Category Archives: Op-eds

The actions of a Tiger

Then imitate the actions of a tiger, stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood, disguise fair nature with hard favoured rage!

Shakespeare’s Henry V, could have been referring to politics, now! The tiger is not timid, but is brave. The rage is not destructive but is strong. There is a need to be brave and strong. The centre ground is regarded by some, wrongly, as merely mushy, wishy washy. That old adage, the only thing that happens in the middle of the road, is, you get knocked down, is nonsensical.

I welcome those who do want to journey with me. I, though a Liberal, and therefore  for the individual, am too, a democrat, and welcome the company on the journey. I see the centre ground as needing to be cultivated, nurtured, with possibilities for development and scope to build, but a path, too, to travel, and a journey, that continues. It is the path ahead. It is, in politics, the road less travelled now, but along its route, we can make real friends, and have fellow travellers, not from or to the extremes, as too often associated with such a phrase, but on the way forward.

As a longstanding member of the Liberal Democrats who, as a youth, cut my political teeth in the Labour party, I welcome alliances and cross-party working, because I also know how seldom so many do, in the two big parties. From the outset of the emergence of TIG, through the debacle regarding its becoming Change UK, some of us, a few, have continued to reach out, rather than reject. We know that to leave a party requires bravery. We see that to feel hounded out because of antisemitism is  awful. We get it that Brexit has indeed led to a change in our discourse.

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It’s time for us to prove our progressive credentials

We want to hang on to the Remain voters who flocked to us in the Euro elections. We believe that our party could radically change our conflicted country for the better, while we see that the two main parties at present are, in the expressive vernacular, of as much use as a fart in a bottle.

This husk of a government continues to do harm. As if it were not enough that Chancellor Philip Hammond ignored the poorest in his March Spring Statement despite bumper tax receipts, the continuing impact of the roll-out of Universal Credit, the two-child limit on some welfare payments and the continuing benefits freeze will, according to research by experts, cause a big increase in families unable to make ends meet this year. Cover-up attempts by Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd to alleviate the effects have done little. For example, repaying the advance payments for UC will plunge one in ten low-pay households into deficit. Although UC has made 56% of households better-off by £172 a month, 40% are worse off and will lose an average of £181.

Amber Rudd’s latest wheeze to stem the flow of criticism is denial. She is to complain to the UN about the final UK report of its Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, which was published last month, apparently on the grounds that his personal fact-finding tour was only eleven days long and his conclusions on the Government’s approach to tackling poverty are ‘completely inaccurate’. The 20-page report, which upholds the statement made in November discussed here in LDV is in fact extensively referenced by many authoritative public bodies. 

The report’s summary points out that one-fifth of Britain’s population, 14m.people, live in poverty, and that the policies of austerity introduced since 2010 continue largely unabated. Its final conclusion is that Brexit presents an opportunity to reimagine what the UK stands for, and that recognition of social rights and social inclusion rather than marginalization of the working poor and the unemployed should be the guiding principle of social policy. The report combines recommendations of practical steps to tackle poverty with humane proposals for restoring our social contract.

So, its fourth recommendation demands reversal of the “regressive measures” pointed out by experts and ignored by the Government  (see above) –  continuation of the benefits freeze, the two-child limit, the benefit cap, and the reduction of housing benefit including for under-occupied rental housing. This is already Liberal Democrat policy, and we would also support the recommendation to eliminate the five-week delay in receiving UC benefits.

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A tale of two leadership elections

This has to be the tweet of the day for me. It fair summed things up.

I woke up to sunshine streaming through the window this morning and smiled.

And then I remembered that 100,000 or so of the most reactionary people in the country are about to choose the next Prime Minister.

That’s a spirit-dampening thought if ever there was one.

These are people who think climate change is a myth, who would remove hard won rights from women & LGBT people, who think workers’ rights have gone too far & who want to inflict the catastrophe of no deal Brexit on us. You wouldn’t want them voting on X Factor, let alone choosing our PM.

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Taking a leaf out of Onward’s book – moving away from neoliberal economics

On 31st May a Tory think tank, Onward, published a report entitled ’Firing on all Cylinders’ written by Neil O’Brien, a Conservative MP since 2017 who was previously a special adviser to George Osborne, former Chancellor of the Exchequer. O’Brien calls for a new fiscal rule “to keep debt to GDP falling gently in normal years when there is no recession.”

He suggests that the national debt to GDP ratio should be kept near to its current level of 83.3% and not be reduced to 73% in 2023/24 as planned. By doing this he estimates that the government would …

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23 minutes left to have a say in Lib Dem leadership election

Next month it will be 36 years since I signed up to the Liberal Democrats on my 16th birthday.

My parents thought it was a phase.

I’m still here and I’ve long since given up caring what they think of my political beliefs, however much I love them.

This party, with its establishment busting, planet saving, freedom loving, poverty bashing ethos never fails to give me a reason to get out of bed in the morning and to try to make the world better and kinder and friendlier for everyone.

It absolutely warmed my heart to see 16 year old Emma  sign up to the party this morning.

This party has, over the years, infuriated and inspired me, provided me with most of my friends and found-family and basically is part of the basic infrastructure of my life.

And I found out today that one of the people who had first inspired me in politics died last night.

Chris was a leading light in Edinburgh SDP in the 80s.

I first met her on a training day in 1985. My first ever conference speech was in a debate on drugs in 1986. She proposed the motion and, as the hall emptied, I remember her ironically pointing out that people were leaving for their fixes of nicotine and caffeine.

She was a passionate internationalist, feminist and advocate for social justice. Her career was spent making life better for the most vulnerable, from Scotland’s voluntary sector to Bangladesh.

She actually left the SDP in 1986 to rejoin Labour. I couldn’t go with her but I was always going to be friends with her, wherever she was.  I never lost touch with her. However it was only in the last few years that Facebook reconnected us. It was brilliant. One Messenger chat and the years melted away.

She joined the Liberal Democrats to fight for our place in the EU after the referendum. But she was diagnosed with Cancer shortly afterwards. She couldn’t go to the People’s Vote march last October but she was there in spirit and her name was on a placard.

She’s one of the wisest and kindest people I ever knew and I am missing her very much tonight.

If you believe in the kinder, more compassionate politics, if you believe that our country is crying out for radical reform, if you believe that we need to throw the kitchen sink and more at saving our planet, if the thought of ensuring that no-one is enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity, then you might want to join us because those things are what we are about.

And if you do so within the next 20 or so minutes you can help choose our next leader. 

And Greg’ll be happy.

That will be not a million miles off 20,000 since the local elections.

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Peterborough by-election – Lib Dem recovery on track

In the last two elections, Lib Dems have barely scraped 3% in Peterborough. Had the by-election happened 5 years ago, we’d have lost our deposit with no question.

This was not a seat where we have historically been a challenger. Going back to the 70s, our vote has been mid teens – 20%.

So the only way we would have had a chance of competing is if we’d thrown the kitchen sink at it. And we’d already used up our supply of kitchen sinks during the European campaign. We can’t, yet, do everything and it made sense to save our resources for something more winnable.

Our campaign was spirited, we had a great candidate in Beki Sellick and we quadrupled our vote. So it was a solid result for us. Thank you so much to the team who achieved a huge amount, led by Andy Sangar from Sheffield.

The result in full:

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D-Day from Great Grandma’s perspective

“Churchill?” “Nothing but an old war monger!” Thus spake Lil my great-grandma. Lil was the sort of woman who doesn’t get into history books but the words “doughty” and “feisty” were fashioned just for her.

Even as a six-year old I remember her tutting through all the sentimentality of her 90th birthday and making it perfectly clear that she wasn’t going to bother getting to 91 (she didn’t). When her day came the grim reaper must have been vastly more daunted to meet her than she was to meet him.

Amid all the militarism of the D-Day commemorations it would also be good to remember the wartime mums. Because some of Lil’s bluster and displays of character were surely a result of the awful blow she endured in 1943 when her adored elder son was killed in the war. He was 33.

There were so many like Lil. Jessie Bowles for instance. I live in what was once Jessie’s house. Her son Bert was in the RAF during the war and was killed over Berlin in January 1944. He was 21.

And Mrs Mackenzie, Barbara Mackenzie was my Dad’s landlady when he was stationed in the Highlands during the war. She treated him like a son. Her own son Archie was killed in the aftermath of the Normandy landings. It will be 75 years on June 28th. Archie was just 20.

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We Need To Do More For Our Veterans

This year is the 75th anniversary of the D Day landings and we are seeing a lot of media coverage of this important historical event.

When I think of D Day I think of my Grandfather Denis Warwick who was 25 years old at the outbreak of WW2 and underwent surgery in order to be fit for military service. He was a private in the 6th Airborne Division of the Parachute Regiment, took part in the D Day landings, went on to fight in what became known as the Battle of the Bulge and ended his war in Germany. Returning from service with a war wound in his left knee (an injury that troubled him for the rest of his life) he supported his family as a coal delivery driver and then as a building labourer; he died from a heart attack aged 62.

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The NHS is not for sale

If you had still had any illusions that our NHS would survive Brexit, these will have been dispelled by the statement of Trump’s ambassador that, “The US will want business access to the NHS in any trade deal”. Indeed, some have speculated that access to the NHS, along with the rest of the economy, is the real reason behind Trump’s visit.

This should come as no surprise, for the “Stronger In” campaign always warned that the country could have Brexit or the NHS, but not both.

The NHS has long been admired by many Americans for its efficiency compared to their own expensive system, at the same time as our own politicians paradoxically sought to emulate the US model by introducing market forces and business practices.

The problem posed by copying Trump’s way of doing things is that we risk losing the close cooperation with Europe that has brought us so much success. A huge threat to both the staffing of the health service and Britain’s leading role in research, is the abolition of free movement. Free movement has been the catalyst for medical advance, enabling the sharing of experience and knowledge as researchers move seamlessly between countries. And on hospital wards all over the country, skilled nurses from many European countries have played a vital role.

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Vince Cable and Humaira Ali on Eid

As always, my admiration knows no bounds for those who manage to cope with the Ramadan fast during the long northern days of Summer.

I hope that everyone celebrating Eid today has happiness and peace.

Vince Cable gave his last Eid message:

And over on the Lib Dem website, Humaira Ali wrote about Islam as a liberal religion:

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Change UK – the big question is for the Liberal Democrats

Like many Lib Dems I have been more than a little disappointed with Change UK. Their launch was poorly executed; their decision to fight the EU elections ill thought out; their battle bus so badly designed that even I could have done better.

Perhaps most wounding of all was their leaked memo which showed that their number one priority was to get rid of us by pinching our members; PPCs; councillors; donors and votes. That was so naïve. It was never likely to happen and certainly will never happen give our surge in members; MEPs and votes.

The response from most Lib …

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The British Government must leave the Chagos Islands

The little known story of the Chagos Islanders is one of the worst crimes in recent British history.

The Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean, were first settled by the French in the eighteenth century, originally with slave labour to work on coconut plantations. They were governed by France from Mauritius. Mauritius became a British colony at the end of the Napoleonic wars, along with its distant Chagos Islands dependency a thousand miles further east.

By the 1960s, when Mauritius was approaching independence, there were about 2000 Chagos …

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Has this Tory leadership hopeful nailed the format needed for a People’s Vote ballot paper?


Embed from Getty Images

We’re beginning to hear some voices saying that “No deal” should not be on the ballot paper in the event of a People’s Vote/3rd referendum.

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What do I want from our new Leader?

There will be those of our readers who have made a decision in favour of #EdForLeader or #JoinJo, but for many, especially the newer ones, they may still be deciding. Here’s one member’s criteria for making his mind up, which may give you some more things to think about…

So we are to have a contested Leadership election this time. Given that both (at the time of writing) declared Candidates come from similar parts of the party and there is not much to choose between them on major policy issues (and that in our Party Policy is not the sole preserve …

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Isabelle Parasram writes…How proud am I?

How proud am I of being Vice President of a party that’s sending no less than 16 MEPs to Brussels!

I look forward to working with them all on increasing the diversity of our Party.

We now have 2 BAME MEPs – Dinesh Dhamija and Shaffaq Mohammed – brilliant role models for all and particularly for the candidates who’ll benefit from the new Racial Diversity Campaign mentoring and training currently being set up by Sarah Yong, Arfan Bhatti and Anood Al-Samerai.

I have no doubt that Roderick Lynch, Chair of the LDCRE (Liberal Democrat Campaign for Racial Equality) will also soon be in touch about how our new MEPs can support its work.

Women also make up over 50% of our MEPs – something that the Chair of the Campaign for Gender Balance, Candy Piercy and the Chair of Lib Dem Women, Flo Clucas, will, no doubt, be thrilled with.

In the meantime, many congratulations to:

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Four years

It’s four years today since we lost Charles Kennedy who died at the heartbreakingly young age of 55.

We miss his wit and wisdom so much.

It says so much about him that during the horrible atmosphere of the 2014 independence referendum in Scotland, he was respected by both sides. We can only wonder what impact he would have made on the EU referendum.

He had the courage to do what was right – leading the opposition to the Iraq war in 2003, even when he was vilified in the Commons for doing so.

Just as the polls closed on EU Election day last week, Christine Jardine played Darren Martin’s tweet below to the assembled team in Edinburgh West.

There weren’t very many dry eyes.

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Ed and Jo round 1 – the London leadership hustings

It’s going to be a gruelling month for our Lib Dem leadership candidates. They’ve both had a fair bit of media exposure the last couple of days and tonight they are in Jeremy Corbyn’s backyard having their first hustings.

If anyone who is actually there wants to write up a report of the event, it would be very gratefully received. There were a lot of you there – which is fantastic on a Friday night on not that much notice.

In the meantime, here’s the pick of the tweets from the event. London Lib Dems did a fairly comprehsensive blow by blow account. Here are some other voices.

New members are impressed:

Opening statements

 

Questions

First, Brexit

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Time for us to be generous to Change UK

Yes, it is only one opinion poll

putting the Liberal Democrats in first place on 24% and Change UK in nth on 1%. But it is astounding, exciting, and further evidence of a real shift in public opinion. The political tide that swept us away in 2015 has turned again. Partly this is our doing, partly it is the weather.

So what next? I’ve long argued – even when Change UK seemed to be fighting against us more than anyone – that we would inevitably end up working together, and Chuk’s strategy was all about doing that from a position of strength. Well they failed, and we can crow. But perhaps we shouldn’t.

It wasn’t obvious 2 months ago that we would end up being the voice of remain and Chuk would be relegated to 1%, and it might have happened the other way round. What I think really worked for us is that the remain public understood that we were open to working with other remainers, and they saw that Chuk just wanted to fight us.

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Success will bring a painful challenge and we must embrace it

We’ve had an extraordinarily successful month. Back in April, we were written off, now we are clear leaders of a national movement that potentially includes over half the country. But we must be prepared for the cost of success.
Many who want a People’s Vote will join us, but they won’t agree with all our policies. A key part of our values is the belief that people should not be enslaved by conformity and should think for themselves.  Well, that belief is going to be put to the test.
There are many thousands of social democrats who are disgusted with Corbyn’s economic illiteracy, his hardline socialism, and his supporters’ intolerance of anyone who disagrees with him. If these thousands join us, and especially if some of them are moderate Labour MPs, that will start to change the culture of our party.
There will be thousands of Tory members who are disgusted with the way their leadership have caved into populism, have put personal careers and party before country, and are leading the nation in a calamitous direction. If these thousands join us, and especially if some are moderate Tory MPs, that will start to change the culture of our party.
This will be painful but necessary. If we refused to be a broad church, then we’d only get narrow support and the two-party system would re-assert itself. If so, our country, as it suffered under a succession of governments led by dishonest populists of the left and right, would rightly treat us with contempt.
Of course, it’s only a small minority in our party who oppose the broad-based alliance needed to change our country’s direction. But they are a loud minority, and they call our potential fellow members “neoliberals”, “reactionaries”, “soggy centrists”, and “authoritarians”.
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Alistair Carmichael MP writes…How Lib Dem MPs will approach the leadership election

Next month will mark eighteen years since I was first elected as a Member of Parliament. To say it has been something of a rollercoaster would be an understatement – so it feels good to be on the way back up again!

One of the things that has made the process of rebuilding so much easier over the last couple of years has been the really good team dynamic that we have within the parliamentary party. Most of the time agreement on positioning and priorities is simple and intuitive. When it is not then I think we manage our discussions and differences well. Even when Stephen Lloyd felt it necessary to resign the whip because of undertakings he had given to his constituents before he was elected, the process was amicable and we all remain on good terms with Stephen.

It is against that background that we now embark on a leadership contest between two of our own colleagues – Jo Swinson and Ed Davey. The choice for the party will be between two different styles and sometimes maybe priorities. Our greatest strength is that as a party we are united. We simply do not have the ideological splits that will probably split either or both of the Conservative or Labour Parties in the next twelve months. Whichever of the two candidates is chosen by the members will lead a united group in the House of Commons. I would be as happy to work with either Jo or Ed as leader as I have been to work with Vince for the last two years.

Our constitution gives a special role to MPs in the process of electing a party leader – it requires any candidate to have the support of at least ten percent of the rest of the parliamentary party. In a parliamentary party of over fifty that made sense. In a parliamentary party of eleven things are different. That is why Liberal Democrat MPs have decided to treat their role in this election as a different, essentially neutral one. As all MPs are happy to work with either Jo or Ed as leader our role should be to facilitate a vote amongst the members. We will do this by agreeing that two MPs will nominate Jo (Tom Brake and Christine Jardine) and that two of us will nominate Ed (Wera Hobhouse and Jamie Stone).

In nominating in this way they act on behalf of us all in saying that we will work with whoever the membership should choose and that they should make the choice. Of course some parliamentary colleagues will want to make their preference known in the course of the campaign (Vince, as outgoing leader will not, nor will I as chief whip) but that is quite apart from the nomination process.

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Video fun as Jo Swinson prepares to appear on Question Time

Jo Swinson is on Question Time tonight on BBC One at 10:35 pm.  Here she is having a bit of fun beforehand.

And her colleague Christine Jardine drops a pretty heavy hint about Jo’s future intentions…

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Ed Davey MP writes…My leadership would be about liberalism, climate change and stopping Brexit

Climate change. Liberalism. Winning. That’s been my political story – and I want it to be the Liberal Democrats’ story.  And with the magnificent victories in this month’s local and European elections, the Liberal Democrats are getting back in the game. I want to thank Vince, a giant of liberalism, for his role in getting us here and his contribution to fighting Brexit.

Under my leadership, the Liberal Democrats would continue to lead the fight to Stop Brexit. I am writing to Speaker Bercow to ensure a No Deal Brexit cannot happen without a vote in Parliament. But I also want to make the positive case for Britain’s membership of the European Union. I’m an economist by training, and for me the economic case to stop Brexit is overwhelming. But for too long the British argument over Europe has only been made by reference to economics. Europe has also been a hugely successful vehicle for peace, and Britain must stay in the front seat.

I also want us to reach out to Leave communities and Leave voters –they are our neighbours, our friends, our work colleagues, our brothers and sisters. These divisions in our country have distressed me more than anything I’ve seen in my political career. I want to build a future politics where people – particularly outside of London – don’t feel frozen out or ignored and feel included in our great British family.

As Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, I worked for three years to get renewable power investment. We nearly quadrupled Britain’s green energy, making Britain a world leader in offshore wind power. By pushing hard for manufacturing investment, we created jobs and revived places like Hull, Grimsby and Lowestoft.  This is the sort of hope and investment in coastal towns and cities that can prove to Leave communities that Liberal Democrats care.

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Building on the European Election results

The Liberal Democrat campaign for the European elections made an emotional connection with voters that the Remain referendum campaign missed. It spoke with clarity and trustworthiness. That’s in stark contrast to many people’s response to they dysfunction both tin the government and the Labour party. We need to connect with people in this space to help the country find a saner alternative.

After the European Parliament elections

The actual results were exciting, with pro-Remain parties getting more votes than pro-Brexit ones and many people voting Liberal Democrat who would not have done so a year ago. 

Polling from Lord Ashcroft  since then suggests that many of these voters would follow this up by voting Liberal Democrat in a UK General Election.

The campaigner in me instinctively thinks this is the time to be out and visible, particularly in places where people don’t hear from us very often. It’s one thing for people to vote Liberal Democrat in exceptional circumstances and quite another if it’s followed up by enough contact to mean this is not a flash in the pan. On top of the usual task helping newly-elected councillors to dig in, this is a golden opportunity to recruit members and deliverers. 

But things are not so simple. 

Anxiety on the doorstep

To get a sense of the general temperature, I did some canvassing in Hertford and Stortford constituency shortly before the European elections by knocking on every door in certain areas (rather than just going to those likely to support Liberal Democrats or Remain). What I encountered was a seemingly-small (though often strident) number of people who were going to vote for the Brexit Party, others happy to say they were voting Liberal Democrat, and a smaller number, loyal to Conservatives or Labour, following their loyalty with some unease. But a strikingly-large number of conversations were with people who said they were worried and didn’t know how to vote.

At first I wasn’t sure whether these were supporters of Remain or Leave. On autopilot I took the conversation to Remain United’s advice to vote Liberal Democrat if people wanted to remain in the EU, thinking that I would get pushback if the person supported Brexit. But instead of pushback, these conversations were often ending in the promise of a Liberal Democrat vote.

This experience doesn’t put the Brexit Party in first place and contradicts the voting figures for the district: the Brexit party first on 14,374 followed by Liberal Democrats on 11,090. But the overall turnout was 36.9%. This leaves me wondering how many of those “worried and not sure how to vote” didn’t actually vote.

Connecting emotionally with the “worried and not sure how to vote”

The “Bollocks to Brexit” slogan at last brought some emotion to the foreground on the Remain side and brought a major swing to the Liberal Democrats. 

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Time to revisit the progressive alliance

So how are things settling after the EU elections? For as long as we as a party were in single figures in the opinion polls, we were effectively on life support, particularly if boundary changes go ahead. But now suddenly our fortunes have changed and the long wait is over. We are back in business again winning elections. Clearly the electorate is unusually volatile and there is hard work ahead to keep the gains we have made, but now we can start thinking about the power that we might have with new MPs elected at the next general election, which may be soon.

The Tory leadership is mostly a horror show. The one decent candidate, Rory Stewart, is unlikely to win. We are seeing a split in the Tory party between the business wing and the bigger nationalist wing who support No Deal. Normally the 2 wings are aligned but the party could split apart over Brexit with the nationalists running the party, becoming even more right wing and aligned with the Brexit party. I can’t imagine us working with them again.

Where else should we look? Change UK are in a very weak position and are at risk of being crushed by the voting system. The ball is in their court as to what to do next. We need to consider our relationship with them once they have decided.

The Greens are a different matter. Their vote went up. And the demographics of their vote is similar to ours. Just 4 years ago Bristol West was a Lib Dem seat, but now it is a Green target. I still hope we can win it for the Lib Dems, but the danger is that we get in each other’s way and Labour win it instead.

And so we come to the Progressive Alliance. Ideas must come first. The usual defensive response is to complain about giving up seats and having pacts. But it is pointless thinking about that. We need a progressive alliance of ideas first. Precisely because we are in different parties there are some policies we do not agree.

However there is a reason why voters have difficulty choosing between us and the Greens. We both support a fairer voting system – a precondition I would say for a Progressive Alliance. We both agree that tackling Climate Breakdown is a top priority. And on staying in the EU, the Remain movement see us as similar parties that should work together.

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The Greens show their true colours

As with any election campaign, successful or otherwise, it is important to step back once the dust has settled and consider what can be learned and what can be improved upon. The recent European Parliament elections are no different in that regard. In particular, the dynamic between the different parties campaigning for a People’s Vote, which became increasingly fractious as the campaign went on, is worth reflecting on, particularly as further cooperation with these parties is likely to be at the heart of the upcoming leadership election.

At the campaign’s outset, Vince Cable was no doubt right to seek to work with these parties, as it was important to appear united in the face of the Brexit Party threat. However, following the other parties’ initial reluctance and eventual outright hostility towards the Liberal Democrats, is this avenue one we should seek to follow again at future elections? I would argue no.

In the case of the Green Party in particular, they could not have been more clear in their feelings towards us, suggesting that at best a vote for us would be a “compromise”, and at worst that we “could be dangerous”, having previously supposedly “aided and abetted austerity” (rather than moderated it). It is obvious that the Green Party does not see us as friends and allies, and so I would suggest we stop treating them as such.

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From Catherine Bearder MEP, Leader of the Lib Dem Group at the European Parliament

Wow! What a few days it has been. I wanted to write you a little message from Brussels about the incredible European election last Thursday and how we can build on from our stellar result.

First of all can I just say a huge, huge thank you to all of you. In just three weeks, our activists put in a marathon effort to deliver millions of leaflets, bang in ‘Stop Brexit’ and ‘Bollocks to Brexit’ stakeboards and knock on thousands of doors (and this was on the back of an enormous effort to get all those wonderful councillors elected!).

Now we are sixteen MEPs and I finally have some colleagues with me to fly the Lib Dem flag in Brussels and Strasbourg! There are some past MEPs coming back into our midst like Chris Davies, Phil Bennion and Bill Newton-Dunn, but there also some rising stars in the party like Irina Von Wiese, Antony Hook and Caroline Voaden and so many others who come with a whole range of skills and life experiences. It is truly a great and diverse team – over 50% are women and two MEPs are BAME.

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Why the Lib Dems should extend an olive branch to Change UK

One of the next big questions the Lib Dems need to answer is what to do about Change UK. After a disastrous result in the European elections, the fledging group are facing an existential crisis. A new party needs early success to fuel its momentum. They got the opposite – 3% of the vote.

Given this, it should come as no surprise that Change want to be friends again, with the interim leader Heidi Allen openly stating that she’d like to see Change and the Lib Dems run as one entity from now on. I understand that for some, the natural impulse might be to tell them to F – off. They wanted to be separate, they tried their best to win votes directly from the Lib Dems. Now they come crawling back to us? No sir. Enjoy electoral oblivion.

It’s a tempting way to think, but it’s an urge we all need to fight. A centre-left Remain alliance would be a good thing for our cause, and a good thing for our country. If MPs want to join the Lib Dems let’s bring them into the fold. And I don’t just mean grudgingly accepting them but viewing them with scorn, I mean knocking on doors in the rain for Gavin Shuker, giving a Cabinet position to Heidi Allen, and getting Chuka in to speak to enthusiastic supporters at the next ‘Lib Dem Pint’.

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Our message to the nation following the EU Election results

What a great night it was for those who want us to remain in the EU, working for a better Britain, a better Europe and a better world.

The result presents a challenging opportunity for us. Are we up to it?

It will be a challenge to convert the Stop Brexit voters into our true supporters and activists.

It’s a challenge to outdo the Conservatives in taking on the Brexit party’s claim to represent the nation, constantly reminding people that the total vote share for remain (40.4%) was greater than Leave (around 34.9%). We need to repeatedly remind people that the Brexit Party started not from nothing, but from a large UKIP platform, with its discriminatory elements and empty promises based sorely on anger at an unfair system.

It’s a challenge to out-do the Labour party in its claim to represent ordinary workers, whose best deal is within the EU and developing our people’s skills in a less centralised UK.

The opportunity is there to state more clearly the case for remain, for improvements to the EU, for stepping up the use of our power within the EU, for our power and influence in the world for justice and peace, for dealing with inequality and migration in the UK and the world and for dealing with huge world economic entities and the environmental crisis.

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Some good news for the Liberal Democrats from Lord Ashcroft

Lord Ashcroft, nowadays a relatively detached observer of British politics, usefully spends some of the money he used to give to the Conservative Party on opinion polling.  He has just published his post-voting analysis of the European elections – and it has some encouraging information for Liberal Democrats.

‘The biggest single chunk of Lib Dem support in the European elections came from 2017 Labour voters (37%), with 31% coming from previous Lib Dems and 24% coming from 2017 Conservatives.’

52% of Conservatives who had switched to voting for the Brexit Party said that they intend to stay with the Brexit Party at the next general election; while…

‘Conservatives who switched to the Lib Dems say they are even more likely to stay put: 61% now say they will vote Lib Dem again at the general election, with only 22% saying they expect to return to the Tories. Overall, only 43% of 2017 Conservative voters who turned out in the European elections say they will vote Tory at the next general election.’

‘Half of Labour-Brexit Party switchers said they expected to stay with their new party at the next general election, with only just a quarter saying they expect to go back to Labour. Just over half (51%) of Labour-Lib Dem switchers currently say they will stay with the Lib Dems. Just over half (56%) of 2017 Labour voters say they will back Jeremy Corbyn’s party for Westminster.’

He doesn’t provide a breakdown of respondents by age, social class or education; and he doesn’t provide comparably detailed information on voters who switched to the Greens, which would have been useful.  But this gives us some useful targets to go for: to hold onto our new voters, through continuing contact, and through getting across to them where we stand on policies other than on Brexit.  

Our leadership campaign should help us to get other policies across, as the media (at last) give us more coverage for a contest likely to be far more constructive and less bloody than the parallel Conservative race.  Both Ed Davey and Jo Swinson have done well in post-European election media comments, and we can hope for more media attention as the other two parties’ agonised arguments over what went wrong spill over.  

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Ed Davey writes: Decarbonise capitalism to solve the climate emergency

An ambitious UK Climate Change plan can reduce 1% of global emissions – but the UK has the power to cut 15% of global emissions, by decarbonising capitalism.

The Committee on Climate Change has proposed a net zero carbon target by 2050 for the UK. This is the minimum we should do – within our own country.

Yet the UK plays a massive part in more than 15% of the world’s greenhouse gases – because the City of London finances the businesses responsible for those emissions. So we could make a more radical impact on climate change – if we chose to decarbonise capitalism here. And we could set a new gold standard for global climate action.

And frankly, it would be grossly hypocritical to ask the British people to change, if we then failed to force our banks and financial institutions to do likewise.

The good news is that across the City, many people get green finance. But it’s still not mainstream. We won’t be able to solve the climate emergency just by adding in a bit of green cash: we need a system change. A diet only works if you eat salad and give up the doughnuts.

Just look at the greenwash by the fossil fuel sector. There are just 100 fossil fuel firms who’ve been responsible for 70% of global emissions since 1988 – and they have allocated on average only 1.3% of their total capital expenditure on green energy. This is utterly reckless and totally out of step with a net zero goal.

To reverse this, Government has to say: London will become a capital of Green Finance, and you will no longer be able to fund the climate crisis here.

This will be hugely challenging. Today 20% of the value of the London Stock Exchange is invested in high carbon and fossil fuel firms. By implication 20% of any pension funds tracking the LSE are too. To protect the incomes of pensioners today and in the future, their savings need new profitable homes.

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