If we have a snap election, I have a couple of requests…

If we Fight a Snap Election, I have a Couple of Requests…

With the new Prime Minister having taken residence in No. 10, without the majority in Parliament to carry out his controversial Brexit policies, and possibly not even the majority to survive a confidence vote, there is an increasing chance of a General Election this Autumn.

Should this happen, I would like to request the following of our campaign:

  1. No “Vote for us to have another vote!!”
  2. “Stop Brexit” should only start a sentence, not end it.

No “Vote for us to have another vote!!”

Shortly after the 2016 referendum we adopted the policy to promote a referendum on the final Brexit deal. This was the perfect policy to have as a parliamentary opposition group but would it work as a GE policy?

What deal would we be having a vote on? Theresa May’s deal that has been so universally rejected that she stood down as PM? Would we negotiate a new deal with the EU just so we could ask the public to vote it down in a referendum?

Why have another vote at all? We’re a parliamentary democracy after all. If our MPs are elected on a promise to “Stop Brexit”, surely that gives us a mandate to revoke article 50, put an end to Brexit and move on to other pressing issues like health, education and the environment?

I’d like us to declare that Conservative attempts to deliver Brexit have failed. After three years of neglecting our Country and its problems, the deal they ultimately wrangled is so bad that they themselves rejected it. Time to Stop Brexit so we can get back to dealing with the issues that matter to people!

“Stop Brexit” should only start a sentence, not end it.

This leads me to my second request. So far our messaging has been aimed entirely at people for whom stopping Brexit is an end in itself. This was a good strategy to distinguish ourselves and to break away from the post-coalition doldrums and ultimately win a sizeable vote in the EU elections.

However, if our ambitions have now been raised to make Jo Prime Minister, we need to reach out to a broader audience. We need to appeal to the swing voters; soft remainers and soft leavers that don’t see stopping or delivering Brexit as an end to itself, but as a means to bettering their lives, along with their friends’ and families’.

So let’s Stop Brexit so we can:

  • Save the NHS and implement a long term funding solution to the health and social care crisis.
  • Address the recruitment crisis in teaching and improve quality in education.
  • Bring forward radical policies to deal with the housing crisis and make homes affordable again.
  • Work with other countries to tackle the climate crisis that threatens our future.

If we were to form a Government after the next election, stopping Brexit would only be the first thing we’d do. We’ll have a whole manifesto full of policies that will make Britain a better place to live in. 

These policies need to be front and centre of our campaign if we want to win!

* Daniel is the chair of Leicester Liberal Democrats

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61 Comments

  • I couldn’t agree more.

    In a GE we should be putting forward what we believe is right, stopping Brexit. Stopping Brexit and…

    It would be immensely useful to have a short summary of proposals, tweetable, instagramable, quotable (NOT put on a big lump of stone, though). E.G:

    In Government we will Stop Brexit and then:

    – Reform the political system
    – Borrow to invest in assets
    – Raise taxes to enable spending on the NHS, education and welfare
    – Stop spending money on things we don’t need
    – [Site value rating and Capital Transfer Tax]

    Great for publicity, great for responding to the “single issue party” jibe.

  • Andrew McCaig 30th Jul '19 - 9:24am

    To stop Brexit through a general election with no referendum would ONLY be democratically legitimate if the government was formed of a Party or Parties that gained over 50% of the votes and had that policy in their manifesto. Otherwise the only way to overturn the 2016 referendum is another referendum.

    I have fought for a fair, representative voting system all my life and the day the Liberal Democrats switch their policy to elective dictatorship is the day i resign my membership.

  • As is somewhat symptomatic of our party, unfortunately, no-one has mentioned the primary reason that we need to stop Brexit.

    We stop Brexit so that we don’t **** Business, screw the economy, put millions out of work, cause a recession, and reduce our tax take.

    Everything else is second order to this primary problem,

  • Daniel Henry 30th Jul '19 - 9:58am

    @Colin & Tony – cheers guys – great minds 😉

    @Martin – is a second ref REALLY needed? We’re a parliamentary democracy.

    Also, what options would be on the ballot paper? If it’s May’s deal then the leavers complain that it’s not “real brexit” and a ref on ‘no deal’ is a terrible idea for a number of reasons.

    Better to challenge the Brexiters to come up with a viable plan to leave the EU and then win the next election on a proportional voting system.

    They’re going to run a victimhood narrative no matter what we do.

  • Daniel Henry 30th Jul '19 - 10:07am

    @Teejay – that particular boundary review was set up for the benefit of one party. The Lib Dems would it with a new voting system that would make it fairer for all.

    @Andrew – we would be implementing a fair and proportional voting system.

    We’d only have disproportionate influence for one parliament. That’s the nature of reform. You play by the old rules until the new ones take effect.

  • John Marriott 30th Jul '19 - 10:09am

    Referendums aside, what I would like the Lib Dems to do in any future manifesto is to put down clearly all the policies they would pursue if they were fortunate enough to win a mandate to govern alone and make it clear which policies they would insist on retaining in the event of a hung parliament giving them an opportunity to form a coalition government and those they would be prepared to ‘park’ for the time being. Had they adopted that approach in 2010 I could easily see ‘tuition fees’ being in the ‘parked’ section. Or is that being too honest?

  • Daniel Henry 30th Jul '19 - 10:26am

    Believe it or not John, that’s exactly what the Lib Dems DID do with their 2010 manifesto.

    It contained 4 priorities which set out the policies they prioritised for the Coalition (and largely delivered on)

    And yes, tuition fees were NOT one of those priorities.

    See for yourself:
    https://issuu.com/libdems/docs/manifesto/6

  • Nonconformistradical 30th Jul '19 - 10:39am

    “@Teejay – that particular boundary review was set up for the benefit of one party. The Lib Dems would it with a new voting system that would make it fairer for all. ”

    And a reformed proportional voting system could dispense with the need for a boundary commission quango altogether

  • nigel hunter 30th Jul '19 - 10:53am

    Yes stop Brexit and call to REVOKE A50. BEWARE Johnson is not only doing his Brexit campaign but playing off fears of a Labour Govnt. Likewise Labour will play off the fears of a Tory Govnt. We could be caught in a squeeze by just concentrating on Brexit.
    Johnson’s ‘bounce’, if it continues will get back BP voters to the Tories and increase his opinion poll ratings to where he could end up winning a majority. We must beaver away at ground level to capture minds.

  • Daniel Henry 30th Jul '19 - 10:54am

    A proportional system still has boundaries, and we’d still need a system for determining them, but there’d be less opportunity for political advantage, so it would be able to focus on non-political factors such as population numbers and natural communities.

  • adrian wykes 30th Jul '19 - 11:11am

    Exit brexit and save the UK.
    Britain needs a FUN party – federal union NOW!

  • Nonconformistradical 30th Jul '19 - 11:43am

    @Daniel Henry
    “A proportional system still has boundaries, and we’d still need a system for determining them, but there’d be less opportunity for political advantage, so it would be able to focus on non-political factors such as population numbers and natural communities.”

    But you’d only need to determine those boundaries once. Subsequent significant population changes can be handled by adjusting the number of MPs (or councillors at a local level). One the boundaries are established the Boundayr Commission can be junked.

  • Daniel Henry 30th Jul '19 - 12:11pm

    @martin

    We’re not entirely disagreeing. It would be possible for us to campaign on a manifesto to Stop Brexit without a second ref, but accept a second ref as a compromise.

    On a related note, I actually consider to a referendum on ‘no deal’ to be an even worse idea than ‘no deal’ itself, but that’s a whole other discussion! 😁

  • Peter Farrell-Vinay 30th Jul '19 - 12:13pm

    Yes but …

    Where’s the commitment to reviewing the basis and operation of Universal Credit?

  • John Marriott 30th Jul '19 - 12:14pm

    @Daniel Henry
    Well, let’s do it again, but more simplified this time! Thanks for putting me right.

  • Can I suggest a compromise on this ?
    1st we make it clear that if Jo becomes PM she Revokes Article 50 immediately.
    Then we call all Parties & Campaigns together to see if there is an agreed basis for another Referendum. Our position would be for a straight Vote between The Deal (AKA The May Deal) & Remain. We would Veto any inclusion of “No Deal” because its an Immoral proposal. If there was a general agreement then The Referendum would be held next May, if not, not.
    Effectively it would be up to the various Leavers to decide if they wanted a Vote or not.

  • Daniel Henry 30th Jul '19 - 1:17pm

    @ Peter – the policy examples I gave were just examples, not an exhaustive list.

    I agree that repairing the broken social net, including a full review of universal credit, needs to be a prominent part of our platform.

    @ John 👍🏻

  • Daniel Henry 30th Jul '19 - 1:19pm

    @ Paul

    I’m broadly in agreement.
    Would it be simpler to say that our policy is to stop brexit (without a ref) but will accept a ref as a compromise.

    I agree that any ref would need to be on a deal. A ref on ‘no deal’ would cause more problems than it solves.

  • David Evans 30th Jul '19 - 2:13pm

    Daniel, in response to John Marriotts point about Tuition Fees you say “Believe it or not John, that’s exactly what the Lib Dems DID do with their 2010 manifesto. It contained 4 priorities which set out the policies they prioritised for the Coalition (and largely delivered on). And yes, tuition fees were NOT one of those priorities.”

    Sadly this is just another example of Lib Dems choosing to dress up as key facts, things that were simply not that at the time. As campaigners, we all know that very few people read party manifestos. And as those of us that do read them most manifestos are treated as a shopping list or window dressing with quite a few things being dropped even if power is achieved.

    However, almost everyone heard of our policy on tuition fees and on multiple occasions heard about the pledge Nick got almost all our MPs to sign “I pledge to vote against any increase in fees in the next parliament and to pressure the government to introduce a fairer alternative.” That coupled with the “Say Goodbye to Broken Promises” Party Political Broadcast which was filled with other’s broken manifesto promises beginning with “No Student Tuition Fees – Labour” and was what we emphasised to the public.

    So we told people repeatedly we were against Tuition fees, and our MPs personally promised to the people that they would vote against any increase, while in the detail of something we know most people never read we had our something called our First Priorities which we now choose to rely on as an excuse.

    Now you may believe that this is your Get Out of Jail Free card. To me its use simply shows that some of us still remain totally unable to accept the truth. We broke a promise. We messed up. And even though the British people gave a clear and unequivocal assessment of what we did in the election in 2015, some of us will never admit it.

    And it will continue to undermine our integrity until we do stop this endless denial.

  • Daniel Henry 30th Jul '19 - 3:29pm

    David, that’s QUITE a response! 😅

    Ok, let’s start with where I agree with you.
    I agree that our 2010 campaign didn’t completely reflect our manifesto, that we gave the public the impression that tuition fees were a higher priority than they were. I agree that irregardless of what was in our manifesto that we broke a signed pledge. I expect that I agree with you on a number of ways that we mishandled the Coalition, contributing to the political difficulties we faced as a result.

    I agree we need to learn from this and make sure we don’t make the same mistakes again.

    However…

    It can also be true that our political opponents wilfully exaggerate our failings, trying to paint our screw ups as deliberate dishonesty, often doing so as a means to distract attention away from today’s political issues, such as a Labour Party leadership enabling a Tory Brexit, or marketing themselves as anti-austerity while their manifesto includes regressive cuts to benefits.

    (btw, am not accusing John Marriott of this. His post seems to have been constructive attempt to prevent future confusion, but most who bring this issue up aren’t acting in good faith.)

    So yes, even though our party screwed up I do feel the need to fight our corner, because that’s a necessary part of politics. And combatting over-exaggerations about the Coalition are a necessary part of winning the fight over the key issues of today.

    Maybe you feel that we only deserve to be relevant if we are somehow a ‘whiter than white’ perfect entity. Would it be too much to persuade you that we’re just like any other party, flawed and full of failings but needing to fight our corner despite this?

    Either way, if you’re ever ready to leave 2010 behind and join us in the political world of 2019 where we’re trying to prevent a hard right Government led by Johnson from taking us out of the EU without a deal… well, for starters I’d be interested in your thoughts on my original post. ☺️

  • @ David Evans You make a valid point, David.

    There’s an understandable amount of enthusiasm buzzing around LDV with much imaginative talk of who’s going to become the next Prime Minister. Before people get too carried away with an over fevered imagination leaping in one bound from flying the flag to entering Downing Street there’s a further necessary ingredient to add to any future proposition or manifesto to put to the people….. integrity and telling the truth.

    Trust is the first necessary fact in any political success. The rest follows.

  • @ Daniel Henry You’ve missed out tackling poverty and inequality.

    Suggest you read the UN. Rapporteur’ s, Professor Philip Alston, recent report on Poverty in the UK… much of which is a consequence of the pursued in the last nine years.

  • Daniel Henry 30th Jul '19 - 4:27pm

    David, the policies I listed weren’t supposed to be an exhaustive list, just some examples.

    The point is that it’s not enough just to say “Stop Brexit”. As Nigel said in the past before yours, we need to communicate a vision for what we’ll do after we’ve stopped Brexit.

    And yes, I agree that tackling poverty and inequality need to be a key part of that!

  • David Evans 30th Jul '19 - 5:12pm

    Daniel. Thank you for your response. Many posters and article writers over the years do not, or have sadly ignored the whole point, attacking and demeaning the messenger personally rather than engaging and addressing the points made.

    It is only because I have been a member of this party (and its predecessor Liberal party) for nearly forty years and I believe that this party and its values are vital to the future wellbeing of this country and its people that I continue to try to get a lot of Lib Dems to realise the dire situation we got into and that their continuing to fail to come to terms with the reality means that they are continuing to undermine our party’s future success, out of a misguided attempt to be positive, move on and most importantly to protect their and their heroes’ self image.

    I will deal with your points in turn, you say “our 2010 campaign didn’t completely reflect our manifesto, that we gave the public the impression that tuition fees were a higher priority than they were”.

    I’m sorry, but these are typical political weasel words. Those sorts of words and phrases used by Labour and Conservative that led me to join the Liberals to fight and oppose. The simple fact is our 2010 campaign made tuition fees and honesty our top priority message. It wasn’t an “impression” and to say otherwise is just to avoid the hard facts.

    Secondly, I am glad you agree we need to learn from this and make sure we don’t make the same mistakes again. Indeed most Lib Dems claim this now, but the truth is that we haven’t done it and we are still not trying to do it now. Each individual can reiterate a lesson or two they accept, often a lesson that is easy to accept or one relating to a mistake they personally didn’t make or accept at the time. But as a party there has been nothing.

  • Daniel Henry,

    The only legitimate way to overturn a referendum result is with another referendum. The EU does not want to renegotiate a deal therefore our position can be to put the Theresa May deal to the people in a referendum with staying in as the alternative. Lots of people say that the British people want us to just to get on with it, May’s deal does this. One of the problems with revoking Article 50 without a referendum is, would the EU recognise it without a referendum. I hope they would only recognise it as a changed position of the UK if the people have voted for it in a referendum.

    Of course it is possible to have a long list of policies. However, we need four areas to concentrate on after Brexit and introducing PR somewhere. I suggest they should be:

    Ending relative poverty in the UK;
    Dealing with the Climate Change Emergency;
    Providing world class free education and training;
    Increasing funding for the NHS and Social Care.

    And on the economy adding to the 2% inflation target a 3% target for economic growth and scrapping targets for the deficit and the national debt.

  • Chris Leeds 30th Jul '19 - 7:07pm

    Michael BG

    The EU doesn’t have to recognise UK revocation of Article 50 without a referendum. It’s now established European law that the UK just has to write to revoke, as long as that happens while we’re still a member, and that’s the end of the matter.

    Of course, there’s still the debate about whether we should, but we can.

  • Chris Leeds,

    The European Court of Justice according to the BBC set some conditions on the revoking of Article 50. ‘The ruling said revocation should be “unequivocal and unconditional”’. Also I expect has to be done “in accordance with its own constitutional requirements” (article 50:1). As we had a referendum to leave this means it has become part of our constitutional requirements for overturning the process. If there is no referendum I think it can be challenged in the courts and the last thing we would want would be the revocation being overturned in court and finding ourselves out of the EU because the extended date has passed.

  • @Daniel Henry “if you’re ever ready to leave 2010 behind and join us in the political world of 2019.”

    It’s good to see a young, forward looking party member prepared to challenge the doom and gloom.

    We have much to be proud of in our record in government and we need to stop living in the past, and move forward with optimism to sueze the opportunity before us.

    The last thing we should be doing is weeping and wailing about events a decade ago. Everyone has moved on – and if they haven’t by now then, frankly, there’s no point wasting effort on them

  • Sure we should stop Brexit because the Leavers lost the 2016 referendum anyhow, if you allow for the cheating.

  • Andrew McCaig 31st Jul '19 - 12:28am

    Of course tuition fees were not a priority in the 2010 manifesto, where policy was to abolish them altogether.
    The pledge was not a manifesto commitment but a promise to voters in each individual constituency. Breaking the pledge was an action of breathtaking and unbelievable folly and the Party got exactly what it deserved for doing it in 2015. It showed that the majority of our MPs, despite all the focus leaflets and surveys, had lost touch with the way people think. I am pleased to see that Jo has finally come out and said thst breaking the pledge was a big mistake. Hopefully she understands that overturning the referendum vote without another vote would also be a colossal breach of faith with the electorate.

    The way in which you do politics is more important than any policy, even Brexit.

    If we get another referendum i am afraid it should be up to the Leave side to decide what the destination should be, and if that is no deal we should be respectful enough to accept that on the ballot paper. So many of our problems arise from the view that the elite just fix every vote, and the sort of proposals you are proposing here Daniel are the sort that lead to revolutions.

  • Peter Martin 31st Jul '19 - 7:12am

    @ MichealBG,

    “And on the economy adding to the 2% inflation target a 3% target for economic growth and scrapping targets for the deficit and the national debt.”

    I’m not sure about the inflation target. If we have a JG then there’s no need for one.

    Scrapping targets for the Govt deficit, (don’t forget to specify which one!), and Govt debt isn’t at all in line with EU economic thinking. Even though we don’t use the euro the EU PTB don’t want that to last forever. They aren’t going to want the UK to enter the eurozone with a high ND which they will be ultimately be responsible for guaranteeing.

    We aren’t totally excluded from the provisions of the so-called Stability and Growth pact. We just aren’t being punished for breaking the rules. At the moment.

  • Richard Underhill 31st Jul '19 - 9:55am

    Daniel Henry | Tue 30th July 2019 – 8:55 am
    Tony Lloyd 30th Jul ’19 – 9:19am: I can agree more.
    We need the votes of pro-European Tories. Michael Heseltine set an example.
    We need the votes of pro-European Labour. Alastair Campbell set an example.
    Both, and many others, put the national interest above tribalism.

  • Daniel, I note you have not responded to my reply (which due to limit on the words in a response was only partial), but now it has been cleared here is the rest.

    You also say “It can also be true that our political opponents wilfully exaggerate our failings, trying to paint our screw ups as deliberate dishonesty”. That is doubtless more often true than not, but when you say “even though our party screwed up I do feel the need to fight our corner, because that’s a necessary part of politics.” You miss the point. When you fight your corner as a liberal, it is essential that you do not mislead people (No-one shall be oppressed by ignorance) by putting forward an incomplete or exaggerated viewpoint. Putting it simply, when you implied that we told voters that we were not prioritising Tuition Fees in your response to John Marriott, you were not being fully correct. As I pointed out, we emphasised Tuition Fees much more than any other policy and to dress that up as “fighting our corner” is at best totally ignoring the point, or at worst being deliberately disingenuous. However you did not respond to that point at all.

    Finally, when you put in a cheap put down – “Maybe you feel that we only deserve to be relevant if we are somehow a ‘whiter than white’ perfect entity. Would it be too much to persuade you that we’re just like any other party, flawed and full of failings but needing to fight our corner despite this?” and then top it off with “Either way, if you’re ever ready to leave 2010 behind and join us in the political world of 2019 …” you show the just about the worst sort disdain for an alternative viewpoint, a viewpoint clearly based on Liberal values. That is beneath you and you really should reconsider your response, in particular because it exemplifies what went wrong in the party during coalition (and sadly is still going on today) – an unwillingness to engage except at a slogan level with those in the party who can see things still going badly wrong and who want to put them right.

    We all know where took us – we let the Conservatives almost destroy us and lost 90% of our MPs. Four years later we are fighting the consequences of that: Brexit, a resurgent Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage, and have a more divided nation than we have had in nearly a century.

  • Stop Brexit, no ifs and buts would match the Johnsonian rhetoric.

    But would ignore all the efforts of the people’s vote campaign and the beliefs of those who think a properly conducted referendum would be seen to be fair to both sides.

    Whichever route is taken, we must recognise the odds are against us. With a £100 million propaganda campaign to persuade us that the Kool Aid tastes good, backed by the Brexit media, Rupert Murdoch and the Barclay brothers and all the rest, plus very likely a bottomless fund of dark money, I very much fear that this will be an illustration of why crime pays.

    Not that we should give up the struggle, but it will surely be a David and Goliath contest, or more accurately pea shooters versus nuclear bombers. The only thing that might change it is an equivalently funded campaign by the EU, to promote themselves in Britain.

  • Meanwhile back in the real world… Money spend by Remain > money spent by Leave. Only major attempt to fix the result was by the then government which spent over £9 million on what should have been an impartial leaflet advising that the referendum was happening, but instead decided to make it a Remain leaflet (which magically did not count towards the Remain spending limits so that’s just fine then)!

  • A general election *is* a people’s vote and also has the benefit of being the way that we almost always choose the direction in which we want to see the country go. Unlike a referendum it indicates the relative support enjoyed by each participating party; the fact that FPTP doesn’t reflect that outcome in seats allocated is a separate issue and needs to be dealt with separately.
    Whilst an appropriate response to what happened three years ago, another referendum has its own problems. 1. What choices should be available on the ballot paper; simply asking ‘leave without a deal or remain in the EU’ is likely to be met with cries of ‘foul’ from those who voted to leave on the assumption that there would be a deal; understandably so. 2. Including ‘leave with a deal’ means a three way choice which brings with it the temptation to later play the card that more people voted against the leading choice than voted for it, an argument which has been repeatedly deployed by remain voters to oppose the implementation of the ‘leave’ majority in 2016. 3. The endless wrangling over the validity or otherwise of the 2016 result could be repeated anew if a simple majority of those voting were sufficient to decide whether we stayed or left, and who can say the vote outcome would be a clear, unarguable majority for one of the options. 4. The obvious solution of requiring a stated minimum turnout and a stated vote in favour (e.g. 75% turnout plus a minimum 60/40 split) opens the door to ‘We was robbed’ from leave supporters if their vote share was more than 50% but less than the majority laid down.
    5. We also encourage people to ask how many referenda we want, to settle the matter once and for all.
    For all of these reasons, I would prefer to put the vote to a general election so that we get back to using a tried and system for citizens to seek to determine the direction to be taken by the next government.
    Subsequently, changes to FPTP should be one part of a root and branch reform of ALL aspects of our electoral system.

  • Ian Hurdley yeah i get the election idea. But say (bear with me on this) Labour had a manifesto commitment to remain, and all the other parties did except BXP obvs, and the election ended up with a CON/BXP majority in seats, but a Remain majority in votes?

  • Hey Katerina Porter how are you proposing kids get taught if they’re not put in sets? All the kids know who the clever ones are in any case. The clever ones get bored and the ones who struggle get frustrated if they’re not put into sets. In most schools there is a prevalent culture against working hard and the working class kids follow this.

  • Ian Hurdley 31st Jul '19 - 2:37pm

    @Lawsman I don’t suggest that an election is an infallible device, but I do believe that it has sufficient advantages over a referendum to make it preferable. For a start, votes are counted by constituency and seats allocated by constituency, which immediately reflects differing views/priorities in different regions. In 2016, for instance, no account was taken of the fact that London, Scotland and Northern Ireland were strongly in favour of remaining in the EU. FPTP badly skews seat allocation from the voting pattern and this needs to be addressed after the next GE.
    Committed supporters and opposers of the EU have a very clear position but in general elections the outcome is often determined by the ‘floating’ voters. They are the ones who are open to persuasion, one way or the other. I suggest that it’s less likely to be a single, overriding issue that determines their final decision.
    Which brings me to your ‘what if’ scenario. The first question is, would they be credible? Would people believe a Tory manifesto which explicitly ruled out a no deal exit? Would they find a late conversion to an unequivocal promise from Labour to remain in the EU? There seems no real inclination for the Labour Party to ditch Jeremy Corbyn who it seems is addicted to leaving himself plenty of wriggle room? As for Johnson, he says one thing and does another with pausing for breath.
    Daniel Henry’s other point though is key; Stop Brexit so that……… is the position we need to adopt, and that is a discussion which it is far easier to spell out in the context of a GE rather than the single issue hothouse of a referendum campaign.

  • Peter Hirst 31st Jul '19 - 2:51pm

    We definitely need a change of government and the sooner the better. We also need a more fundamental change in our governance so this sort of chaos cannot arise again. So I am in favour of some agreement, perhaps a common manifesto pledge so that following a change of government we can remain in the eu and bring in a wholescale review of our constitution, making it codified, owned by the people and including comprehensive electoral reform.

  • Katerina Porter you said that One of the points in the book is that working class children tend to be automatically put in low sets because it is assumed that that is where they belong.

    I find that hard to believe as kids will be assessed by sats and then their ongoing performance, you have to wonder at the agenda of the author, a sociologist, I rest my case

  • Katharine Pindar 31st Jul '19 - 9:55pm

    Katerina. skipping through LDV pieces and comments I’ve missed while being in Brecon and Radnorshire (no Wifi available in my hotel room) I have just seen your long post about a book you have read and liked. I am not an LDV editor, but have you thought of turning a description like that with your own thoughts as well into an article for LDV, and make current editor Mary Reid happier? I promise to read such an article, though no time tonight to digest all the comments here!

  • Ian Hurdley 1st Aug '19 - 8:42am

    @ David Davis. This is the mess that Cameron created. If we have new referendum on the same basis as 2016, we risk having another indecisive result even if the ‘majority’ swung the other way. If we opt for the apparently sensible option of a mandatory/binding referendum, we would have to set minimum requirements, say minimum turnout of 75% and minimum 60/40% split, then it would be hard to satisfy those who voted ‘leave’ in 2016 that the goalposts had not been moved simply to rob them (and democracy) of their victory, hardly the way to bring the country together.
    That’s why my preference would be an unambiguous stance in a GE that as Lib Dems we oppose continuing with Brexit and would fight to remain in the EU on existing terms – as we have been doing consistently from the beginning.

  • Dilettante Eye 1st Aug '19 - 9:58am

    Ian Hurdley

    “That’s why my preference would be an unambiguous stance in a GE that as Lib Dems we oppose continuing with Brexit and would fight to remain in the EU on existing terms.”

    Your next democratically honourable option can only be in a post Brexit situation, whereby Lib Dems can formulate a manifesto policy for a Referendum to Re-join at the next GE.
    A great deal on comment here of late is premised on the idea that Brexit can be stopped. It can’t be stopped because it is enshrined in law, and only a new law run through an approval of parliament can overturn it. That kind of thinking is for the birds.

    By my reckoning, the next available opportunity for a GE is the 24th October, which is 7 days before we automatically leave the EU. There seem to be a lot of optimists here cramming a hell of a lot of ‘fairy dust’ into that assumed 7 days, and assumed change of government?

    If Brexit is the ‘sky-falling-in’ event that some here suggest, a Referendum to Re-join policy should be a breeze to get ‘the will of the people’ to back you at the next post Brexit GE.?

  • Peter Martin 1st Aug '19 - 10:52am

    The LibDems, along with most UK political parties, seem to have learned at least some of the economic lessons of the last decade. The main one being that economic austerity isn’t the way to achieve a recovery from a crash induced slump.

    It’s not a lesson which has been heeded by the austerians in the EU though. The way to win the Brexit argument, from your POV, is have a much more robust and economically healthy EU to make it attractive to voters.

    The situation in the EU isn’t looking good at all, though. Mario Draghi, the head of the ECB has recently said:

    “The outlook is getting worse and worse.”

    He also knows what needs to be done.

    “……. it’s unquestionable that fiscal policy, a significant fiscal policy, becomes of the essence”

    There’s no chance of this though given the predominant German economic mindset.

    “German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz brushed off warning signals for Europe’s largest economy…….. He said the government has no concrete plans to spur economic growth.”

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-07-25/draghi-signals-worse-and-worse-outlook-warrants-ecb-stimulus

  • Ian Hurdley 1st Aug '19 - 11:26am

    @DilettanteEye ‘democratically honourable’ means what exactly? And if you imply what I think you do, then I see nothing dishonourable in challenging a dubious referendum with a GE. You say that 24th October is too close to 31st October, but on the one hand Tusk/Barnier have already made clear that there could be a further extension for the specific purpose of providing a suitable period of time for the UK to hold a second referendum or a GE; and on the other hand, a simple letter revoking Article 50 can be served as late as the day before the present extension expires.
    I would also remind you of David Davis’s mantra; Nothing is decided until everything is decided.

    @Peter Martin A simple question, isn’t it better to be inside the EU to fight for the necessary reforms?

  • Dilettante Eye 1st Aug '19 - 12:29pm

    Ian Hurdley

    You are perfectly entitled to believe that the 2016 referendum was a ‘dubious referendum’, but I regret to inform you that it is only your opinion which has no further political weight than your one franchise~d vote.

    But such debates are now historical, and Article 50 is now the issue at hand. It matters zilch that various voices claim to ‘not agree with No Deal’, because No Deal is now the only legal certainty.
    Without resorting to fantasy, please walk us through the practical process of who exactly will ‘coalesce’ around your new remainer PM on the morning of 25th October, picking up the phone to Mr Barnier asking for an extension whilst they organise a revocation of Article 50.

    Remember, Gina Miller ensured legally, that Article 50 (triggered), needed full parliamentary approval. So it follows that A50 revoked will also need full parliamentary approval.

    Do you seriously think your PM Swinson is up to getting an A50 revocation through parliament with zero social upheaval and democratic populist consequence?

    We’re leaving the EU, and if (*72% of your Lib Dem party) is so fetishized by the madness of all things EU, then a Referendum to Re-join is frankly your only post Brexit practical option.

    (* 28% of Lib Dem members didn’t even bother to vote for either of your Hard Remainer candidates for leadership, and I suspect your conference will reflect that softer reality, in future Lib Dem policy on the EU? )

  • Alex Macfie 1st Aug '19 - 1:10pm

    Michael BG

    “As we had a referendum to leave this means it has become part of our constitutional requirements for overturning the process.”

    It means nothing of the sort. The 2016 referendum was an advisory referendum, and explicitly stated as such in the legislation that brought it forward It had no legal or constitutional significance at all, even if you wish to argue for its moral significance.
    It was established in law that invoking Article 50 required an Act of Parliament. Therefore, it is reasonable to say that revoking it would also require an Act of Parliament.

  • Ian Hurdley 1st Aug '19 - 2:11pm

    @DilettaneEye I’ve spelled out my take on this – opinion lacking political weight, if you like. You’ve made your own opinion clear. My colleagues and I will be giving a lot of thought to our present constitutional situation over the summer. No doubt it will be a main topic in our conference in September. Keep monitoring us carefully and let us know your take on matters as we approach the end of October.

  • Alex Macfie,

    My point was that without a referendum it is possible that a court would rule that as we had a referendum to start the process we need one to terminate it. Your opinion and my opinion do not matter; it would be up to a court to decide. However, my further point was that if we had revoked article 50 and the leave date had passed without a referendum a court ruling stating it was illegal without a referendum would mean we would have left the EU. We need to ensure this option could not happen by having a referendum before we revoke article 50.

  • Alex Macfie 2nd Aug '19 - 6:29am

    Michael BG: The government tried to argue, in the case brought by Gina Miller, that the referendum result entitled it to use Royal Prerogative to trigger Article 50. It failed. The recent attempt to overturn the referendum result in court because of cheating also failed, because the government (obviously wanting it both ways) successfully argued that as the referendum was advisory there was literally nothing to overturn.
    So while IANAL I think it extremely unlikely that any court is going to rule that having held an advisory referendum before triggering Article 50 means that the same process needs to be done again. What gave the authority to trigger Article 50 was an Act of Parliament, and nothing else.
    We may have a famously “unwritten” constitution, but this doesn’t mean just making things up as we go along (which pretty much summarises Brexit). It just means that the constitution is not codified into a single document, but scattered in various statutes going back centuries. But I’m confident you will find nothing in any UK law requiring referendums for any type of enactment.

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