“You all know my party’s policy. The Liberal Democrats believe that a process begun by the will of the British people must be concluded by the will of the British people.

“That we must put the final terms of the Brexit deal or the reality of no deal to them in a referendum, and on that ballot paper they should have an unambiguous choice to reject Brexit and remain in the EU.

“I believe that when credited with the facts, the people of this country will reject the lunacy of Brexit and return to the fold of what has become quite simply the most important project for peace and freedom in the whole of human history,

“So when the full hideous calamity of Brexit is laid bare, we should ask the people of this country, in the solemnity of the polling stations where this first started, is this really what you want? Is this what you imagined taking back control would look like? And if it isn’t then you should exercise your democratic right to stay.

“We meet in extraordinary times, historic times and you will each look back on this period and ask yourself, did I do my part? Don’t leave that question unanswered, it’s time to dig in and fight, it isn’t just a mountain we have to climb, this is our Everest.

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Campbell: Every time Trump opens his mouth, the world becomes a less safe place

Back in the day when he was leader, he was referred to as Ming. Now he’s in the Lords and newly appointed Defence Spokesperson, he’s back to being Menzies.

Anyway, our new Defence spokesperson had this to say about Donald Trump’s latest destabilising shenanigans over Iran:

This is yet another example of Trump’s boneheaded belligerence.

Not content with senseless responses to every provocation of Kim Jong Un, he is determinedly undermining a treaty which has proved to be an important influence on nuclear non-proliferation.

Every time Trump opens his mouth, the world becomes a less safe place.

Surely, by implication, every time he reaches for …

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Tim Farron explains how the Government’s cuts to supported accommodation will harm most vulnerable

One of the (many) hugely worrying things about the Government’s plans for Housing Benefit is the cap being applied to supported accommodation.

Across the country, people are given the chance to live as independent lives as possible in accommodation which comes with its own support network. Government cuts threaten this – and the human cost is appalling.

This was discussed in a  Westminster Hall debate yesterday in which Tim Farron took part.

From my experience of the supported housing provided for constituents with autism and learning difficulties, I know that the LHA rent cap will mean that they simply will not be able to afford the support that they get in their current setting. They will end up in institutions or hospitals, which will actually cost the taxpayer far more money.

On Facebook, he went into a bit more detail:

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Brexit: Desperately seeking a BATNA

Opinion polls still show the country divided down the middle on whether Brexit is a good thing or not.

There has been a bit of movement in favour of the referendum on the deal (it is worth noting that it always does better when accurately described in that way rather than as a second referendum).  However, the really dramatic poll shift has been in the confidence of the government getting a good deal with two thirds now not confident.  The dichotomy between those figures and the 50/50 split is striking.

To some extent, this may be wishful thinking on behalf of those who think that there is still a good deal out there somewhere and the Tories just can’t find it.  However, it also likely reflects the dawning realisation that we have a desperately weak negotiating position.  The main reason for this is that the UK has a terrible BATNA.  In the jargon of negotiating theorists, a BATNA is your Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement.  It is crucial because if your alternative isn’t too bad, you don’t have to give up too much and walk away easily if the price gets too high.  On the other hand, if your BATNA is awful, you just have to make concession after concession, especially if you are negotiating with somebody who knows it.  This is currently the position of the UK government.

The UK government’s stated BATNA is “no deal”.  As a BATNA, this is terrible because everyone knows (a) that it would inflict terrible damage on the economy and require lots of new bureaucracy where we have borrowed our regime from the EU (e.g. on nuclear regulation) and (b) we haven’t done anything like the necessary preparation for it.  So, to deal with point (b), the government is now being lobbied by Redwood et al to start spending vast sums of money on something which may well never happen.  Leaving aside the politics of spending such sums at a time of austerity, it does nothing to deal with (a).

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Willie Rennie to hold talks with SNP over support for Brexit deal referendum

The quest to build a case for an “exit from Brexit” referendum continues. In his speech to the Bournemouth Conference, Willie Rennie said he would be trying to work with the SNP to build support for the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ campaign for an “exit from Brexit” referendum.

He wrote to the First Minister and she has agreed that this merits discussion.

Willie will now meet the Scottish Government Minister Mike Russell for talks on this issue. He welcomed this invitation:

This is a welcome step forward from the Scottish Government and shows that there is support from across the political spectrum for a clear approach to Brexit that gives the British people a final say.

Both Nicola Sturgeon and Mike Russell have shown support for our campaign to give the public the final say but this can only be achieved if parties are willing to work together to protect the UK’s relationship with the EU. I know that there are colleagues across all UK parties who support this position and I urge them to join this movement and build the momentum further.

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No, Nick, you need to join the Rebel Alliance to stop Brexit, not the Imperial Stormtroopers

Nick Clegg is probably the country’s most knowledgable person on international trade, the EU and our relationship with it. Read his brilliant Brexit Challenge papers to see how true that is.

We should listen to whatever he says on Brexit because he is most often right.

However, for the former leader of a political party, he has shown a monumental amount of naivety in suggesting that people need to join Labour or the Conservatives to stop Brexit. He could not be more wrong.

You can maybe see where he gets the idea from. When he was leader of the Liberal Democrats, and, specifically, Deputy Prime Minister, the party was forever telling him in forms of motions passed by its Conference and various firestorms on the internet, that he was wrong. We sent him some pretty strong and unambiguous messages on things like the Bedroom Tax, secret courts and reforms to the social security system that disadvantaged people. Sure, we should take credit for what we stopped the Tories unleashing on the country, but we also did some stuff that we shouldn’t.

Yes, we sent him plenty messages. Sometimes he acted on what we told him, sometimes he didn’t, and sometimes he had to put a lot of effort into persuading the party to back his position.

Let’s compare and contrast with the Tories and Labour. They aren’t great about letting their members actually influence their policies. You didn’t actually see many actual votes on the issues of the day at their conferences. You didn’t see any at the Conservatives. They don’t do that sort of thing. They were shocked by the internal democracy in the Liberal Democrats and thought it very strange. Ordinary Labour members don’t get much of a chance to influence policy either. Even if they wanted to, remember that their Conference didn’t even get to discuss Brexit because they might disagree.

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Why Fiscal Credibility Is Still Important

Piles of money. Photo credit: czbalazs - http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1236662Of the many phrases that pepper the UK’s political discourse, the oft used ‘Magic Money Tree’ has to be the most grating. Its employment is a rhetorical device used to shut down any talk of government  spending by hawks who believe any movement away from a narrow focus on  cuts as a weapon for reducing the deficit  is not only ill-advised, but belongs to the realm of fairy tales. More sophisticated commentators know that macroeconomics is more complex than that and government spending can …

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