Observations of an ex pat: Fear factor

JTheresa May is a frightened woman.

She is not frightened by the pile of Conservative MPs’ letters demanding her departure. They are still a long way from the 48 required. And even if it reaches the magic number, the bookies are betting on Mrs May retaining the leadership in any consequent vote.

Even if she loses, Theresa May can take solace from Enoch Powell’s truism that all political careers end in failure and that her successor will be faced with the same brick wall of insoluble Brexit problems as she was.

Neither is Mrs May worried about Spain’s latest sabre rattling over Gibraltar. She is confident that Brussels can pull Madrid into line with a sidebar letter or a slight tweaking of the Brexit agreement.

The unravelling of the prime minister’s de facto coalition with the Democratic Unionist Party is a concern. But it was never more than an inconvenient marriage of convenience based on a foundation of contradictions.  Northern Ireland voted to remain. The majority want the benefits of Europe which include good relations with Dublin and peace on their island. The DUP exists for one purpose only:  the perpetuation of the Protestant Ascendancy in Northern Ireland. This puts it in complete opposition to the majority Northern Irish vote in the Brexit referendum.

Mrs May can deal with the above. Or if she can’t the results of failure would not be so catastrophic that her legacy would be tarnished beyond repair.

Theresa May is frightened of two other outcomes: No deal or a second referendum. Unfortunately for her, it is looking increasingly likely that the final choice will be between those two options.

No deal is a cliff edge over which only the most ardent Brexiteers are prepared to jump.  No one can say with absolute certainty what lies at the bottom of the cliff. And it is this fear of the unknown that is dragging MPs away from the precipice and back towards the unpalatable certainty that Mrs May’s bad deal is better than no deal.

Then there is the second referendum, aka “The People’s vote.”  The option refuses to go away despite the efforts of both Jeremy Corbyn and Mrs May to rule it out. It continues to lurk in the shadows and is gaining ground as the likelihood of a parliamentary deadlock looms. But another referendum is also clouded with uncertainty and littered with pitfalls.

What would be the wording on the ballot paper? Would it be another binary choice: Remain or the current deal, remain or no deal, or no deal or current deal? Any one of those options would badly split the already fractured Conservative and Labour parties and probably lead to an unpredictable seismic shift in the British political fabric.

The latest poll of polls shows that the British people remain hopelessly divided on the issue of EU membership. As of November 20, forty-seven percent of those polled think Britain was wrong to vote to leave Europe, 41 percent remain convinced that it was right move and 12 percent are sitting on the fence.  Furthermore, the trend over the last two and a bit years shows very little movement with just slight variations as the remain and leave camps alternate in the lead position.  The British political landscape has come to resemble the trench warfare of World War I.

Theresa May is rightly concerned about the uncertain dangers of moving the decision-making process out of the relatively civilised debating chambers of parliament into the emotionally charged streets.  MPs are—for the most part—respectful of the confining parameters of the British constitution which insures respect for the rule of law.  The man in the street –convinced of the overwhelming justice of his beliefs—fails to recognise the same restrictions.

I am glad that I am not prime minister.

* Tom Arms is membership secretary for Tooting Lib Dems. He also broadcasts on foreign affairs for US Radio, regularly contributes to Lib Dem Voice, lectures and is working on a book on Anglo—American relations which is due to be published next year.

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32 Comments

  • Arthur Bailey 23rd Nov '18 - 9:30am

    An interesting report, but as a follow on to the various voting percentages in the opinion polls that Tom Arms has stated, he should also add that in the latest opinion polls just released, the Lib Dems are now at 7%, which is 1% below UKIP in the Omnium Poll, and at 9% in the Com Res, just above UKIP!
    When will the leaders of this once great Party realise that spending all their time bleating on about 2nd referendums, and fighting against Brexit is doing the party so much harm!
    When will they also realise that around 48% of those who voted in the Referendum voted to remain, including myself, so why are these 48% not supporting the Party in the constant bleating on about Brexit?

    My message to Vince Cable, as a 40 Years supporter and member of both the Lib Dems and the Liberal Party is, For the sake of the Party Vince Cable, please resign NOW, as we need to change the tune, because the people are not interested! We have a General Election on the horizon, which may be as quickly as early next year, and your constant diatribe about Brexit could lose us what few MPs we have left!
    You seem to be totally incapable of speaking about anything but Brexit, so please either go now or change the tune to something that the voters will support, such as the NHS or Mental Health.

    I have stood for 2 local elections and carried out a lot of canvassing both for loal Councils but also for my MP Norman lamb, but I can no longer do so, as I cannot support the party’s stance on Brexit

  • Laurence Cox 23rd Nov '18 - 11:21am

    Tom,
    I think you are being over-optimistic about Spain’s sabre-rattling. There is a long history of issues with Spain over Gibraltar that were not ended when Spain joined the EU. As Stephen Bush says in the New Statesman: https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/staggers/2018/11/future-spanish-veto-brexit-deal-could-be-more-just-paper-talk

    While Spain cannot veto the withdrawal agreement, they can veto any future trade agreement, so we could end up with a no-deal Brexit by default, having paid billions for the privilege of getting the withdrawal agreement through. Now that would really incense the populace.

  • Presumably this deal is designed by the Civil Service to enable us to resume membership of the EU as soon as that becomes possible.
    It is unfortunate that there are no Irish Nationalists in the House of Commons since Sinn Fein took all their seats but refuse to sit in them.Maybe we should require that those parts of the UK which elect their devolved Assembly by PR should use that system to elect MPs to Westminster. This would include Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and London. This would reduce the influence of the DUP whose idea off Britishness is not generally shared by the rest of Britain or even most of Northern Ireland
    Since the idea of No Deal would be irresponsible any People’s vote would have to be between accepting this deal and remaining in the EU unless some preferential system was to be used.

  • You are of course quite right, Tom – we should allow the MPs to get on with it and not trust the people at all – far too risky! The masses should not be allowed to be divided or indeed have any opinion at all and certainly no opportunity to change it. They should marvel, united, in wonder at the wisdom of their rulers!

    I propose that we go back to the time when it was illegal to report the proceeding of the House of Commons – indeed I would make it punishable by death – it only gives the masses ideas! As to voting for MPs what a terrible idea! Abolish the House of Commons. Bring back the divine right of kings. They should, of course be allowed to appoint a few advisors to the House of Lords.

    Let the masses suffer in silence with a worse health service (as 9 out of 10 doctors say will happen with Brexit), lower wages and worse public services as the economy suffers!

    While, of course LDV should be banned as a terrible source of sedition – it has been known to publish articles in favour of democracy in the past! At least some sense has finally broken out until that happens!

    — well just maybe not!

  • Arthur, I can totally understand your views, but I must ask that you reconsider your final comment.

    You may have gathered from my posts that I too am extremely disenchanted with the mess the party has got itself into over the last few years, but I think that the values that the party stands for are vital to the future of this country. In that regard, it is clear that Brexit is the single most divisive issue that our country has ever faced (well maybe since the war between the Roundheads and the Cavaliers in the 17th century) and that reuniting the country after it has all died down will be essential.

    That is where the Lib Dems will have their big chance, when our ability to put ourselves between the two warring factions with a message of tolerance and working together, while retaining our liberal roots will be invaluable. That is why it is essential that at this time above all others, it is vital we stick together.

    Whatever people think of Brexit, it is absolutely clear (and not at all unexpected) that the Conservatives are making a total mess of it. The latest pronouncements make it likely that come 29 March we will be out of the EU, but we will still be paying in to the EU and nearly everything else will look the same – most matters will still to be agreed the fens will still need their crop pickers.

    Norman is an excellent MP and a true gentleman and if we lose him it would be a hammer blow to North Norfolk, Liberal Democracy and the whole of the UK. Would you really want to have a good liberal who continuously fights for his local community replaced by yet another identikit Tory?

    Please. please reconsider.

  • David Evans: What do you think of last night’s local council by election results ?

  • Theresa May is frightened of two other outcomes: No deal or a second referendum. Unfortunately for her, it is looking increasingly likely that the final choice will be between those two options.

    Frightened or just apprehensive about the time is coming to make the really big decision which she has recently finally publicly acknowledged: Brexit or no Brexit?

    I suggest if no deal or a second referendum are the only options left on the Brexit table then withdrawing our article 50 notice is the correct way forward. I don’t see this as a betrayal as I’ve always been of the opinion “the best way to leave is to remain”. Thus what is needed now is more pressure and encouragement to T.May to do the right thing; particularly as now the leading Brexiteers in the Conservative party have publicly shown themselves to be deluded fools.

  • John Marriott 23rd Nov '18 - 2:15pm

    I also admire the way that the PM has gone about her business. “A bloody difficult woman”, as her colleague Ken Clarke once described her, is probably what we need at the moment. I hadn’t heard David Raw’s Macmillan quote before; but I do know the Enoch Powell one about all political careers ending in failure.

    At the moment I’m frankly not bothered where the Lib Dems are standing in the opinion polls, nor am I bothered whether Sir Vince can still cut the mustard. What I am bothered about is what might happen at the end of March next year.

    Yesterday’s goings on in the House of Commons were a true indication, sadly, as to the state of politics in this country. There’s Labour being ‘perfectly clear’ about every matter thrown their way, when they are obviously not ‘clear’ at all. Then we have got the remainers saying that they ‘respect’ the result of the referendum when they clearly do not.

    What was ‘the will of the people’ on Brexit in any case? Around 37% of those eligible to vote supported Leave, around 36% supported Remain, while 27% didn’t vote at all. That means to me that both sides need a COMPROMISE, which is largely what the PM appears to be offering. Having another referendum may make sense for many and could end up with a similar majority in reverse. What it won’t do is to put to an end the anti EU sentiment in this country.

    The strategy of Mrs May will now probably be to go over the heads of MPs and try to sell her deal to the people, many of whom might well see it as a fair way out of this current mess. It would appear that many business leaders are already on board, which is a good sign. The view on the street may also reflect a coming together of people, who just want to get on with their lives. So, as someone who would still vote Remain if given another chance, but is not blind to the need for fundamental reform of the EU, I am prepared to go along with it.

  • Arnold Kiel 23rd Nov '18 - 2:24pm

    Of course, her biggest fear is learning about the current and informed will of the people, becsuse that would be so undemocratic.

  • Funny how all the Brexiteers are all now dropping statements to the effect that they would rather stay in the EU than accept this deal. Getting there excuses in early. Note that they are not saying that no deal is better than this deal. As for T.M. I suspect her memoirs will be out in time for Christmas 2019 whichever way this goes.

  • @John Marriott
    “it is clear that Brexit is the single most divisive issue that our country has ever faced”

    The poll tax? The Iraq war? Thatcherism? The miners’ strike? Women’s suffrage? etc etc.

    Democracy is messy, difficult, frustrating and sometimes wrong. And is the worse possible system of governance… until you consider all the others.

    The analogy is a plane – going to America it is off-course most of the time but it is continually being corrected. Equally we can get to the destination of a better future. But only with democratic procedures to correct when we are a bit off course. It is why we have elections at regular intervals. Now you can argue that we shouldn’t have another referendum but it seems clear to me that if you allow one referendum or two you have to allow a third – to try and direct the ship of state to the right destination.

    We have had an “interesting” not to say difficult relationship with Europe for over 2,000 years and we will no doubt continue to do so for the next 2,000!

  • John Marriott 23rd Nov '18 - 10:30pm

    @Michael1
    In my opinion Brexit beats them all, as least as far as peacetime crises are concerned. I could live with a third EU referendum; but, unless you get a significant majority either way, and I reckon you need a difference of at least 10% with a turnout of over 80%, you won’t solve anything in the long term. What you will probably get is a return to the fray of Messrs Farage, Elliot, Cummings et al and the kind of unpleasantness we witnessed last time.

    In order for another referendum to take place Article 50 will surely have to be suspended if not withdrawn altogether. How much more slack will the EU cut us? While there may be some evidence of ‘buyers’ remorse’ in some areas, I am pretty certain that this is not the case where I live (Lincolnshire). So the chances are that, even if there were a good chance that Remain might triumph in a third referendum, we could be faced with what Canadians call a ’Neverendum’.

    That’s why I could live with the ‘May deal’

  • Arthur Bailey: The media (especially the BBC) constantly talk up UKIP, while they ignore us. This leads to artificially high ratings for UKIP in national opinion polls, which are not reflected in actual election results nowadays. UKIP mostly doesn’t even seem to stand anymore in local by-elections.
    As for us, it’s an uphill struggle just to remind voters in most parts of the country that we exist at all. Polling evidence suggests that many voters are not aware that we are the anti-Brexit party. This shows the flaw in the idea that our low national opinion poll figures are because of our stance on Brexit. They are not. Our struggle to make ourselves heard would be the same whatever our national message was.
    As for the idea that we would lose our existing seats because we campaign against Brexit, can you provide any evidence that our local support is actually slipping in our held seats? It would be pretty easy to find out.

    On the other hand, maybe we should adopt an alt-right pro-Brexit stance. Then presumably our spokespeople would be on Andrew Marr’s sofa every Sunday morning, and we’d have no problem at all getting our message heard.

  • The problem is dealing with the result of the referendum. It seems that no one planned for the result of a vote to leave the European Union. It was assumed by all that we would stay. From what I can see there is now an obsession with getting what is described as a better deal. What better means is unspecified and seems to mean whatever you want it to mean. However it does not seem to be challenged. It is said that the EU has acted unreasonably in an unspecified way. Again this seems to be agreed by all. No details though of course. The same applies to Gibralter. It seems that it is agreed that Spain is unreasonable in being worried about a customs barrier between its country and a tiny bit of land. It seems that the Irish problem, which as far as I can see is really the failure of the U.K. government to deal with a failure of devolved government is now of such great importance that nothing is to be done about it – although there is the possibility of a technological solution to an undefined problem.
    And our solution – to have another referendum – although the question to be asked does not seem to be part of the proposal.
    When are we going to see a campaign to face the real issues and to tell the truth about the European Union. We might start with admitting it is we and not them. We might accept that decisions have been made in Europe with agreement from all, including our own government which has not seen fit to consult the people of this country over the years. Whenever the British Government has made a decision with our European partners it has been referred to as coming from Brussels, and decided by bureaucrats. We are now living with the confusion caused.

  • There is a worrying irony in May’s broadcasting campaign. She is clearly seeking to appeal to the voters because the Parliamentary route to gain approval appears closed.
    We can therefore assume that she hopes that constituents will pressurise their MPs to support her. Given the widespread willingness of MPs to act as delegates in the name of democracy (actually jobsworth survival) she might have a point.

  • Arthur Bailey at 9.30 the first comment: Well said, Sir! It is painful but needful to agree with your attack on our present leadership, which seems completely out of touch. And I don’t know how far down and how widely that is true: too far!

    I see little sign that ‘the Lib Dems’ have yet understood that Economics is not primarily about the GDP and Money. I believe they have been tricked by the Conservatives into supporting “Neoliberalism”, quite failing to realise that it means Laisser-Faire, or Devil Take The Hindmost, or ‘Greed is Good’. There are very encouraging signs that the world is coming to its senses and recognising this — but these signs are not coming from the LDs.

    And in this I see also a lamentable failure on our part to recognise the importance of Language. As Michael Gove has helpfully pointed out, the elector is fed up with ‘experts’. Of course, many of today’s experts are expertly wrong (eg previous para); but others while right fail to say so in simple enough terms, and employ too few illustrations to clarify things.

    Auntie Maggie said ‘you can’t get out of debt by borrowing more.’ Auntie Theresa tells us ‘there’s no magic money tree”. Well, obviously — both of these homely maxims are clearly true. And they are wrong — either honestly wrong, or lies. The sensible self-employed taxi owner-driver whose car fails its MoT does not go into Austerity mode for a week or a decade to save up for the new tyre, he buys it with a credit card. He has borrowed to Invest, and get back on the road a.s.a.p.

    But Invest is the language of Gove’s ‘experts’. To far too many, “Investment” is what the very prosperous do to turn their personal wealth into even more personal wealth. Or it is the euphemism for payments to a Turf Accountant (wonderful coining!).

    Or again, that three-letter word beginning with G that we’re all to worship, the almighty GDP, sounds more like what we pay our water-rates to get rid of. It would be more helpful to all non-experts, to call it the Total National Income (TONI?), because that is what it is, give or take, and Income is the language of the streets. And the unfair sharing-out of our National Income is what bedevils and divides our country, not simply in material terms, but in the terms that Liberals believe in.

    Liberal Democrats must wake up and talk the coffee.

  • @John Marriott

    Apologies I see that it was actually @David Evans and not yourself that described the EU as the most divisive issue for 400 years.

    Thanks for your further comment – it is an interesting debate!

    As to the EU being the most divisive issue in the last 400 years. I would, as I said, say that we have had some more divisive issues in the just the last 30 years – just take the Poll Tax.

    The EU does have different and greater importance than a particular form of local taxation because it has an overarching effect on our economy and public services. As to importance, even then issues such as universal male and female suffrage have had a perhaps more profound effect.

    As to “unpleasantness”. Some argue that argument and division over political issues is a bad thing. I disagree. It is the very life blood of a well-functioning democracy. And is far better than sitting there as dumb zombies in amazement at how well our leaders are running the country!

    On the issues around a referendum. Farage said on the night of the referendum it was unfinished business for him – at a time when he thought he had lost. Frankly if it is unfinished business for him, it is unfinished business for me. Not least because our NHS will suffer according to 9 out of 10 doctors and our economy will also suffer leading to greater poverty and worse public services. I don’t want that for my fellow citizens and will fight for it not to happen.

    But beyond that there in a democracy you have to mechanisms to change course – a little or a lot. There are issues about a “nevereferendum” but you can’t say that you will never have another just as you can’t say that we don’t say we will never have another general election. And things that get decided by referendums can only really (democratically) be changed by referendums. And arguably if there is a third referendum, the third will have addressed somewhat different issues.

    Frankly the EU and Europe will remain a contentious issue for a long time to come. Perhaps more if we exit without a referendum. We will have another EU referendum at some point even if we don’t immediately. I would say within ten years.

  • @John Marriott
    Sorry to witter on but there were a further 2 points in your comment:

    On suspending Article 50:

    I understand there is an ongoing court case at the moment as to whether we can do that unilaterally. Even if needed the agreement of the EU countries, it is highly, highly likely that they would grant us time if it was for a referendum. The EU has a goal of being as wide and incorporating as many European countries as possible. It also means a bigger economic cake for Europe as a whole and for us. Probably all individual countries and leaders would want to see it as well – and would probably come under domestic criticism if they didn’t.

    On the possible result of another referendum:

    I would go with the recent big Survation poll that showed a reasonable Remain lead. Three main things can wrong (systematically) with a poll:

    1. Turnout. And it seems that Brixteers were more likely than the Remainers to turnout at the last referendum and than the pollsters thought. I don’t think this will happen this time because of the last result!

    2. People can lie! And I think it likely that after the Jo Cox shooting people were reticent about telling pollsters they would vote for Brexit and we saw a shift in favour of Remain in the polls after that which may have due to that reticent rather than a real shift. Again Brixteers have no reason to be coy about their views at the moment.

    3. Time. A poll is only a snapshot. And only time will tell! But I see there being limited net movement in the next few months.

  • Yeovil Yokel 24th Nov '18 - 2:10pm

    Arthur Bailey & Roger Lake – your attacks on the leadership are pointless and counter-productive; they are unlikely to change anything for the good and can only serve to undermine Vince and create discord within the Party at a time when we need to be a stable and unified force within the maelstrom of current British politics. Vince was elected unopposed and there are no likely replacements on the immediate horizon; he has said that he will resign when Brexit is resolved. A leadership contest in the near future would be madness. Please desist.
    Have you tried raising your concerns with Vince himself? I wrote to him on an issue earlier this year and although he is not my MP he responded promptly and thoughtfully and thanked me for my input. I’d like to think he actually listens to what people have to say.

  • Yeovil Local,( just above). I agree with you, and I am very sorry to have seemed so disobliging to Vince. Sorry, as in regretful, for the remark may have beeen painful to others as well as you; but not in the sense of repentant, alas. I have been voting since 1959. But there has never, I believe, since then been a time so fraught with change and turmoil and disorientation in our state as we endure this week and the recent months and those imminent. For a while we must learn to see the facts (problem 1) and confront them (problem 2) and change our approach to them and overcome them (prob3) — as guns to arrows, trenches to guns, tanks to trenches, planes to tanks, A bombs . . . . etc.

    Whatever the outcome of Brexit, in or out we must see what we have done, and who is responsible. If it is the host of dissaffected leavers I shall BLAME the Conservatives , for the ignorance that led them into Austerity, but the future depends on restoring a sense of solidarity for all, between leavers and brexiteers. A decent sensible voting system, and a fair distribution of the National Income will go a long way in the right direction. Or so this crumbly coffee-smeller believes.

  • John Marriott 24th Nov '18 - 4:56pm

    @Roger Lake
    Don’t blame the Tories, blame Cameron for taking us into this nightmare, when he put the boot into his coalition partners, when he needed the coalition to continue in order to kick his referendum 2015 manifesto ‘promise’ into the long grass.

    And don’t blame Labour either, blame Blair a) for failing to reform this country’s political system when he had the chance twenty years ago and b) waiving transitional arrangements which opened the flood gates to EU immigration, which is, in my opinion, probably the main reason Leave ‘won’ two years ago.

  • David Evans 24th Nov '18 - 7:11pm

    Michael 1 – I’m sad I missed your point because you misattributed my comment to John Mariott, otherwise I would have commented on it earlier, as it is clearly vital to you that The poll tax? The Iraq war? Thatcherism? The miners’ strike? Women’s suffrage? etc etc. are considered.

    However I would instead ask if you read and considered the my post in its entirety, which was a direct appeal to Arthur Bailey, apparently a lifelong liberal who has stood twice for the council and canvassed regularly for Norman Lamb, urging him to stay with the party and support Norman – a situation I considered vital to address. To me, the loss of a single Lib Dem is worthy of that much attention.

    Perhaps you did consider my entire post when you chose to question my statement that “it is clear that Brexit is the single most divisive issue that our country has ever faced,” but still thought that one sentence so questionable as to make it essential that you addressed an entire post to it. Perhaps you would have preferred me to say something like “it is possible that Brexit is one of many divisive issues our country has faced, possibly but not necessarily greater than or equivalent to the poll tax, the Iraq war, Thatcherism, the miners’ strike or women’s suffrage?

    I’m sure that would have set the tone appropriately to persuade Arthur to stay with us.

    I’m sorry but I really do despair at so many Lib Dems here, who seem to consider that their personal ideas are so important as to make it essential that every comment they find in some way questionable has to be questioned in detail, while ignoring the most important thing of all – that we simply need as many Lib Dems as possible to remain in the party so that we can one day recover to 50, 60, 70 or even more MPs.

    So I, in turn will ask you two simple questions –

    1. Do you think it important that Arthur stays in the Lib Dems and continues to support Norman? and if the answer to this is yes

    2. Are you going to say anything to him to persuade him to stay?

  • David Raw at 5.29: Alas, I agree with you! But I would plead extenuating circumstances:
    1. We argue for PR, and it would have looked pretty discreditable if we had gone into coalition with a party that had not won the most votes. I hope most of my fellow members would have preferred us to prop up Labour; but PR dictated not.

    2. I believe the LDs were acting in good faith as regards the economic policy, because most of the western world for several decades has been beguiled into believing in the ‘neoliberal’ orthodoxy which is only now being recognised as, well, mistaken. I am hoping to see and hear soon from the party that it now repudiates ‘neoliberalism’. And I fear that the increased use of the term in the last ten years, displacing others, may have been a deliberate ploy on the part of wily tories who were well aware that the doctrine was and is dud and very damaging. It sounds so congenial, doesn’t it! But the ‘Liberal’ bit is the ‘unbridled’ meaning, not the moderate and generous idea we think is ours.
    So I would have to plead ‘Yes M’Lud, I dunnit: but big boys twisted my arm and told me porkies!’

  • ……………….May begs the public: unite behind me on Brexit deal…………..PM writes direct letter to British voters after agreeing to Spain’s demands over Gibraltar…………

    Duplicity of the highest order. She wants the public to support her plan without giving them the ‘voice’ of a vote on the plan.

  • @David Evans

    Thanks for your further comment.

    I am sorry that I irritated you. And I also apologise that you feel that I didn’t take on board the entirety of your comment.

    I don’t think unreasonable to comment on the issue of how divided we are given that was a key point in the original article. In general I dislike the argument of how terrible this is. Normally from the same people who say at other times how terrible apathy is! Change and improvement has only ever been won by argument and protest and not sitting like dumb-strike zombies admiring our leaders! And I think this is an important point for liberals. But I concede that this is both an important and a divisive issue – even if can argue where it stands in the pantheon of such issues!

    Tom Arms’ comment that “Theresa May is rightly concerned about the uncertain dangers of moving the decision-making process out of the relatively civilised debating chambers of parliament into the emotionally charged streets.” is IMHO wrong on so many counts.

    On Mr Bailey. I would make a number of points. I am not sure whether it is membership or his activism that he is considering. His first complaint is about Vince Cable talking only about Europe. Unfortunately it is the only political issue that the media are talking about. He says people are “not interested” – well they are – 69% think it is among the most important issues facing the UK against 32% for Health which is next (yougov). And I think that Vince did well during the budget when media attention briefly turned away from Brexit – highlighting that we wouldn’t give a tax cut to the better off unlike Labour – and so fund better public services. In North Norfolk they are in a better position than many to highlight issues other than Brexit through their leaflets and Norman Lamb’s media coverage.

    His second complaint is about our opinion poll rating. As a long-standing Liberal, he will know that our poll rating will only take off when we win a parliamentary by-election – In the 70s and in the 90s. Paddy’s first few years was slammed as a disaster and we were (occasionally) within the margin of error of zero. I hate to think what people would have said on LDV if it had been around then!

  • 2

    A further criticism of some and maybe underlying Mr Bailey’s comments is that a people’s vote is the wrong position and tough in more Brexit areas – such maybe as in North Norfolk. We have taken that position now. Secondly it is the right strategy for us to have a clear position – especially to differentiate ourselves from Labour – we would IMHO be under 5% if we hadn’t. Finally a large number of people don’t know what our position is and if we are to appeal to the 54% that back Remain (Survation’s big poll) we need to witter on a bit more about it! While linking it to issues such as the NHS. An independent analysis out today says we will be £100 billion worse off under even a soft Brexit with £20 billion less for public services. 9 out of 10 doctors say the NHS will suffer under Brexit.

    I have learnt that we should not be too deflated by poor results and opinion poll ratings or too elated by good ones – difficult though it is. But we need to build our local parties during the tough times to prepare for the good. And we should be out there practising community politics – getting street lights mended, potholes repaired and improving our community. An achievement in itself.

    We stand on the shoulders of giants – those that actually started from zero in their areas in the 60s and 70s – building local parties and organisation. I would say to Mr Bailey we can give up – especially when we think our leaders are getting it wrong or we can dig in when the going gets tough – which is what our predecessors did.

    Above all campaigning should be fun and satisfying. Going for a drink with like-minded friends after canvassing or delivering. Or working with the local community and the Lib Dem team to get a street light mended, a pothole filled in or pedestrian crossing installed. Things that save lives and it is satisfying to improve. And as a cog in a national picture. If we get Remain and a better NHS as a result, there are going to be people whose lives are saved.

    We only have a short time on this planet. It is a choice that I, Mr Bailey and everyone of us here as to make and it is very, very frustrating at times – particularly when we think that our leaders have messed up. But I say to my Lib Dem colleagues – but myself in particular – get off your backside and improve lives while you are here. And enjoy yourself while you are doing it.

  • She is frightened of actually achieving the remit she was given when she was elected PM. To get the best deal for Brexit and so honour DC’s referendum result and then fail to deliver it. It could all back fire terribly with those unpredictable MPs- the curse of any PM’s life.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 27th Nov '18 - 2:01pm

    David, good to read your description of Theresa May, you, were rather mean and unpleasant in your criticising the pm, way back, calling her things akin to odd, strange, not a person you liked.

    You describe here, that you disagree with her on practically everything. I never get that, in a democracy like ours. A figure as mainstream, whether centre right, centre, centre left, must say and think and carry out things we can agree on, surely. But I in fact realise you rarely agree even with many in this party. But you agree with nearly everything in the Labour party now. Or do you just dislike saying that you have much there you seem to not like, but somehow cannot say it, as you want a change in number ten.

    I am concerned that politics is too mean and personal and that common ground, like common sense, is absent.

    May is a decent person, a rather extraordinary figure, real health issues, but amazing energy and force of argument, though not very strong in her being convincing , as lacking in fluid detail or variety of more conversational style on a regular basis.

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