In this campaign let’s not focus too hard on Brexit: other things matter to people too

As well as appealing to the 48% of voters who are deeply disenchanted with Brexit, I think there are many other policy areas we need to focus on, if we are to make an electoral breakthrough.

In this week alone, there have been three fatal stabbings in London, innocent people (all men) aged 17, 40 and 60, robbed of their lives because of mindless violence. We have to show that we care about violence and people having the right to live in peaceful streets and neighbourhoods.

Let’s also tackle the inequitable housing situation, whereby overseas buyers are buying up London’s properties at prices that are completely unaffordable for locals – who often aren’t even given a chance to buy them before they are marketed overseas, as apparently happened with the new Heygate development in South East London. Switzerland has placed restrictions on foreign buyers, why can’t we?

And what of mental health services? They are sparse, and not always joined up, and young people are suffering disproportionately, faced, as they are, with so many pressures – many of which we adults are sadly responsible for. Excessive exam pressures, a lack affordable housing, family breakdown, bullying and awful working conditions in some part-time jobs are all fuelling anxiety in young people. Many can also no longer afford dental services, and social care is excruciatingly, and unjustly, expensive for those that have to pay. We need to address this urgently.

What about rail fares? Rail travel is completely overpriced, especially on commuter routes. An annual season ticket from Swindon to London is almost £8,500 a year. A peak hour single from Bath to London is around £90. Unfortunately some people just have to pay that because our national lack of a regional policy means there is a high concentration of better-paid jobs in the South East, strangling the life out of the surrounding regions.

People, I would argue, also need more annual leave and flexible working patterns. Why not allow everyone to take up to two (or more) weeks’ additional unpaid leave each year for family reasons and caring duties, instead of using up their holiday? People need more time to live, care, rest and be creative – as well as working, especially with today’s pace of life.

And what about the environment? Admittedly the Mayor of London is now taking action on air pollution, but are other cities doing as well? And with increases in high-density housing are we making enough provision for green spaces at ground level for people to walk, and children to play in? Some parts of London are like high-rise glass and concrete deserts. And have we forgotten about protecting our biodiversity? Ninety-five per cent of wildflowers are now found in roadside verges rather than the countryside. Whatever happened to conservation?

Some things have improved and we should acknowledge that. London’s Tube and bus services are infinitely better than they were a few decades ago. We certainly need to admit to progress where we see it, and not just to focus on the negative. However, libraries are closing, playgrounds are not being maintained and once affordable activities such as adult education classes, are out of reach of many.

Brexit is going to impact horribly on all these things because of the terrible toll it will take on our economy, jobs and scientific community. However, we still need to make our case in terms of the things that matter most tangibly to individuals and families now.

And if we need to raise taxes – so be it. The Danes pay more tax than we do, but they are happier than we are according to every international survey, because the state looks after people well. We need to make quality of life – and not just Brexit and purchasing power – our number one priority in this election campaign. If we want to be a mainstream party we need to respond to mainstream concerns. This doesn’t mean taking the middle road though – it actually means being radical about social justice, well funded health and care services, environmental protection and wellbeing for all.

* Judy Abel has worked in the health policy field for around 15 years, including at the British Medical Association, for the All-Party Parliamentary Health Group, and in policy roles at Asthma UK, the Neurological Alliance and Versus Arthritis until the end of 2021. She was also the Constituency Office Manager and Senior Caseworker for former Lib Dem MP, Sir Simon Hughes from 2012 to 2014. All views are her own.

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  • Peter Watson 26th Apr '17 - 10:23am

    Hear, hear.
    It is depressing to think that a Tory government will get in with a mandate to do so many other things (e.g. grammar schools 🙁 ) regardless of Brexit because nobody bothered to challenge them before the general election. At least Labour, even if mainly because of their own internal problems, are attempting to drag the debate into other policy areas, but as noted in an article linked to by Bill le Breton elsewhere (, “the Liberal Democrats and most of the media enthusiastically embrace May’s chosen campaign frame”.

  • Does anyone expect that in the seven weeks of campaigning, and the couple of weeks of aftermath, the NHS bureaucrats who are busy planning which A&E departments and other NHS services they will be killing off will have gone to sleep?

    Far from it. Mrs Mays minions are working away frantically behind the scenes under the cover of these elections, trying to make certain major changes ‘irreversible’ with momentum. If you do not check out (FOIs?) precisely what they are up to in your patch right now then you will likely wake up around June 20th and realise you have been totally shafted. 🙁

  • Agree with the thrust of your comments, Judy. There has to be much more substance than just anti-Brexit and Gay sex “sin” (or the lack of it, sin, that is).

    There has been and will be a whole erosion of services and support for the less fortunate in our society (particularly in Tory England). If it means more tax (especially from the more fortunate) then let’s go for it openly and honestly.

    Elderly care and an ageing population, poverty and the growth of food banks, the need for Keynesian state investment in the infrastructure, ….. one could add a whole host of things that amount to social liberalism.

    Interesting you point to Denmark – a small independent country witin the EU with the same population as Scotland. If, in the course of time, Scotland does indeed become a small independent country, I for one could live with it rather than be tied to a mean minded Tory megalith based in the south of England and tied to the preposterous notions of posing as a world power. Internationalism and social liberal idealism don’t have to be tied to an exaggerated view of one’s own importance.

    Stand back for outraged flak……….

  • I disagree completely, while we are obviously going to be talking about other things we need to keep banging on about Brexit & the various threats it poses. If The Tories win, Brexit will dominate Politics at least up to the next General Election.
    At some point we may need to bang on about Labour as well, if it becomes clear that their vote is collapsing. Its too soon to say yet.

  • Our overall strategy should respectively be:-

    1. Get comfortably ahead of UKIp and the Greens into third palce: Mori Poll today DONE
    2. Get into 2nd % place with 10 days to go before polling
    3. Close on Conservatives to within 7-8% on polling day
    4. After election demand that the % result means we should be the opposition, eletorally possible with the help of the SNP

  • Matthew Huntbach 26th Apr '17 - 12:26pm

    I think we should avoid saying things like “the 48% of voters who are deeply disenchanted with Brexit”. The idea that there’s a fixed and rigid division between 48% who voted Remain and 52% who voted Leave is wrong. There are some whose opinion is fixed on this, but many, probably a majority, where it isn’t.

    Those of us who are involved in politics sometimes forget that most others aren’t like us. Most people will have a vague opinion, and it may easily switch, and they may have just decided to vote one way on the balance of thought in that day and could easily have voted another way another day, or if they had been presented with a slightly different balance of arguments.

    The shrill voices of the right-wing propagandists who say “the people voted Leave, how dare you challenge that?” sound to me very much like fraudsters, marching their victim down to draw all their money out of their bank, and who when challenged say “He agreed to it, how dare you challenge that?”. If they didn’t, underneath, know they’d pulled a fast one, they’d be far more relaxed about a request for confirmation it’s what’s really wanted, now the details are more clear.

    Many who voted Leave did so out of unhappiness with aspects of our society which have nothing to do with EU membership. Indeed, it seems to me that the Brexit campaign was intended to divert attention from the real cause of much of it: that the move towards an extreme free market society all governments since 1979 have pushed is just not giving the freedom and happiness and feeling of self-control that those who push it claims it gives.

    So, yes, we need to concentrate on those issues, and persuade those who voted Leave for those reasons that we understand them, that we have concrete proposals to improve things for them, and (not necessarily by saying it explicitly) that leaving the EU is not the way to make those improvements. Indeed, given those who were financing and pushing the Leave campaign, leaving the EU will most likely make them worse, not better.

    Voting Conservative in protest at the consequences of Thatcherite economics – which in effect is what a large proportion of the electorate propose to do – is not very sensible, is it?

  • T.M. has called this election on the basis of Brexit.
    She is framing the debate in terms of Strength v Weakness.

    We should alternatively frame the debate on TRUST.

    ‘Can you Trust the Tories?’

    Do you trust her to deliver the Brexit you want if she has a large majority?

    ‘Keep control of Brexit by having the people decide on the final deal.’

  • This needs to be said, and while I do think that most of the debate will be dominated by Brexit, it is essential that we don’t come across as one-dimensional. We need to back this up by making our position on the NHS, education and the environment clear, and we can tie that back into our relationship with the European Union.

    Our rivals, and especially the Tories, will do their best to avoid all of these other areas, and prevent them from getting attention. They’ll just bang on about stability vs chaos, and meaningless phrases about “the will of the people”.

    We need clear messages on those other subjects, and they don’t all need to be mentioned in every interview, but we do ourselves and the public a serious disservice if we allow ourselves to be defined as a single issue party.

    Individual candidates will also need to emphasise their local priorities, which could include things like air quality for city constituencies, and Heathrow for those in West London.

  • I think we need to talk about Brexit AND the other things I mention; it’s not either or. I agree that Brexit is absolutely disastrous – for medicines regulation, science, trade, security, jobs – you name it! Anyone looking at my Twitter feed will see just how against Brexit I am! But if we are talking about winning seats we cannot ignore the other issues.

  • Also, some of the 48% are probably resigned to Brexit now so we mustn’t make the mistake of thinking that all of the 48% will vote for us, thinking they will get another Referendum out of it. Some will have accepted the result.

  • Some Keynesian investment spending (must be investments not other kinds of spending) would attract voters, especially those who hated austerity. Putting the party’s plan of building 300000 houses at the central should be the first thing to do. Then, improve the national broadband. And then, instead of Hinkey, give Rolls Royce technology a chance.

    Also, renationalize Green Investment Bank (its original purpose was a state-backed bank for supporting green industries), as well as key infrastructures. Together with this should be a commitment to refocus on green industries like wind and solar.

    Next, Libdem must have strong policies to tackle gig economy and zero hour contracts.

    All of the policies above would mean that Libdem must move away from economic liberalism.

  • Phil Beesley 26th Apr '17 - 2:32pm

    From Judy Abel’s passionate argument: “However, we still need to make our case in terms of the things that matter most tangibly to individuals and families now.”

    Economic decision making — and we have had a lot in the years following the finance industry trust implosion, before Brexit — has been reduced (rather than devolved) to local administrators and volunteer organisations making cuts. I think it is important that representative organisations are allowed to make their cases, but much is about blowing off excess steam.

    I don’t believe in hypothecated taxes — I believe in the ability of government to take money out of one pocket and put it in another, as long as I see all of the money being counted.

  • Peter Watson 26th Apr '17 - 2:39pm

    @Judy Abel “some of the 48% are probably resigned to Brexit”
    The article I linked to earlier suggests, “67% of the population – now either actively embrace leaving Europe, or reluctantly accept leaving … All 67% say they want “the best Brexit for Britain”, although they may struggle to reach a clear consensus about what “best” would actually look like.” More depressingly, it goes on to say, “Voters are, however, in agreement about which leader is best placed to deliver that best Brexit.”
    I fear that in a perverse sense the Lib Dem strategy is primarily about regaining votes rather than stopping or even influencing Brexit, and it has little to do with shaping the UK whether that is inside or outside the EU.

  • Phil Beesley 26th Apr '17 - 2:58pm

    Thomas: “Next, Libdem must have strong policies to tackle gig economy and zero hour contracts.”

    It would be much easier if those using the expression “gig economy” limited it to well meaning fans shifting amps at a gig.

    At the end of a gig, you get a pint with mates; at the end of a gig job, you get shafted.

    And to those in the “car sharing economy”, acknowledge that “capitalists” run the business. The lads and lasses work at taxi rates; the money paid to taxi lasses and and lads doesn’t cover company wages; the company hopes that it will become a monopoly.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 26th Apr '17 - 3:22pm

    As Cary Grant is supposed to have said , in one of his old films ,and certainly any of us who have impersonated add to the impression,

    “Judy , Judy, Judy !”

    Music, rather than , words to my ears.

    As someone far more against violent crime and violent criminals, than Brexit and Brexiteers, that the issue of the former is raised in an article on the latter too, is wonderful!

    I sometimes think I am the only person who raises the issue !

  • Thanks Lorenzo! I think we need to be talking about quality of life and wellbeing. It is both important and relevant. People are fed up with poor transport, not being able to get a GP appointment, unaffordable housing, pollution, a lack of holidays. We can be happier with less money if there is then a safety net to help us when we need it. Let’s think outside the box and give people some kind of hope. And that doesn’t mean being weak, it means showing leadership.

  • Matthew Huntbach 27th Apr '17 - 7:27am

    Judy Abel

    People are fed up with poor transport, not being able to get a GP appointment, unaffordable housing, pollution, a lack of holidays.

    Yes, but will they vote for those who stand for policies that will make these things better? No. Many will do the opposite. Policies that tackle this sort of thing will be denounced as vindictive attacks, or as “red tape” or so on. We are told that it is a vote loser to propose higher taxation. It is a vote loser to propose anything that will stop people who own houses by making huge amounts of money when they sell them. It is a vote loser to form an alliance with other countries in order to form common policies to tackle problems that require international co-operation.

    So, people will moan about things. Then they will vote against any politicians who propose policies that will really solve them. Then they will say politicians are bad people because they don’t solve those problems. Then, because they say politicians are bad people, they will vote for those who are the baddest of them. If you are honest and say what is really needed to solve these problems, you will be denounced. If you are a dishonest politician and make out there are easy-peasy solutions and join in the denunciation of those who say what is really needed to tackle them, that’s what will get you the support of the press and millions of votes.

    How do we get out of this?

  • Very thought-provoking comment Matthew. I think you are right too. People don’t seem to want to vote for the things that will make their lives, and other people’s lives, better. The psychology of it is puzzling. I think the media is partly responsible (although it is too easy to blame them for everything I know).. I think public policy, and the way it is reported, has tended to make us, the electorate, more reactionary and populist, as we have seen with Brexit. The way the EU Referendum was conducted and reported, over many months, and the Scottish Independence Referendum too, has brought out a new “to hell with it all” attitude in many; we want change for change’s sake, we are angry, we want our voices to be heard etc. The trouble is it doesn’t go beyond that to caring perhaps as deeply about the solutions as we used to.

    I am a bit out of my depth in trying to understand why the old bread and butter issues of the NHS and education don’t seem to make people want to vote for something better. I suppose the weak Labour leadership has something to do with it. Maybe people with a long memory are tired of the same old arguments and think voting for more enlightened policies won’t actually improve things anyway. Maybe it’s disillusionment or that we are becoming a very fragmented society, so why should I care about someone else’s problems?

    No one should forget though that under Ton Blair’s Government, health services really did improve, waiting lists really did come down and there were new hospitals, schools and things like tax credits were introduced

    I think the Lib Dems could do well to speak to some psychologists who could work out what is going on.

  • Arnold Kiel 27th Apr '17 - 8:05am

    I see four pools of LibDem-voters:

    1. Your traditional repeat-customer: mobilization probably done
    2. Remainers: must be mobilized, but no need to win them with rest of manifesto; avoid turn-offs though
    3. Tactical remain-voters: same as 2.
    4. Waking-up Leavers: concentrate on Brexit (high-cost, no benefit)

    My conclusion: awake the wondering and mobilize the awake with ONE message: Brexit

  • Antony Watts 27th Apr '17 - 8:15am

    Keep it simple. LibDems stand for
    – Remain (Brexit serves only Britains wealthy 5%.)
    – Social Justice (Public services are a universal benefit, for all. Build them up not down)

  • @Anthony – I certainly think that’s a good place to start.

  • Peter Watson 27th Apr '17 - 9:12am

    @Arnold Kiel “My conclusion: awake the wondering and mobilize the awake with ONE message: Brexit”
    So a majority Tory government would have a mandate from the Lib Dems to do whatever it wants in every policy other than Brexit negotiations because Lib Dems didn’t bother to disagree.
    And a majority Tory government would have a mandate from the Lib Dems to do whatever it wants in Brexit negotiations because Lib Dems treated the general election as a proxy for a referendum on that single issue.
    I think it is vital for Lib Dems to campaign like a political party rather than a single-issue pressure group else they risk following UKIP into irrelevance.

  • Peter Martin 27th Apr '17 - 9:16am

    It is important for all parties to fight this election on all issues. We know what will happen after the election if the Tories are given a huge majority. They might be saying that the election is about Brexit now but that will change afterwards. Then they’ll say say it was about Grammar schools, even more privatisation, and reduced Govt services. They will claim a mandate for all that.

  • Peter Watson 27th Apr '17 - 9:22am

    @Antony Watts
    “Brexit serves only Britains wealthy 5%.”
    This may be true (“only”?) but do you have the evidence to prevent this claim from looking like the Brexiters’ £350 million? Either way, the wealthiest few are likely to benefit from both In and Out (prominent Remain campaigners are not short of a bob or two) so it might not be a suitable foundation for the Remain case.

    Public services are a universal benefit, for all. Build them up not down.
    This needs to be fleshed out in detail and costed, and I hope that the Lib Dem manifesto will do so. But as Jayne Mansfield points out eloquently in a parallel thread, “Arguing that these important issues hinge on whether we are within the EU, or will be determined by whether we have a hard or soft Brexit doesn’t have much traction when, thanks to political decisions, we have seen a deterioration and steady destruction of them whilst still being in the EU.” (

  • A majority Tory government has a mandate to do what it has proposed, no matter what other parties have said; this is unlikely to be prevented from happening. A more realistic goal is to replace as many hard Brexiteers with Remainers as possible. This will not be achieved by a diluted motherhood and applepie message, but requires focus on this subject.

    Substantiating the 5% (I believe it is rather 0,1%) claim: Brexit beneficiaries are

    – not depending on public services
    – not providing public services
    – not exporting to the EU
    – not collaborating with EU nationals
    – holding substantial $ or eur-based assets (but visiting them rarely)
    – not benefiting from EU structural funds
    – assocated to the Murdoch-press
    – international trade negotiators, -lawyers, etc.
    – providing services around washing, investing, (not)-taxing illicit funds from global kleptocracies
    – working in customs-clearing
    – not working in freight-forwarding
    – global tax optimizers

  • Peter Watson 27th Apr '17 - 11:23am

    @Arnold Kiel “Brexit beneficiaries are …”
    But which of those have not also benefited from and prospered under the UK’s membership of the EU? As well as having a lot of overlap with the list of Brexit beneficiaries, notable Remain beneficiaries would also include other groups for which there might be little public sympathy (“eurocrats”; those wealthy enough to employ or rent property to migrant workers; those wealthy enough to travel, work, study and buy property abroad).

    The Remain campaign has consistently opposed leaving the UK while failing to make a compelling case for actually remaining within it, and often it looks like simple self-interest on the part of a relatively privileged group (a so-called “liberal elite”). This General Election might be the last opportunity to make that positive argument, but the party and Remainers are still pursuing the same negative strategy of attacking Brexiters, opposing Brexit without making the alternatives look attractive, repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results (Einstein’s definition of insanity, supposedly).

    And in some ways, the Lib Dems do appear to be offering a “diluted motherhood and applepie message”: opposing Brexit is easy and vague, but exactly what sort of Remain does the party want? The status quo, more political union, a single currency, a United States of Europe? And if not, why not?

  • Peter Watson 27th Apr '17 - 11:25am

    Oops – obviously the Remain campaign has “consistently opposed leaving the EU”, though most are also quite partial to the UK 🙂

  • Denis Loretto 27th Apr '17 - 12:49pm

    It stands to reason that the Lib Dem manifesto must cover the range of policies our party has formulated – the only party to do so largely by democratic decision of our members in conference by the way. However if we think we can in this sudden election campaign (called entirely because of brexit) convince great swathes of the electorate that voting Lib Dem is the answer to the range of problems and issues set out by Judy Abel we are in cloud cuckoo land. Right now our unique selling proposition is our clear leadership on Europe – an issue which will deeply affect our country for decades to come.

    No-one in this thread so far has spelled out what our policy on this overarching issue actually is. It is not a vague “pro-EU” stance. It is not seeking to open up even further the deep division between leavers and remainers. It is demanding that the electorate (all of it) must be given the right to make the final decision on the deal which emerges from the negotiations now commencing. It is becoming more and more obvious that “brexit” can result in a wide range outcomes. On one hand arrangements could be set in place which would still allow the UK to maintain most of its trade and its way of life. On the other hand it could be something close to disaster for us – indeed something that many who voted leave would not want at all (apart from the extremists who just want out at any cost). Already it appears that the needs of our own country would still require substantial immigration, the European Court of Justice would continue to oversee certain areas and the sheer cost of the leaving bill would be enormous. There is also a real danger that the Conservative government is veering very much towards the view that economic prosperity will take a back seat – something which Boris Johnston calls “some plaster coming off the ceiling”. The electorate must be allowed to decide when they see the deal whether it might after all be better to stay in the EU.

    Our main job in this election is to get this policy across as simply and effectively as possible.

  • Thanks for that Denis. I probably do inhabit cloud cuckoo land a lot of the time! But we do need strong and positive and visionary answers to the questions people ask us, not just know what we want to tell them.

    I agree though, Brexit is an absolute disaster and we need to argei for another referendum when the full facts are presented to people, down to things like new drugs being potentially less available in the UK post Brexit:

  • Matthew Huntbach 27th Apr '17 - 2:12pm

    Judy Abel

    People don’t seem to want to vote for the things that will make their lives, and other people’s lives, better.

    We have the example. In the 2010-15 government, there was no way the Tories would break their pledge to keep taxes down. There are solid reasons why even to keep service standards even, taxes have to go up, the main one being longer life spans. The result was that in the 2010-15 government, something had to crack, and we know what that was.

    If the Tories are re-elected, something else big will HAVE to crack in the 2017-22 government. What is it to be?

    If you want it provided by government, there has to be taxes raised to pay for it. If it’s not paid for that way, it will have to be paid for some other way. In 2010-15, we tried to be very clever by working out some other way that would pay for universities, that in reality wouldn’t be much different from taxation- and look where it got us.

    You want to have to pay a loan if you have an operation on the NHS? Oh, it could be fair and repayable only if you have enough income to do it. Vote Tory, and maybe that’s what you’re voting for.

  • A warning from the Guardian today on the Lib Dems having too much of a focus on Remain voters:

  • @Judy Abel
    That is why the message also needs to be ‘You Can’t Trust the Tories’

  • Peter Watson 27th Apr '17 - 4:16pm

    @P. J. “That is why the message also needs to be ‘You Can’t Trust the Tories’”
    Seven years too late! 🙁

  • Simon Banks 27th Apr '17 - 5:05pm

    Yes. Brexit is the number one issue, but as Ted Heath found in February 1974, it’s hard to keep an election on one issue – and this one is longer than elections were in those days.

    What a huge Tory majority stuffed with hard right MPs will do to the NHS, state education and local government is frightening and may just frighten some voters.

  • @Simon. I think you’re right. People are beginning to switch off talk about Brexit now – apart from the diehards. We need to ask people “what would make your life better?” and tell them “we are listening”.

  • Keith Browning 27th Apr '17 - 5:41pm

    The Tory air pollution plans must now be laid bare in early May. I expect it will show a ‘lack of planning’ as British governments of all shades have generally been reluctant to clean up our water, air and seas without being pushed to do so by an EU directive. That should offer a great opportunity to expose May and her anti environment, free market friends.

  • Arnold Kiel 27th Apr '17 - 6:20pm

    @ Peter Watson

    You are right: it is hard to find anybody truly benefiting from Brexit. Its prominent promoters basically want one layer of oversight removed. They are truly taking back control, and will find ways to profit from that.

    It does not sound sexy, but the status quo in the EU is the compelling case. This is the best EU you can have now, and probably for some time to come.

    The truth is, austerity must continue, and it is a blessing that the overwhelming Europe-question relieves the LibDems from the need to spell out an unaffordable list of places to spend or tax-increase plans. Let Labor destroy themselves this way.

    This election, as Vince Cable has just now explained very well, is about damage control and positioning for the next phase of the EU-battle, nothing more.

    @Denis Loretto, you put it very well: 7 weeks are not enough to turn many leavers around, but the idea to create an opportunity to think again could get traction. The Tories are too ruthless to be trusted with this project that could go terribly wrong. The other 27 and Brussels are already accelerating their bad-Brexit-news output.

  • If we are going to focus almost uniquely on Brexit – and I’m still not quite convinced that’s the right thing to do, otherwise I wouldn’t have written this article – then we need a comprehensive list of all the things that could, and are already, going wrong, having triggered Article 50. It is no good talking in generalities any more. E.g.

    Potential loss of early access to new drugs because of new regulatory requirements
    Couples of different EU nationalities potentially facing difficulties because of idiotic UK residency requirements
    Care homes closing because of a lack of staff
    Waiting lists for operations going up because EU doctors/nurses decide to go home
    Potentially having to pay for visas to visit EU countries
    No more automatic rights to retire in southern Europe
    No access to free medical care in the EU when travelling abroad because reciprocal arrangements are no longer applicable
    Lower environmental quality standards and the associated health impacts
    High roaming charges in Europe
    etc etc

    We need to get down to specifics now.

  • Katharine Pindar 27th Apr '17 - 10:11pm

    Rejoice! – ‘More people think Brexit is wrong than right for the first time since the Referendum’ – 45% to 43% now, according to a YouGov poll for The Times. This is what we need, to seem en route to another Referendum at the end of the unsatisfactory negotiations, our call being backed at last by popular demand. Let’s keep up the pressure!

    Meantime, let us by all means focus on the harm that the Government’s proposed Hard Brexit would do to the country, point out how untrustworthy and shifty they are, and, positively, enohasise our commitment to social justice. But, Judy, there are just too many good causes to make an impact with. In the Copeland by-election, our candidate Rebecca focused heavily on local health and education issues, because of her own expertise and hard work in those areas, but Labour locally, just as Labour nationally is trying to do, seized on and were heard more on those matters. Nationally, we will hear them on health and social care, housing, the plight of the poorest, etc. and we can’t I am afraid be heard as distinctive on such issues in this short campaign.

  • @ Katherine. That poll is really encouraging! Maybe we should actually argue for an immediate second EU referendum, not one after the final agreement has been negotiated, as the whole idea of Brexit will potentially be even more embedded by then. And what a waste of time negotiating the agreement.

    But I still think in any TV debates Tim will need convincing answers to the big questions to be credible: health, education, jobs, agriculture and transport.

  • Peter Watson 28th Apr '17 - 7:48am

    @Judy Abel “Maybe we should actually argue for an immediate second EU referendum”
    Brenda from Bristol would not be pleased!! 😉
    More seriously, I would not read too much significance into a single opinion poll (, particularly one that shows a swing in voting intention from Lib Dem to Labour: wait for a trend, or at least a second similar finding.

  • @ Peter Agree. Fair enough. I think bad news on the cost and shortages of housing nationally, access to GPs (latest Public Accounts Committee report), the Cancer Drugs Fund, the education spending squeeze, and the defensive, almost desperate, rhetoric on Brexit this week, could make the May campaign much more turbulent than we or she was expecting. Here’s hoping!

  • Thank you for all your responses to the article. Final comment: I had dinner with friends yesterday – one German, one Swedish, one with a Spanish partner and I am half Danish (although born here). All have been paying taxes in the UK for years – all are worried and deeply upset by the tone and practical implications of Brexit. It’s shameful.

  • Maybe the problem is that most people are not using hospitals, schools, railways etc so they are not interested in these issues but they know that if more money is spent on them then they will have to pay more tax or lose a service they do use like rural buses which are being drastically cut. If you subsidise train fares the majority who can afford to pay will also get the subsidy but those who do not use trains will have to pay for them. People are tired of all these problems and the colossal cost of dealing with them by the present methods.

  • Peter Watson 28th Apr '17 - 1:59pm

    @nvelope2003 “Maybe the problem is that most people are not using hospitals, schools, railways etc so they are not interested in these issues … People are tired of all these problems and the colossal cost of dealing with them by the present methods.”
    I think this is a very good point.
    The loans scheme backing up the increase in tuition fees suggests an alternative approach: borrow to pay for a school place, a medical treatment, etc. with income-contingent repayment of the loan. Even the equivalent of a graduate tax could be used to “repay” the cost of other services, subsidies, welfare, etc. provided by the state to those who use them.
    I find it discomfiting, but I can’t decide whether I like this idea or hate it so I would welcome any advice!
    Either way, having endorsed this as a way to pay for tertiary education it might be difficult for Lib Dems to dismiss it as a way to fund anything else.

  • Peter Watson 5th May '17 - 3:00pm

    @Katharine “‘More people think Brexit is wrong than right for the first time since the Referendum’ – 45% to 43% now, according to a YouGov poll for The Times.”
    I said above that I would not read too much significance into a single opinion poll.
    As Anthony Wells now reports, ” This was an unusual result and lots of people got all het up about it on social media. I did warn people that there wasn’t a clear trend and not to get overexcited unless this week’s poll showed the same…it doesn’t. It shows 46% think it’s right to leave, 43% wrong to leave)” (

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