No, Nick, you need to join the Rebel Alliance to stop Brexit, not the Imperial Stormtroopers

Nick Clegg is probably the country’s most knowledgable person on international trade, the EU and our relationship with it. Read his brilliant Brexit Challenge papers to see how true that is.

We should listen to whatever he says on Brexit because he is most often right.

However, for the former leader of a political party, he has shown a monumental amount of naivety in suggesting that people need to join Labour or the Conservatives to stop Brexit. He could not be more wrong.

You can maybe see where he gets the idea from. When he was leader of the Liberal Democrats, and, specifically, Deputy Prime Minister, the party was forever telling him in forms of motions passed by its Conference and various firestorms on the internet, that he was wrong. We sent him some pretty strong and unambiguous messages on things like the Bedroom Tax, secret courts and reforms to the social security system that disadvantaged people. Sure, we should take credit for what we stopped the Tories unleashing on the country, but we also did some stuff that we shouldn’t.

Yes, we sent him plenty messages. Sometimes he acted on what we told him, sometimes he didn’t, and sometimes he had to put a lot of effort into persuading the party to back his position.

Let’s compare and contrast with the Tories and Labour. They aren’t great about letting their members actually influence their policies. You didn’t actually see many actual votes on the issues of the day at their conferences. You didn’t see any at the Conservatives. They don’t do that sort of thing. They were shocked by the internal democracy in the Liberal Democrats and thought it very strange. Ordinary Labour members don’t get much of a chance to influence policy either. Even if they wanted to, remember that their Conference didn’t even get to discuss Brexit because they might disagree.

Also, influencing policy in a political party, even ours, takes time that we don’t have. We have a year, maximum, to stop this disaster. Labour and the Tories are too far gone down the pro Brexit path.

I would strongly suggest that membership surges for either Tories or Labour would suggest a backing for the awful cliff-edge Brexit that they are colluding to inflict on us. In fact, though, the Tory membership is tanking.

In contrast, a membership surge for the Party of Remain, who are going all out to stop Brexit and stay in the EU would be one of a number of very strong indicators that the will of the people is no longer behind leaving the EU. So, if you want to stop Brexit, put your heart and soul into persuading others that it is a terrible idea. Write to your MP so that they know how you feel. You better believe that the pro Brexit crowd are filling their inboxes so we need to do the same. Oh, and join us. After all, we are the Rebel Alliance in this context, with Vince, as he put it, as a Proud Saboteur. Remember that wonderful from his Conference speech:

We know, of course, that our call will be resented by the Brexit fundamentalists.

We will be denounced as traitors and saboteurs.

I’m half prepared for a spell in a cell with Supreme Court judges, Gina Miller, Ken Clarke, and the governors of the BBC.

But if the definition of sabotage is fighting to protect British jobs, public services, the environment and civil liberties, then I am a proud saboteur.

Political party membership alone isn’t going to stop Brexit, but if you are inclined that way, for heavens sake join the Rebel Alliance and not the Imperial forces of the establishment.

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

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  • Denis Mollison 6th Oct '17 - 8:08am

    I agree with Caron

  • Kirsten johnson 6th Oct '17 - 8:25am

    Couldn’t agree more, Caron. Well said.

  • Tristan Ward 6th Oct '17 - 8:33am

    The idea of today’s Conservative party even allowing a pro EU person to join seems pretty strange. If they did get in I cannot imagine such a person would have a very enjoyable time.

    Labour is crammed with pro EU members. It’s time the MPs and others with that view started making the arguments an channeling support in their party rather than just trailing along in the dust of the Corbyn bandwagon.

  • Sorry, Caron, but how you could write that with a straight face is beyond me…
    ” We sent him some pretty strong and unambiguous messages on things like the Bedroom Tax, secret courts and reforms to the social security system that disadvantaged people.”..Which he completely ignored so why pretend otherwise?
    You then castigate the Labour/Conservative parties for not listening to their members????

  • Richard Underhill 6th Oct '17 - 8:52am

    Channel 4 News on Thursday 5/10/2017 followed up the focus group on Leavers with a focus group on Remainers, in Bath, including the MP, a Liberal Democrat.
    There was a diversity of views, as there had been with Leavers. I would like to add mine:
    If people want to leave, then leave, but do not take us with you.

  • David Jordan 6th Oct '17 - 9:08am

    Dear Nick, Join the Conservatives? Having lost your minds and almost all your centrist support once I’m not sure that urging people to do it again is wise. It rather undermines the mea culpas post-coalition.

  • When I heard Nick had a book coming out I wondered why he wasn’t publishing it to coincide with party conference. Now we see why. He wouldn’t have got out of Bournemouth alive!
    I’m afraid this is a pretty rotten way to treat the party, especially considering that his leadership almost destroyed us. It’s true he has been a voice of clear sanity on Brexit for the last year, but I think he has taken a sledge-hammer to that reputation now. What will be the response to his book? From LibDems – anger; from Labour/Tories – contempt; from the media – ridicule; and from the voters – indifference/bemusement.

  • Very disappointing comments. If he can’t bring himself to say that the Lib Dems are the party to join if you want to stop or soften Brexit, why should any of us mere mortals?

    Well said Caron.

  • Eddie Sammon 6th Oct '17 - 9:41am

    I agree that Nick shouldn’t have said join Labour or the Tories if they don’t like the Lib Dems. The case should be made for the Lib Dems.

    However Paddy has also been flirting with other parties recently, even advocating votes for them in the form of More United.

    I’m not a fan of too much party discipline, but it seems people at the top of the party think they can advocate for joining or voting for other parties without consequence.

  • We have to forget the likes of Ashdown, Clegg and their ilk. They have been of little or no service to the party since 2013 and should be sacked as members, (presuming that is they have renewed their membership). Tolerance no more.
    Caron we have been conned.

  • Maybe Vince should privately use the phrase Clem Attlee used to Harold Laski :

    “A period of silence from you would be welcome”.

    It seems to me that Mr Clegg’s ‘tactics’ have delivered over fifty parliamentary seats (mostly to the Tories and some to Labour including Hallam), and countless Council seats. Now he’s wanting to deliver the party membership somewhere else as well.

    No General in war, or football manager in peace, would get away with such incompetence for so long.

  • The Lib Dem’s would be a much stronger position if he had listened to dissent during the coalition. If he wants to know why we’re back to two party politics (three in Scotland) then I suggest he invests in a mirror…

  • David Becket 6th Oct '17 - 10:13am

    Clegg should have his membership removed for this.

    Yes he is an expert on the EU, but much of his focus over the last few years appear to be destroying this party.

    His coalition problems started with the Rose Garden, we never recovered from that image.

    Thank heavens he is not now a Lib Dem MP, and he would be better off out of the party.

    With the utter shambles the Tory party is now in (would anybody in their right mind join it) and the mixed views on Europe coming from the Socialists (let us call them that, it is what they now are) there has never been a better time to promote our party.

    Nick please go away and shut up.

  • Eddie Sammon 6th Oct '17 - 10:21am

    Clegg and Ashdown shouldn’t have their memberships removed, but what’s a more minor disciplinary procedure? It’s a liberal principle that no one is too big to be held to account.

    Maybe temporary suspension.

  • David Pocock 6th Oct '17 - 10:24am

    Yep can’t disagree with the above. Labour is full of pro EU people and it hasn’t mattered. Remain Tories seem to be without a voice or power. A few thousand more remainders won’t change anything at all, remainders should be here.

    And I’m as liberal as they come but I don’t think we can have those in the top of the party saying that. Imagine the optics and the ammo we hand to others. I disagree with nick on this one.

  • Kick him out. This is a clear breach of the Party Constitution.

  • Laurence Cox 6th Oct '17 - 10:29am

    In hindsight, I think that we can see that Nick’s corruption began from the time that he stood in the 10 Downing Street Rose Garden alongside David Cameron. The allure of the ministerial car was just too much for him to resist and from then on he was just like the Spitting Image parody in the mid-1980s of David Steel in David Owen’s pocket. Yes, we did do some good things in coalition, but they were mainly the result of initiatives of individual ministers, rather than anything led from the front. Indeed, Clegg’s principal initiatives, like the AV referendum and House of Lords reform, were quixotic and doomed to failure because of his lack of understanding of Westminster politics as totally different from the politics of the EU.

    There is only one thing that Clegg can do for the Party now and that is publicly to resign his membership and henceforth speak as an independent.

    I am ashamed to admit that when he stood for the leadership of the Party against Chris Huhne, I voted for Nick because I saw him as more competent than Chris, even though Chris Huhne’s political position was closer to my own. In retrospect, neither was a suitable candidate for leader and the leader we have now, Vince, should have been a candidate in 2007.

  • Nigel Jones 6th Oct '17 - 10:37am

    I agree with Caron completely and also that Nick has let us down completely, in spite of being so clever in other ways.

  • David Evans 6th Oct '17 - 10:39am

    It is clear now that Nick has shown the final contempt for the party he has destroyed. There should be no more prevarication, or nice “Nick is probably the best leader/spokesman/person …” pieces here, but a sad and wiser acknowledgement of the disaster he has been and an apology to all those people who fought to get the party to sort him out years ago, but were repeatedly dismissed with put downs like ‘They are less popular than the Lib Dem Friends of Cake.’ Well now the Lib Dems are probably less popular than the Lib Dem Friends of Cake.

    Putting it simply, he has to go.

    Vince, it’s time for tough leadership.

  • Reading the excerpts, Nick Clegg is quite clearly saying that people who align with either Labour or the Tories on values and have never joined a political party before should go ahead. I see nothing wrong with that.

    Meanwhile you extol Vince, who literally endorsed Labour candidates over Lib Dem ones with no reciprocation during the election, but OK.

  • As a Liberal who voted Leave, because of traditional Liberal Free Trade views and opposition to being in a Customs Union, may I say that I am in favour of free movement?

    If Labour wins the next election and takes us down the slippery slope of socialism to economic ruin many will want to emigrate, and retention of freedom of movement will be welcome.

  • John Barrett 6th Oct '17 - 11:07am

    Any “ordinary” member behaving in such a way, or having caused as much damage to our party, would have been subject to a move to suspend them and to call them to task to answer for what they have done and what they are doing, and to consider removing him or her from the party, long before now.

    No other individual has caused as much damage to my party in my lifetime, of over 35 years of membership to the Liberal Party and then the Liberal Democrats.

    Sadly, the great and the good in our party continue to say whatever they like, when they like,regardless of the damage done. As long as they get publicity for themselves or the books they are trying to publicise, it appears that saying anything on the media is acceptable.

  • Neil Monnery 6th Oct '17 - 11:20am

    The party of Remain did see a giant membership surge as people rallied against Brexit. That has already happened. One small issue though is many who did join still voted Labour anyway as many saw that as the best way to stop the Tories and Brexit.

    We can’t lie to ourselves and think at our level of representation that we are going to move the needle in the HoC on such a big issue. Our next chance of recovery will happen after we have started the transition out of the EU and even then, with Jeremy Corbyn spellbinding so many people, until he’s actually had an opportunity to lead the country, many on the Anti-Tory side of policies will go red.

    The party is in the weeds and that small chance we had of a big step back got squandered by a terrible campaign and couple that with Theresa May’s even worse one – that led to many on the fence thinking Corbyn could actually do it so they bit the bullet.

    We cannot be the populist party at this juncture. Like many countries around the world, people are either being drawn to or wilfully going to the margins. Nuance and conciliatory politics is not what people want. People are right or wrong. They are left or right. They are red or blue. That centre ground is opening wider than ever before, it is just the amount of people who see themselves there is reducing.

    Rightly or wrongly, the only way Brexit is going to be stopped is if Labour have a chance of heart and go full tilt Remain. That isn’t going to happen but still, it is the only opportunity. If you do want to stop Brexit then you have two choices, invent a time machine, go back and find a way to warn everyone or influence the campaigns. The second choice is to find a way to influence one of the two major parties. Neither option is actually realistic.

    If your prime purpose in politics to is stop Brexit then it is hard to say we are the right party for you at this moment in time. Now fast forward two to three years and we run on a passionate return to the EU or at least see us have much closer ties to the EU then we’ll be the team to be on. Stopping Brexit though, honestly what can we do?

    It is time to get our domestic policies sorted and find a way to reach those who are starstruck by Corbyn’s magic money tree of goodness and when Brexit starts, be ready to fly the return to/be close with Europe flag.

  • Yeovil Yokel 6th Oct '17 - 11:26am

    David Raw has beaten me to it in quoting Clem Attlee – agree entirely.

    However, if I recall correctly the decision to get into bed with the Praying Mantis Party in 2010 was taken after a vote amongst our Parliamentarians, so we shouldn’t heap all of the manure onto Nick. Former senior figures like Nick and David Laws have behaved irresponsibly recently, particularly (as Vince has correctly identified) as a terrific opportunity may be opening up for us. I disagree though with removing Nick from the
    Party, it would do us a lot more harm than good. Calm down everyone.

  • Yeovil Yokel 6th Oct '17 - 11:31am

    P.S. Good article, Caron.

  • I have long favoured PR. I know Tory voters and Labour voters who support it but would not vote lib dem and are not members of any party. Would it be wrong to tell them to join the parties they sympathise with and push for PR from within? Because that’s what I do . So kick me out

  • Lorenzo Cherin 6th Oct '17 - 12:07pm

    I think we should be far more than an anti Brexit grouping , so want people to join us because we are and can be and must be so very much more.

    But Nick has lost the plot.

    Sadly those too keen on turning us into a one trick pony are partly responsible.

    The title of his book, how to stop Brexit, the words he used, such as , emergency, are leading him to talk the desperate , not measured language that gets a party somewhere.

    Sorry, but if all those who identify with being further left as Liberals or , more radical, would recognise something about Corbyn they miss.

    He is moderate in his use of language and in his manner of utilising it , if not in his views. This is to his credit.

  • Riccardo Sallustio 6th Oct '17 - 12:28pm

    I agree with Caron. Having said that, my hope is that Nick’s message was taken out of context and that it was directed to those Lab and Con voters who are not likely to support LD. As former LD leader, he should have refrained from making such a vague statement. On a related note, I share many of @Neil Monnery’s arguments but I would like to see our chance of recovery materialising well before we any transition period starts. To do so, we need to move moderate voters away from populism.

  • Red Liberal 6th Oct '17 - 12:55pm

    I hope that Nick Clegg isn’t implying that he thinks that the LibDems are a dead end – the Lib Dems are the only party currently representing my centre-left and pro-European views. (FWIW, I’m a former Labour member of 15 years turned LD member.)

  • @Caron
    ‘Also, influencing policy in a political party, even ours, takes time that we don’t have.’
    I know it’s off the ‘lynch Nick’ thrust of comments, but if there is anything this party needs to do to re-energize itself it is to change this. We live in an age of modern communication that is virtually free. Why do we have to wait for an annual conference to pass policy. A day in politics is a long time. We are dinosaurs in this respect. Adapt or we could suffer the same fate.

  • Sue Sutherland 6th Oct '17 - 1:42pm

    Caron I think your comments are spot on. Unfortunately at least two of our leading politicians during Coalition, Nick and Danny, are stupendously clever and knowledgeable but almost totally naive about politics in that they had no idea of how their comments and actions would be received. I like the Clem Attlee quote but also think they should remember the House of Cards mantra. “You might say that but I couldn’t possibly comment.”
    In other words it’s fine for Neil and the rest of us to do an academic analysis without thinking of the consequences, but if our great and good do the same it won’t be pants to Brexit but pants for our party. We have to rebuild and that requires faith and guts not an inadequate analysis of where politics is at present.
    Momentum used the same argument in the election on social media that to get the Tories out you had to vote Labour. Too many Remainers believed that meant if you want to stop Brexit, you had to vote Labour and we failed to win seats that were within our grasp as a result. Corbyn and Momentum don’t want to stay in the EU and they have the power and the organisation within the party to get what they want. I don’t think Remain voters stand a chance of taking over the Labour Party unless they’re equally organised, focussed and ruthless. They’d be like lambs to the slaughter.

  • paul barker 6th Oct '17 - 2:03pm

    Im with Caron but I want to make a number of points :
    this is a small story right now, lets not say or do anything to make it any bigger.
    Nick is wrong but lets cut him some slack, like a lot of people he feels desperate about Brexit.
    Labour are having a debate on Brexit, go & read Labour List. The strategy of The Labour Leadership is to follow Public Opinion, to offend as few Voters as possible. If Opinion is seen to shift the Labour will follow.
    the best thing we can do is carry on recovering.
    there were 8 Local byelections yesterday, we stood in 7 with one poor result & 6 good ones. Our Local Voting continues to improve, up 4 or 5% over the last 3 Months, at some point that will feed through to our National Polling.

  • The former DPM should realise the Lib Dems gave him the honour of being a MP and Leader.
    He could not have become DPM without the Lib Dems so he should not have said what he said about joining other parties.

  • I just love the posts about ‘cutting Nick some slack’….

    There is ONE party fully committed to staying in the EU and, for the ex-leader of that party to suggest voters desert that party, it is not just naive it is disloyalty of the highest order…

    I cannot believe that there are still members who condone/excuse such a abuse of his position…Sorry, seeing is believing, and that is why this party has become a parody of what it once stood for…

  • Bernard Aris 6th Oct '17 - 3:53pm

    I’m sorry but as a Dutchman sharing an Indonesian background with Nick, I can’t find any argument to defend him.

    In the Netherlands there have been times (in the Cold War/Cruise Missile debates in the 1980s; or since the 1990s about the fate of unaccompanied children seeking and being denied asylum) where there have been movements (in the 1980’s: on radio; nowadays: on Social Media) where people advised citizens without party affilliation to join this party or that to vote in upcoming conferences or members referenda on those subjects, or to stay there and change policy.
    Journalists always were eager to see what effects such “entryism” tactics (that is what they are; Nick is advising Militant Tendency tactics) had on the vote and the attitude of the party being entered. In spite of dilligent asking around, running informal polls in conference corridors and crunching voting result numers, in 99% of the cases no such effect was recorded; not a trace of an effect.

    And Labour has its own monumental “Red Guard” waving the red “Oh Jeremy Song Book” and attending local and ward meetings of Labour to resist any dissidents on any subject getting a say. With a party of half a million members, the entrance of pro-EU, anti-Brexit newbies must be so substantial it could be spotted from the International Space station circling the earth. And as long as the anti-Brexiteers are in the minority, they will be bullied and harrased by the O Jeremy crowd (thast is the way of succesfull dogmatists). That will sap their morale and stimulate an early exit from Labour.

    So I’m sorry Nick, but I don’t believe this will be a winner.

  • Red Liberal 6th Oct '17 - 4:02pm

    I left Labour because the PLP aided the trigger of Article 50.

    I should have left earlier. When the Momentun/Corbynite people started to appear (complete newcomers) about 2 years ago and push a very pro-Brexit message, I should have come to my senses and left then. Wouldn’t have witnessed the intimidation and bullying of members in my local CLP by the far-leftists then.

  • Nick Collins 6th Oct '17 - 4:35pm

    Is this the point at which Clegg becomes as popular within the LibDems as Blair is within the Labour Party?

  • Colin Paine 6th Oct '17 - 5:11pm

    I’d like to see the remarks in context before rushing to judgement, I simply don’t believe that Nick would set out to undermine a party he led, as some are suggesting.

  • Peter Watson 6th Oct '17 - 5:51pm

    There are far more MPs in favour of remaining in the EU in each of the Conservative and Labour parties (and the SNP) than there are in the Lib Dems.
    Since the idea of Lib Dems jumping to one of those parties in order to exert some direct influence over parliamentarians who could potentially change or stop the course of Brexit has gone down like a lead balloon, perhaps somebody could explain how Lib Dems will go about actually stopping Brexit instead of talking about how important it is to do so.
    The Lib Dem approach reminds me of the People’s Front of Judea:

  • I support Brexit which should be no surprise to people here who are familiar with my comments. I usually argue against a second referendum.

    I am completely bemused as to why Nick Clegg should urge anti-Brexit people to vote Labour or Conservative. He must have completely lost the plot. It makes no sense at all.

    Arguing that a bad deal could lead to us voting to remain makes no negotiating sense either, so perhaps there is consistency in Nick’s logic. It must be a LD thing that I can’t yet grasp.

  • Galen Milne 6th Oct '17 - 9:03pm

    Well I confess I agree with Nick on this too. The folk he is talking to are those non-liberals who would never join us despite Brexit.
    It’s time we “grew up” and instead of just talking the talk about liberalism we sometimes have to dig a bit deeper and “walk the walk” as well, just as Clegg is advising those non-liberal voters.
    Nick is right, this Brexit rubbish is much much bigger than displaying the kind of tribalism displayed in this article and many of the comments. We need to come up with EVERY idea to stop it, including suggesting to socialists and capitalists that Brexit is BAD, so get involved before IT IS TOO late. Emergencies need prompt solutions, not the wringing of hands after the horse has bolted.

  • nvelope2003 6th Oct '17 - 9:09pm

    Paul Barker: The modest gains in support at local council by elections did not feed through into the national opinion poll ratings last time so why would it do so now ?

  • Dave Orbison 6th Oct '17 - 9:23pm

    From the contributions it seems Corbyn is following public opinion – is this a crime? Then we have the accusation that Labour has mixed views on Brexit whereas Nick Clegg should be suspended or expelled.

    An interesting mix of comments. But I thought many here claimed Corbyn was running an authoritarian party that would not tolerate dissent whilst the LibDem preamble permitted debate of widely differing views?

    Funny how things change. Likewise the many here who spoke so wholeheartedly in favour of the Coalition who now seem to be finding fault with Nick Clegg.

    It’s a funny old world.

  • Peter,

    He’s urging Remainers to infiltrate and take over the parties. Might work in Labours case, but would be far too late, in the Tories case not a chance they don’t pay attention to their grass roots just the money men. I think he’s in a panic, I rather suspect for most of his life like many people of his back ground his view of reality has been very much removed from the reality of those of us that exist at the sharp end. It’s not that he lacks empathy he really hasn’t got a clue what life is like for the majority; a charge I’d lay at the door of Cameron and Boris as well but they are far from unique in the political class we have.

  • nvelope2003 can i refer you to

    I think in there you may find a pointer to why the Tory vote are hanging on to 40% of the vote.

    Will Britain be better off after Brexit?

    Just over one in five (21%) say they do not know whether Britain will be economically better off post-Brexit. 43% are positive about the situation, and agree that Britain will be better off once the UK leaves the European Union.

    Similarly to previous ORB polls on this topic, men are more positive about Britain’s situation post-Brexit. 47% of men think the country will be in a better economic situation, compared to only 40% of women. Older people (+65) are the most optimistic about the situation, 60% think the country will be better off post-Brexit.

    Now as Brexit goes badly those 43% can double down on stupid and deny it, blame the EU and/or Remainers or turn on the Tories. My guess is they will split into three groups, but if the blame the Tories is even a third of the 43% the Tories are toast. The next question is how will a Labour government do, well if Brexit is as bad as I think any government will be toasted and it will matters not what good intentions they had, carbonised toast they will be

  • Christopher Haigh 6th Oct '17 - 10:06pm

    Given our two party system the main parties are coalitions and both contain a liberal democratic wings. Reading postings on the conservative home website contributors are talking of the attack on May as a Cameroon Remainers plot to ditch Brexit.

  • Richard Easter 6th Oct '17 - 10:11pm

    Nick Clegg will end up the Blair of the Lib Dems (and the Osborne of the Tories) – all figures who are very unpopular with members of other parties (and often particularly referenced / targetted by them) and also very unpopular with the grass roots of their own parties.

    Politically I have always wanted to see Nordic Social Democracy in the UK, and would like the politics of the UK to be much more like Norway or Iceland. It winds me up therefore when the biggest supporters of the EU, Euro and more Europeanism, seem to be utterly opposed to a more European Social Democratic model taking hold in the UK – and instead wish to impose the “liberal” wing of Atlantic finance corporatism on the UK – i.e. make us an outpost of Clinton style Democrat or Rockefeller Republicanism.

    Perhaps if Clegg and Blair had supported a Socially Democratic economic model closer to that of the Nordic countries, or even Germany instead of the same old corporatism which sums up chancers like Osborne, just with a smilier face and a bit of window dressing for the plebs, there might have been more support for the EU amongst voters. Now both are more interested in tearing apart parties which have to a certain degree moved closer to their ideological base because there is little demand for the kind of politics Blair, Clegg or Osborne espouse. Like it or not, the bulk of voters want protectionism from the ravages of globalisation, whether it comes from traditional socialism or patriotic right wing nationalism – and the “neoliberals” don’t have any answers – so they are doing the corporate equivalent of a toddler tantrum over it.

  • Neil Monnery’s post made a strong impression on me but

    “Nuance and conciliatory politics is not what people want.”

    is better read as people know the economic situation is dire and they are looking for clarity and strength. I don’t think cooperation and conciliation have got a bad name it’s rather that the centre does not seem to have a plan at all. The extreme left and right do (both disastrous of course).

    The centre needs, and I believe can find, strong clear aims to solve the nations problems.

  • OnceALibDem 7th Oct '17 - 12:56am

    @Paul Barker – where are those figures from. The Political Betting analysis has different figures (up about 1.5%)

  • Blair and Clegg are both box office poison. The other crucial similarity is that both believe that their parties absolutely cannot do without them as highly visible presences in the media – even if they’re no longer even MPs.

    Labour have had longer to deal with being haunted by the past in this way, and have worked out that if the spirit won’t depart quietly, of its own free will, the only other solution is repudiation.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 7th Oct '17 - 8:34am

    It would surely be quite unethical for someone to behave in the way Nick Clegg seems to be advocating – joining a party simply and solely for the purpose of trying to change one of its policies.
    Surely you join a party because you feel that the existing policies of this party are the policies that come closest to your own beliefs. Yes, there may well be one or two policies with which you disagree, and you may hope to influence change on these issues – there is nothing wrong with that. But you do not join the party solely for that reason. To do so would be to “infiltrate” that party – completely unethical.

  • The EU is just not the big unifying cause some think it is. Constantly going on about it makes the lib Dems look like a pressure group on a hobby horse. Poor services, student fees, stagnant wages, utilities and things like welfare are much more central to the way people vote. Parts of the liberal and left intelligentsia have forgotten that politics is fought domestically on domestic issues. Nick Clegg in some ways comes across as the cut price Tony Blair playing to the international galleries and press junkets with a new book, but mistrusted at home by the voters who actually count.
    Also telling people to join labour or the Tories in preference to the Lib Dem party you lead to disaster could seem like an act of bad faith and opportunism.

  • Mind you, the same sort of thing has been tried before…Back in 2015 the Daily Telegraph posted a headline urging Tories to join Labour…it read

    17th June 2015…Why Tories should join Labour and back Jeremy Corbyn
    For just a £3 membership fee you can help consign the party to electoral oblivion in 2020 – and silence its loony Left forever….

    Ruth Davison, amongst others, endorsed the idea….
    Ruth Davidson ✔@RuthDavidsonMSP
    I seem to have a lot of traffic in my timeline saying that for a mere £3, I can change Labour’s future and vote for Jeremy Corbyn. Bargain.

    How did that work out for the Tories?

  • I’d also have to see the exact context in which Nick Clegg made those remarks, but in a general sense I wouldn’t condemn them out of hand. Much as I want to see our party prosper, stopping Brexit (or at least hard Brexit) is the absolute imperative. If he’s saying that pro-Europeans, who for whatever reason cannot bring themselves to join our party, should consider joining Labour or the Tories, maybe that’s not so bad.

    The reality is that Brexit is now less than 18 months away and there may not be another GE before then. We are thus more or less reliant on Labour and Tory MPs in the Commons to put the brakes on Brexit. And if there were a GE in the meantime, I would encourage more not less tactical voting for pro-European candidates. Brexit is that important; it will determine the future of your country for decades to come.

  • Thank you, Caron. Important.

  • My understanding of the comment was that there is only a short period of time to stop Brexit and, with our political landscape changing so that the chance of coalitions formed on shared center ground principles disappearing quickly, there needs to be another way to take preventative action. I don’t believe it strengthens the Lib Dem position or the pro-EU position to suggest what he did but I can see the thought process.

  • Simon Banks 7th Oct '17 - 10:18pm

    More United is/was principally about funding candidates in line with its values and these included rather a lot of ours, including some standing not against the Tories but against the SNP.

    I can see some justification for Nick’s line: there is no way Brexit should be the only issue determining what party someone joins. Voting is less of a commitment and we’ve benefited too often from tactical voting to rubbish it when our supporters in hopeless seats consider voting tactically. If you are a convinced Socialist or believer in unrestrained capitalism and also a supporter of the EU, I’m not convinced we are the right party to join.

    But the headline gave me thoughts: Nick Clegg in Star Wars, desperately trying to locate the middle ground between the rebels and Darth Vader.

  • Whether its what he meant or not, the message in the article on the BBC website is pretty unambiguous. Very unhelpful stuff.

  • I’m inclined to agree with Martin, and that Clegg is encouraging Remainers to get involved in politics and have their voices heard via the party system, and not just signing a petition etc. Of course, we’d like them all to join the LibDems, but getting Remainers to vote for us was already a challenge, so encouraging Remain Labour voters to join that party, or Remain Tory voters to join that party to have their voices heard isn’t quite as treacherous as it might first appear.

    However, I think it shows a bit of naivety in his part, with Labour already ignoring their majority Remain members and voters, and the Tories too scared about losing votes to UKIP, or donations from big business. If the pro-EU Labour supporters had joined a few years ago, and realised how useless Corbyn was going to be, they could have prevented his leadership.

    Overall, I think there is a problem that not enough Brits are involved in the democratic process between elections. Groups like MoreUnited become a good half-way house for people not ready to join a party, but wanting to do more than moan at the tv, but again, it has the feel of closing the door after the horse has bolted.

  • simon hebditch 9th Oct '17 - 10:22am

    Naivety is the right word for Nick Clegg’s position although what he actually said is not as bad as many assumed. It is undoubtedly true that Brexit is one of the major issues facing us and there must be co-operation across different parties and political movements to try and bring about an alliance to either have a referendum on the deal that eventually gets put forward to us. I have no particular respect for Nick on politics generally as his ambition got the party into its present predicament but his knowledge of European politics is considerable and we should explore the potetial for joint action where we can.

  • Neil Sandison 11th Oct '17 - 4:38pm

    Nicks comments could backfire upon him with Liberal Democrats expressing why they could not in a million years consider joining two old fashioned authoritarian political parties like Labour or the Conservatives .That they like our open and transparent policy making processes and that as social liberals we abhor the supine ,lick spittle sucking up to leaders agreeing meekly to their every utterances even when they are saying the most silly and ill considered comments just to grab a few headlines to flog their books.

  • @Neil Sandison – “Nicks comments could backfire upon him with Liberal Democrats expressing why they could not in a million years consider joining two old fashioned authoritarian political parties”

    And that is why the LibDems won’t get anywhere in Westminster politics!
    Nick wasn’t suggesting that people stopped being supporters/members of the LibDems, but to start using their heads and adopt tactics that will further LibDem policies!

  • David Evans 11th Oct '17 - 6:37pm

    Roland, So all this comes from the Nick Clegg who made such a success of coalition and made the Lib Dems look so much like Conservatives that young radical voters flocked to support Jeremy Corbyn. So presumably his latest pronouncement is just another way of furthering Lib Dem policies by getting even more people to join Labour.

    Perhaps if he joined Labour himself, he could show how it can all work. After all, winning referenda is his strong suit.

  • Nick is talking to the 40% of voters who did not vote Libdem but did vote Remain and saying to them: “join the party you voted for and make your Remain voice heard”. Nothing more, nothing less. Makes sense to me. Policies/people are more important than parties. I’m a Libdem member but if another party has better policies, I’ll switch.

  • Neil Sandison 12th Oct '17 - 5:16pm

    Roland .The Liberal Democrats are not just a policy making machine but a political movement with a vision of the sort of society we want contained within the preamble of our constitution .The Coalition did allow a small portion of our policies to become law but many of us would have preferred to have been the government and not just have to accept a few crumbs from the Tories table remember we got little credit for the good things we actually achieved and all blame for the bad things the Tories insisted upon.

  • To Russell
    There is nothing wrong with switching parties is there, if another party like the Lib Dems more clearly promotes your beliefs? Far too many feel obliged to stay loyal to their party through thick and thin, far too many voters ignore factual evidence in order to stay loyal to how they voted in the referendum, and far too many assume the country has to stick loyally to the result of this outdated referendum. And far too many are loyal to the Corbyn persona – one Cable is worth a thousand Corbyns.

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