LibLink: Tim Farron: What’s next?

Tim Farron has written a blog for the party website where he outlines 3 Liberal Democrat priorities. They are:

I’ve already announced that at the next General election, our party’s manifesto will contain a clear commitment to take us back into the European Union.

Our manifesto will contain a clear commitment to take us back into the European Union.

We have also launched a campaign to protect EU citizens right to stay in the United Kingdom. Thousands have already signed a petition backing the campaign online (you can add your name here) and this week, Tom Brake introduced a bill to the House of Commons, intended to do exactly that.

EU Citizens have built their lives here, they’re our friends, family, co-workers and neighbours and we must guarantee their future in this country.

EU citizens have built their lives here, we must guarantee their future

Our fight will not stop there – as Theresa May’s new government begins to negotiate Brexit, we must hold the Brextiers to account for the promises they have made.

They cannot be allowed to get away with the lies and half truths they told during the referendum and they cannot be allowed to escape responsibility for what they have done.

Over the next few months, we will be dogged in holding this Government and the leave campaign to account.

He has this message for party members and supporters:

Together, we will build a new modern breed of politics – liberal, hopeful, international, rational – driven by real British values.

You can read his article here.

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  • He needs to get into the media 3 – 4 times every week through to the conference, this is a big time chance to get voter recognition whilst Labour try and sort themselves out, which they will do.

  • Three points to campaign on ? But they’re all about Europe and will make the party a one trick pony.

    What about : inequality, human rights, multinationals not paying tax, the NHS and social care crisis as the demographics of ageing hit, education, the destruction of local government, global warming and green issues, Trident……………………… We can all add many more to that list.

    We should never be a single issue party.

  • He IS leading you down a single issue rabbit hole. Good luck!

  • I’m getting sick of saying the same thing but there is zero point in blindly asking for a mandate to return to the EU unless you have a full range of coherent, credible and robust policy solutions to the reasons people voted to Leave. And if the Brexiteers deliver on their promises (whatever they were given there were 100 flavours of Brexit) then it’s highly unlikely we’ll get a mandate anyway so what’s the Plan B? David Becket, David Raw, and Simon Shaw all make sense.

  • Katharine Pindar 18th Jul '16 - 12:33am

    Yes, exactly, Stevan and others. We need to be concentrating on developing our policies for social justice, the NHS and social care, green issues, protecting local government and so on. And I don’t think it is feasible to talk of returning to the EU, which we should never leave, but be proposing reforms for – remember it is in a state of chaos itself. Hopefully May’s putting the Brexiters in charge of the heavy lifting for how we could leave the EU will prove its harmful probabilities for Britain, and change enough people’s minds for new thinking to emerge about our relationship there. Meantime I gather Tim is talking to other progressive parties about – what? co-operative action or some sort of coalition? And what is ‘Paddy’s progressive alliance’ idea? Anyway the essential thing is to make the Liberal Democrats heard again and get people thinking we are here again and worth listening to and supporting.

  • Eddie Sammon 18th Jul '16 - 2:07am

    The commitment to rejoin is fine, but it gets to the stage where the pro European thing to do is to leave. This is because the EU do not want to be messed around and they want the uncertainty over our position to end.

    François Hollande has said “the sooner we leave the better the deal”, which is an enticing prospect, but we need strong assurances before issuing article 50.

  • And what? If the members of the EU do not give those strong assurances, we will punish them by staying in?

  • Samuel Cardwell 18th Jul '16 - 3:21am

    I think it’s fair to have such a strong commitment to staying in/rejoining the EU at the next election – it’s a proposition that is worth testing electorally. If by some miracle we get, you know, 48% of the vote (!), that’d be lovely, but more realistically, it might get us back near where we were in 2005/2010. Come 2025, if the country has been successfully Brexited for six years and there’s clearly no appetite for reversal, we may like to ‘pivot’ towards a softer pro-Europe policy.

  • Eddie Sammon 18th Jul '16 - 5:09am

    David-1, that is exactly right. Article 50 is one of the only things we have left for leverage. Unless we want to go down a damaging tit-for-tat route of economic tariffs.

    The alternative is a fingers crossed “hope for the best” approach, I feel.

  • Please, if Mr Farron is going to support a petition for any cause, could he do so without using it as a data-mining exercise.

  • John Barrett 18th Jul '16 - 8:36am

    Campaigning on issues that matter to people produce winning campaigns.

    Who knows where we will be in 2020 and what the main issues of concern will be?

    I would not be surprised if Health, Education and the Economy are back near the top three issues as they have been for most of my life and that the EU (if we have already left) might have slipped way down the list of issues people will use to make up their minds on polling day.

    If this is the case, making our election campaign all about returning to the EU will result in the electorate ignoring our message – not for the first time.

    Campaigning on issues that are of interest to Liberal Democrats can be quite different from campaigning on issues that matter to those who are casting their votes.

    After many years campaigning on Constitutional Reform and other solid Liberal concerns, in Edinburgh West, this changed when I became the election agent in 1997.

    We established what the three most important issues were for the electorate (with the assistance of detailed polling by the Federal Party) and I then convinced the same candidate (the late Donald Gorrie) that these issues would be at the heart of his campaign. The result, where we won the seat from the Conservatives, is history…Donald Gorrie MP

    I am sure Donald would be have been delighted to campaign on the EU for the next four years.

    The campaigners in the party must insist the leader chooses the right issues to campaign on – if they are to have any chance of winning more seats.

  • Interesting that May gave Nicola Sturgeon the impression Brexit won’t happen until and unless all parts of the UK are ok with the deal. And David Davis then said it will begin next year and Scotland etc won’t have any kind of veto.
    I don’t think Brexit is a dead duck issue just yet.

    Also, there seems to be a supposition from some commenters here that a strong line on the EU would make us a single-issue party. I’m pretty sure it’s possible to campaign on more than one key topic at a time!

  • Simon Shaw:

    “He appears to be suggesting that, having legally left the EU as of (say) 1 January 2020, and after three years of some of the most tortuous negotiations and legislative gymnastics imaginable, our Party should tell the British public we want to go straight back in! Why would the EU even want us back in?

    No, the answer is not to leave in the first place.”

    Firmly avowing a commitment to be part of the EU strongly supports your and most other Lib Dems’ preference to “not leave in the first place”. True there are issues with being readmitted, I am not sure, for example, that the UK democracy meets the standards that the EU demands of new member states. Moreover other EU states might be looking for a much stronger commitment than a similar roughly 50/50 split. But these issues have little relevance here. If in 2020 we find the UK outside the EU (which is far from certain), the policy makes it clear that we would support more rather than less collaboration and cooperation with the EU, with an ultimate aim to rejoin.

    This strategic pro EU policy is very unlike the tuition fees pledge, it is not a direct spending commitment, it is a statement of political intent, more comparable to the SNP’s commitment to independence. It is a clear statement of the direction that we would favour in the outcome of Brexit talks: firstly that we would welcome if the Brexiting ministers involved felt the process had to be abandoned as too damaging; secondly if talks were pushed through to completion we would favour the next closest relationship, that is full participation in the Single Market, but without MEPs and a place in the Councils of Ministers; and thirdly that we would support measures that enhance the stability and coherence of the EU, opposing those Brexiters who have clearly stated that their aim is to undermine the EU. Comment continues …

  • continued

    It is highly unlikely that support for leaving the EU will exceed 52%, the stronger that voices for being part of the EU manifest themselves, the more difficult it will be for any government to go through with Brexit. Already, some weeks on from the referendum, there is hardly anything forthcoming from Brexiters as to what future they envisage. It is notable, as can be seen on these pages, that Brexiters are still attacking those who oppose Brexit and even complaining that the government had not put a Brexit plan together for them. It is as though they had set to sea without a concept of a destination and are now complaining that someone else had not provided them with navigation aids and a destination, yet when asked where they want to go, they can only say ‘away’. The hollow laughs of Brexiters who have no clue are no guide for Liberal Democrat policy and strategy.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 18th Jul '16 - 2:14pm

    This party is the Liberal DEMOCRAT party and it has members and the members decide policy

    This country is a free DEMOCRATIC country and it has decided to leave the EU

    Just when Tim was looking like the only leader who was mainstream , he makes Corbyn look like Gaitskell and May look like Macmillan , but Tim is looking very very far from Grimond !

    This approach might appeal to a few EU fanatics

    That is not what this party is for

  • Just for information, since someone has mentioned it, if the rUK were to apply to re-enter the EU, it would not have to, and need never adopt the Euro.

    The relevant treaty states that all EU Member States have to join the euro area once the necessary conditions are fulfilled. But the important phrase is “…once the necessary conditions are fulfilled”. One of these conditions is involves the exchange rate mechanism ERM2. The EU website says this about ERM2… “Participation is voluntary, but it is also one of the ‘convergence criteria’ – euro-area candidate countries must participate, without severe tensions, for at least two years before they can qualify to adopt the euro.”

    So to join the euro, a country must have participated in ERM2 for at least two years but joining ERM2 is voluntary. A new member state of the EU that does not want to join the euro needs to simply choose to never meet the ‘convergence criteria’ simply by never joining ERM2. This is the approach adopted by countries such as Sweden . So by adopting this approach, a new member state such as the rUK would not need to join the euro unless it wanted to at some future point. It would not need an explicit opt-out.

  • Lorenzo. Bit of a syllogism on your part:
    ‘This party is the Liberal DEMOCRAT party and it has members and the members decide policy.
    ‘This country is a free DEMOCRATIC country and it has decided to leave the EU.’

    70% of Lib Dems voted Remain. Party policy is decided on what party members want, not on what the electorate as a whole chooses.
    Or do you think there should be no opposition to any Tory policy, given the electorate voted them into office in 2015? Or that the SNP should become champions of the Union?

  • David Evershed 19th Jul '16 - 11:28am

    It is at the party conference that Lib Dem policy is determined.

    Tim should rethink his proposal to have a Lib Dem policy to apply to rejoin the EU. It’s not going to get passed at conference and we don’t want him humiliated.

  • Paul Griffiths 19th Jul '16 - 12:43pm

    @David Evershed
    We do indeed not want him humiliated. Therefore, it will pass at conference.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 19th Jul '16 - 1:04pm


    You have not understood my concern.We are consulting the electorate by having a referendum . We need to do so with the electorate of our party when creating a policy !

    This is a party that believes things in principle and practice. The principles remain , but Remain , in practice , need not continue thus ! It has lost !

    We might want , as an electorate of members , to express our international and European stance differently as the years go by , as a party, we must decide it , as a result of events , time , consultation , debate and consideration !

    We must not be knee jerk , even though Tim is a man of tremendous principle , in practice he must take people with him .

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