LibLink: Catherine Bearder: The campaign to keep Britain in Europe must be based on hope not fear

Catherine Bearder has written for the New Statesman’s Staggers blog to castigate both sides of the EU Referendum debate for negativity, citing the example of Scotland:

On the one hand, Ukip and the feuding Leave campaigns have shamelessly seized on the events in Cologne at New Year to claim that British women will be at risk if the UK stays in Europe. On the other, David Cameron claims that the refugees he derides as a “bunch of migrants” in Calais will all descend on the other side of the Channel the minute Britain leaves the EU. The British public deserve better than this. Rather than constant mud-slinging and politicising of the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War, we need a frank and honest debate about what is really at stake. Most importantly this should be a positive campaign, one that is fought on hope and not on fear. As we have a seen in Scotland, a referendum won through scare tactics alone risks winning the battle but losing the war.

So what’s the alternative?

This leaves the field open to put forward a united vision of Britain’s place in Europe and the world. Liberal Democrats are clear what we believe in: an open, inclusive and tolerant nation that stands tall in the world and doesn’t hide from it. We are not uncritical of the EU’s institutions. Indeed as Liberals, we fiercely believe that power must be devolved to the lowest possible level, empowering communities and individuals wherever possible to make decisions for themselves. But we recognise that staying in Europe is the best way to find the solutions to the problems that don’t stop at borders, rather than leaving them to our children and grandchildren. We believe Britain must put itself at the heart of our continent’s future and shape a more effective and more accountable Europe, focused on responding to major global challenges we face.

You can read the whole article here.

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  • There is increasing talk of a common finance minister for eurozone countries and further fiscal integration of the Euro area.

    This is an affront to democracy – and liberal principles of subsidiarity – that can only compound the problems facing the “European project” in terms of its legitimacy. Rather than “empowering communities and individuals” it is disempowering them by taking democratic control of vital government functions – what could be more vital than government finance? – away from them.

    Since the UK is not a euro member and has no intention of becoming one, how can we possibly put ourselves “at the heart” of our continent’s future when we have no part in this process?

    I say this as someone who count himself as an enthusiast for all things European, but increasingly, and sadly, that excludes the political dimension.

    Yes, we need to co-operate with our neighbours in areas where joint action adds coherence and value, e.g the environment, but increasingly the EU is looking like subtracting rather than adding value in pursuing many of its activities.

  • John
    The Channel Islands are not part of the EU- Lincolnshire next?

  • Richard Underhill 12th Feb '16 - 4:51pm

    There is a race to the bottom in terms of corporate taxation. Former Prime Minister Edward Heath wanted a common policy, but it was not achieved.
    Northern Ireland wants to reduce its rate to the same as the Republic of Ireland.
    Luxembourg and Google are in the news.

  • Richard Underhill 12th Feb '16 - 5:11pm

    A carefully worded article in the Daily Telegraph by William Hague urged Tories to support the PM in the cause of Tory party unity. Hague ceased to be a minister in May 2015, is on the way to a peerage and has earned money from writing and speaking, so he is unlikely to be subject to patronage. Therefore Cameron has a job on persuading his own party to follow his lead, but it is his own fault for initiating the referendum in the first place.
    Liberal Democrats should concentrate on the question on the ballot paper.
    The national interest is not expressed solely by any individual.

  • Trish Derraugh 13th Feb '16 - 11:23am

    I agree with John’s comment that HOPE is not enough. I used to be very pro-Europe but now find it very difficult to remain so; given the very bad management of so many issues over so many years.
    Good management is what citizens expect and just saying that “yes” we know reforms are needed doesn’t cut it. Reforms should have been implemented and it may be a case of “too little, too late”.

  • With respect, would the Lib Dems be happy for the UK to lose all “unilateral” sovereignty as regards the EU, ie Cameron’s “emergency handbrake” which would actually require about 14 countries to agree with the UK before a stop was implemented and become a “state/region” of a country called “the EU” and the unilaterally sovereign country as regards the EU: “the UK” essentially become part of history? Please note I would welcome to be educated on anything I might not be properly understanding – thank you for reading.

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