LibLink: Vince Cable: Labour won over young voters but it is betraying them on Brexit

It is pretty likely that Vince Cable will be our next leader. There has been some concern about his position on freedom of movement and membership of the single market. The is hardly surprising given that he wrote a New Statesman article headlined “Why it’s time to end EU free movement” back in January.

There are signs that his line on Brexit has softened since last year,  and his record is a million miles better than Labour’s. We’ll take no lessons from them  given that 80% of their MPs voted against membership of the single market last night in Parliament and Vince, like all the other Liberal Democrats voted for it.

Last week, Vince wrote a piece for the Guardian on Brexit and how Labour is betraying the young people who voted for them in the General Election.

The party could be mobilising effective opposition to a hugely harmful hard Brexit, yet contradictions abound. Spokespeople attack this hard Brexitm but then sign up to leaving the customs union and single market, which is in essence what hard Brexit means. Others, including Sadiq Khan, argue that the party should campaign to stay in the single market.

Labour was brilliantly successful in the election at mobilising young people, who were angry that their European future had been stolen from them but who perhaps didn’t scrutinise the small print in the manifesto. Before long they will. They may not know that Jeremy Corbyn ordered his troops into the division lobbies to support the extreme Conservative-Ukip Brexit, but may now notice his insistence that Brexit is “settled”. Make no mistake, on Brexit Corbyn is betraying many who followed him.

He looks at the reasons why Labour has abandoned the pro EU stance of Blair and Brown before looking at the issue of immigration. He is scathing about Labour’s stance:

Labour’s shame is to effectively align themselves on Brexit with a party (the Conservatives) that has no interest in tackling housing, training and lack of investment. These are the problems that drive a lot of resentment about immigration, and they are problems made in Westminster, not Brussels. We need to call out May and Corbyn every time they gloss over this inconvenient truth.

And he is much clearer than he was in the New Statesman article about the Single Market being a good thing that we should be part of – but he thinks that the rules could change:

There are mechanisms by which Britain could remain within the world’s most lucrative single market while applying national measures to limit EU migration, such as by restricting admission to those with a prior job offer or qualifying the right to search for work. These possibilities could have been better explored before the referendum, but we start from the current mess.

Labour should look afresh at Brexit so that it can work with other opposition parties and Conservative dissidents in the new parliament. If it does not, it will be complicit in a massive act of economic self-harm, voting to make Britain poorer and impoverishing our public services. Its new young supporters will soon notice – and Corbyn’s halo will surely slip.

 I know that some specific questions remain and I’m sure that they will be put to Vince in the coming weeks and months.

 

 

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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26 Comments

  • It matters not a whit what VC says now about the single market and freedom of movement. The press will be all over him on his previous statements, as well as attacking him on the coalition. The last thing we need is another leader who is vulnerable on things he has said and done in the past.

    I also find myself wondering how a 74 year old is going to appeal to the youth vote.

  • Little Jackie Paper 30th Jun '17 - 9:56pm

    ‘restricting admission to those with a prior job offer or qualifying the right to search for work.’

    There is zero chance of that under the current EU directive.

  • Little Jackie Paper 30th Jun '17 - 9:57pm

    Ken Munn – ‘I also find myself wondering how a 74 year old is going to appeal to the youth vote.’

    With policies that appeal to the young?

  • @Ken Minn
    68 years young Jeremy Corbyn can appeal to the young selling them the hard Brexit they voted against at the referendum so anything is possible if a leader can do the vision thing!

  • The Scottish Liberal Democrats are well known for voting against European single market membership… https://stv.tv/news/politics/1372982-holyrood-backs-protecting-single-market-membership/

    That is also a betrayal of any young people that voted for them but is at least more consistent with reality than continuing to pretend that Scotland can stay in the EU, the single market and the UK.

    With Labour supporting the Tory government at Westminster, it is clear that if you want Scotland to be in the UK you must accept that that means going out of both the EU and the single market. Conversely, as former Lib Dem media chief Mark Littlewood said on BBC Question Time, “If you [Scotland] now wish to be a member of the European Union, you will have to leave the United Kingdom”.

  • @Al
    Mark Littlewood resigned from the Lib Dems in 2009

  • When did the Lib Dems become ageist? Ah yes 2015-2016 when LD Voice was full of condemnation of terrible people who were, in that delightfully sexist, racist and ageist phrase, “male, pale and stale”.

    But how would an older Leader appeal to younger voters? Perhaps in the way Corbyn has done in the UK and Bernie Sanders did in the USA? By offering HOPE -Obama’s trademark in 2008? By talking about issues and policies that are relevant to young people -although ‘surprisingly’ these are often not that different to the ones that are relevant to the rest of us? By not merely offering a technocratic tinkering with the existing system?

    When I joined the SDP/Liberal Alliance in 1983 I was 26 years old (does that count as young?). Then we wanted to change the system, change the way things were done, not just defend and administer the status quo a bit better as increasingly became our pitch around 2010-2015. Strangely enough, although I am now 60, I don’t feel any different in political outlook to when I was 26. Perhaps we should stop obsessing about identity politics such as old/young/male/female and start looking at broader brush politics instead of niche interests.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 30th Jun '17 - 11:41pm

    I think Sir Vince should stick to his own views which are sensible and mainstream, Chuka has said the important thing is to put the single market and customs union out there as a possible option , he mentioned in a terrific , lucid, brief , accomplished speech, that we as a country already could within EU rules apply a stricter more orderly approach to freedom of movement, it is actually freedom of labour, the freedom meant to be about having a job in the country or running a business there, on settling for that reason.

    Sir Vince is older than others but wiser than many.

  • “68 years young Jeremy Corbyn can appeal to the young”

    Indeed, but JC looks, behaves and sounds like an ageing hipster, whereas VC looks, behaves and sounds like your least favourite uncle.

  • Peter Martin 1st Jul '17 - 8:36am

    “68 years young Jeremy Corbyn can appeal to the young………Corbyn is betraying many who followed him”

    The young aren’t stupid. They know his history of opposition to the EU.

    Lib Dems are continuing to make the same mistake on the EU question they made in the June election. The election was fought, except perhaps by Lib Dems, about jobs, the economy, the NHS, education, housing and all the other issues that elections are normally fought over. The question of EU membership is, of course, important but, for most people, young or old, it’s just a means to an end. Most voters would say there’s pros and cons with EU membership. There’s arguments either way.

    The problems of jobs, homelessness, the removal of free access to education, the run down of the NHS have all arisen while we have been members of the EU.
    That’s what the young, and not just the young, consider to be most important. Not EU membership per se. They are prepared to vote for a politician who they consider has integrity. They’ll let any perceived difference on the EU go. They will have a problem with Vince Cable. Not because of his age or his “least favourite uncle” looks, but because he’s “the establishment” to them. He was a part of the Coalition government which is still widely perceived as a Tory government.

    Jeremy Corbyn understands all that. But do the Lib Dems?

  • Cable has excellent qualities and I don’t care about his age. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt over Europe and the coalition. But I can’t say how disappointed I am that the best we can do this morning is a week old Guardian article. Umuna’s amendment to the Queen’s Speech was scheduled in advance, our MPs all voted for it, and the likely discomfort for the Labour front bench was entirely predictable. Now is the time to hit hard on this but the silence is deafening. This is not the firm and dynamic leadership the party needs and if Vince Cable isn’t willing to get up and speak for the party I will spoil my ballot paper rather than vote for him. For Gods’s sake stand up and be counted, this is not good enough.

  • @ Peter Martin

    There’s a lot in that, except that “young people” are no more a monolith than any other group. Quite right, jobs etc matter. But to some of them Europe *does* matter and for them Corbyn’s integrity is at risk on this issue. And given your point about the problem with Vince – which I accept – it is important to point out that Corbyn is consistently imposing 3-line whips on Labour MPs to ensure that they do not oppose the Tories on the main issue facing this Parliament.

  • Robert (Somerset) 1st Jul '17 - 10:15am

    I must admit to being a bit unsettled following some comments from Vince Cable. I first joined the Liberal Party as a young person back in 1972. At the time I was active in the recently formed Friends of the Earth and had come to the opinion that that was all well and good but it would be political parties that would make the decisions that could potentially change things for the better.

    Looking around I found that it was only the Liberal Party that had any view at all on the environment. Coupled with its internationalist outlook and its support for the European project as both a peace process and a way to tackle transnational issues, including the environment, within Europe got me signed up.

    Despite its faults it is a bad idea for our country to be leaving the EU both for us and for Europe. We should acknowledge the referendum result but not forget the huge democratic deficit within it. That said we should not shy away from giving the British people the final say through a referendum before the irreversible leap is made. After all by the time we get to that point the information given at the time of the referendum will have paled to insignificance in the face of that now available to the public.

    Should the leadership contest end up being a ‘Cable Coronation’ can we please just get over it. There’s work to be done and that doesn’t mean spending weeks bemoaning the fact that no other MP in our tiny parliamentary party wanted to put themselves forward. You can’t make ‘em and after all we are a liberal party.

  • Talk about betrayal, the newly elected Labour MP for Canterbury, who argued vehemently for a soft brexit and remaining inthe single market, signed Chukas amendment and then abstained, the social media has been alive with condemnation, some a lot over the top, but this from an individual who has featured in the news as beating a strong leave Tory has clearly let us all down.
    So much for Labour and its value to young people

  • bob sayer 1st Jul ’17 – 10:23am…….Talk about betrayal, the newly elected Labour MP for Canterbury, who argued vehemently for a soft brexit and remaining inthe single market, signed Chukas amendment and then abstained, the social media has been alive with condemnation, some a lot over the top, but this from an individual who has featured in the news as beating a strong leave Tory has clearly let us all down.
    So much for Labour and its value to young people……..

    (at least she abstained)…Please, please don’t let us be drawn into a ‘peeing contest’ about saying one thing and voting another; we will lose every time…

  • Harris Richard 1st Jul '17 - 2:59pm

    It’s one thing to decide to have Vince Cable as your leader – it’s another thing entirely to expect young people to lend their votes to one of the team that betrayed students under the coalition. It’s sad to see but this is a very, very bad move for the party.

  • Robert (Somerset) 1st Jul '17 - 3:53pm

    Yes okay but in their own cynical offer to young people Labour were very careful not to remind them of their own record. Brought in tuition fees in the first place, then introduced top up fees after fighting an election saying they wouldn’t and at the last election ‘offering’ to just drop fees from £9,000 to £6,000.

    We can go on arguing about tuition fees but their abolition will just take us back to the situation when I went through the education system in the 50/60s. University places were ‘free’ but rationed with only about 5% of young people getting to go. We all remember who got most of those places and wasn’t ordinary working class kids like me.

  • Angry Steve 1st Jul '17 - 4:09pm

    So, it would seem that the party that was against fees is now the only party eft defending the idiotic system.

    “Tuition Fees: Damian Green admits £9,000 cap may need review”: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jul/01/damian-green-tories-must-modernise-to-win-over-young-voters

    @Robert (Somerset)
    “We can go on arguing about tuition fees but their abolition will just take us back to the situation when I went through the education system in the 50/60s. University places were ‘free’ but rationed with only about 5% of young people getting to go.”

    I went to university in 1992. So did 35% of my year group across the country after student numbers had doubled in the previous four years under Thatcher and Major. Tuition was paid from general taxation. There is absolutely no need for places in higher education to be rationed in the way you suggest. Thatcher and Major realised the need for a modern economy to have a better educated workforce and were happy to pay for it from general taxation. Why are the Lib Dems now to the right of Thatcher?

  • David Evershed 1st Jul '17 - 7:47pm

    Labour is attracting young voters BECAUSE it is voting against joining the single market or the customs union.

    Latest polls show Labour support growing again since it voted in parliament against staying in the single market and customs union.

  • David Evershed: can I have a nitpick: tonights Survation poll, they were the ones who got closest to the GE result, shows Labour falling back 4 points!

  • Tony Dawson 1st Jul '17 - 10:10pm

    @Little Jackie Paper

    ‘how (is) a 74 year old is going to appeal to the youth vote.’

    With policies that appeal to the young?

    Didn’t seem to cause Bernie Sanders too many problems. Whereas, although (like many people) I agree with Jeremy Corbyn on one or two things, he is essentially a Stateist Donald Trump. 🙁

  • Dave Orbison 2nd Jul '17 - 4:42pm

    I see Vince Cable is no mood to back down on the student fees. He appears now to be justifying student fees on the basis that it’s not fair that the 40% should get something for free that the 60% would not get. How depressing on so many fronts.

    The Tories favoured tactic in imposing austerity cuts is to pitch one group against another; the employed against unemployed, elderly vs. young and so on. Sad that Vince Cable is going this well trodden path of the Coalition.

    As important as the EU is (I declare myself as a Remainer) I don’t think it is the single dominant issue in the minds of all young people that many here believe it to be.

    I think Corbyn’s appeal is that he has convinced many young people (despite his years) that he genuinely understands and cares about their issues, all their issues, that affect them, of which student debt is just one.

    Vince Cable delivering more patronising lectures to students in defence of the fees broken promise will end badly. Deservedly so.

  • Leekliberal 2nd Jul '17 - 6:13pm

    Dave Orbison says ‘The Tories favoured tactic in imposing austerity cuts is to pitch one group against another; the employed against unemployed, elderly vs. young and so on. Sad that Vince Cable is going this well trodden path of the Coalition.’
    Is he happy for people on minimum wage with no prospects to pay for middle class perks like tuition fees for those who you will do very nicely thankyou! Isn’t that setting one group against another? And if he says that people on minimum wage shouldn’t be paying income tax can I remind him that thanks to the Lib Dems the personal allowance was raised from £6475 under Labour to above £10000 under the coalition.

  • Peter Martin 4th Jul '17 - 7:24pm

    I hope Lib Dems don’t choose Vince Cable. He’s just no match for Jeremy Corbyn when it comes to attracting any kind of radical vote. If the Lib Dems have any future it has to be as a radical party of the non-socialist left. The Lib Dems were successful in the 00’s when they were perceived as being to the left of Blair’s Labour Party.

    It’s not going to be possible to go even further left than Corbyn’s Labour Party but Lib Dems need to try to establish a new radicalism. I would argue based on the ideals and practicality of Keynesian economics.

    However, we aren’t going to see anything other than a tired neoliberalism from Vince Cable. He’d have to repudiate much of what he did in Coalition for that. Vince Cable is establishment through and through. Ask ten young people at random and I’d be surprised if half know who he his. Give them the hint that he was a member of the Coalition government and they’d say he was a Tory.

    Lib Dems will be pleased he’s won back his seat in Twickenham. But how did he manage to lose it in 2015? He previously had a majority of over 12,000.

  • jayne Mansfield 4th Jul '17 - 8:02pm

    @ Leekliberal,
    I doubt that Jeremy Corbyn is happy with the concept of a minimum wage, Full stop. He seems more like someone who believes in a living wage to me.

    Education ought not t be a perk or a privilege but a right for all those who seek to access to it. It would mean diverting some of the money from the tory money tree.

    It is quite clear to me that, as when the Liberal Democrats were happy to maintain the stability of the status quo when they were in coalition, and were easily easily satisfied with some tinkering around the edges, they will support this dreadful government remaining in power for a few pennyworth of changes.

    What Jeremy Corbyn has done, is light the imagination of people to the idea that things don’t have to carry on as before. He has offered the possibility of a complete paradigm shift. Whether he is able to carry his ideas through is moot, but the possibility is exciting.

    Sadly, I really don’t think that the modern Liberal Democrats would understand the meaning of radical if they were locked in a room, with radical approaches and ideas scrawled on the four walls.

  • Peter Watson 4th Jul '17 - 8:21pm

    @Leekliberal “Is he happy for people on minimum wage with no prospects to pay for middle class perks like tuition fees for those who you will do very nicely thankyou!”
    But wasn’t this agreed Lib Dem policy in 2010, didn’t some of your MPs vote “for people on minimum wage with no prospects to pay for middle class perks like tuition fees for those who you will do very nicely thankyou”, and isn’t it still an aspiration for the party?
    Pinning down the Lib Dem position on tuition fees is like trying to nail blancmange to a wall: tuition fees are good, bad and ugly all at the same time depending on which Lib Dem is speaking and to whom.

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