LibLink: Kishwer Falkner on ‘How I will vote on Article 50’

Baroness Kishwer Falkner has been explaining on her blog how she plans to vote on Brexit and Article 50. She writes:

In life, with voluntary relationships there is a clear line between the length of a relationship and the one’s attachment to it.  I have felt those 32 years acutely in the last few months as I have reflected on my own position with respect to the Liberal Democrats position on Brexit and the need for a second referendum.  But in arriving at my decision to vote against the Lib Dem position I feel that it is the fact that I am a Lib Dem – a pro-European to my core – that makes this the right thing to do.

She justifies her decision thus:

First, let me set out why the argument that we need a second referendum because people did not know the destination, is implausible.  People never know the destination of a course of action when they vote in a referendum – one can plausible argue that the Lib Dems, Labour or Tory voters who supported devolution for Scotland in 1998 could not have imagined an SNP government – in fact they had been told in terms that the voting system proposed for Scottish elections was designed expressly not to give any single party an overwhelming majority – yet that is precisely what they have got.

And:

But more importantly it will be so completely contradictory to what the EU, the other 27 countries envisage in terms of their understanding of A50 – that in effect that it is politically unrevokable.  There is no longer any possibility of a negotiation where the UK could go into the talks again with a set of demands on the proviso that if they are not good enough, we would have another referendum.  I say ‘again’ and ‘another’ as we have already done that.

She concludes:

If the Lib Dem amendment passes, the Government would be better advised not to trigger A50 at all.  Perhaps that is what the country needs, but it is not what it wants.  I for one will vote on some of the amendments I think the A50 act needs, like ongoing parliamentary scrutiny of the terms and a final vote.  But I do not intend to go for another referendum after another negotiation.   We may be in danger of exhausting what goodwill exists on both sides.   So in sorrow, I will be going into another lobby from my political family after decades together, but my heart will be with them, even if my head guides me otherwise.

Before commenting, you do need to read the full argument in her post here.

* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames where she is still very active with the local party.

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72 Comments

  • Little Jackie Paper 22nd Feb '17 - 2:59pm

    That full article is fantastic – well worth a read. One of the most thoughtful, insightful contributions I’ve yet seen.

    Kudos!

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 22nd Feb '17 - 3:19pm

    Kishwer Falkner eloquently and thoughtfully explains why she cannot support the current Lib Dem policy on Brexit, despite the fact that she is passionately pro European. As well as the points quoted above, she also, in the full article, points out that for many years the Lib Dems called for in in/out referendum on EU membership. She recalls the time Lib Dems walked out of the chamber in protest at the government’s refusal to hold an in/out referendum at the time of the Lisbon Treaty.
    I very much agree with everything Kishwer Falkner says in the full blog post. I hope that all party members, whether they agree with her or not, will respect the fact that she has made a brave, principled decision.

  • Yes – it’s very logical and does not present the Lib Dem’s in a good light.

    However there are 2 things she says worth highlighting I think:

    1. “Last year there was reams of information – report after think-tank report and government papers – so the information was there for the public to see”.

    Not sure most of the general public read think tank reports and government papers.
    They rely on other sources generally to present a positive case that they can understand.

    Of course the case presented to the public was negative and dismal.
    Is there now a chance to build a better one?

    2. “The Tories won in 2015 and spent a year negotiating with the EU, securing what I think was a very good settlement. However, we were not able to sell that to the people, and here we are”.

    Well REMAIN didn’t really try now did they, at least not as part of a coherent positive vision that inspired enough people to want to be part of the EU.

    So, either it’s not too late to try and build a coherent positive case now, or you accept defeat (as she says partly through fear of damaging relationships with Europe further) and go down a damage limitation route

  • Tony Greaves 22nd Feb '17 - 3:26pm

    Well I will support the rest of my group with commitment and enthusiasm and frankly our job is to fight for our full commitment to Europe to the last breath. Not to engage in intellectual nit-picking of this kind.

  • Ian Patterson 22nd Feb '17 - 4:47pm

    Breaking: Tuesday by election in Basingstoke. Lab gain from Tories, LD a very distant third.

  • Nom de Plume 22nd Feb '17 - 4:51pm

    I dislike referendums. I did not support the first one and do not support a second one. The only referendum I would support would be for re-entry to the EU if the Government’s plans fail. Undoing the first one. The problems with the euro were entirely predictable. The Party has made a few bad calls.

  • 1/ It’s rather unhelpful use the leavers language by referring to what would be a fourth UK referendum as a second one.
    2/ As has been argued previously in postings here, as part of a series of treaties, article 50 of Lisbon is revocable because there is no specific provision within the treaty to make it not unilaterally revocable.
    3/ We have maybe two years or more of negotiations ahead in which time public opinion may move significantly back to remain. So it is a bit early to throw in the towel.

  • Eddie Sammon 22nd Feb '17 - 5:10pm

    The problem with the second referendum is that it’s bad strategy. The only way it could be good strategy is if brexit is a disaster, so it’s a double negative: if brexit is a success then the Lib Dems will be badly hurt and if brexit is a disaster then the country will be badly hurt and the EU would probably get the blame anyway, not brexiters.

  • Andrew McCaig 22nd Feb '17 - 5:16pm

    Ian P
    Fought over a school closure where the Tory candidate signed the petition started by the Labour candidate.

    No-one should read too much into individual local by-elections, despite the way they are hyped on this site! The trend since last May is perhaps significant

  • Just a point of fact. The SNP do not currently have an overall majority in Holyrood. They did have from 2011-2016, but they lost it narrowly last year, so they are now a minority gov’t again (though they can usually count on the support of the Greens).
    Your point is still a fair one though.

  • Nom de Plume 22nd Feb '17 - 5:23pm

    Eddie,

    It could happen over a time span of a number of years. The demographics change, as do the politics. The EU would not necessarily be blamed by the majority. There is even the remote chance that the Government will get a good deal.

  • Eddie Sammon 22nd Feb '17 - 5:30pm

    Nom de Plume, yes, I think I was a bit too negative, but still, people shouldn’t think that a bad brexit is all good news for the Lib Dems. Many will blame it on the actions of the EU. And we’ve not even spoken about what happens to the Lib Dems if brexit is a success.

  • Tony Greaves 22nd Feb '17 - 5:51pm

    Eddie Salmon – can you make it clear that despite all the advice you give this part on here, you are not a member or supporter?

  • “but it is not what it (the country) wants”. How does Baroness K-W know what the country wants? She cannot possibly know without asking everyone individually.
    Is she referring to the 28% who voted for Brexit?
    Is she ignoring remain voters?
    Is she ignoring the apathetic?
    Is she ignoring those confused by all the lies put out, pre-Referendum?
    Is she ignoring the many who couldn’t devote time and energy into studying all the
    possibilities, for a huge variety of reasons.
    Is she ignoring those who think such decisions should be left to our elected representatives, (however “unrepresentative), who are better placed to consider and decide on such matters?

  • Eddie Sammon 22nd Feb '17 - 6:01pm

    Tony Greaves, I’ll probably vote Lib Dem next time. I’ve only ever voted Lib Dem. I didn’t support them in some recent by-elections but I’ve become disillusioned with the Conservatives approach to migrants.

  • Ian Patterson: Hardly breaking it was this morning. A particular set of local issues here regarding a local school in a seat where we have always been a long way behind. The winning candidate was the only one living in the ward.

  • @ Gary I see it was 62% Labour, 35% Tory and 3% Lib Dem… with no UKIP, Green or others.

    Did they break sweat and do any work ? Obviously Labour did.

  • Tony,

    There are a lot of brave Brexiteers always ready to give advice. Some and I include Eddie feel their advice is helpful. Most however never have been and never will be Lib Dems and give advice only to try to drown out the Lib Dem case and to cause dissent, I believe the technical phrase for them is troll.

  • Ian Patterson the major conclusion I draw from that result is yet again the Tories got roasted, becoming quite a theme. Usually by the Lib Dems but occasionally by other parties. Bit of a worry for a party so far ahead in the polls, perhaps the polls are wrong (yet again).

  • Lorenzo Cherin 22nd Feb '17 - 8:07pm

    Catherine
    A very welcome thing in a democracy people have different views, you and me on nuclear weapons , otherwise more agreement than most . I respect and like your views to such a degree you could even set me on a course to a middle way moving to your policy if we were at the fore in the party.If we were I reckon we would be on twenty plus per cent in the polls !

    Lord Greaves

    Eddie Sammon is a gentleman and one of the best mannered and most reasonable commentry providers of insight and ideas on here. I wish I could say , myself ,it were true of certain fellow party members and fellow bearded ones !

    Eddie

    Keep up the fight for what you believe in , this party or not .

    Baroness Falkner

    Keep up the fight for what you believe in this party or not .

    And they do say history repeats itself.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 22nd Feb '17 - 8:11pm

    Frankie

    Eddie is not a Brexiteer !

  • Lorenzo are you sure from reading some of Eddie’s comments I thought he was, but my Brexiteer radar may be astray, it sometimes is. If I have misfiled Eddie I apologies but I stick to my original point that I believe his comments are trying to be helpful.

  • Eddie Sammon 22nd Feb '17 - 9:24pm

    Thanks people. I’ll try to be more positive anyway, I don’t actually mind a second referendum, it’s just the strategy of it I disagree with, so I can relate to Kishwer.

    And Lorenzo, I really appreciate your comments but I haven’t always been polite on here. I’ve partly had the politeness drummed into me by the LDV team, but that’s a topic for another time. 🙂

  • Ian Patterson 22nd Feb '17 - 9:45pm

    Thanks to all contributors who have provided the background to result to Basingstoke result. Came across it on Britain Elects twitter feed, hence ‘Breaking’.

  • Katharine Pindar 23rd Feb '17 - 1:12am

    Good points, I think, above, from people who still support the party policy, as I do. I like John Hall’s dissection of the Baroness’s suggestion of ‘what the country wants’. And, Mike S., I do like the way you get to the heart of things – yes, we do need to be putting forward ‘a coherent positive case ‘ as to why we want to stay in the EU.

    A propos of this, I am still reflecting, Mike, on your request on another thread, that an author takes up the challenge of saying why it matters so much to us. The difficulty for me is that I have an emotional attachment to the EU, based on its culture and history as well as the many benefits it has brought to member states, and I can see that many Brexiters have only an emotional attachment to Britain, which leads to them caring about British sovereignty and objecting to shared objectives which seem so desirable to me. We need the response you seek to be practical and factual, I conclude.

  • Mark Goodrich 23rd Feb '17 - 1:38am

    I have a lot of respect for Kishwer but I think she has got this one badly wrong. To seriously engage with would take more space than allowed in the comments but:

    1. The destination argument

    The analogy of the outcome of the Scottish parliament is well off the mark. That is about the unexpected outcomes of a democratic process which is institutionally fixed. The issue with Brexit is that the institutional outcome was entirely unknown when people voted and indeed contradictory and misleading things about this were said by Leave campaigners. Only now is it becoming clear that you can’t have full free trade with Europe without accepting free movement of people. (Of course, this was said by Remain but in the absence of any way of proving it, people were all too ready to believe the Leave fantasy).

    2. Article 50 notification is “politically irrevocable”

    This is the stronger part of Kishwer’s argument. It is entirely fair to say that our European friends would be highly annoyed if after all this, we decided to stay in. I think it is also entirely accurate to say that we wouldn’t get any special deals (and might struggle to keep some that we have already negotiated). But, ultimately, they would let us stay in (and even Kishwer does not seem to disagree with that). The fact that we couldn’t treat our membership as something where we could make demands and threaten another referendum is, in my view, a thoroughly good thing. It would mean that we concentrate on reforming the EU for all which is exactly what we should have been doing for the last 10 years.

    Kishwer also ignores the other side of the equation, namely what will likely happen in the negotiations without the ability of the UK to change its mind. On this prospect, I can do nothing better than refer people to Sir Ivan Rogers, who knows more about it than anyone else. Bear in mind that this is civil-service speak – for “could”, read “will”.

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/feb/22/brexit-talks-could-get-gory-bitter-and-twisted-sir-ivan-rogers

  • Lorenzo Cherin 23rd Feb '17 - 2:15am

    Mark

    The only reason we cannot have free trade without free movement is some bright spark, I think most definitely , certainly, surely, not, said so and made it thus!

    Why does the US have, much to the loathing of the wretched Trump, free trade with Canada and Mexico, with, despite the wretched Trump saying immigration is so high, no free movement between the countries.

    Liberals have advocated free and increasngly for inumerable years, fair , trade, between most of the countries of this world. Never have they until the 1990 s , and the EU, as the rule, the dictat, the compulsion, to engage in such trade, insisted on free movement.

    Made by humans can be undone.

    The EU are not helping the institution survive. When Liberal Democrats face that, and Mr. Verhofstadt , with his preposterous six hundred billion price for this country to leave ,that he and his EU ,so called negotiators, have only now decided on, we might have the kind of EU worthy of the excellent Katharine’s above loyal support!

    We could have reformed the very many public sector monoliths in the direction of the human scale, the EU, the BBC, the NHS.

    We did not and look at the results !

  • Mark Goodrich 23rd Feb '17 - 4:03am

    Lorenzo

    The difference is between a “deep” free trade area such as the EU and a shallow free trade area of the past. Given our strength in services, deep is good for us and, in general terms, so is freedom of movement. Incidentally, it can be seen that even shallow FTAs are moving rapidly in the direction of allowing increased freedom of movement (see discussions with India). It is impossible to turn back the clock to the days where free trade was about widgets. This is one of the many things that Brexiteers get wrong.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 23rd Feb '17 - 5:56am

    Lorenzo, thank you 🙂

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 23rd Feb '17 - 6:21am

    Frankie, you do seem rather too hasty in labeling people as “Brexiteers”. Eddie is certainly not a “Brexiteer”. He has always made it clear that he was and is pro Remain, but has serious reservations about certain aspects of the current Lib Dem policy. I don’t think anyone who has commented on this particular article so far is actually pro Brexit. Kishwer Falkner is certainly not pro Brexit. She makes it clear that she is passionately pro European.
    There are several people who comment regularly on Lib Dem Voice who do strongly support leaving the EU. You say that most of them “never have been and never will be Lib Dems”. But you are incorrect in this. Some of them are Lib Dems who just disagree with the party on this one issue, and others are floating voters who have said they may vote Lib Dem in the future. It is a good thing that a wide range of views are represented on Lib Dem Voice. We wouldn’t want it to become an echo chamber, would we? Most of the pro Leave people on Lib Dem Voice are very polite, and never behave remotely like “trolls”, as you allege. But the way you constantly refer to them mockingly as “the brave Brexiteers” every time they comment, sometimes seems to come close to “trolling”.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 23rd Feb '17 - 6:39am

    John Hall, you say that in saying that, when Kishwer Falkner says that Leaving the EU is “what the people want”, she is ignoring various sections of the population. One group you mention is “the apathetic” – by which presumably you mean the twenty-eight percent who did not vote. But every election result is based on those who actually voted – it has to be. If people choose not to vote, they cannot really complain if their views are ignored.
    You claim that only twenty-eight percent of the electorate voted Leave. Even if you you mean this as a percentage of the total electorate including those who did not vote, this figure is incorrect. It was actually about thirty-seven percent of the total electorate, wasn’t it? But of course giving the percentage in this way really makes no difference, as it is still higher than the percentage of the total electorate who voted Remain.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 23rd Feb '17 - 7:13am

    John Hall, you also say that, in her statement that leaving the EU is what the people want, Kishwer Falkner is ignoring people who voted Remain. Obviously by “the people” she means the majority of people, or rather, the majority of those who voted. But this is how referendums work, and I don’t really see how it could be otherwise. A referendum gives two different options. Only one of these outcomes can be implemented, which means that those who voted for the other option will be dissatisfied. It doesn’t mean that the minority were “ignored”. Their votes were counted, but the other viewpoint got more votes, so that is the option that is implemented. It could be argued that a compromise between the two should be found, but this would mean an outcome that no-one had voted for, and no-one would be completely satisfied with, so this would be the least democratic outcome.

  • “people don’t know the destination in a referendum” Is a bit flawed isn’t it? The people weren’t offered a coherent destination to even consider, They voted against the EU with no coherent alternative on offer.
    Surely the simple point is whether, if you really believe the likely impact of brexit will make people poorer you should not support that process. If it all goes per shaped I hope Kishwer will have a clear conscience.

  • Philip Knowles 23rd Feb '17 - 8:23am

    Article 50 IS revocable. There was an article written by the chap who drafted it to the effect that it was to prevent a mad dictator from seizing power and forcing a country to leave. The 2 years is like a decree nisi.
    Since 1974 anti-Europeans have been fighting that referendum result. I think if they have been fighting it for 42 years we have every right to fight for what we believe in for the next two!

  • Little Jackie Paper 23rd Feb '17 - 8:56am

    Mark Goodrich – ‘Incidentally, it can be seen that even shallow FTAs are moving rapidly in the direction of allowing increased freedom of movement (see discussions with India). It is impossible to turn back the clock to the days where free trade was about widgets. This is one of the many things that Brexiteers get wrong.’

    I think that is exactly the point that some LEAVEers were making. It may well be that FTAs involve some of the so-called ‘natural persons’ regime. But there is a very big difference between that and the open-ended right of establishment that the EU calls for. What you make of that is another matter, and how states manage it is too. But I really don’t think it’s nearly as simple as you make out here. Let’s at least not pretend that free movement of labour and free movement of people are the same thing.

    I don’t know what to tell you. Whether anyone likes it or not a message from that referendum was that a lot of people, including it would appear a non-trivial part of the REMAIN vote are not happy with immigration at 300+k a year seemingly forever. I am open to the argument that students (as distinct from graduates) should be taken out of the figures and I am open to the argument that non-EU migration should be revisited. And I am open to the argument that the UK has not managed EU migration all that well.

    However a big impulse for that vote was the sense that the political class were ducking that 300k a year number its unpopularity and its implications. I don’t think carrying on ducking helps anyone.

  • Antony Watts 23rd Feb '17 - 9:24am

    Stop debating and dithering.

    We are PRO-EU.

    That’s the message.

    No matter what little confusions get in the way, PRO-EU, that means Remain and build for the future has to be at the core.

    Everything else is tactics, and a second referendum (without an laws about them in UK, i.e. must have 60% in favour minimum to be valid, must have 75% voting) is a no -goer.

  • I’m sorry, but I don’t buy any of Kishwer’s argument. IMO it is just an excuse for betraying her beliefs. I don’t know what the motivation is but only she can know that.
    It is the job of politicians to lead, not follow. In this respect Ken Clarke is one of only a very few conviction politicians left in the UK.
    If you see a man about to jump off a bridge you don’t think.
    ‘Well, he’s obviously had a referendum of one and had an overwhelming result in favour of jumping. As such I have a duty to push him’
    No, you realize that he is, at this point in time, in a dark place and that if you can save his life, then that will pass and and he will go on to look back and thank you for saving him.
    Yes, talk. but if that fails grab him.
    It is the job of politicians to do what they believe is best for the country. If they are not willing to do that, whatever the personal consequences, then what are they there for. If Kishwer is pro European then she should vote against Art50. Betraying your principles is a death of a thousand cuts to your character.

  • Cath. J Crosland:
    Hi, I say 28% of the population, (“the People”) voted “leave”
    “Apathetic” – I refer to the small percentage who are truely apathetic.
    The arguments and lies around Brexit could challenge someone like me, educated to beyond degree level and with time on my hands. To my mining family, educated to 14, working in service and labouring, even if inclined to do so they could not be expected to research the subject and come to a timely conclusion. They rely on their elected representatives to make informed decisions – one major fault with putting such a complex subject to a referendum.
    I am not stating the KW ignored the Remainers. The question mark at the end of the sentence (and others), indicated that I was questioning this. If This is how Referenda work, it was clearly mis-used in this case and Parliament was wrong to put the question in a referendum without caveats and conditions. That wrong is being compounded by the rush to the cliff edge on the basis of a flawed “majority”. If these are “the people”,
    who are the 72% of the population who did not vote Brexit? Finally, it is vitally important that those too young or gaga to vote are protected by their MP – another reason why the result cannot be binding!

  • @Martin
    “We could also consider those who will be of voting age when the two years are up.”
    No they should not be considered. By your logic, we should have another rerun of the 2015 general Election now because those people who were 17 at the time and ineligible to vote are now 18 and eligible to vote, they should not have to live with this government for another 3 years as they never voted for it.

    @Philip Knowles
    “Article 50 IS revocable. There was an article written by the chap who drafted it “
    I would not put much faith in Lord Kerr if I were you, he admitted that he drafted it not believing that any country would ever use it and under what terms it would be used, believing as you say that it was only written to be used as protection from stopping a country being forced out of the EU.

    @Antony Watts
    “i.e. must have 60% in favour minimum to be valid, must have 75% voting”
    I am assuming you are suggesting that enhanced majority should be required of 60% and a minimum turnout of 75%. The undemocratic problem with that is all one side has to do is to convince it’s supporters not to vote, thus ensuring there is no 75% turnout and the result being void, very undemocratic.

    @John Hall
    “To my mining family, educated to 14, working in service and labouring, even if inclined to do so they could not be expected to research the subject and come to a timely conclusion. “
    Do these people vote in General Elections? Should they even be allowed to vote in a general election? After all the consequences for a country voting any party into power can have huge consequences for a country for years or even decades to come.

  • Kishwer’s argument although very Liberal is also very sad. It will surely fill every UKIP, Conservative (except Ken Clarke) and many Labour MPs hearts with joy – “Another Lib Dem peeled the edges.”

    The party is called the Liberal Democrats for a reason. Liberal – we have a diversity of views and we accept them. We discuss and debate them. We consider all the evidence and not just the bits that agree with our personal instinctive preferences.

    Then we decide – usually based on a vote of whatever body is most appropriate or sometimes simply most able to make the decision in the time available … and we all stick together whatever our personal preferences were, That is the Democrat bit.

    Without the Democrat bit we are just a bunch of Liberal Independents. Easily split by whoever outside our number can muster a compelling counter argument. And easily destroyed as we were between 2010 and 2015.

    Whether we agree or disagree on individual policies like this, we all know we only achieve things when we work as a team, and support each other through thick and thin. We expect support from Team Lib Dem members to get us elected even if they disagree with us on some issues, and in response we must support Team Lib Dem. The question we all have to ask ourselves is “Am I Team Liberal Democrat, or just Team Me?”

  • @ matt “Do these people vote in General Elections? Should they even be allowed to vote in a general election? After all the consequences for a country voting any party into power can have huge consequences for a country for years or even decades to come.”

    What an absurd response followed by such a trite conclusion.

    My family, like John Hall, come from a long line of miners (my great granddad died of miners lung at 28). They grafted night and day to feed their families and knew more about real life than ‘matt’ will ever know.

    Following his line of argument ,and based on the intellectual quality of his response, does ‘matt’ vote in general elections and should he even be allowed to ?

  • @David Raw

    You clearly did not read my post or John Halls for that matter.

    John has been arguing on here for weeks that “uneducated” people are not sufficiently qualified to make a decision on EU referendum and as a result many did not vote.

    I was being sarcastic and pointing out the lunacy of his argument by flipping it around and asking him if the same uneducated people are able to come to an informed choice on a General Election

  • For clarity.

    I am 100 % against remainers arguments that the majority of people who voted Brexit are less educated.
    Does having a higher education mean your vote is worth more? That seems to be an argument that many people remain campaign have played upon, otherwise why keep bringing it up?

  • Hi Matt,
    Of course even the most poorly educated, less able but remotely intellegent person should be allowed to vote for the candidate who’s philosophy and party alliegence mosts appeals to that person. The successful candidate is then entrusted to take decisions on behalf of that person. Stop trying to justify the unjustifiable! Tell me of one person who claims that Brexiteers are less edicated. Listen to yourself man! Your statements are getting wilder and wilder.

  • John Barrett 23rd Feb '17 - 2:43pm

    Well said Kishwer. From my own discussions with other Lib-Dems and from comments on LDV, there are clearly a number of long standing party members who do not think that a second referendum is actually a good idea.

    The need for unity and push for it in Westminster, either in the Commons or the Lords, does not necessarily reflect the views of the wider membership.

    It has also been interesting to note the certainty that many contributors hold about the impending disaster Brexit might bring. They might be correct, but they cartaLooking back over recent years, the one thing that has been proved is that such certainty is often in the end shown to be

  • John Barrett 23rd Feb '17 - 2:53pm

    My apologies about the final paragraph(s) of my last comment, which should have read

    It has also been interesting to note the absolute certainty that many contributors hold about the impending disaster Brexit will bring.

    They might or might not be proved correct in the years to come, but while the negotiations have not yet started, I find it impossible to accept that the impact of the result of those negotiations should be taken as anything more than wishful thinking.

    Looking back over recent years, the one thing that has been proved is that such certainty over economic predictions is often in the end shown to be very wide of the mark.

  • paul holmes 23rd Feb '17 - 3:02pm

    @David Evans. A genuine question David in view of what you say above. At what point did the Party discuss, debate and decide that our policy should be to vote against implementing the democratic decision of the UK electorate in last June’s Referendum?

    Certainly not just before the Referendum when Tim was warning Farage that a narrow Remain victory would not allow for immediate campaigning to reverse that decision.

    I genuinely do not know the answer. I have not attended Conference for a couple of years now and no longer follow the policy making process in any detail. I recall reading an article (in the Independent I think) about how some of our MP’s were unhappy when the Leader ‘told them’ this was our policy. I don’t know what truth there is in that other than that shortly after that 3 of our small number of MP’s did not vote against Article 50 and that most recently 2 did not.

  • paul holmes 23rd Feb '17 - 3:37pm

    @John Barrett. Hi John, I agree with you that Kishwer’s article is ‘well said.’ A thoughtful and well articulated point of view. As you and I know from personal experience there is usually a great deal of careful deliberation within the Liberal Democrat Parliamentarians in order to reach an agreed position and accommodate as far as possible the concerns of colleagues. It is never easy to ‘rebel’ against your colleagues as long as such a careful and open group consultation has taken place. During our 9 years together in Parliament I can personally only very rarely remember voting against the Party ‘Whip’. The main occasion being in early 2008 when a third of us, including Tim, stuck to our 2015 Manifesto commitment to support a Referendum while another third abstained despite the then Leaders call for us to vote against. Mainly I rarely felt the need to disagree because that ‘Whip’ was arrived at in accord with Party Policy and following thorough discussion of any ‘tricky’ areas of concern. As Kishwer very clearly explains it was not a decision she took lightly given her 30 years of Lib Dem campaigning.

    Where I would disagree is over the point about a ‘second referendum’. I do think that it is perfectly legitimate to argue the case for a Referendum on the outcome of the negotiations. Indeed it would be legitimate and democratic to argue for a further Referendum -after all the Leavers spent 40 years arguing for another go after they lost in 1975.

    What I think is unwise is to link the case for Soft Brexit and/or a Referendum on the outcome of the negotiations, to voting against the implementation of the clear decision last June that the majority of voters wanted to Leave the EU. Voters may or may not change their mind in the future, either before or after negotiations are complete. Trying to persuade them of the merits of your case over those of someone else is the whole point of democracy. But we need to accept that we lost the argument in a democratic vote last June and not try to block the beginning of the process that a majority voted for.

  • Nom de Plume 23rd Feb '17 - 3:37pm

    I agree with the vote against Article 50. As I understand it the Party is still a pro-EU party. Besides anything else, someone needs to be the opposition. 48% voted against leaving. This is seperate from referendums.

  • @ matt “You clearly did not read my post or John Halls for that matter.”

    Well, as a matter of fact I did. If you can’t express yourself clearly you should try a bit harder next time.

  • Arnold Kiel 23rd Feb '17 - 4:59pm

    With all their referendum baggage accumulated over many years, I appreciate the difficulty for LibDem MPs and some Lords to frame their laudable remain-stance. The second referendum is awkward, but possibly a useful tactical move to keep the question open and buying time for a shift in public opinion. But it is true that another referendum campaign is a scary thought for all of Europe.

    More fundamental to me is the question whether the British people want Brexit. Voting behaviour, motivations, and related sociodemographics are by now rather thoroughly researched and widely published. Everything I learn about this referendum confirms me in my belief that EU-membership was asked, but a different question was answered.

    People answered the question: Are you satisfied with the development of your situation in the last 10 years and your and your children’s future prospects? (enough said no) And, as a follow-up: Are you so dissatisfied that you support also dangerous, radical decisions? (many said yes)

    You may disagree with my interpretation of the referendum result. But a politician who supports Brexit against his/her conviction must be sure that my surrogate questions played no role whatsoever, because otherwise, they would act against people’s best interests.

    I do not find it acceptable for a leader to act against people’s essential needs with the excuse that that’s what they wanted.

  • Leekliberal 23rd Feb '17 - 6:03pm

    Matt says ‘I am 100 % against remainers arguments that the majority of people who voted Brexit are less educated.’
    Sorry Matt but all the analysis of the vote makes it absolutely clear that ‘remain’ voters as a group were better educated than ‘leave’ voters. It doesn’t mean leave votes should count less or that they are necessarily wrong, but a fact is a fact!

  • @John Hall

    Sorry for the delay, I was given a time out lol.
    “tell me of one person who claims that Brexiteers are less edicated”
    This forum has been full of them, you yourself have implied it in your comments, you and I have had many a run in over the last couple of weeks on this matter
    Your comments here reflect this.
    https://www.libdemvoice.org/this-is-how-to-respect-the-referendum-result-52893.html#comment-427699
    You constantly go on about the people who have not had a higher education having the ability to research and understand about the consequences about leaving the EU and / or the time.
    As I have said to you on several threads. Voting in a General Election is just as important as voting in the EU referendum; the consequences can be just as severe. Do we expect everyone to research and know the manifesto of every party that is standing in an election? No we do not. That is the flaw in your arguments that I have been pointing out.
    “Your statements are getting wilder and wilder.”
    I think you will find it is your statements getting wilder, I am pointing out the lunacy of them through sarcasm, though that is probably churlish of me and I need to reflect on that and modify my language.
    You have made numerous claims about less educated people and generalised comments about disabled people as you did here https://www.libdemvoice.org/this-is-how-to-respect-the-referendum-result-52893.html#comment-427909
    “As it is not practical to expect all people to devote sufficient time to understanding the implications, especially those with little interest or ability in the subject, various disabilities and other traumas, then the decision needs to be left to elected representatives with greater understanding and resources.””

    You on numerous occasions threw around wild accusations about me being a privileged, out of touch middle class Tory, which could not be more wring.
    Maybe you should reflect on your comments before accusing others of being Wild

    @David Raw
    “Well, as a matter of fact I did. If you can’t express yourself clearly you should try a bit harder next time.”
    Well you couldn’t have, otherwise why else do you think John was mentioning “educated” people yet again?
    John and I have been crossing swords over this matter for the last couple of weeks over several threads, though I do not expect anyone to have been following that saga, you really should have been able to read between the lines.

  • Peter Watson 23rd Feb '17 - 7:10pm

    @matt “Voting in a General Election is just as important as voting in the EU referendum”
    To which you could also add voting in a referendum on an electoral system, voting in a referendum on Scottish independence, and voting in a referendum on Welsh devolution. Three referendums that were delivered to the electorate by Lib Dems in Coalition. Four if you include the In/Out referendum on Europe that Lib Dems have campaigned for. Furthermore, in 2010 I voted for a Lib Dem party that also wanted referendums on joining the euro and a written constitution for the UK.

    All of these are very important and very complicated issues, and yet it is Lib Dem policy to reduce the voting age in referendums to 16. Referendums and participation in them has long appeared to be a significant and desirable part of the democratic process for Lib Dems.

    That is why I struggle to understand the inconsistent messages from the party and some members who profess to dislike referendums, complaining how difficult it is for voters to understand what they are choosing (while calling for another one on EU membership), and expressing a preference for “representative democracy” that we have long criticised for not being very representative at all.

  • @ matt ” I am pointing out the lunacy of them through sarcasm, though that is probably churlish of me and I need to reflect on that and modify my language”.

    You got that bit right. A lie down in a darkened room, now ?

    “Well you couldn’t have”. Well, yes I did…………, so there’s a need for a bit more precision as well as a bit less sarcasm.

  • Peter Watson 23rd Feb '17 - 7:29pm

    @Leekliberal “Sorry Matt but all the analysis of the vote makes it absolutely clear that ‘remain’ voters as a group were better educated than ‘leave’ voters.”
    Indeed. There is a correlation, and on average those who voted for Brexit have spent less time in formal education than those who voted to Remain. So to answer John Hall’s question, “Tell me of one person who claims that Brexiteers are less edicated.”, the answer would be pretty much anyone who has reported on the polling data.

    However, the problems arise and temperatures rise in the debate when the implication is made or the inference is drawn that this makes those who voted for Brexit somehow inferior or that they hold wrong-headed views because of their lack of education. Rather than ‘less time in formal education’ meaning relatively fewer people with degrees, words like “uneducated” or “stupid” or “ignorant” are used, implicitly or explicitly. It is the ideas and opinions on both sides that should be challenged and criticised, not the people who hold them. And formal education is only one aspect of the many complicated and interacting socio-economic factors that form the characters of voters on both sides.

  • @Liberal Leek
    Ok I should rephrase, I am 100% against the purpose of the argument used by “some” remainers, that leavers were less educated.
    If it were a fact that remains voters where better educated as a group than leavers, this matters why? What is the purpose of that statement? It has been trotted out numerous times on these forums by some. Will any of them have the guts to stand up and say what they actually mean by it, so it can be challenged, or will they just continue to rely on innuendo?

    @Peter Watson

    All very good points indeed, thank you for raising that. I had not even thought about it being Liberal democrat policy to reduce the voting age to 16, whilst at the same time many within the party and it’s supporters complaining that the EU referendum and referendums in general being to complex for people to understand.
    There are a lot of inconsistencies with some peoples arguments, for instance those that believe that the EU referendum should have a minimum turn out / Enhanced Majority, but then on the flip side supports a simple majority and no minimum turn out for AV referendum etc.

    @David Raw
    So you chose not to answer my question about why you think John keeps mentioning educated people and instead focus on telling me to go shut myself in a darkened room?
    “so there’s a need for a bit more precision as well as a bit less sarcasm.” Pot, kettle.
    If you are going to engage me and challenge my posts, you should at least have the decency to respond to my reasonable question, otherwise it can come across as you trying to inhibit me and that’s not very nice at all.

  • Baroness Falkner has my congratulations. She realises that the UK, an island nation that has a different perspective on being European, will never agree to political union or federalisation.

    Our destiny is global. The EU constrains us.

  • The argument about the profile of remainers compared with leavers has nothing to do with education.

    Those who wished to leave did so in order to return control of immigration, primacy of our laws, the sovereignty of our parliament, all powers of state that previously been squandered. We wished to return these powers to the democratic control of our children and grandchildren.

    Those who voted to remain include a small minority who subscribe to the federalist dream of a politically united Europe, but the majority rejected the British spirit and sovereignty in order to protect their wallets.

  • Leekliberal 23rd Feb '17 - 9:27pm

    Peter says ‘Baroness Falkner has my congratulations.’ ‘Those who voted to remain include a small minority who subscribe to the federalist dream of a politically united Europe, but the majority rejected the British spirit and sovereignty in order to protect their wallets.’
    I think the Baroness should worry about her new admirers!

  • @ Paul Holmes. Indeed Paul you are right to ask the question when did the party discuss our position on Brexit and a second referendum. And it is one of those conundrums we all have to live with. How do you make the best approximation to considered debate and voting in a contemporary setting where news, the decisions of other parties (particularly the government where a Prime Minister says jump and everything changes in an instant), and the old favourite ‘Events, dear boy. Events.’?

    Ultimately we have a series of decision making bodies, from conference to variously elected committees, to elected members and an elected leader who have to make decisions on our behalf. To an extent we have to rely on their ability to make rapid soundings and come to a quick decision when to do otherwise would simply leave us open to scorn for not being able to make our minds up. They do the best they can. When they make a mess, and like us all they do get it wrong from time to time, it is up to the rest of us to make it clear to them rapidly, so that they can change tack in the best way possible to minimise any damage to the party.

    Sadly, it is often this that many Lib Dems are not as good at as we should be. MPs are looked on as conquering heroes and their judgement beyond question by too many, and leaders even more so, as we all saw in coalition. In these circumstances we are dependent on other senior figures, whether it be other current or past MPs, MEPs, Lords, senior councillors etc, being prepared to put the alternative view forward. If they don’t, and instead choose to announce their views only a few days before they are going to cast their protest in the House of Lords, it is all simply much too late.

  • David
    It is in fact the third referendum. The first was of course in 1975.

  • Matt, Slow to get back. I do have another life. bum

    “Brexiteers are less educated” Did I talk of either side suffering because of many of the general population’s inability to work through all the arguments in a limited time even had they wanted to? I think not, but if so I apologise. I’m only trying to put the case for democracy ie rule by all the people by majority voting, usually through elected representatives, which is how the Brexit decision should have beeen made: through a majority of our elected representatives, (although I will still argue that they are not “representative”).
    AS I’ve said, voting for the general political beliefs of a candidate or party in a general election does not require detailed knowledge of a party’s manifesto. One political attitude (eg abortion) may sway some, but most only need to know a party’s general direction of travel. What a party (broadly) stands for is all most need to know.
    Maybe you should re-examine which party most agrees with your own views of “democracy”.

  • Peter: Just read your bit. I’m not too keen to “return sovereignty” to unrepresentative tory governments; we’ll see what “primacy” our laws have in future dealings with the rest of the world, (ie excluding England and Wales); I doubt our English and Welsh children and grandchildren will be happy with their “British spirit” once N Ireland and Scotland go their own ways, in the former’s case no doubt after much trouble and strife!

  • John Barrett 24th Feb '17 - 10:29am

    John Hall – “The arguments and lies around Brexit could challenge someone like me, educated to beyond degree level and with time on my hands. To my mining family, educated to 14, working in service and labouring, even if inclined to do so they could not be expected to research the subject and come to a timely conclusion. They rely on their elected representatives to make informed decisions”

    I am afraid that you make the mistake of assuming that those elected representatives at Westminster come to that timely conclusion – after researching the issues and considering all the facts with an open mind on the subject in question.

    Having walked through the voting lobbies at Westminster many times, and I am sure Paul Holmes will confirm this, many MPs vote on issues for a variety of reasons. Some might hold strong views on the subject, which will not change regardless of the facts presented to them, some will vote for an issue out of loyalty to their party – despite holding contrary views, some might feel they must represent their constituents views if they are strong – regardless of their own personal views, some might be trying to hold on to their seat at the next election and how to do this might determine the way they vote. The list goes on and on. Few MPs actually listen to most debates in the chamber, as can now be seen on TV, and fewer still ever change their minds after the debate. so even the value of Parliamentary debate is very questionable when most votes are in fact decided before the debate takes place.

    To add to that, on many occasions, I witnessed MPs going through the voting lobbies with not only no idea how they were actually voting, but with little or no idea on what the actual vote in question was about. Representative democracy does have its problems.

    Assuming that MPs, regardless of how well educated they might be, or how much time they might have on their hands, will come to the right conclusion, any more than your mining family are likely to, is one of them.

  • @John Hall

    “I think not, but if so I apologise”

    I can assure you on several threads {one of which I linked to in previous comments} you have talked about the people who have not had a “higher education” and therefore in your opinion felt unqualified to vote on the EU Referendum. But if you’re apologising for this now then I think we should let it go.
    With regards to
    “AS I’ve said, voting for the general political beliefs of a candidate or party in a general election does not require detailed knowledge of a party’s manifesto. One political attitude (eg abortion) may sway some, but most only need to know a party’s general direction of travel. What a party (broadly) stands for is all most need to know.”
    but on another thread you said https://www.libdemvoice.org/this-is-how-to-respect-the-referendum-result-52893.html#comment-427815“The philosophies and policies of various political parties are things we grow up with and can read about or watch on TV or listen to on the radio every single day, (or even hour if one chose!) ”

    So on one hand you seem to say that people learn about, over the years about a parties policies, philosophies through reading media, watching TV and radio etc and it is this knowledge that helps them to decide which party they vote for in a General Election, which we have both agreed is just as important as a decision on an EU referendum.
    The EU referendum is something that has been playing out for years and even more so since the coalition government back in 2010, That’s (7 years) Since this debate has been going on, ever since then it has been in the papers, on the radio, on the news, there has been endless interviews and even months worth of TV debates, and yet, you seem to be saying that this was insufficient source of information and time to make a personal judgement?
    I call that out as being inconsistent in your views

    “Maybe you should re-examine which party most agrees with your own views of “democracy””
    I have been doing that, that’s why I am struggling, because I usually identify with both Labour and Liberal Democrats and right now, neither of them are appealing and I am homeless

  • John Barrett 24th Feb '17 - 11:56am

    @Paul Holmes “Where I would disagree is over the point about a ‘second referendum’.”

    Hi Paul, the problem with another referendum on the outcome of the negotiations is that unless there is a third option on the ballot paper (giving the options to leave with the deal negotiated, to leave anyway but to reject the negotiated deal and to reject the deal and remain in the EU) it will just be seen as an attempt to reverse the decision made in the referendum.

    I understand people wishing to reverse the decision, and as you say, those with long standing beliefs will not change them just because of one vote. Like most Lib-Dems I have seen many defeats in elections, it does not mean that I will give up on long standing beliefs. Even within the party I have stuck with my support of free access to higher education, opposing the Trident missile system and opposing nuclear power while the leadership has changed its views on all three. It is currently my views which are now out of favour, but I will not change them.

    Another problem is that if it is decided to have another referendum and the majority of the EU negotiators do not wish us to leave, they will not agree any deal which would be supported in that referendum.

    We do not support another referendum north of the border on independence, as the people have spoken. Supporting another referendum where the party does not like the result while opposing one where we agree with the result does not increase our credibility.

  • John Barrett; You are utterly right of course. We could pray that more MPs might actually take an interest in such an important subject as leaving the EU, but failing that I would agree with others that Leaving – like a ballot for industrial action by trade unionists – should require two-thirds in favour, (of the electorate and/or Parliament).
    Matt: I have gone back and I certainly did not say that Brexiteers/leavers are less educated, as you claimed above. You say the EU Referendum is something that has been playing out for years. I cannot agree. Straight cucumbers and similar topics may have been – along with misinformation and outright lies. I’ve spoken to far more than one person who have conflated the ECHR with the EU from articles they have read in various papers. They have blamed the EU for standing up for the rights of various dodgy characters, (eg that muslim cleric chappie). How can such people or rather a simple majority of them be allowed to place at risk the Union, and the economic and social well-being of its people, (and even life itself in Northern Ireland).

  • @John
    “ I have gone back and I certainly did not say that Brexiteers/leavers are less educated, as you claimed above” well I am afraid I disagree, that is how i have interpreted your comments over several threads, I do not have the time or inclination though to pour over all the old threads to find your comments to prove a point, I think we both know what has been said over the last couple of weeks. I will however ask you though, if this was not what you was implying, why do you keep bringing up the “higher education” issue? What is the purpose of you mentioning it? Surely there are undertones?

    “They have blamed the EU for standing up for the rights of various dodgy characters, (eg that muslim cleric chappie). How can such people or rather a simple majority of them be allowed to place at risk the Union”
    You must have read and watched different debates to me, all the polls that I have saw on the reasons why the “majority” of people voted to leave the EU was due to Immigration, Sovereignty and making our own trade agreements. Where is your evidence to support your claim that a majority voted because of confusion over the ECHR and the EU and for blaming the EU for not standing up to “Muslim clerics”? Do you have some solid evidence of this or are you casting yet more aspersions?

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