Labour lashes out at Lib Dems

Remember how, last week, Jeremy Corbyn’s relaunch was such a runaway success. Not even Tony Blair in the early years could gather such positive headlines.

Ok, so maybe that’s not quite how it happened. At least we’re now clear on their policy on freedom of movement. They love immigration and they hate it, depending on who they are talking to.

Labour has stepped up its attacks on the Lib Dems in the last couple of days, presumably because they have to fight two by-elections on 23rd February where the Leave vote will be split 3 ways and we are the only party offering any sort of opposition to the Tories.

But they couldn’t quite manage it competently. The International Business Times was none too chuffed to find its video being used by Jeremy Corbyn, uncredited, to attack Tim Farron.

An IBTimes UK spokesperson said: “While it is flattering to know that the Labour leader and his team watch International Business Times UK video and consume our content, we have not received any requests for use of this material.

“Standard protocol is to request permission from the content creator and/or to credit any use. It was something of a surprise therefore to see this video appear on Jeremy Corbyn’s verified Twitter account without its original IBT branding and edited to add sound effects.”

The Liberal Democrat press office, meanwhile, did respond to the tweet at the time. Later, a Liberal Democrat source said: “Labour like their position on Article 50 is useless. Corbyn is toxic and they are just a shambles.”

Then Keir Starmer, who is supposed to be the sensible one, had a go at the Lib Dems in the Guardian for not appealing to the whole country. How on earth Labour can claim to be on the side of those who voted Remain when they have just laid down to have their tummies tickled by the Tories is beyond me.

Tim Farron’s response was pithy:

Labour are just failing, not speaking for leavers or remainers.

Keir Starmer might attack me, but Labour are speaking for no one. They are doing nothing, saying nothing and just sitting there and offering to wave through article 50 for the Tories. Future generations will not forgive Keir Starmer and Jeremy Corbyn for what they are doing.

There are plenty of people who voted leave who do not want an extreme hard Brexit where Britain is dragged out of the single market – I speak for these people, too. Labour’s frontbench right now is less use than a chocolate fireguard.

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  • I’d be more impressed if we started addressing a few issues instead of this yah boo sucks stuff.

  • “when they have just laid down to have their tummies tickled by the Tories is beyond me”

    Amazing how quickly you forget the coalition years. All Lib Dems do these days is find fault, but offer little on policy. At the moment Labours disarray is saving you, eventually you will need more than that.

  • nigel hunter 21st Jan '17 - 10:05am

    We certainly need to discuss policy, policies both for Government and for the 2 by-elections coming up.

  • “Labour lashes out at Lib Dems”…How dare they!!!!!!!!

    Corbyn writes, ” Lib Dems rule out working with Labour because of our Brexit stance, but would back Tories using Brexit to create a bargain basement Britain” and the LibDem response is a, ‘grown up’: “Labour like their position on Article 50 is useless. Corbyn is toxic and they are just a shambles.”(So there! with knobs on)

    Keir Starmer has a point; we do seem only interested in overturning the referendum result.
    As for immigration, did you miss Vince Cable’s “I have serious doubts that EU free movement is tenable or even desirable” speech?.

  • The Lib Dems don’t believe there is a problem. If only the people at the bottom got in line and started believing in the EU again!

  • Antony Watts 21st Jan '17 - 10:34am

    Policy is simple: The EU is the best for Britain, Remain.

    Now we ca go on and explain why geo-politically, economically and morally the EU is best, but let’s get the headline out there first and bullet point the reasons after that.

  • Why when we as a party start to rightly get aggressive about politics, not the usual “if you dont mind sir, but we have a point to make” does this suddenly upset people. Labour attacked us and we responded pointing out the nonsense of their position. I am afraid the coalition years whether good or bad, has gone , we live for the present in an uncertain period in our history.Those who support Labour, that is your right, but dont get all high and mighty when they fail to address the concerns that are uppermost in peoples minds at the momemt.
    Talk about other things, well we do on Memntal Health,the NHS housing and winning elections.
    Come on everyone lets get moving, fight the good fight. Although I am busy at the moment logging in the steady stream of new members in my area..a 50% increase in 11 months(thats when the Branch was formed) and some of those are out canvassing this morning , having helped Antony Hook win Faversham Town Council Seat.

  • “Then Keir Starmer, who is supposed to be the sensible one, had a go at the Lib Dems in the Guardian for not appealing to the whole country”.

    Accept this is true isn’t it?
    A USP is a good thing and politically sensible.
    However I would be more impressed if ‘we’ were a little more vocal about how an inclusive party (who stand for equality allegedly) are planning to bring the country together and develop policies to heal divisions not widen them!

  • @ Expats
    ‘Keir Starmer has a point; we do seem only interested in overturning the referendum result’.

    IMO it would be wise to listen to this. In opposing Art50 and supporting our continued membership of the EU the libDems must not let this be seen as supporting the status quo. The people of the UK have spoken and a majority of those who voted were not happy. We have got to reach out to those people. We need to convince them that the reason for their dissatisfaction is not so much to do with the EU as to the lack of attention by successive government, both Conservative and Labour, to the increasing disparity of wealth across the UK and that it is the LibDems that can now offer them hope. Admit that the EU has gone too far to fast and we will push for reforms in areas such as immigration and the ECJ. Give them hope that the LibDems will address regional variation in income distribution. We’re not ignoring the problems, but opposing Art50 is part of a new package to address them.

  • The fact is though, that Farron has ruled out collaborating with Labour but has said he’s open to another coalition with the Tories. How can he claim to be any kind of opposition to the Tories when this is his stance?

    Lib Dems seem to have convinced themselves that the best way to be seen as the “real opposition” is to continually attack other opposition parties. No, real opposition means attacking the government – and the Lib Dems are doing precious little of that. (And on a more practical level, you can’t be the “real opposition” unless you have a few hundred MPs.)

  • They aren’t ignoring us, and we’ve got under their skin. One might almost think they are worried about us taking their votes?

  • We do need more than one key policy we highlight to voters. But third parties do better when they have one policy has a key focal point e.g Iraq, a penny of income tax, etc. This is because we are vying for media attention against two dominant parties. So a good runner up policy to Europe would be a ‘save the NHS’ campaign by putting the 60 billion we will spend on leaving the EU into the NHS…..

  • …and another thing we should hit the Tories left flank hard and proclaim ourselves the party of business by not introducing lots of red tap by leaving the EU or customs union!

  • the problem for the lib dems is that they now have a USP that is fighting the past rather than prefiguring the future. Iraq, penny on income tax, lower taxes, pupil premium, LGBT were all about prefiguring the future or predicting failure.

    We are leaving the EU. Fact. Why did people vote that way? Find out then create new policies.

    You are betting the farm on the process issue rather than a policy that relates to why people voted for that issue. Still, that’s far easier than the hard work of the latter. Quick let’s get some local election votes to please the activists and not challenge them!

    Here’s what’s going to happen. We’re going to have tariff free deals (partly by the inert nature of the EU) AND have new trade deals with the ROW. Why? Because economic pragmatism will trump (excuse the pun) hyper institutionalism. Also work migration will come down andl become much smarter around skills and not some sort of unplanned free for all. Believe me the Tories are storing up everything Tim (and others) have said it’ll make the 2015 campaign look like a vicarage tea party.

  • @bob sayer
    “Those who support Labour, that is your right, but dont get all high and mighty when they fail to address the concerns that are uppermost in peoples minds at the momemt.”

    I’m a long-time Labour voter who voted Remain and was devastated by the referendum result. I’m also utterly aghast at the takeover of Labour by Corbyn/Momentum. I’d give up treasured parts of my anatomy to have a sensible, electable progressive party to vote for. On the surface I’m the kind of voter the Lib Dems are pitching for here.

    But for all its faults, Labour is the only opposition party addressing my concerns by pursuing what I would call a realistic and logical course at the moment. The Lib Dems are too obsessed with the idea of trying (or at least looking like they’re trying) to stop Brexit. This is doomed to failure; I suspect the Lib Dems know this but are pursuing it anyway for purely electoral reasons; and even if it could be achieved, I think the damage it would do to the country, in terms of deepening divisions and sowing resentment and hate, would be so immense that we’d be paying the price for decades.

    The types of concerns that I want addressed – such as the protection of workers’ rights post-Brexit – are not being addressed by the Lib Dems at all, for the simple reason that they are refusing to countenance the idea that Brexit will happen. You can’t plan for the aftermath of an event until you accept the event will – or at least can – happen. The Lib Dems are not doing that. Labour, for all their faults, are, and I think there is ample polling data now to show that this kind of approach is what most people want.

  • @Christian
    Can I infer from your references to the “third party” that you are a UKIP supporter?

  • Stuart, please tell me when Tim said he was open to working with the Tories? As an avid follower of politics and an activist I must have missed it. Tim has been attacking both the Tory Brexit policy and the Labour party’s spinelessness. Hardly an endorsement of Mrs May or a willingness to work with her.
    With due respect, we are a party with different views from both the two so-called main parties and UKIP as well. An whilst our EU policy is a USP – the first we’ve had for a long time – it’s by no means our only policy, as even a casual perusal of our by-election literature will attest.

  • Nicholas Cunningham 21st Jan '17 - 12:28pm

    Labour lashing out, that’s positive news for the Lib/Dem’s. With May credibility in tatters, any notion of her governing from the centre is just political spin and her approach on Brexit, extreme as you can get, just adds to May’s already contemptible position on how our Parliamentary democracy is regarded by her. Labour is in an awful political position, their citadels being breached from all sides, the pressure is on, that’s got to be encouraging for the party looking forwards.

  • paul barker 21st Jan '17 - 1:05pm

    The more Labour attack us, the more voters are reminded that we are still here & fighting The Government. The sensible thing for Labour would have been to carry on ignoring us but they dont have the self-discipline to keep it up.
    Yesterday Labour List reprted that that three-quarters of members surveyed wanted to stay in The Single Market, thats in line with polling of Labour members done last year. Labour are split from top to bottom & their attacks on us just remind their supporters of that.

  • Laurence Cox 21st Jan '17 - 2:01pm

    Labour are panicking, that is why they lash out at us.

    This Daily Telegraph story indicates that they will lose Copeland:

    I suspect that they may well lose Stoke-on-Trent Central as well and that they called them for the same day in the hope that they would split the forces of the other parties. If they hold one they will call it a triumph.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 21st Jan '17 - 3:25pm

    Firstly, we must not be just knee jerk , important for an opposition to be constructive . Tim does need to calm down at times !

    Secondly, Tim does make the points well, and we are supporting a more reasonable Brexit deal. If there were more calling for an open and flexible Brexit process, rather than May going ahead with her mind, or her three stooges minds made up,we could make for a compromise or a Brexit more can support. But Labour are saying nothing many of us can hear !

    Thirdly, I and many of us in the party totally accept we are leaving the EU, and I would not vote to stay unless the deal were truly appalling, but we do want , from our earlier vote for remain, to transition to a decent and inclusive and internationalist Brexit.

    I know what the Brexit facing stance of Anna Soubry is , and I agree with a lot of it , and relate to her passionate feeling, even though I , and as a Liberal Democrat not as keen on the EU, as her, do not always share it emotionally, I respect it rationally.

    I do not know what the stance of Corbyn or Starmer is !

  • @ Lorenzo, Anna Soubry caved in completely this week like an ice lolly in a heat wave. And… Tim’s doing fine.

    @ Andrew Watts, as for, ” Policy is simple: The EU is the best for Britain, Remain.”

    That just not enough. A one legged one trick pony will eventually fall over.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 21st Jan '17 - 4:00pm


    I was surprised she was so nice to May, her coments just before the prime ministers speech , were scathing on the possibility of May not wanting to consider staying in the single market. But Anna Soubry still fights to stay in the single market with gusto, read her tweets, they are almost daily in that vein.I am rather keen on her even when not in agreement, from when I met and spoke with and got along with her , some years ago here in Nottingham, shes certainly a genuine person, speaks her mind.

    As for Tim, yes, but you yourself keep saying , and above on ya boo political approach, we need more than , no to a hard Brexit , as a policy manifesto or even identity !

  • @Mick

    A party made up mostly of people as sensible as yourself would certainly appeal to me.

    I think the problem with your wish for a better compromise, though, is that this was ruled out by the EU (inasmuch as Donald Tusk can be said to speak for it) long before it was ruled out by Theresa May.

    Staying in the single market, along with all the excess baggage that entails, but without vital benefits of full “membership”, would be such a lousy compromise I don’t see how the public would tolerate it at all. On that point, I think May is right.

    For us to stay “in” the single market (which is actually misleading language – there is no membership) and keep the Brexit-voting majority happy, we would need some serious concessions on things like freedom of movement. The response by the EU (and Lib Dems) is that this is impossible because “the four freedoms are indivisible”. Which is funny, because less than a year ago the EU was willing to offer David Cameron some moderately substantial concessions on free movement, at least temporarily, while the Lib Dems’ previous leader (N Clegg) had argued a couple of years previously that free movement was out of date and needed reforming. Now we’re told it’s an unchangeable monolith.

    Given that the EU had already said “it’s hard Brexit or no Brexit”, and the British people had decisively rejected the latter, what choice did Theresa May have? One of the good things about her strategy – and the reason why I think it is playing well with the public – is that she is at least trying to take control over what kind of Brexit we get. If she had followed Lib Dem advice and pledged to ask for full single market access, the whole process would have been completely out of her hands, because the EU could have turned down that request on day 1 of the negotiations. It’s fun to imagine an alternative universe in which Tim Farron were prime minister and events panned out exactly like that – what on earth would he do on day 2?

  • Those people who say we should simply get on the Brexit train because it’s inevitable are wrong. If the economy does hit the rocks who are the people going to vote for? The party that steered the ship onto the rocks? (The Tories) The party that helped them? (Labour)? The mermaid in the sea that called them to the rocks (UKIP) or the parties that said it was a stupid idea in the first place (Lib Dems and SNP)….

    If this goes wrong the electorate will have no choice but to give the Conservative and Labour parties their marching orders and vote Lib Dem. So Tim Farron is bang on!

  • Another non-answer to a serious question on here from this time Stuart. It’s as if nothing else exists apart from the secular faith of being completely within the EU come what may. Otherwise we’re all going to die – like we’ve just done for the past seven months – not!

  • Lorenzo Cherin 22nd Jan '17 - 12:42am


    Thank you for your comment , which I find to be just the sort of encouragement needed for putting real effort into being politically sensible when so much around us all is going in the other direction !You are the very person from whom that means a lot in this thread.I shall explain.

    I do not know what age group you are . I am that generation of all the men active in recent years, Clegg, Cameron , Farron, Rennie et al ! You say you are a lifelong Labour voter. I was from fourteen a member of that party. On and off involved till young manhood ! Big on Kinnock , then early Blair. To this day cannot dislike either , even the latter , despite his real mistakes ! I loathed the nastiness in politics , especially Labour and , yes , Labour left politics. I was a youth in Putney Labour party when our candidate yet to win , was ex-Liberal Peter Hain, kind and decent to us youth then, a good man still. I went off Labour because that party even then was a hybrid of two halves that did not meet half way. You have to to get anywhere in politics, The Iraq war , and the new generation, my own, and yes , the orange book debates, which I view as signs of a healthy party having a range of ideas, brought me keenly to voting and joining this party in 2004. I have drifted in and out and in , re activism, stood for them in council election and served on committees.

    Sometimes, Stuart they drive me potty !

    If you are radical and moderate ,a progressive and sensible, they are the only game in town.

    Issues, leaders, policies, governments, come and go.

    Join us , change things .Certainly join the debate ongoing on this terrific site. The only alternative is we would have to form a new party.You see if the Liberal Democrats did not exist or get worse or go down the drain, we would have to invent them !

  • Simon Banks 23rd Jan '17 - 2:35pm

    Of course we support EU membership as before and don’t intend to back down or apologise. But it should be perfectly clear, even to Jeremy Corbyn, that we know EU exit is likely to go through and within that, we’re campaigning for a “soft Brexit”, not the hard, all-out one the Tories are proposing. As for Corbyn’s claim that we rule out co-operating with Labour because of their position (sic) over Brexit, but would co-operate with the Tories for a soft Brexit, it’s twisting sense beyond reason. We’ll co-operate with anyone who wants to stop maximum damage to freedom and the economy; and no, Jeremy, that isn’t the same as having a coalition with them.

    The one thing the critics on this post have said that I can agree with is expats’ comment. Yes, we stand clearly for EU membership. But we mustn’t forget there are other issues. The future of fighting global warming, for example, is far more important (including to the UK economy) and Trump’s election and behaviour make standing up strongly on this issue essential.

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