Lib Link: Nick Clegg – You can stop Brexit by joining the Labour party – or even the Tories


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Writing in the Observer, Nick Clegg argues that the pro-Brexit agenda is being pushed by a moneyed elite, at the disadvantage of “the little people” they pretend to support. He goes on to say:

…if you are already a Labour-inclined voter who believes that Brexit is the most important issue facing our country, join the Labour party and relentlessly make your voice heard. Visit your MP once a month. Go to local party meetings. Attend conference and table motions. Write to Jeremy Corbyn. After all, when he was elected as Labour leader his promise was to ‘listen to everyone’, because ‘leadership is about listening’. Or, if you are a Conservative-inclined voter who believes that Brexit is the most important issue facing our country, you could take a deep breath and join the Conservative party. It has only around 150,000, overwhelmingly elderly, members, who mostly back a hard form of Brexit. These are the people that Tory MPs must answer to, but if just one in 100 Remain voters were to join the Conservative party they would outnumber the current membership. A new army of anti-Brexit members could pressure MPs, move to deselect the most Eurosceptic among them and even vote in a leadership contest. When Jacob Rees-Mogg is a frontrunner among the current membership, perhaps it is time to tip the balance.

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22 Comments

  • Lorenzo Cherin 8th Oct '17 - 4:38pm

    The recent and immediate reaction to this in his book makes the reappearance as a Guardian article means another torrent of “clegg should be expelled !”

    He shouldn,t. He should be criticised , argued with , told he has the political and electoral antenna of an academic whose specialist subject is “the EU and all its works other than its political and electoral impact !”

    We really do need new people to emerge, and that means, those who have not had a platform, not just those who have and have not made the impact they should have.

  • Eddie Sammon 8th Oct '17 - 4:39pm

    Disrespectful for Nick to be repeating this join Labour or the Tories stuff after he probably knew it has already disappointed people in the party this week.

  • Stupid comments by Nick Clegg. Labour is now tightly controlled by Corbyn, who is not anti-Brexit. No-one joining would able able to outweigh that. In any case, assuming there will be no GE before Brexit, Labour would not be in a position to prevent it. As for the Tories, grassroots members have little say and in any case it would take a huge influx and quite a bit of time to outweigh the existing pro-Brexit majority. What is essential to stop Brexit is a major shift in public opinion resulting from a heightened awareness of the practical implications, helped along by a few by-election losses for Brexit candidates.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 8th Oct '17 - 4:45pm

    Eddie, The contractual obligations probably mean the article was in the paper in planned stage prior to the release of this story, but, he could have changed it to update it to say what he should have said, ie “join the Liberal Democrats !”

    As one who thinks one of the reasons we as a p[arty are on no better than two years ago in polls is because of having the same faces say the same things on the same wretched issue, and barely any other proper coverage, I could say the Clegg story is a yawn.

    It is more. It is indicative that the Remainer obsessed are as obsessed as the Brexiteer obsessed.

    Time to be obsessed with the very manifold other reasons to be indignant and want to improve this country and , this world.

  • Not the most helpful thing Mr Clegg has done.

    To repeat, qua Clem Attlee, : “A period of silence from Mr Clegg would be welcome.”

  • In the world of raw politics knowledge and experience are rarely substitutes for judgement. Most Lib Dems at the coal face could have worked out how this would have been reported – starting with Andrew Marr this morning.

  • paul barker 8th Oct '17 - 9:06pm

    This is a repeat so if you read my earlier comments you can skip this.
    This story is getting very little coverage & will be missed by most people who arent very interested in Politics. Lets not do or say anything that might give this legs.
    I can see where Nick is coming from but he is wrong.
    The single biggest thing that might tip the scales is a perception that The Libdems are back or might soon be back, lets work on that.

  • Ed Shepherd 8th Oct '17 - 9:30pm

    EU-supporting member of the moneyed elite rails against other members of moneyed elite who disagree with him about the EU. Not sure that either bunch of moneyed elite care very much about the `the little people’.

  • Little Jackie Paper 8th Oct '17 - 10:10pm

    Well….It’s hard to see Mr Clegg being so sanguine about someone encouraging eurosceptics to join parties to make their voice heard.

    That being said he is right to, belatedly, raise a rather important point here. The EU is not a party political issue. This really is not a LAB/CON – LEFT/RIGHT issue. A lot of people seem to want it to be and treat it like one. But it really isn’t. What to do about that is a wider question and a difficult one. If you treat this as a party-political issue then you are asking for trouble. Being fair to Clegg he’s just recognising that this isn’t partisan politics in the conventional sense.

  • There are three problems with this:
    1) Other parties do not have internal democratic procedures like the Lib Dems and Greens have.

    2) There isn’t time to deselect Jacob Rees-Mogg and stop Brexit. There isn’t even time for new members to use their (one imagines considerable) powers of persuasion to turn him into an ardent euro-phile. Article 50 has already been triggered. The next election is likely to be in 2022.

    3) The other parties exist to win elections. They will support Brexit while implementing the result is popular and not follow the Lib Dem example of destroying all democratic credibility and popularity with a position that pro-EU referendum results are valid for 40 years, anti-EU ones are valid for zero years. When it becomes electorally advantageous for them, they may at some point in the future take the less democratically repugnant position that an anti-EU referendum result should be implemented for about 10 years, and support the holding of a referendum on rejoining sometime around 2027.

    Jackie Piper “The EU is not a party political issue. This really is not a LAB/CON – LEFT/RIGHT issue. A lot of people seem to want it to be and treat it like one. But it really isn’t. ”

    Many of those people are in the Liberal Democrats. They treat the EU like a party political issue even to the extent of treating the Lib Dems like an EU issue. The Lib Dems used to be about much more.

  • Bill le Breton 9th Oct '17 - 8:25am

    Asked nearly four years ago in the Euro election debate with Nigel Farage what Europe would look like in 10 years time, Nick Clegg replied in terms, “not much different”.

    In this book he is now saying something very different viz. Europe will consist of countries belonging to concentric circles, going at different speeds, committed to different degrees of and natures of union, with a high speed core using the Euro, with identical tax regimes and that the UK should seek to be part of one of the ‘circles’ some distance from that ‘full-on’ core, seeking thus in these present negotiations to position itself ready for this version of Europe, being in effect out of the EU but in the EEA.

    Some of us, a very few Liberal Democrats, have been saying something very similar if not exactly the same since before the referendum. It is a pity therefore that he did not make this position clear before that vote (as I did with much abuse here), that he didn’t use his unique hold over many members of the party (prior to June 16) that this was the Europe that he saw ahead, that this was his view on the position as to which circle to join, that the Lib Dems should be campaigning for this kind of European reform, and that after the referendum and especially during the recent general election he did not make this position utterly clear.

    As it was he continued to appear to say one thing to one audience and something else to another. It seems to me that his position was actually much closer to that of Dr Owen than he was prepared to let on.

    As for what people think he is a saying on joining certain political parties, that his a huge red-herring and missing the substantial point he is making and the strong advice he is giving to where the Lib Dems should be standing now.

  • Martin Land 9th Oct '17 - 8:43am

    He should be expelled. End of.

  • I think Jonathan Calder put this best in his blog post the other day:

    “The shorter Nick Clegg: I’ve shafted my own party so hard that it’s no longer worth joining if you want to make a difference”

  • Michael Meadowcroft 9th Oct '17 - 10:30am

    The glaring error in Nick’s article is to believe that by joining a party you thereby have influence. In fact, by joining a party, and thus signalling your continued electoral support, you reduce your influence. Nick forgets the cardinal rule that the only thing that frightens Conservative and Labour politicians is the fear of losing their seats. The biggest influence pro a united Europe supporters can have is to join the only party that resolutely believes in the UK remaining within the EU. A massive surge in Liberal Democrat membership, Liberal Democrat electoral support in the opinion polls and in seats gained, would terrify both parties. Nothing else will.

  • Andrew Toye 9th Oct '17 - 11:16am

    I think Mr Clegg should take John Major’s advice when departing Downing Street:

    “When the curtain comes down, it’s time to get off the stage”

  • Those excusing Clegg’s ‘latest’ are forgetting that he is still viewed, especially by the media, as the voice of the LibDem party…
    His utterances get far more coverage than Cable’s…He was on the ‘Today’programme and is regularly quoted in the Guardian (my choice of news)…

    What he says matters, even if it’s just to publicise his book…

  • Richard Easter 9th Oct '17 - 11:38am

    Nick Clegg is finished and should go back to counting his money from speaking fees to international bankers. It’s quite clear who his paymasters are and what their agenda is.

  • No word too bad can now describe the fellah, he is just unbelievable, and why Lib Dem Voice gives him word space I do not know. Mind you someone probably thinks the same of me!!!!!

  • Over the years last few years I’ve defended Nick, on LDV and elsewhere, to the hilt. I remain of the view that the country would have been worse without the coalition than with and that the knock the party took was a matter of putting the country first.

    But…

    I am utterly appalled and livid by these comments. They are deeply damaging to the party and are a kick in the teeth to all of use who put our money and spare time towards trying to regain lost ground.

    All of our MPs will be asked about it in every interview, everything else will be a side issue to “What’s the point of the LibDems, even Nick Clegg says people should join Labour”. It provides ample fodder for Tory and Labour to against voting for us.

    Whatever critique of the Govt. or Labour we put forward will be a side issue, whenever we say people should join the party it will be ignored. Our own former leader is making us, at best, a sideshow on an issue that we have a strong, clear position. We’ll spend as much defending this nonsense than talking about Liberal Democrat policy and position.

    And, most importantly, won’t on earth we will gain from this intervention? Nothing at all. Labour won’t change their mind, their muddled and thoughtless course is well and truly charted.

    When he resigned, Nick said our party will win again. I am convinced it will – but why on earth does he have to go and make that task harder for the rest of us.

  • Katharine Pindar 11th Oct '17 - 12:02am

    Fortunately it is likely that the popular focus will now be on Mrs May’s unwillingness to say how she would vote in a new Referendum (see tomorrow’s Guardian front page) rather than anything Nick Clegg is saying. But, Michael Meadowcroft, while I agree with you that we need people to grow the Lib Dem party and its support to fight Brexit (and I can’t think that I will ever disagree with things you, one of our party sages, write!) I’d like to focus on another of the points you make, the supreme fear felt by Tory and Labour politicians at the thought of losing their seats. The fact is, both parties are terrified of another General Election in the near future in case the other side wins, now that they are virtually neck on neck. This surely means that, when push comes to shove and negotiations can’t produce the longed-for cake-and-eat-it result, either or both might see another referendum as a way of staving off the danger and putting off the dreaded electoral test for their seats. Meantime, we should ourselves rouse public protest, and oppose the transitional deal which would obscure the need for a referendum before March 2019.

  • Nick Clegg has spent more than enough time on the political stage. His contribution is not always helpful. Perhaps it is time for him give the public a break. He should retire from politics and explore new horizons, such as getting a proper job.

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