LibLink: Tim Farron: Now the draft plan is on the table, the referendum campaign begins in earnest

Tim Farron has been writing about the announcement of the draft EU settlement over at the Huffington Post. Well, actually, it’s more about the substantive issues of the referendum. His article is exactly the sort of positive voice the campaign needs, giving five reasons for us to remain in the EU:

1. Prosperity: Remaining in works for Britain. Britain is already stronger and better off trading and working with Europe. We are part of the world’s largest single market, allowing British businesses to grow and prosper.

2. Peace: After decades of brutal conflict, European nations came together in cooperation. To this day, neighbours and allies support each other in what remains the world’s most successful project in peace.

3. Opportunity: British people have more opportunities to work, travel and learn than ever before. Staying in Europe gives our children and grandchildren greater prospects, and the best chance to succeed.

4. Environment: Protecting the natural environment remains one of the planet’s biggest challenges, for health, for food stocks and for climate change. These problems are tackled better when we all come together.

5. Security: Together we are stronger against terrorists who despise our liberal and modern way of life. And together we can break the criminal gangs who threaten our country with the illegal drugs trade, weapons and human trafficking.

It’s the sort of breath of fresh air the campaign needs, although he does have a little cheeky swipe at the others:

While campaigns trade statistics, anecdotes and I’m sure quite a few insults- and that is just Vote Leave and Leave.EU- people are already a bit worn down by it all.

You can read the whole article here.

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27 Comments

  • David Evershed 2nd Feb '16 - 5:04pm

    Nick Clegg made the mistake of not saying how the EU should be reformed in the debate with Farage. Instead he said it would be no dofferent in 10 years time.

    Lib Dems need to spell out how we want the EU to change.

    For example the EU could be less protectionist. Nearly 50% of EU funds are spent subsidising farming which accounts for only 3% or so of EU GDP.

    The EU might be better off using some of the subsidies to support steel manufacture against chinese dumping steel here.

  • The EU might be better off using some of the subsidies to support steel manufacture against chinese dumping steel here.

    Of more immediate concern and to the point is why didn’t the UK government didn’t use its negotiating position with EDF to ensure that the steel fabrications needed for the new Hinckley Point nuclear reactor were made in Sheffield, where we currently, but probably for not for much longer, have an established manufacturer with the relevant capacity and experience…

  • Hmm..Possibly he might have a point on number 4….

  • jedibeeftrix 2nd Feb '16 - 7:38pm

    what does farron think about the deal?
    that would be far more illuminating that (yet) another restatement of the old homilies.

  • Ryan McAlister 2nd Feb '16 - 9:10pm

    He didn’t actually say anything though, did he? It’s soundbite politics. Again.

    Wishy washy phrases like “coming together” are meaningless without some concrete detail on exactly how and why.

    It worries me that this our approach. If the best we can do is meaningless platitudes like Tim has spelt out, we are snookered.

  • Ryan I am with Tim on this one. If you want to say a lot – particular;ly in a liberal internationalist vein, it becomes hellish long-winded, especially against the background of The Mail, The Express, the Telegraph, The Sun, and poor explanations in the main broadcast media. You have to summarise, OK perhaps contrasting with the situation outside. Perhaps you would like to have a go….? In the past I have done some writing for Euro election material – maybe you have some good stuff?

  • Every one a winner ! Now is also the time to talk about the need to reform because David Cameron has to have some support in that , otherwise his Eurosceptics shall win the arguments . If our party can sit in government with other parties and join in the same fight in Scotland , we must , aware of how to , and how not to now , back electoral opponents when we agree . The draft package is modest , it must be supported as worthwhile , there is much wrong with the EU , to recognise it , is also to support it . Where Nick Clegg failed was in not showing this . Tim has made a very good start , no room for a complacent pro EU approach .That way is ruinous .

  • @Jedibeeftrix “what does farron think about the deal?”

    Agree that would be interesting, because what people are missing, isn’t so much the content of the deal but the way and spirit in which the deal has is being reached. Whilst the EU has been a reluctant party and has at times given out warnings, there appears to have been a change in the attitude of the EU leaders to change. It is this negotiation and the changes in the way things are done within the EU that are just as important as the content, because if we are to stay in, we need to be a fully respected member of the club.

  • Denis Loretto 2nd Feb '16 - 11:58pm

    I think our position on “the deal” should be as follows –
    “There are some people who are fundamentally anti-EU no matter what. There are others who see the benefit of European co-operation but have been genuinely concerned that the EU is inflexible and heedless to people’s concerns. Those people can be reassured from Cameron’s efforts that our European partners do recognise the need for change and reform. By playing a constructive role within the EU Britain can build on this. As we approach the referendum we can now concentrate on the powerful underlying reasons for remaining in the Union. Liberal Democrats are and always have been united on putting that positive case to the electorate.”

    Whatever we think of the risks to which Cameron has exposed the UK in his efforts to keep his party together, we now need him to put his prestige as PM behind the “remain” campaign. The last thing we should do is to join the europhobe chorus attempting to rubbish his reforms. In my view the one in particular which gives assurance as to the treatment of countries outside the eurozone is important and beneficial to the UK.

  • Alex Macfie 2nd Feb '16 - 11:59pm

    Nick Clegg made a mistake by doing the Farage debates at all. Actually no, he made a mistake by leading the party’s Euro election charge of the light brigade in 2014. He might have salvaged it if he had said that you can shape what the EU will look like by your vote in the European Parliamentary election, and that he hoped people would vote Lib Dem so that we have more ALDE MEPs helping make the EU more liberal. But no, he said nothing like that at all; there was not even any mention of the European Parliament or how people’s votes could affect how the EU would look. It was a European Parliamentary election campaign, the WHOLE POINT of which was to ELECT REPRESENTATIVES to a body that actually decides what the EU should look like. Instead of challenging it, Clegg instead chose to accept the media/Faragista falsehood that MEPs don’t matter and that the EU debate is a binary choice between uncritical support and withdrawal.

    When asked what the EU will look like in 10 years time, during a European Parliamentary election campaign, you should be saying that this depends on how people are going to vote in this election. That Clegg did not say this was an ABSOLUTE DISGRACE.

  • Denis Loretto 3rd Feb '16 - 12:20am

    @Alex Macfie

    With respect I really think this is not the time or the place to perpetuate the anti-Nick Clegg stuff. This thread is about what we do now as we face a referendum that the country simply cannot afford us to lose.

  • Alex Macfie 3rd Feb '16 - 8:02am

    Well the Clegg-fronted campaign of 2014 was a textbook example of how NOT to do it (even if it had been the appropriate forum for it, which it wasn’t). If we can’t say how we want the EU to look that is different from the status quo, then we’re lost.

  • I’m now a Leave voter.

    The EU has brought many benefits but those benefits are for those at the top of society at the expense of those at the bottom, and the pro EU campaigners will not address this.

    The vast immigration from Eastern Europe meant that lower skilled people were hit hard on in the labour market, but it’s great for the businesses to have a massive pool of cheap labour, not so good for those needing jobs.

    The increased demand for housing is great if you’re a landlord, terrible if you can’t afford to rent a home or buy one and now have to compete with 100’s of Eastern European families for access to social housing.

    The pro EU supporters do not address these issues, they just go on about how great some big ideological dream they have is. Well, if they can’t ensure that the EU works for everyone starting with getting the basics for those most in need I’m out. I have changed my opinion and now hope we leave.

  • In fairness to Nick Clegg, there were two debates between him and Nigel Farage. If I remember correctly, the audience for these debates was polled beforehand and at that point in time the majority in the audience was clearly anti-EU. After the first debate, the audience was polled again and there was a smaller anti-EU majority, so to that extent Nick Clegg had shifted opinion in favour of the EU. It was only in the second debate that Nick was worsted.

    Might I also, more unfashionably, say a word in defence of Nick Clegg’s opinion that the EU would be largely unchanged in ten years time. People generally, and Liberal Democrats probably especially so, have an expectation that politicians should say what they honestly believe, and if that is truly what Nick Clegg thought, he was certainly entitled to say it, unwise although it may have been in terms of political debate. My own view, which other posters may think is pessimistic, is that Nick Clegg may well have been right.

  • Rsf7: You cannot blame European membership for any of the things you complain of,these things needed to be managed by individual governments. The Eastern European question should be seen as a success as the cold war receded and europe united in ensuring those separated countries could move towards independence.
    But if you vote to leave, I cannot but be concerned for the future of my children and grandchildren as we diminish in our importance in the business and political worlds.

  • @bob sayer

    I think you have proven my point, you dismissed my concerns about the effects that over half a million often low skilled economic migrants who are often claiming social housing has had on British people at the bottom of the social economic ladder as nothing to do with the EU and all the fault of the national government when the reality is that the EU rules mean we can’t stop this and no government could have created such a large amount of new housing in such a short space of time.

    You then tried to convince me that the very thing I was concerned about, integration with Eastern Europe, was a good thing on the basis of some ideological theory about how Europe should be united after the Cold War etc etc…

    And Your dismissal of my concerns was relatively mild, others in the party would probably just dismiss me as some sort of bigot and insist that my concerns must not be pandered too.

    And this is why I think your side wil lose the debate.

  • Stephen Booth 3rd Feb '16 - 11:14am

    There is little to disagree with in what Farron has said. But other commentators are right: it’s wishy-washy. He needs to give context and examples in each case. For instance: Prosperity. The strongest reason for staying in is the original one when we joined: it’s a common market or more specifically, a single market. We’ve spent decades negotiating details over standards, procedures, job qualifications etc so there really is equality of opportunity between member states. Losing that would quickly grind sections of the UK economy to a halt.

  • James Murray 3rd Feb '16 - 11:19am

    Or

    LibDems for the Blue Collar Majority

  • James Murray 3rd Feb '16 - 11:21am

    or

    LibDems for the Waged Majority
    or

    Workers on Wages LibDems
    or

    LibDems for Workers on Wages

  • Denis Loretto 3rd Feb '16 - 5:32pm

    @Rsf7

    Of the various arguments put forward for leaving the EU I find concern for “people at the bottom of the social economic ladder” by far the weakest. Even leaving aside the clear benefits to trade and employment that EU membership provides consider this. Without any influence from the EU will the untrammelled long term Conservative government which the Corbyn Labour leadership will very likely facilitate be a great benefit to “people at the bottom of the social economic ladder “?

  • @Denis Loretto – what a fantastic message to keep brexit voters voting brexit. Fear through the process rather than a positive view of what the EU can do for people. Remainers have to start imagining why people are leaning Brexit and stop patronising them.

    Remain isn’t risk free. It’s also the establishment side of risk. The real insurgents are the Brexiters. If you want soft brexiters to lean remain be frank.

  • Denis Loretto 4th Feb '16 - 12:22am

    @James

    No-one who sees my various posts on Europe will lack positive arguments for remaining in and as we get going into the referendum campaign proper there will be many more from all of us who support the remain side. In replying here to the specific point made by Rsf7 I was trying to address an important point – the tendency for many who talk about removing what they may regard as the “EU yoke” and concentrating all sovereignty over everything in Westminster to think that this would advance their particular vision for progress within the UK. Whichever party is elected here I for one welcome the moderating influence which the European level can often have in many areas of policy.

  • Alex Macfie 4th Feb '16 - 9:51am

    It may have been an “honest” answer, but it was a political trap, and that Clegg fell into it shows his political cluelessness. He could and should have turned the question round to talk about how he and we as LIBERALS wanted the EU to look like, and said that to get this you should vote Lib Dem/ALDE in the European Parliamentary election.

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