“I once led a protest against the Lib Dems. Now I’ll be voting for them”

There’s a super article in the Independent by Rahul Mansigani. In 2010, he led a protest against the Lib Dems and Nick Clegg over tuition fees. However, he is now a Lib Dem Newbie – because of Brexit:

as Eurosceptic Corbyn obstinately stayed put while his MPs deserted him, and as Theresa May declared that “if you believe you are a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere” and the Conservatives demanded that companies publish the numbers of “foreigners” they employed, I saw that the only party that would fight for our values and battle against a hard Brexit was the Liberal Democrats. Like thousands of others, I signed up.

He explains why this issue is so crucially important:

Brexit is the defining issue of this election and of our political generation. The way it is conducted will go to the heart of all the issues we protested about in 2010. Back then, the broadest aim of our protests was to give our young people the best chance of success in an open, prosperous, tolerant Britain. We must now support the Liberal Democrats to continue that wider campaign; a Tory Brexit undermines the existence of the Britain we believe in, not to mention the very existence of the UK.

The Lib Dems are and have always been proudly European, and (unlike the policy issue of tuition fees) this is fundamental to the party. Labour, despite its sudden clarity on scrapping tuition fees, remains hopelessly divided on its own vision of Brexit. The Liberal Democrats are the only party left to stand up for the 48 per cent, for the millions of voters, particularly the young, who voted to remain part of Europe, to be free to study in Paris or Berlin, to marry in Rome or Amsterdam and to work in Stockholm or Sofia.

He urges people to forgive the Lib Dems for mistakes like tuition fees:

The Liberal Democrats are the only party that is fighting for an open, tolerant Britain in Europe. Supporting them is the only way to show that we do not want a disastrous, closed, hard Brexit.

If you agree, and haven’t registered to vote yet, you can do so here – but you must do it by the end of next Monday, 22 May.

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  • So, what is the Lib Dem policy on tuition fees? how are you going to put right the mistake?

  • Paul Pettinger 17th May '17 - 11:20am

    Welcome aboard Rahul Mansigani. Let’s also not forget Rahul’s ‘honest’ translation of Nick Clegg’s 2012 tuition fees apology: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_3Bqh8ZBAg

    Horribly accurate and hilarious!

  • @John Bennett
    “domestic issues”

    There is no bigger issue than the collapse of our economy and society that is inevitably going to result from Brexit.

  • Peter Watson 17th May '17 - 12:18pm

    As the “then-President of the Cambridge University Students’ Union” (in 2010) Rahul Mansigani would not have been paying the increased tuition fees or repaying them now under the new student loan regime, and as a lawyer working in London as an “Associate at Norton Rose Fulbright” (http://www.nortonrosefulbright.com/people/132602/rahulmansigani) he might simply have different priorities these days.

  • Nicholas Cunningham 17th May '17 - 12:20pm

    Funny how an issue which is so fundamental to this nation prospects and which affects the lives of every single individual on these Island of ours is deeded to be outside the democratic debate, some it seems to just wish democracy be put in the storage cupboard because they happen to have won a political argument by means of a blank piece of paper. I also fundamentally disagree with you John, that a fundamental political belief comes obsession because one has the audacity to challenge Brexit. The Brexiteers spent 40 years arguing their cause, which in a mature democracy is how it should be, democracy is not about silencing, it’s about debate and more importantly the ability to probe decision-making of the executive.

  • We voted for Brexit but it was a stupid mistake. We were fooled and tricked by the Brexiteer’s and now this Brexit Government & PM Theresa May. All this Brexit thing is based on lairs. Why the hell do we have to suffer for higher prices on almost everything and the biggest liar ever that trick us to vote Brexit was extra funding for NHS. We love our NHS and we have to fight for it now, we want to change our mistake vote to remain with EU. WE WANT ANOTHER REFERENDUM

  • Another thing Lib Democrats you can’t win the Tories without a coalition, you have to team up with another party to stop this stupid Brexit and to give us another referendum for EU

  • Matthew Huntbach 17th May '17 - 4:27pm

    John Bennett

    I still cannot see the case for a second referendum.

    Respect for the first referendum.

    If we were to win power (ok, big if) we would have to respect the results of the first referendum and not just cancel leaving the EU because we think that is best. Therefore, we have to accept that it can only be done if affirmed by a second referendum.

    I think the people of this country do have the right to change their minds if, having seen the details of what leaving the EU means, they decide it is not going to give them what they initially thought it would. Why are those who supported Leave so afraid of this? Isn’t it a mark of something sinister hidden underneath that they go on and on with the line “the people chose to Leave and that’s it”? Isn’t that a bit like the way dishonest salesman act when they have tricked someone into signing a deal? Honest people don’t have a problem with allowing those who have agreed to something to change their minds.

    I think a second referendum should only be held if there is evidence of a change of mind, say if opinion polls start showing a fairly clear majority against Leave. So far that’s not happening. However, what if it did?

  • I think a second referendum should only be held if there is evidence of a change of mind, say if opinion polls start showing a fairly clear majority against Leave

    That’s my main reason for objecting to a second referendum: it would be expensive and pointless just to get the same result.

    However, what if it did?

    That would be fine. However, you then have to accept that having established the precedent that the people can change their mind, there should be a third referendum if the polls ever show support has swung back towards leaving the EU.

    I don’t expect, in fact, the polls ever to switch back to clear support for leaving the EU, given there has been a majority of public opinion in the UK for either leaving the EU or substantially reducing the EU’s powers since about 1996. Cameron’s failed renegotiation showed that the EU will nevr willingly give up its powers, so Leaving it is.

    The Liberal Democrat position appeals to a small minority of the electorate — about 10-15% [not coincidently this is where the Lib Dems are in the polls] — who actually like the idea of the UK being part of a federal United states of Europe. The rest of the 48%, the ones who don’t really like being part of the EU but who were afraid of the economic uncertainty of leaving, are lost to the Lib Dems — because even if they do decide that the economic effects will be so dire they would rather remain, they won’t vote for a party which has shown that it would regard this ‘reluctant remain’ as a defeat for ‘nationalism’ and a victory for and embrace of the EU.

  • Even if we repent, the rest of Europe can, and will, refuse to allow its withdrawal

    I suspect they would accept it, actually. What better way to show the necessity of the European Project than to demonstrate that even the UK, after making a huff and a puff about leaving, at the last moment had to back down and slink back with its tail between its legs, like a teenager announcing loudly that she’s leaving home, making a big show of handing in her key… only to come back when it turns out that her boyfriend is not, in fact, going to let her live with him (due mainly to the fact that his wife might have something to say about it).

    Of course they’d probably demand some show of contrition, like a reduction in or even a total abolishment of the rebate.

    But I can’t imagine them not accepting the revocation of Article 50. Not if it meant a chance to lord it over the UK for ever how we almost left but at the very end we just didn’t have the guts to go it alone.

  • (I fact I’m pretty sure that’s how the EU leaders think it is going to play out — it’s how it happened with Greece, after all, there was an election and a referendum and a mandate to stand up to the EU… but the EU held the line, refused to negotiate, and then the Greeks backed down. That’s why they keep saying that negotiations can’t start until X and Y and Z are started: because they don’t thin the negotiations will be necessary as they think that May, like Tsipras, is playing the nationalist to whip up the home crowd but will, when the moment of crisis comes, back down.)

  • “Yes, the Lib Dems may well be the best party to alleviate Brexit, but reverse it? No.”

    Have to agree. Trying to rerun the referendum just makes us look like sore losers, and drives away the (surprisingly large) number of 2015 LD votes who choose Leave. Campaigning for a soft Brexit would be a much more positive vision.

    Too late now I fear.

  • So this is how it works, we say to the EU offer us a bad deal and we will put it to a referendum and campaign to reject it and stay in the EU. I wonder what sort of deal they would offer? Who in their right mind is going to vote for that?

  • Matthew Huntbach 18th May '17 - 12:21am


    It would be nice if we could have some factual discussion on what the EU actually does rather than arguments based on gross exaggerations.

    I was not in the past that keen on the EU, but what changed me was reading what the wealthy elite who funded and ran the Leave campaign said among themselves about what they wanted Brexit for – essentially the opposite of what most people who voted for it thought it would lead to.

    I have seen nothing from people like you that has caused me to change my mind on this.

  • Matthew Huntbach 18th May '17 - 12:23am

    Alan S

    Campaigning for a soft Brexit would be a much more positive vision.

    The problem is that then when Brexit does not deliver what the Leave campaign said it would, they will blame us for undermining it.

  • what changed me was reading what the wealthy elite who funded and ran the Leave campaign said among themselves about what they wanted Brexit for – essentially the opposite of what most people who voted for it thought it would lead to

    They would not be the first people in history to embark upon a course of action only to find that, though they succeeded, they had unleashed forces beyond their control and the end result was not anywhere near what they wished for.

  • Matthew,
    As a leave voter, I think people are perfectly entitled to change there mind. But the reality is that the Lib Dem campaign based on a second referendum it is not actually resonating.
    As for the rest of your argument, well, there is no evidence that the EU has or would stop the Economic Right. To me it just seems to be a set of lobby groups with a flag and an anthem and some big budget meetings with a FIFA like tendency to occasionally plonk some kind self promoting academy in some poor areas as “proof ” of universal corporate values and progress.

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