Opinion: An open letter to UKIP voters

Letters Play Important Roles in our LivesDear UKIP voter

Although you are probably not an avid reader of the Lib Dem Voice website, this letter may get to you through the usual ‘viral’ internet ‘system.

The opinion surveys suggest that there are three main reasons for people like yourself voting UKIP.

First, a dislike of the EU and some of the ‘daft rules’ that they impose upon us as a nation.

Second, a feeling that immigration is out of control in the UK, and a symptom of a wider malaise.

Third and most importantly, a broader sense of dread that the UK has become a runaway juggernaut with no-one behind the wheel. Your own day-to-day experiences of life may suggest to you that the problems facing the country do not match with the priorities of the political parties.  Worse, you may feel that by being portrayed as crackpots & racists, your experiences are being ignored.

But this is the point of this letter to you. Neither are the Liberal Democrats ‘as they are portrayed’. There is more common ground than you think.

Take the EU for example. There are three big issues that we may agree on.

First, because EU rules are mainly drafted by UK and other civil servants in Brussels, (not the European parliament), there is a lot of empire-building and encroachment on national matters.

However, at last, the German CDU and big parties across the EU have realised the problem. Nick Clegg wrote pamphlets about the problem 12 years ago. The CDU even recently proposed a court to prevent the EU from going beyond its remit. Regrettably, the hapless Cameron has been weak in seizing the moment, probably because he wants to do a UK-versus-EU tough guy thing.

Second, what is really galling if you are a Brit is that the UK is known across the continent for ‘gold plating’ EU rules. In plain language this means that a large part of EU rules are general and not aimed at the UK at all – they are designed  to bring some of the poorer parts of the EU up to UK-type standards. But unchecked UK officials ignore the fact that we already comply in order to create new rules and new bureaucracy for us.

Third, the ‘common market’ aspect of the EU is still incomplete. The main idea of the EU is a free trade area. We agree on that. There are still lots of areas where trade is still not free. This is pretty rich given the economic crisis. Lib Dem MEPs are the loudest voices trying to rid us of all the remaining stupid restrictions. No-one will have told you about this.

There is something else the UK media will have not told you about. The big global event since WW2 is not the EU or the fall of the Berlin Wall, it is trade globalisation, which China has ridden on the back of to rival the USA economically. In response, nearly every part of the planet has created a kind-of-EU. Without a regional grouping you just can’t cut it these days. Maybe sad but nonetheless true.

In SE Asia there is ASEAN, in South America there is the new SAFTA, in Africa SADC, ECOWAS & EAC, there is the GCC in the Mid East, and the CIS based in Moscow. These are not just free trade areas, they are visa-free and ‘standards’ areas too.

We don’t agree on this, but the big picture is that the EU is a necessity. To you that may be a ‘necessary evil’. To us it means we have no choice but to make it work, and work better. Either way it’s not going away!

Luckily the UK has allies in sorting out the bits that don’t work, and the Eurozone crisis has given the whole caboodle a kick up the backside too. The job at hand is to make it work better, even if the two biggest UK parties may screw it up. If we are out of the EU all we can kick is ourselves.

The EU is dominated by three countries,  the UK, France,  and Germany the biggest economy.

Your parents and grandparents fought two wars in the last century to prevent the German Empire dominating Europe.  Sure, Germany is different today. But what would UKIP voters’ grandparents think if they were told the truth, that you were proposing to leave the EU and hand domination of Europe to Germany, only 69 years after WW2  ?

Enjoy the election.

* Paul Reynolds works with multilateral organisations as an independent adviser on international relations, economics, and senior governance. He is an elected member of FIRC and an Executive member of Liberal International (British Group).

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107 Comments

  • “Your parents and grandparents fought two wars in the last century to prevent the German Empire dominating Europe.”

    Strangely, the people who fought in the Second World War are not all dead yet.

  • Brilliant!

  • Dave Atherton 3rd May '14 - 10:23am

    The LibDemVoice would like to know that as a UKIP member, for your pain or pleasure, I read it a lot more than you think. Mainly as LDV seems to be an apologist for the nanny state, after all the LibDems voted 5-1 for the smoking ban.

    If we were living in the 19th century then I probably would of been a Liberal and count myself as a classical liberal.

    You say Nick Clegg has been fighting gold plating of EU legislation for 12 years and is now Deputy Prime Minister. Enoch Powell’s comment that all political careers end in failure seems to confirmed. It appears Clegg’s influence is zero, nil, nothing. What a golden opportunity to rid us of burdensome civil servants, what a fumble.

    When MEPs suggest legislation to ban hairdressers from wearing high heels, although defeated, shows you the principle that the devil has found work for idle hands. How much does red tape cost UK business?

    Trade globalisation is to be welcomed. As Frederic Bastiat wrote the truism “if goods do not cross frontiers, then armies will”. It has been argued that China has now surpassed the USA for GDP with India fast catching up. This is where Britain’s business should be, not a declining customs union with no democratic mandate.

    The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) with its tariffs on 3rd world agriculture, not only adds £800 a year to the food bill of the average family but condemns the 3rd world farmers to penury. CAP seems a tax on the poor.

    The ruinous green policies have made vast swathes of manufacturing uncompetitive. The Germans in their zeal to be good Europeans have been at the forefront of using “green energy” and it is the poor who are paying for it in every sense of the word. Annually 300,000 Germans have their electricity and gas turned off for non payment.

    China’s growth in energy production per annum is more than the UK’s annual consumption.

    Yes the LibDems are ‘Little Europeans,’ it is UKIP with the world inclusive vision.

  • Alex Macfie 3rd May '14 - 10:42am

    “When MEPs suggest legislation to ban hairdressers from wearing high heels”

    Except that they didn’t. It was a proposal from an EU-wide trade body representing hairdressers, not from the EU itself, and it doesn’t even mention high heels.
    And even if it was a suggestion from the European Parliament, then what of it? Do you think MPs in the UK Parliament never make ill-conceived legislative proposals that won’t ever see the light of day? Of course they do. That is why we have a system of checks and balances that hopefully improve legislation and discard what proves to be unworkable. We do not respond to every ill-conceived proposal from Whitehall, from the UK Parliament or from some British NGO by calling to smash the British state.

  • Alex Macfie 3rd May '14 - 10:44am

    a link with some facts on the “EU wants to ban hairdressers from wearing high heels” myth:
    https://fullfact.org/articles/EU_hairdressers_banned_high_heels-15064

  • ” Strangely, the people who fought in the Second World War are not all dead yet ”

    According to the bright young liberally things across the blogs, the war generation will soon shuffle off and the Kippers will lose all their support. . At least that is the plan according to the concensus of the latest informal desperation debates across the blogs.

    I’m a Kipper so I will bite….
    When you refer to the war or try and create a false narrative about the views of a generation for political advantage, then you have really arrived at your nadir. ‘Patriotism, the last refuge of a scoundrel’, the words of Samuel Johnson seem very pertinent.
    Being of a generation that had he opportunity to talk to my father and uncles about their role as cannon fodder slogging across North Africa, Italy, France, Holland, Belgium and Germany, the one thing they took to their graves was the sense of treachery after the sacrifice of their youth, and the ultimate sacrifice made by their mates who didn’t come home.

    Their country was enthusiastically given away by a conspiracy of the political class against our democracy, despite the known objection of the British population. You knew the British people didn’t support what you and the other two parties were doing but you conspired to force it through anyway, and you continued to ignore the views of the people until UKIP came along, and at last stopped you in your tracks. I couldn’t repeat what my last veteran uncle who died a couple of years ago thought of the political class, if it is any consolation he would have strung you up alphabetically by the family jewels, so at least you would have had the pleasure of seeing the look on the faces of your Conservative and Labour co-conspirators before it was your turn.

    As for the rest of your piece, just the usual obfuscating, dissembling selective data, and half truths, although I notice you leave out the ‘ 3 million lost jobs’, which I heard a LibDem recently increase to 4.2 million, so perhaps you should get all your soldiers lined up before you continue that thread. Of course with freedom of movement, we can go to Spain on holiday without a passport you will tell us, seemingly ignoring the reality that we still need to produce our passport, and if my memory serves me correctly was something we could do before 1973, before we handed over our democracy for nothing.

    Here is a tip, don’t try and jump on the patriotism platform when you have a leader who seems to already consider his nationality as European, demonstrating the ultimate destination he wants to go, Well enjoy your journey, we in UKIP will be leaving the train at Gatwick, we have flights to catch to the big wide world.

  • Dave Atherton 3rd May '14 - 10:47am

    “Your parents and grandparents fought two wars in the last century to prevent the German Empire dominating Europe.”

    I do not want to be offering faux outrage here but that is a bit of cheap shot, and if I may venture a tad xenophobic.

    If we are going to resort to 1930s stereotypes then in confirmation to my themes of my previous post , one of the major causes of WW2 was the dire economic conditions caused after the Wall Street Crash. As we have seen in the EU mass unemployment sees the rise of left and right extremism. As there is not a free market in exchange and interest rates in the EU there is no correcting economic mechanism other than stagnation and unemployment.

    In the 1930s the major industrial countries resorted to trade protection. Tariff barriers were erected and world trade shrunk by 66%. The net result was that it exacerbated poverty and unemployment as people had to pay more for inefficient goods and services that would have been cheaper if imported.

    History is repeating itself and like the oft quoted misinformation that 3 million jobs would be lost if we left the EU, then German hegemony in the EU is nothing to fear.

  • This is absolute nonsense.

    We can trade without burdening the UK taxpayer with the Brussels Mafia.

    What has free trade to do with EuroGendFor, Van Rompuy, or Catherine Ashton – c

  • Apologies – stopped mid- rant.

    I was going on to say -What is it to do with the EU whether I smoke an e-cig or menthol ciggy.

    The fact of the matter is that when presented with a choice of fully backing the EU or standing with the people of Britain the LibDems ran away.

    When given the choice of a Yes/No on the Lisbon Treaty the LibDems hid behind an In/Out diversion.

    I’m sick of your games with my life and democracy – with every utterance of the three main parties I become more determined to vote UKIP

  • Michael Parsons 3rd May '14 - 11:51am

    The EU is an institution for rule by big business and very very wealthy. They can shift funds round Europe supplied by the bank-dominated money printing presses to destroy social democratic control by state action (“freedom of capital movement”); and they can herd impoverished workers from country to country to reduce local wage-levels and employment laws (“freedom of labour movement”); and destroy government attempts to check on health, quality, local employment and product preference etc. (“free trade”). They saddle the tax-payer with the cost of their failed speculations and they fix prices of everything (interest rates, commodities, exchange rates by fixing the gold price, energy prices and so on) to their own advantage, dodge taxes and prevent prosecutions by state authorities. They render whole nations destitute and claim the increasing numbers of people working for wages below survival rate (and supplemented by tax-allowances, or grants to employers at cost to the poor paying indirect tax) as “proof of economic recovery” -as we see with the steady decline in real wages and the growing rich/poor gap.. They seek to destroy the recognition of the inalienable sovereignty of the people at every turn.

    In this they are aided by money-dominated tiny political parties; and on this blog, supposedly liberal, above all by the disgraceful trahison des clercs, the betrayal of intellectual integrity by the supposed intellectuals themselves, the destruction of social welfare by he worst type of “Manchester economics” which we fought to eradicate after the election victory of 1906 and afterwards. Shame on P Reynolds!!

  • Paul Reynolds 3rd May '14 - 12:05pm

    I have to admit that my ‘open letter to UKIP’ was clearly wrong about one thing – that UKIP supporters do not read the LDV website.

  • Richard Dean 3rd May '14 - 12:17pm

    Well, some commentators here have provided a picture of the irrational side of UKIP support, alienated, envious, delusional, seeking simplistic explanations. Real contempt covered by a veneer of false logic. Something that needs the attention of psychiatrists rather than politicians. Not much point in appealing to grandparents if UKippers would actually have welcomed a German victory in WW2, or if Enoch Powell is a main source of support.

  • Richard Dean 3rd May '14 - 12:24pm

    Paul’s article demonstrates an absence of experience of the more voluble of the UKIP supporters. Well, at least he’s trying, but I think he may soon conclude that these people are mad in a technical sense. Normal rules of moderation really need to be suspended when addressing UKIP maniacs, because normal modes of communication do not get through.

  • Alex Macfie 3rd May '14 - 12:34pm

    What is it to do with the EU whether I smoke an e-cig or menthol ciggy.

    It’s the UK government that intends to regulate e-cigs as medicines in domestic law. That provision was removed from the EU law by the European Parliament (supported by the Lib Dem MEPs).

  • Paul Reynolds 3rd May '14 - 12:37pm

    I do think that some of the commentators above do have a fair point in that some of the stuff that comes out of the European Commission is counter commonsensical. I also have personal experience of corruption in the Commission. As I have made it clear, lobbying and civil service empire building (a dangerous combination in the EU and UK) is part of the problem, as is the ‘gold plating’ issue referred to. Empire-bvuilding and encroachment IS a key issue, which should have been addressed years ago, as Nick Clegg has said.

    There is a big opportunity for reform at present, if we choose to take it. This is important because it is hard to overstate the point that the EU is a necessity.

    92% of the world’s population now lives within a regional grouping or in China, USA or India. There are bloomin’ good reasons for this, and throwing the UKs toys out of the pram instead of joining the new-found Pan-European enthusiasm for reform, just won’t globally cut the mustard I’m afraid.

    However, in the UK there is something else going on. The ‘hairdressers’ high heels’ story is a case in point. One of the remarkable things to see in Brussels is US-aligned anti-EU journalists scurrying from meeting to meeting looking for silly anti-EU stories. It is amazing how a lobbyist-based barmy proposal, put forward by a well-lunched fringe MEP, quickly rejected, can be presented as ‘official EU policy’ in the UK press. This has been going on for decades. Why ?

    I will leave that question for others to study. But I am reminded of the comment from an old Africa politician friend of mine, who had no knowledge of UKIP. He said ‘I don’t understand it. It wasn’t the EU who send Britain to war in Iraq and Afghanistan, against the better judgement of the wise British people. Independence from whom ?’

  • Jenny Barnes 3rd May '14 - 1:00pm

    I notice that some men think that standing for 8 hours cutting hair in high heels is a reasonable working practice. Perhaps they should try it. Making it illegal would stop unethical employers insisting on it as a condition of employment.

  • @ Paul Reynolds

    “92% of the worlds population lives within a regional grouping or China, USA, India.”

    Are LibDems genetically predisposed to obfuscation, or is it a learned deceit.

    Whether it is the 7% of our laws that Nick Clegg tells us are made by the EU, or the 3 -4,2 million jobs that will be lost if we leave the EU, depending on which LIbDem is exaggerating today, or whether there is an ‘R’ in the month.

    Now we have your contribution

    The worlds population is 7.2billion

    The joint population of the independent nation states of China, USA and India is 3 billion.(42%)

    *First Correction*

    Add the 42% to the residual 8% in your post gives us 50% of the worlds countries are fully independent nation states
    who deal unilaterally with the rest of the world.

    *Second Correction*

    None of the organisations you quote have a process of ever closer political integration, being principally trade arrangements, and all countries within those organisations apart from the EU 28 have full control of their borders.

    * Third Correction *

    Visa free is not a right to settle or work.

    Paul whilst your statement was excruciatingly acccurate it was nothing more that a massive deliberate deceit, designed with one intent to creative a narrative, and garner support dishonestly.

    Does that make you feel satisfied, does the end always justify the means, is integrity a vanished value in your party. Of course it follow in the long tradition of LibDem duplicity, even Alex Macfie couldn’t resist playing the game in defending the EU on the issue of EU cigarettes, but conveniently ignoring IT IS the EU that is banning menthol cigarettes.

    For the Kippers who have bothered to respond to your open letter, they have found a perfect example of what your party is about, with its single minded duplicitous defence of the EU to the point of zealotry If you want to appeal, then you could do worse that appealing to people like Richard Dean who like his peers on Conservative and Labour blogs are UKIP’s best friend.
    I won’t appeal to Lib Dem supporters to join us, personally I couldn’t think of anything worse, although since most LibDem voters have never really supported your wacky views, they are happily welcome on board.

  • A very obvious attempt to undo the damage caused by Nick Clegg’s performances in the EU debates. Perhaps you could answer the following questions for me:

    1) What do the Lib Dems feel about the fact that the EU has been unable to sign off its accounts for nearly 20 years in a row and has, by its own admission, “lost” billions of taxpayers money?
    2) Do the Lib Dems think that the EU was correct in forcing Ireland to re-run referrenda on issues such as EU treaties until they returned a “yes” vote?
    3) Do the Lib Dems think that the EU had the right to remove the democratically elected leaders of Greece and Italy and replace them with EU technocrats?
    4) Did the EU have the right to steal money from the bank accounts of ordinary Cypriots?

    Just a few of the more obvious examples of the EU’s contempt for democracy. I won’t hold my breath waiting for a reply.

  • If the UKIPpers had lived in the 19th century, they would emphatically not have been Liberals; rather, they would have been the people who lit bonfires and stood around screaming “No Popery.” Every generation searches for its own scapegoats that will fall in with popular prejudices — Catholics and Jews yesterday, immigrants, Muslims, and the EU today.

  • “I’m sick of your games with my life and democracy – with every utterance of the three main parties I become more determined to vote UKIP”

    Obviously Farage is a noble political sort that would never mess with your life or democracy!

  • Dave Atherton 3rd May '14 - 2:46pm

    @Jenny Barnes

    Really, are employers and hairdressers such imbeciles that they need a politician to pass a law for them?

  • Jayne Mansfield 3rd May '14 - 2:58pm

    @ Alex Mcfie,
    Thank your for challenging yet another false Ukip assertion . This is important as these so called ‘facts’ from Ukip are gaining currency when left unchallenged.

    At Dave Atherton, I don’t want to smoke someone’s filthy exhaled smoke thank you.

  • Jayne Mansfield 3rd May '14 - 3:16pm

    @ Richard Dean.
    I couldn’t agree more.

    I also wonder why they have taken to ‘swamping’ Lib Dem Voice with stories of hairdressers in high heels etc. as they seem to have other boards. All this letting off steam seems to suggest that they are not as confident that the British people share their world view as they would like to have us believe.

    The more exposure Ukip get the better.

  • “The more exposure Ukip get the better.”

    Good grief. How high do they have to go in the polls before people realise they thrive on publicity?

  • @ Jayne Mansfield.
    In using your term ‘swamped’ you might like to consider that the title of the thread is ‘An Open Letter to UKIP Voters’.
    Excuse me for being a tad bemused, because I would have thought the thread writer was looking for responses from Kippers, not LibDem tribals. Before you get too carried away in self congratulation mode with Alex McFie, perhaps he might advise us who is planning to ban menthol cigarettes across the EU, which of course was the part of the question he didn’t answer.

    @ Site Editors
    I will make no further contribution to this thread, despite it presumably being aimed at Kippers. When I answered at length exposing the obfuscation within some of the thread authors comments , it was obviously deemed embarrassing, and against the come home to the LIbDems narrative the open letter was meant to promote, hence the censorship of my comment.

    I will therefore leave you to your navel gazing and introspection, I am sure you learn how to deal with UKIP by talking to yourselves!!

  • Charles Rothwell 3rd May '14 - 4:15pm

    Thank you very much indeed to “Raddiy” for showing us the true face of UKIP behind the gurning and matey boozing postures of Farage (in truth, the sole and single asset UKIP has got beyond the activism of his duped and hapless followers, whom he will ditch without a second thought when he becomes fed up with the whole show in the same way he flounced out of the UKIP leadership a couple of years back when he felt he was not getting his way in a sufficiently unchallenged manner). When I start to hear terms like “given away”, “conspiracy of the political class”, “string you up”, “your turn”, I begin to realise precisely who it is who is talking.

  • Jayne Mansfield 3rd May '14 - 5:11pm

    Menthol inhibits nicotine metabolism. Anyone who has had a menthol ‘rub’ etc. might think that adding it to cigarettes might make them less dangerous. It doesn’t, it makes the nicotine in them them more of a health hazard. .

  • Dave Atherton 3rd May '14 - 5:49pm

    @Jayne

    This paper says menthol cigarettes are safer.

    “These trends were mirrored for lung cancer mortality. In multivariable analyses adjusted for pack-years of smoking, menthol cigarettes were associated with a lower lung cancer incidence (OR = 0.65, 95% CI = 0.47 to 0.90) and mortality (hazard ratio of mortality = 0.69, 95% CI = 0.49 to 0.95) than nonmenthol cigarettes.

    CONCLUSIONS:
    The findings suggest that menthol cigarettes are no more, and perhaps less, harmful than nonmenthol cigarettes.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21436064

  • Paul in Twickenham 3rd May '14 - 5:58pm

    Could we reinstate raddiy’s redacted comment? I think it would be instructive to see inside the mind of a UKIP supporter. I broadly agree with Michael Parsons on the rising plutocracy that is taking control of the EU although he perhaps over eggs the Bilderburg pudding.

  • @ Jayne Mansfield.

    Sorry I wasn’t going to comment again, but you drove me to it.

    Answer the bl**dy question, I don’t want a brief synopsis on the metabolic effect of menthol cigarettes, I want a simple answer to the question that your mate who seems to have gone shy, chooses not to answer.

    Who is banning Menthol cigarettes??

    Here is a clue if you don’t actually know, and note the section where the 28 governments will ‘rubber stamp’ the EU regulation.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/10664017/Packets-of-ten-cigarettes-and-menthol-flavours-banned-under-new-EU-rules.html

    That’s my lot.

    I don’t want a

  • Jayne Mansfield 3rd May '14 - 6:56pm

    @ Raddie,
    Temer, temper.

    I am pleased that you have chosen not to flounce off. Please try to excercise some patience when I am sure that the original poster will answer your question. He’s not my mate by the way but I would love to share a drink with him because he sounds like an intelligent, interesting person.

    @ Dave Atherton,
    I shall read up the evidence, all the evidence not just a n abstract of a study that was undertaken in America where Menthol cigarette smoking is confounded with factors like ethnicity, gender etc. . I would also like to know who funded the study, but that might prove impossible.

    In the meantime, perhaps you would enlighten the posters on here as to why the tobacco companies added Menthol to their cigarettes in the first place. There is a clue in the abstract but you can expand on your understanding by reading up the information available on this.

    The harmful effect of smoking on health is indisputable. Why would anyone encourage it?

  • I am a bit concerned about the intemperate nature of some of the responses to UKIP supporters who have posted here, particularly in this thread. They have taken the trouble to engage with us and I think that the least we can do is to show them some respect and be polite in our replies to them. I have believed for some years that the protest vote under a Tory government would be garnered in future by UKIP rather than by the LibDems although I have been surprised by just how well they are doing. But they are harvesting votes which in other circumstances would have come to us, and we need to understand why and what, if anything, we can do to prevent this from happening, and if we can’t then to develop a strategy for the future which does not rely on protest votes. Up to the breaking of the tuition fee pledge we had been doing that, but I suspect that it will be after the 2015 general election that we next give the matter some serious thought. In the meantime UKIP is clearly building a serious connection at grassroots level in some parts of the country with people who feel marginalised and abandoned by the mainstream parties. Given the loose and ineffective nature of the party’s national organisation and their dearth of policies it seems to me that, if one puts Nigel Farage to one side, UKIP is an organism that is in a state of fairly rapid evolution, and while it certainly has the potential to implode the most likely probability is that it will turn into a much better organised and successful far right party than we have ever seen before in this country.

  • Dave Atherton 3rd May '14 - 8:03pm

    @Jayne

    Funding was not cigarette related. “National Cancer Institute(R01CA092447 to Vanderbilt University Medical Center.”

  • Paul in Twickenham 3rd May '14 - 8:04pm

    @tonyhill – I would agree that the title of the article means that UKIP supporters are entirely entitled to respond. The responses however appear to be of the hectoring “you’re all a bunch of useful/useless idiots” variety combined with the sort of borderline paranoid conspiracy theories often seen in BTL comments in The Telegraph. I don’t think that any of this qualifies as remotely constructive. But I don’t think that UKIP are about being constructive.

  • @Raddidy

    “When you refer to the war or try and create a false narrative about the views of a generation for political advantage, then you have really arrived at your nadir”

    Tell that to Nigel, he did that very thing during the debates.

  • Dave Atherton 3rd May '14 - 8:15pm

    @tonyhill

    Thankyou for your comments. I guess some of the LibDem commenters probably expected to have their own prejudices confirmed, in that we are all a bunch of closet racists who troll the internet looking to bash Johnny Foreigner.

    I see no one has not replied to my free market, libertarian case for leaving the EU. You just wanted me to bang on about immigration. No one bothered to reply to my world vision of free trade and our economic destiny is best served by trading with Asia, where we have unique ties.

    As Tony rightly points out some of the sometimes acrid and ad hominem comments were unwholesome.

    Sorry to disappoint that I am not a fruitcake, looney or one of those damned closet racists.

  • Richard Dean 3rd May '14 - 8:21pm

    Menthol apparently helps a body to not feel the damage that cigarettes are causing to it – like an anaesthetic that reduces a body’s ability to recognize a poison (smoke). It also has other bad properties. This website gives more information:

    http://www.cancer.org/cancer/news/expertvoices/post/2013/08/28/menthol-cigarettes-whats-the-big-deal.aspx

    What it calls the “clear danger to public health” comes, not from increased toxicity of a given level of smoking for a given individual, but because menthol means that fewer new smokers are put off smoking by the experience of trying it, and because it prevents people from quitting through its increase in the levels of nicotine addition and dependence.

  • @Raddiy

    “Their country was enthusiastically given away by a conspiracy of the political class against our democracy”

    Yep. Every single day I try and find a way to conspire against my Grandfather (born on the first Armistice day to a father who came back from WW1 with a metal plate where part of his skull should have been) who joined the Army in April 1939, was part of the BEF, captured at Dunkirk, marched to Poland and was a POW in Stalag XXB until liberation. He came to a home that had been bombed by a V2 whilst he mother was inside and married a girl who had spent the war making ammunition sleeping in Tube stations whilst her city was bombed.

    None of this makes my view any more valid in a democracy than anyone else’s, but just as I’m sure UKIP supporters actually think that they policies will help the UK it would be appreciated if you didn’t think those who support the EU are trying to conspire against what their relatives went through and that some of us were inspired by their Grandparent’s passionate belief in the EU and internationalism. You may think I’m wrong, but don’t you dare ever accuse me of “treachery”.

  • Alex Macfie 3rd May '14 - 9:06pm

    Raddiy:

    “defending the EU on the issue of EU (sic) cigarettes”

    If you want to accuse me of “defending the EU” you might want to say which branch of the EU I wish to “defend”. Is it the Commission and Council, which wanted to regulate e-cigs as medicines, so that they would only be available from pharmacies, as indeed will be the case in the UK (due to UK domestic legislation, nothing to do with the EU) from 2016? Or the European Parliament, which voted for a light-touch regulatory approach, such that they could be available in ordinary shops as at present in the UK? Well I suppose that if I reject calls to demolish the entire British state, SWP-style, because I oppose some specific regulation that the UK government is pushing (and will almost certainly get passed because in contrast with the separation between the European Parliament and Commission, the UK Parliament is in practice totally beholden to the government due to the massive payroll vote and consequent rigid party discipline), then I am “defending the UK”. Of course, no-one does (apart from the SWP and the other 56 Varieties). So why do we do this for EU law? Why should every discussion about a proposed EU law become a discussion about the EU itself, when you can influence the direction of EU law by lobbying your MP or government minister (in order to attempt to change the UK position in the Council) or (probably more effectively) your MEP to get them to vote the way you prefer? And in both cases, you can vote in elections for people who are more likely to take the position you favour (again, voting in Euro elections is the more effective ). If you did not want your MEP to vote to ban menthol cigs, then you could have lobbied your MEP to vote against this proposal. However, most MEPs did; then again, so did national governments, including our own. So if you want to blame anyone for banning menthols, then blame the UK government, which is likely to have introduced a similar measure, with or without the EU. Personally, I have yet to be convinced that menthol cigs are any better or worse than the ordinary kind (in other words, I am agnostic), and ain’t bothered about this specific ban as tobacco is bad however it is presented to the consumer. E-cigs are a different thing altogether as they do not have the carcinogens found in tobacco products; just the nicotine, the ‘drug’. So I favour the light-touch regulation voted for by MEPs, and oppose the Commission/Council position on this. The issue of regulating nicotine-containing products, like anything else, should be considered on its merits, whoever is proposing it.

  • Eddie Sammon 3rd May '14 - 9:20pm

    The party of IN campaign has made us look like the defence lawyers for the European Union and validated UKIP’s existence. It was a totally barmy strategy and we need to denounce it as soon as possible.

    I’ll still vote Lib Dem, because I want a liberal Europe, but it was patience testing.

    Starting dialogue with UKIP voters is a step in the right direction, but we need to accept that they have some legitimate concerns.

  • Richard Dean 3rd May '14 - 9:22pm

    Has anyone seen a short paragraph anywhere? I lost it a while ago but now my readers are demanding it. It’s only got five lines so the readers never get lost. It has bright green eyes, a winning smile, and real impact.

  • Jayne Mansfield 3rd May '14 - 9:23pm

    @ Dave Atherton,
    I refer you to an earlier:-
    ‘LDV seems to be an apologist for the nanny state, after all the Lib Dems voted 5-1 for the smoking ban’.

    Dave, what I am trying to get my head round, is who are Ukip with their talk of nanny states giving support , albeit possibly accidentally, to? Are they supporting the individual’s right to take up smoking or to remain a smoker, or are they supporting a powerful globalised industry that sells potentially health damaging products to young people ?

    You quoted one piece of research completed in 1999 to support your case. As promised I will look at the research in detail but I must say, just because research is undertaken in a University it doesn’t mean that it is financed by a University. Many research projects in universities are financed by drug companies. I was always taught that when first evaluating a piece of research, ask why it came into being etc. I will read the research of course but am perplexed that a member of a party that takes such a sceptical approach to scientific research on say, climate change, chooses one piece of research relating to the role of Menthol in one type of cancer, to back up his argument. Smoking has been implicated in other cancers and life threatening diseases too.

    If were an American where the research you mention was carried out, I would be rather more swayed by the 2013 calls by the American Lung Association for swift action to remove menthol cigarettes from the marketplace, or the American Heart Association who felt that the new FDA report reinforces the urgent need to prohibit menthol cigarettes .

  • Paul Reynolds 3rd May '14 - 10:09pm

    I thank the comment contributors so far, especially UKIP supporters since my open letter was addressed to them.

    My own view as author of the article is firt that there is far more common ground between Lib Dems and UKIP suporters that meets the eye, and second, that I believe it is important to acccept that if almost a third of voters at a minimum just consider voting UKIP at the European elections this month that is a substantial part of the nation. We are fellow citizens and should not vilify our fellow citizens.

    I do think a lot of the criticisms of the EU referred to are valid. The budgetary mismanagement or at least the ‘audit qualifications’ is one, and the Commission encroaching on national jurisdiction is another. But one of my key points is that Lib Dem MEPs have been among the strongest pushers of reform over these problems, although further reform is needed. But what it comes down to is whether one believes that the EU is a necessity and will be there come what may, or is it true that it is unimportant and ineffective to the extent that we can benefit from leaving it.

    I do also believe that the UK public have been victims of decades of anti-EU stories given great prominence in the UK press in a deliberate and politically motivated campaign, especially given that so many of the stories are manufactured to a great extent. If one accepts the importance and relevance of the EU (a big ‘if’ for many) then this campaign is one which is against the UK’s interest.

    It looks like I may have struck a nerve over my references to the rise of regional groupings around the world. Yes indeed it is true that ‘ever closer political union’ is not an overt part of the development of these organisations, but political development there is, and some of it an inevitable consequence of trade integration. Take ASEAN in SE Asia as an example. In 2015 they have their ‘big bang’ moment as the ASEAN Economic Community cones into force. This is not just about a near-zero tariff regime between the countries, it also includes a thing called ‘single window’ to make it very much easier for people to get jobs in each other’s countries. This is not to spuriously justify the EU in some way but to point out that is where the world has been going, for important reasons, if we care to look up from our silly obsession with never-to-be-implemented nonsense about banning home made jam or high heels, and see the world as it is.

    But my underlying point is that if one understands what is happening in the world (and surely we should) then it should spur us on further to reform and improvement in the EU, not by damaging the UK’s interests by pulling out. In my open letter to UKIP voters I focused on the EU but in immigration and in the ‘driverless’ UK political system,, there is a lot of common ground too. Just look at the critisism Lib Dems have made of the Border Agency and the ease with which the policy of who is entitled to come and work in the UK and who is not, is circumvented. The EU had been a soft target on immigration for UKIP leaders, who of course have blaming the EU as their raison d’etre, but the UK’s main immigration problems lie elsewhere.

    A large UKIP vote at the Euro elections will be a setback for the global reputation of the British public, especially our reputation for tolerance and moderation. It may be misunderstood. That is why political polarisation is best avoided, but that is a two-way street.

  • Richard Dean 3rd May '14 - 10:17pm

    @Jayne Mansfield
    Menthol is the cigarette manufacturer’s way of literally forcing a poison down people’s throats. There’s nothing “potential” about it at all.

  • Michael Parsons 3rd May '14 - 11:22pm

    Out of touch? Not one comment has even attempted to engage with the normal radical-left debunking of the EU that I summarised. Any views other than acceptance of IMF/EU/US destruction of popular sovereignty by the rule of fiat money are ignored by commentators who claim to be clued up, not clue-less! Amazing.

  • Paul in Twickenham 3rd May '14 - 11:23pm

    So let me get this right… the people who support UKIP on this thread have so far cited as evidence for their view that the EU is evil:

    * A proposal (which never existed) to ban high-heeled shoes for hairdressers. Given that hairdressers tend to stand for many hours a day I personally would support a ban that prevented employers from demanding that their female staff wear footwear that is injurious to their health but titillates their male clientele.

    * A proposal to ban menthol cigarettes. This appears to be evidence-based and expert-led (a concept perhaps unfamiliar to UKIPpers and other climate-change deniers), as charities concerned with health support a ban and the tobacco lobby opposes a ban.

    Give me strength…

    I actually agree with the comments in respect of Cyprus where Dijsselbloem has managed to undermine the entire banking system by eroding confidence in the deposit guarantee scheme by treating the middle classes as a milch cow while the rich have emerged completely unscathed (what a surprise!).

    And I also agree with Michael Parsons’s point that the EU is rapidly becoming a plutocracy – with the active assistance of people like Jeremy Browne who would seek to remould the party as a rather more right-wing version of the FDP, if anyone can remember who they were.

    But I find it depressing that a few Lib Dem commentators here have highlighted the basic modus operandi of UKIP – misrepresentation of facts and appeal to a general anger with the thinginess of it all – more effectively than Mr. Clegg managed in two televised debates.

  • Richard Dean 3rd May '14 - 11:30pm

    @Michael Parsons
    What you call the “normal radical-left de-bunking” is such utter rubbish that it’s difficult to know where to start. It would be like talking to a child who has misunderstood everything about arithmetic, cannot get 2+2 right, and is trying to work out the cost of a couple of cartons of milk and a loaf of bread. Which of your many errors would you like to start with?

  • Jayne Mansfield 4th May '14 - 12:07am

    @ Dave Atherton,
    Sorry, I mistakenly types 1999 when I mean to type 2009 research.

  • Paul In Twickenham 4th May '14 - 12:14am

    @Richard Dean – please take your pick, I will happily respond.

  • Richard Dean 4th May '14 - 12:17am

    @Paul in Twickenham. Try the first one.

  • Paul In Twickenham 4th May '14 - 12:50am

    @Richard Dean – The EU is an institution for rule by big business and very very wealthy

    I interpret that as a reference to the influence of the Bilderberg Group. For more concrete examples I would refer you to (for example) the bailout of (primarily German) bondholders in the Irish banking crisis. Rather than burning the bondholders when their investments turned sour, the EU saw fit to bail out the banks and leave the taxpayers of Ireland to pick up massive liabilities for which they had no individual or collective liability. That sounds like “rule by big business” to me.

    I would refer you to my previous comment about Cyprus. When the Cypriot banks collapsed (for reasons I do not propose to discuss) then under Mr. Dijsselbloem’s initial plans the onus of paying for this was to be shouldered by deposit account holders with assets less than 100K euro. The wealthy, the connected and the corporate would all have got clean away (as indeed did so many of the Russian investors who had deposited their assets there). That sounds like “rule by the very very wealthy” to me.

  • With regard to the discussion on cigarettes I remember as a child (aged 12 or 13) buying packets of 10 menthol cigarettes with my best friend as we preferred them to normal ones and couldn’t afford to buy packets of 20.

  • Richard Dean 4th May '14 - 1:20am

    @Paul in Twickenham
    What do you suppose would have happened if the EU had not bailed out bondholders and banks? Everyone happy, do you think? Investment up? Jobs secured?

  • “The LibDemVoice would like to know that as a UKIP member, for your pain or pleasure, I read it a lot more than you think. Mainly as LDV seems to be an apologist for the nanny state, after all the LibDems voted 5-1 for the smoking ban.”

    Many non-smokers and a fair few smokers happily support this because it is not the nanny state, it is the state having to step in to stop people with a disgusting habit negatively harming the health and wealth of the rest of the country. I choose not to smoke and dislike smokers trying to force it upon me by smoking around me.

    “You say Nick Clegg has been fighting gold plating of EU legislation for 12 years and is now Deputy Prime Minister. Enoch Powell’s comment that all political careers end in failure seems to confirmed. It appears Clegg’s influence is zero, nil, nothing. What a golden opportunity to rid us of burdensome civil servants, what a fumble.”

    Well, considering how much this Government has cut down the civil service, I would say that judging by your standard of ‘getting rid of burdensome civil servants’, he has done well.

    “When MEPs suggest legislation to ban hairdressers from wearing high heels, although defeated, shows you the principle that the devil has found work for idle hands. How much does red tape cost UK business?”

    Even if this was EU Policy, it got voted down showing the system works.

    “Trade globalisation is to be welcomed. As Frederic Bastiat wrote the truism “if goods do not cross frontiers, then armies will”. It has been argued that China has now surpassed the USA for GDP with India fast catching up. This is where Britain’s business should be, not a declining customs union with no democratic mandate.”

    May I ask, do you know much about China? As someone who has lived there, speaks almost fluent Mandarin and is an expert on China for the organisation he works for, I can say “I do” (oh, my partner is a Chinese businesswomen, as well).

    Do you know which country China has little interest in and constantly criticises for trying to ‘go it alone’ in trade deals. The answer is the UK.

    Do you know which country China has much interest in due to it being at the heart of the EU? The answer is not the UK.

    Do you know which Union China wants a free trade movement with? The answer is not the UK on its own.

    Do you know which Union China fears could truly rival it? The answer is not the UK on its own.

    China sees the UK as little more than a broken, outdated bit part player with a few good experts on science-based thingys. The only thing China really thinks we are much good for is Victorian books and someone to steal ideas from. The only reason and way we can have any influence on China is if we work with the rest of Europe. UKIP supports can ignore this fact if they wish, but it will not change it.

    “The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) with its tariffs on 3rd world agriculture, not only adds £800 a year to the food bill of the average family but condemns the 3rd world farmers to penury. CAP seems a tax on the poor.”

    Yes, that is something that the UK and this Government wish to reform ~ strangely, UKIP has this to say on the issue:

    “Ensure there is no sudden loss of Common Agricultural Policy farming subsidies such as single farm payments.”

    “The ruinous green policies have made vast swathes of manufacturing uncompetitive. The Germans in their zeal to be good Europeans have been at the forefront of using “green energy” and it is the poor who are paying for it in every sense of the word. Annually 300,000 Germans have their electricity and gas turned off for non payment.”

    Well, first, I think trying not see us all burn under climate change is probably not a bad thing. Second, actually, the facts show (see the latest IPCC report) that once the up front payments for implementing Green manufacturing practices have been paid, Green manufacturing’s running costs are much lower and their sustainability much higher.

    Finally, that stab at the Germans is German, domestic policy, not EU policy, so even if going Green is bad and your twisted facts are not twisted (basically, even if your supposition is correct), your point is redundant in this debate.

    “China’s growth in energy production per annum is more than the UK’s annual consumption.”

    So, wait? China (that country with the world’s largest population) has more energy production than the UK’s consumption ~ what a twist!

    I am guessing your point is that China causes more green house greens than the UK, so the UK should not bother to be Green? Well, even if China was not constantly asking the EU for advice on Green energies and policies, that logic is just (to use a Cantonese phrase) 唔 (Note, Google translate does not have Cantonese, so it cannot tell you what this means).

  • Richard Dean 4th May '14 - 3:31am

    I expect to be arrested at the airport tomorrow because I’ve overstayed my visa in a non-EU country, and I may be unable to continue this interesting discussion for a few days, weeks, or more. So I’ll answer the question I asked.

    In our system of capitalism, banks and bondholders provide the day-to-day cashflows and long-term investment needed to pay wages and secure jobs. If the EU had not bailed out banks and bondholders, the way our system does accounts would have meant that those banks and bondholders would have gone bust. Far more damage would have been caused to far more people as the cashflows and investment disappeared.

    So things may seem bad now, but they would have been a lot worse. The EU acted primarily in the interests of its citizens; they may not have got it quite right and they may have had squabbles on how and what to do, but broadly speaking the best option for the citizens was the bailouts. That’s a far cry from “rule by big business and the very very wealthy”.

    Indeed, what happened when big business and the very very wealthy did try to muscle in on the act. You remember? With the financial system in turmoil and the EU trying desperately to sort things out for its citizens, Cameron and Osborne go to a meeting saying “we’ll only help (by voting Yes) if you give us what the City of London wants”. Did the EU buckle under this pressure? No sirree, Big Business Cameron and Very Wealthy Osborne were thrown out with nestfuls of fleas in their Etonian ears.

    Business, banks, and investors are necessary to our system of capitalism, and provide important benefits to people. Sure they go out of control, sure they try to push, some they say they try to corrupt things, but the evidence is that, when push comes to shove, the EU is not rule by big business and the wealthy at all. The EU fights for the populations it serves.

    By contrast, we only need to look at the behaviours of Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs, and the stranglehold they have on political power, to know where big business and the very very wealthy really do run the show.

  • Paul In Twickenham 4th May '14 - 8:04am

    @Richard Dean – you present an untestable counterfactual : “it would have been far worse if they hadn’t done what they did”. This is exactly the argument of special pleading: “you have to bail us out when our bets go sour because it’ll be awful for you if you don’t”. You appear to unconditionally accept the argument that banks must not fail.

    The alternative would have been for those banks to take their losses – many would have survived anyway – and for the failed banks to be bailed out (if considered systemically important) by their own national governments: cf Fortis in The Netherlands, for example.

    And banks and countries have gone bust in the past (e.g. Iceland, Sweden, USA, UK in recent history) and the world has not ended. Indeed the fact that the world carries on is (as Paul O’Neill so famously said on the collapse of Enron) “the genius of capitalism”. But when nations fall victim to the acquisition of unwarranted influence by the military-industrial complex (if I may quote yet another old leftie, President Eisenhower), then what is left over is crony capitalism.

    Bail outs for the rich. Permanent depression and indebtedness for the poor. C’est la vie.

  • Tony Rowan-Wicks 4th May '14 - 9:57am

    Paul,
    Your open letter has turned out to be a highly revealing contribution to LDV. I take your points, and those of the comments, as putting the spotlight the type of REFORMS we are working on as Liberal Democrats. We need more contributions of this sort so we can work together in a positive way, and across party boundaries. It would be very helpful if the UKIP MEPs re-organised their group’s membership within the EU and joined the range of REFORMS which our group will take up in the new parliament. An enjoyable read.

  • Toby Fenwick 4th May '14 - 12:19pm

    @Dave Atherton

    Thanks for being here for the debate: and I’d like to take up your offer for a libertarian debate on free trade with the rest of the EU.

    The UK has four options, one of which is a chimera. These are: (a) EU membership, (b) EEA membership, (c) EFTA membership outside the EEA, and (d) reliance on WTO membership.

    Option (c) is the chimera: there’s no way the EU would sign another Swiss-style agreement, and in any event, Switzerland is under sanction for voting to end free movement of people in contravention of the EU-Switzerland agreement.

    So, (d) would leave us outside the EU and is the only option that removes the free movement of peoples. It would also mean all British goods would pay the Common External Tariff for EU entrance, our financial and professional services industry would not have broad access to the EU market, and the FDI responsible for much of the manufacturing renaissance would relocste to the EU. Additionally, you’d have standards diverging resulting in increased non-tariff barriers unless the UK continued to implement all EU rules.

    This to me is a total nonsense.

    Option (b) of joining the EEA is, I believe, UKIP policy. It means we pay a hefty fee for market access, get control of CAP and fisheries, retain full free movement of labour and implement 90%+ of the EUs rules, with no say over them.

    This is also a complete nonsense, though it would at least remove the national embarrassment that is the UKIP MEPs, so there’s sone upside, I suppose.

    Which leaves us with EU membership, and reforming the institutions. This is what LibDems stsnd fir, and will continue to fight for. It’s difficult, it takes longer than we would like, and it doesn’t always work. But it is far, far, better than the other options parroted by the likes of Farrage.

  • Toby Fenwick 4th May '14 - 12:20pm

    And apologies for the spelling, I’m tapping this out on my phone.

  • Of course, if banking is as important as Richard Dean maintains, then one might well conclude that it’s too important to be left to private institutions that are unaccountable to the people.

  • Paul Reynolds 4th May '14 - 3:16pm

    Tony R-W has understood the implied subtext. And I believe most LD MEPs would support his conclusion.

  • Jayne Mansfield 4th May '14 - 3:44pm

    @ Toby Fenwick,
    I think that the problem might lie in the belief, obviously mistaken, that the Liberal Democrats are happy with the EU as it stands and that the party sees no reason to reform its institutions.

    That is what I would have thought if I did not read the posts on Lib Dem Voice, so perhaps there is a communication problem with the electorate at large.

  • Alex Macfie 4th May '14 - 4:02pm

    Communication with the electorate over the EU is hampered by the tendency to turn every debate about a specific EU policy or proposal (real or imagined) into a debate about the EU itself, as evidenced by some of the comments here. If UK elections were fought like EU elections, everyone would be considered either uncritically supportive of everything that Whitehall and the UK government of the day did, or wanting to abolish the UK as a nation state. I would absolutely love the UK media and politicians to discuss EU proposals on their merits, and EU elections to be fought on the basis of the specific policy directions in which each party’s MEPs intended to take the EU. Sadly we have a long way to go …

  • Richard Dean 4th May '14 - 4:20pm

    Well, I managed to pass through with just a fine – paid for by a credit card of course, draw on a bank: are banks just so useful for all sorts of things! Without one, I’d now be in jail!

    @David-1. You may have seen the press in recent years from which it has become abundantly clear that banks are indeed as important as that. Indeed, it was the failure of the managements of banks, particularly their investment arms, that contributed massively to the mess we are now getting out of.

    @Paul in Twickenham. It’s neither untestable nor counterfactual. Try reading a bit more widely, for instance the Economist is a good start, or the somewhat more academic Journal of Economic Affairs. There’s also quite a lot of books available on places like Amazon that can be very enlightening, to a mind open to enlightenment.

  • Paul Reynolds 4th May '14 - 4:56pm

    For Tony R-W Jayne, and Alex, perhaps I should take their astute conclusions a small step further, and suggest that the alternative to having an explicit EU reform agenda, (as indeed in aggregate we do) is to find ourselves being painted into a corner in having to defend everything the EU does…. an organisation of dozens of states, with hundreds of institutions and in the middle of a banking crisis caused in part by a process almost akin to herding cats (ie. to be on a hiding to nothing). Of course there are always people on the pro-EU side who might say we should stand our ground and never concede that there are things to be reformed, but Nick Clegg, from his past record as an MEP is clearly not one of them.

  • David Evans 4th May '14 - 7:16pm

    @ Paul Reynolds – it’s just a shame that Nick failed in the debates to get over that he was in favour of reform. 🙁

  • Are you seriously telling us that this is ‘just’ a protest vote?

    http://order-order.com/2014/05/04/yougov-libdems-now-behind-greens-in-fifth-place/

  • Paul In Twickenham 4th May '14 - 8:59pm

    @Richard Dean – what a crushing response. I am duly admonished. Perhaps you could descend from your lofty perch of intellectual hauteur and favour us with some evidence for your assertion that banks must never be allowed to fail because to do so would unleash chaos?

    Perhaps you could add an explanation of why no such social disaster unfolded when Wachovia or WaMu collapsed in the USA? Or when RBS did the same here? I will throw you a softball… consider Iceland. I will happily respond but it may take a little for me to do so as I am travelling. I do not, however, have any expectation of arrest at the airport.

  • Richard Dean 4th May '14 - 10:19pm

    @Paul in Twickenham

    Sure, Paul. You could start by reading what I wrote, not what you imagine. Nowhere did I write that banks cannot be allowed to fail. But banks failing is a serious matter, ask those who lost out from Northern Rock. When a crisis occurs. institutions have to take some stance or action. The evidence is that, when the crisis occurred, the EU response was primarily aimed at achieving the best outcome for the populations it serves. That is not “rule by banks”, it is representative democracy’s version of “rule by the people, for the people”.

    Banks are as necessary to our complex society as water is. Their actions provide the short and long term credit needed to pay people in advance of the goods they produce being sold, to invest in equipment with payback periods of years rather than seconds. Without that credit, shopkeepers would be unable to stick their shelves, haulage companies would be unable to buy the lorries needed to ship raw and final goods around, governments would be unable to invest in jobs or growth. And without the discipline of accounting, insurance would not exist.

    There’s a big, accessible literature on the role of banks and how to manage them, including on when and whether to let them fail, and for example Howard Davies book on the subject is enlightening. http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/074565164X/?tag=libdemvoice-21+davies+financial+crisis

  • Toby Fenwick 4th May '14 - 10:29pm

    @Jayne Mansfield

    Agreed, we need to be clear and repetitive about what we want to change and why. Beyond Parliament going to Strasbourg, more ill defined localusm, and some refinement of the CAP, I’m not sure what our concrete proposals are.

  • Paul In Twickenham 5th May '14 - 8:16pm

    @Richard Dean – you have yet to provide any meaningful insight or to justify your original comment: If the EU had not bailed out banks and bondholders, the way our system does accounts would have meant that those banks and bondholders would have gone bust. Far more damage would have been caused to far more people as the cashflows and investment disappeared.

    Fortis was viewed to be systemically important by the Dutch government and was rescued by them. However the French banks that had excessive exposure to Greece (as a for instance) were not bailed out by the French government/taxpayer via nationalization, but instead were bailed out for their bad bets by the Greek people and allowed to remain as privately-held operations. You view this as justifiable? Whither moral hazard?

    I will not be taking your advice on reading matter, thanks. 20 years working in the investment banking sector has provided me with an adequate and on-going education education.

  • An Open Letter to Paul Reynolds from a UKIP voter

    Dear Mr Reynolds

    It was sweet of you to write to us, we didn’t think a member of the liberal establishment cared! Except of course you don’t really care about us, or how we think or feel. Until we organise our own party, outside your cosy little liberal, politically correct three party consensus. And that party starts winning national elections. That gets your attention doesn’t it?

    But you have nothing to offer us because you share the world view which we despise and utterly reject. The view of the MSM and the three main parties. A world view which has dominated social and political discourse since the late 60’s. And is at five minutes to midnight coming under sustained assault, by us, right here, right now.

    You think that we are are stupid and vulgar, beyond the civilised pale. We despise you you because we are returning the favour. You make no secret of the fact that you have contempt for anyone who questions the consensus that immigration is an unalloyed good, and that membership of the EU is the only possible future for us as a country. You think that your views make you morally superior to us, and are frankly staggered that after playing that worn, battered old trump card the “waacist” “waacist” smear which for decades has served to stifle debate and enforce compliance to your will, it just isn’t working any more.

    Well we have had enough. We have had enough of what you and your media friends have done to our country and we are taking to the barricades. You talk about our fathers and grandfathers fighting in two world wars and yet again you show you just don’t get it.

    We are proud of them, that is true, but are glad that most of them are no longer around to see what you and your friends have made of the country they fought and died for. It would be unrecognisable to them and it would have broken their hearts to see their sacrifice had been in vain.

    Yours sincerely

    A UKIP voter.

    consensus

  • Richard Dean 5th May '14 - 9:33pm

    @simon
    You could have said it simpler: UKIP are the party of hate.

  • Richard Dean 5th May '14 - 9:37pm

    @Paul the Banker in Twickenham
    20 years stuck in an investment bank doesn’t seem to have given much of an insight about the role of banking in today’s society. Is it bitterness towards your employers that is driving you? Or some form of shame or loneliness?

  • Paul In Twickenham 5th May '14 - 9:59pm

    @Richard Dean – thank you. Personal abuse is a useful indicator of inability to engage in a meaningful discussion. Let me recap the main points for your benefit. We began with a discussion on the premise that “The EU is an institution for rule by big business and very very wealthy”

    I said : Rather than burning the (German) bondholders when their investments turned sour, the EU saw fit to bail out the banks and leave the taxpayers of Ireland to pick up massive liabilities for which they had no individual or collective liability. That sounds like “rule by big business” to me.

    You replied: If the EU had not bailed out banks and bondholders, the way our system does accounts would have meant that those banks and bondholders would have gone bust. Far more damage would have been caused to far more people as the cashflows and investment disappeared.

    I noted: The alternative would have been for those banks to take their losses – many would have survived anyway – and for the failed banks to be bailed out (if considered systemically important) by their own national governments: cf Fortis in The Netherlands, for example.

    You said: “Nowhere did I write that banks cannot be allowed to fail… Try reading a bit more widely, for instance the Economist is a good start”

    I replied: “the French banks that had excessive exposure to Greece (as a for instance) were not bailed out by the French government/taxpayer via nationalization, but instead were bailed out for their bad bets by the Greek people and allowed to remain as privately-held operations. You view this as justifiable? Whither moral hazard?”

    You replied: “is it bitterness toward your employers that is driving you?”.

    So I think we have given excellent evidence in support of the original contention that the EU operates as a plutocracy and your counter-evidence is… well…

    PS Investment banks are complex ecosystems of thoughtful people. Different perspectives are considered valuable. For everyone to agree would create dangerous groupthink. You might want to look that up. I believe there is a useful article on wikipedia. It also applies to political parties.

  • Richard Dean 5th May '14 - 10:41pm

    @Paul the Twickenham Banker

    So, you claim to that 20-years of experience as a banker gives you experience and you feel comfortable about having that experience challenged? Something wrong there!

    The simple evidence is that the EU acts in what it believes to be the best interests of its citizens. It does that because, if it did not the countries which make it up are democracies, and the people can vote them out. Like every institution in a democratic society, the EU is subject to lobbying and pressure from a variety of interest groups, but that does not equate to being a pawn of any one of them. If there’s a shortage of drinking water looming, we’d all expect governments to act before we all start dying. Credit is as necessary as water in our complex society, and when there’s a disastrous collapse of credit looming we expect governments to prevent that collapse. The EU did.

    Like the bus says, Banks are necessary. Get over it.

  • Simon – OK, you hate and despise us. I can be pretty tribal as well, though when it comes to individuals I have good relations with members of other parties. I do rather object, though, to your appropriation of those who fought in World War Two to your cause. My father was enthusiastically pro-Europe and was proud of the multi-ethnic family that he and his children created. The world changes all the time, and as one gets older it is only natural that one should lament the good things from one’s youth that have been lost: it has been like that throughout recorded history, but it has to be admitted that it is easier for the better educated and better resourced members of society to cope with rapid change. The Liberal Party developed community politics to enable disadvantaged communities in particular to develop the political skills to challenge those in authority, and we had some success for a time. There are many areas of the country where we failed to make a lasting difference, and many others where, as a result of being in government with the Conservatives, we are no longer treated seriously . UKIP is building support in communities which feel isolated, marginalised and ignored using very simple messages: however, the world is a complicated place and should UKIP find itself with its hands on the levers of power, at whatever level, it will rapidly discover that slogans and ‘commonsense’ are insufficient to deliver anything significant for those it seeks to represent.

  • Michael Parsons 6th May '14 - 1:06am

    @ Richard Dean

    Which of the points of criticism of the EU is wrong, and why? Free shifting of labour, and of cash and capital, and free trade (as with the coming arrangements with US) prevent the sovereign people of this and all EU countries from using the State to make and protect their own social, economic and welfare arrangements. Or do you think the imposed rule of bankers/IMF in Ireland, Portugal, Greece etc. saddling the public with the debts of banking scams are democratic? Or the current new arrangements permitting the seizure of customers bank-deposits here (the so-called” Bail In” arrangements) to replace the tax-payer bail-outs are a steadfast defence of property and democratic integrity? When we could instead establish and run public banks, giro-payment systems, and independent banking utilities (like cheque clearance, ATM’s etc) so as to introduce competition from small and local banks, against the “rights” of EU big capital and competition rules. Is this a good example of Lib Dem ideology? Perhaps these failures are, which is why you are leading contenders for the Order of the Boot.

  • Richard Dean 6th May '14 - 1:36am

    @Michael Parsons.
    So you’ve now abandoned the so-called radical left position, you don’t want to defend any of your previous rant? Well, yes, I agree those assertions were completely untenable!

    Our best bet to protect our social, financial, and other valuable arrangements is to do it in concert with Europe. In a way that is fairly obvious, since large disparities in such arrangements will always defeat attempts to set up boundaries. You’ve got to have missed a whole lot of news to think of the Greeks as having been unfairly imposed upon; it is they who de-frauded the rest of Europe including the UK out of billions.

    You seem to favour small, local banks, but they will need to be subject to rules of competition too, unless you’re wanting a gangster style of banking to develop. And small, local banks wouldn’t be able to provide the credit that large, socially useful businesses can need.

    The world can be hard if you hate it, but can be much pleasanter and more supportive if you don’t. You’d see these things better if you were a bit less defensive. Try thinking from premises that are sensible, recognize human nature, and err if at all on the generous side.

  • Ha, Richard – I wonder if the irony in your final paragraph was deliberate …

  • Jayne Mansfield 6th May '14 - 10:40am

    @ simon.
    Don’t get carried away. When you talk of ‘my’ country,you are also speaking of ‘my’ country too, and the country of my children, grandchildren and family. The country of my friends.

    As tonyhill has pointed out, it is offensive when you try to appropriate those who fought in World War 2. Many of us had relatives who fought in the conflict and many of us have relatives who lost their lives fighting for the freedoms that we now enjoy.

    As I have written in other threads, I did not vote in the last European elections because we were visiting France to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the D day landings.

    I am not a politician and so I don’t understood how a party that describes itself as libertarian, came up with the 2010 UKIP manifesto (painting trains the same colours, taxi drivers to wear uniforms, theatre goers to dress smartly etc., and can also claim to be free market whilst being opposed to the free movement of workers.

    This is your opportunity to explain to me what sort of Britain we would live in if we left the European union and there was a UKIP government.

  • >We are proud of them, that is true, but are glad that most of them are
    >no longer around to see what you and your friends have made of the
    >country they fought and died for

    So, kippers are pleased that WW2 vets are dead, because dieing is preferable to living in modern UK? There was me thinking they were nationalists – turns out they just hate everything! It all sounds a bit Fred Phelps.

  • This is depressing.
    Just a sec…

    $tail -f ukip > /dev/null

    …that’s better.

    1. In the UNIX world, everything is a file – including UKIP
    2. There’s a technical solution to everything

    🙂

  • And remember, it is a very brave (or foolish) person who decides to annoy the DBA!

  • @ Tony Hill

    I don’t hate you personally, mate! I don’t know you. Maybe I got a little carried away in the full flow of my pedagogy and went a little over the top. 🙂

    What I WAS trying to articulate is the frustration the UKIP voter feels at the moment, so you could sense it as a visceral level. I tried to be passionate so you could almost taste the anger and bitterness. As it happens I am able to express myself adequately, perhaps not with eloquence, but certainly on the same educational and intellectual level as most on here.

    But (and this is a generalisation I know) UKIP represents the inarticulate and under educated. Look at forums of Kippers and you will be struck by how many spelling mistakes there are, the lack of grammar. (Gleefully pointed to by their enemies by the way). This movement is a primal scream of pain. An inchoate fury by the “left behinds” at not being consulted about having their lives transformed and then being accused of racism if they dare to complain. The white lower working class, will be a huge part of the UKIP constituency in the North and Midlands. Wait and see the voting breakdowns.

    They can’t express themselves well, which is one of the reasons they get ignored. In my earlier post I was trying to speak for them.

    Which isn’t to say that I don’t feel some of the frustrations too, for I surely do.

    Answer me this. Why (according to the mainstream media) are a handful of unpleasant individuals proof that a whole political party is racist? Whereas the handful of Islamic extremists and terrorists are totally unrepresentative of the whole “Muslim community”?

    The irony is that both attempt to undermine the liberal status quo, but one attempts to do so through peace, and democracy and the ballot box. While the other chooses violence and extra parliamentary means.

    Maybe UKIP is actually more of a threat, hence the media onslaught? I guess that is the point, thinking about it.

  • Jayne Mansfield 6th May '14 - 4:46pm

    @ simon,
    I note that the Newark constituency will be fought by another former tory, former tory MEP and Cambridge graduate Roger Helmer.

    Why do you think that these people represent your interests or the interests of the working class?

  • @ Richard Dean

    You could have said it simpler: UKIP are the party of hate.

    I recommend this wonderful essay to you…

    http://www.blupete.com/Literature/Essays/Hazlitt/Hating.htm

  • Thank you for your reply Simon. I try to show the same respect to people on-line as I would if I was canvassing them: of course people are going to disagree with me, sometimes vehemently, but if you are on their doorstep you listen to what they have to say to you. One of the reasons I came into liberal politics was to work with the “left behinds” as you put it; the people treated as mere voting fodder by the Labour Party, and as of no significance by the Tories. But UKIP’s success does bring into sharp relief an uncomfortable truth which liberals do not, by and large want to confront. We were happy working with deprived communities to prevent them being bulldozed for new roads, for example, but when working class areas have been gradually transformed by immigration we have tended to look the other way. I remember arguing about this with a fellow Liberal in the late 60s when the first Race Relations Bill was being debated. He was from Bradford and had experience of his community having been profoundly altered by immigration, while I was from a sleepy country town where an immigrant was someone from the next valley. He said bluntly that everyone was racist to some extent, which I found quite shocking, but he was expressing a truth from his real experience. I believe that this country is broadly very tolerant and has been greatly enriched by immigration, but I feel a guilt for having ignored those who, as I said in my earlier post, have neither the education nor the resources to be able to deal with rapid changes in their community, just as I feel guilt for my party being part of a government which has made life more difficult for those that I came into politics to support. Sure, UKIP is the recipient of support from racists, and that is one of the main reasons why the BNP is no longer of any significance, just as the rise of Margaret Thatcher coincided with the decline of the National Front; and sure, there is a narrow line between covertly encouraging that support and having racist policies, which at the moment I don’t think UKIP has. Because UKIP does not have the same inhibitions with regard to immigration that the Liberal Party had, and the LibDems have, it is engaging much more directly with the “inarticulate and the under-educated”: where it is bound to fail, though, is in providing any relevant solutions to the people whose “inchoate fury” it has stoked, and that is potentially dangerous.

  • Giles Goodall 6th May '14 - 11:56pm

    Agree with lots of your sentiments here Paul, but let’s please not perpetuate the myth of ‘the EU imposing rules on us’ and ‘EU rules drafted by civil servants in Brussels (not the European Parliament)’.

    The EU is not a ‘them’ but an ‘us’ – it’s as much ours as anyone else’s. Nothing is imposed, we have a seat at the table every step of the way, be it in the Commission, Council or Parliament.

    Most importantly, while civil servants make the proposals, no rules are passed by them – that’s the job of our elected ministers and our elected MEPs, who co-legislate at European level on our behalf. All the more reason to elect good Lib Dem MEPs to represent us (proven by studies to be the most effective at influencing legislation and winning votes – see my earlier piece on this: http://ldv.org.uk/38993

  • @ Tony Hill

    UKIP hasn’t “stoked” the inchoate fury, it is already there, it existed before UKIP came into being as a serious political force. It is channelling the anger, in a peaceful democratic way, through the ballot box.

    What will be “dangerous” is if this anger isn’t listened to, because, well it is obvious isn’t it? If going down the democratic route proves a failure what will the alternative be?

    It isn’t clear to me that the political elite and the mainstream media will listen to UKIP and change, but we will see.

    What you need to appreciate is that you, the Lib Dems are now an irrelevance. Who do you speak for? Certainly not the inarticulate, poor and deprived. Which for a purportedly left of centre party is a terminally damning indictment. Labour are as bad, but are picking up left of centre swing vote because we have a Tory Gov’t. You now represent less than one in ten of the minority who will vote in this upcoming election. You aren’t a national party at all now, and it is generous of me to be contributing to your website. 🙂

    Paul Reynolds attempt to drum up interest in the actions of Lib Dem MEPs exemplifies this. I kinda respect his earnestness and energy, but it is in a hopeless cause. You don’t speak to the nation, or for the nation and you will probably get the same number of MEPs as the BNP did last time.

    Your leader said it all during the debate, although he didn’t intend to. When asked how the EU would look in ten years time he said “pretty much the same.” What a hopeless vision when the EU is in perhaps terminal crisis and so is the UK, it summed up why a vote for the Lib Dems is a wasted vote.. Nothing will change if you get elected, and things NEED to change in Europe.

    Answer me this. If the Lib Dems offered anything at all, why are all the protest votes going to UKIP not you? Why did Nick Clegg get such a beating at Nigel’s hands?

  • @ Jayne Mansfield

    “I note that the Newark constituency will be fought by another former tory, former tory MEP and Cambridge graduate Roger Helmer.

    Why do you think that these people represent your interests or the interests of the working class?”

    We are a nationalist party, and seek to represent the interests of all classes, although, as I say we have a particular appeal to the white lower working class. Which no respectable party has represented till now. Are you saying they should continue to be disenfranchised? Do you agree with the asinine media criticism of UKIP for attracting former BNP voters??? They are still voters you know, and have the right to exercise their democratic choice, even though the Lib Dems (along with the whole liberal establishment) so despise them.

    Newark is a Tory seat, so obviously a former Tory is a good fit as candidate. As for whether he will “represent” the voters of Newark, that is for them to decide, is it not?

    I think he has a good shot at winning the seat, and that Nigel definitely would have. But we will see.

  • Jayne Mansfield 7th May '14 - 11:50am

    @ Simon,
    Given that Nigel Farage admitted on Sky News that he had bottled it as far as standing in Newark is concerned, we will never know whether he would have won the seat or not.

    I am from a working class background and I am still close to my roots. I have never described myself as white working class though, nor has anyone I know.

    In my opinion, working class people have always voted for a party that has ‘fairness’ at its its core, a party that they think will give everyone a fair crack of the whip whatever their background and that will ensure that the powerful do not exploit the weak and vulnerable.

    I would just like to know how Ukip , a libertarian party, can claim to be champions of fairness for the low working class, because for me, libertarianism offers no policies to ensure that the weak are not exploited by the strong, quite the reverse.

  • Jayne Mansfield 7th May '14 - 11:52am

    Sorry, In my penultimate paragraph, I meant to write the ‘majority’ of working class people.

  • Richard Dean 7th May '14 - 12:25pm

    Excellent analysis, Jayne Mansfield.
    Nigel Farage, former City of London commodities trader, does not look very representative of the “white lower working class”.

  • Jayne Mansfield 7th May '14 - 3:19pm

    @ Richard Dean,
    Nor indeed other ‘bigwigs’ like Lord Pearson or Neil Hamilton, whose names like that of Nigel Farage, are the only ones that come to mind when I think of Ukip.

  • City spiv Farrage himself says he likes making loads money and loadsa dosh that’s how he funded his far right extremist party. He doesn’t like on a Council estate like I do and his claims of empathy with the working class are totally flawed.

  • @ Richard Dean @ Jayne M

    Nigel Farage, former City of London commodities trader, does not look very representative of the “white lower working class”.

    Actually a lot of commodities traders are not far from working class roots. It is a “barrow boy” profession and none the worse for it I might add. But I’ll let that pass.

    Doesn’t it occur to you that something is very very wrong with the left of centre legacy parties if unashamedly middle class Nigel is able to articulate their hopes and dreams, speak to them, claim their vote (when often they haven’t bothered before) and they have contempt for you?

    Rather than smearing UKIP why don’t you take a leaf out of their book and try and think up policies which might claim their vote??

  • @ Jayne M

    “Given that Nigel Farage admitted on Sky News that he had bottled it as far as standing in Newark is concerned, we will never know whether he would have won the seat or not.”

    Don’t think it matters, the more I think about it the more I think we might just win anyway.

    The selection of Helmer was a masterstroke. He is going to get slaughtered in the MSM, and by the legacy parties. Absolutely destroyed, in fact it has already started to happen. By the time the hyenas of Fleet Street and the BBC have finished with him even his own mother (I know she is unlikely to be alive!) might question voting for him.

    Given the vicious anti politics mood, with Cameron seen as weak and on the way out, I can see that sort of campaign backfiring in the most spectacular fashion. He isn’t evil, he just has anti establishment views, politically incorrect ones. (Which I don’t myself share by the way!) Tory voters are going to think to themselves, that just isn’t fair. He only has to be mildly cogent to turn moderate opinion against the character assassination campaign.

    Watch out for a catastrophic collapse in the Tory vote, this is a By election after all, not a General Election. Your vote will collapse too, and it will be a three way Tory/UKIP /Labour fight. I can see us getting more Labour voters than that party expects, maybe even a few former Lib Dems. Plus some new to politics. Faced with UKIP or Labour to win the seat I can see even diehardish Tories tactically voting UKIP.

    It is tough ask, no doubt about it, but all bets are off in high profile By Elections like this. Anything could happen,

    Speaking of bets, the odds are ridiculous, with the Tories favourite, and Labour second. I think Labour should be favourite and our odds much lower.

    Have put my money where my mouth is anyway! A cheeky little Pony on us, at 6/1, on Bet 365.

    Wish me luck. 🙂

  • Very interesting tactic by Nigel. You have to admit he is a genius of political communication and marketing. Calling this repositioning UKIP’s “Clause 4” moment is more than a catchy sound bite, it speaks to a profound truth in this campaign and the whole of UK political culture.

    UKIP (actually just Nige) have single handedly transformed the debate on immigration and social cohesion and what it is to be British. He has lanced the racism boil that has poisoned this discussion since Powell’s lamentable contribution to the debate.

    As ever the establishment is playing catch up. Expect a smear campaign of the UKIP BME candidates, obviously too,the extreme left will call them “coconuts” and “choc ices” but they speak to yesterday’s agenda and have lost the centre ground. This is exactly what we need as a country. A logical debate about immigration and multi culturalism, which acknowledges the reality of our multi racial society and embraces diversity, BUT allows us to control future immigration and take back sovereignty of our country from the European Commissars.

    And allows the country space to point out the drawbacks of our multi racial society without the poison of accusations of racism. No-one can speak the truth, now at a stroke they can. This election has been seismic to the culture. I think anyway. 🙂

  • Another fascinating aspect of this election. Don’t you think this is shows the final breakthrough into politics of social media?

    It can’t be denied, though somebody on here might try I suppose, that the mainstream media has been running scared and manically hostile to UKIP. The Sun, the Mirror, the Mail, the Telegraph, the Guardian, the Observer, the Sunday Times, the Sunday Telegraph, the Sunday Sun, the Times, the Spectator, the New Statesman, the Independent, the Hufffington Post, the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 News have all tried (and failed) to take UKIP down.

    Why? Because UKIP is the zeitgeist, it has tapped into a popular discontent and the break down in trust between the legacy parties and the establishment, of which all the above named are an intrinsic part. Yes that is a large part of it.

    But this has also been spread and facilitated by social media. Facebook, Twitter, the message boards of newspapers are a media space for political dissent. We don’t need to read the boring out of touch columnists in the Times to get our information on the political scene. We are shaping it ourselves, for ourselves. You are on the other side, so won’t appreciate this, but that is how it feels to be a Kipper.

    We don’t need the media or the legacy parties to shape the agenda. We are doing it for ourselves. It is a bottom up movement enabled by social media, as well as the product and phenomenon of our charismatic and politically gifted leader.

    I predict that the mainstream media, so slug, so sluggish, so out of touch with popular opinion will eventually catch up with what is going on. But have you read anything like that up till now? I haven’t, I have just witnessed it, lived it.

  • @ Alex M

    “Communication with the electorate over the EU is hampered by the tendency to turn every debate about a specific EU policy or proposal (real or imagined) into a debate about the EU itself, as evidenced by some of the comments here.”

    That is because of the democratic deficit, which is the fatal flaw of the whole European project.

    It is hard to think of a more inefficient decision making structure, or one further removed from good governance and connection with the people it claims to serve. It is hardly surprising we have had the catastrophe of the Euro.

    The EU has to revert to being a simple free trade bloc, and abandon its claims to supra nationality, which it is unable to do. Or it will break up. Its present structure, with an unelected European Commission (de facto if not de jure) , the sordid horse trading of the Council of Ministers and the “consultative” European Parliament is not fit for purpose.

    You are not seeing the wood for the trees. The British electorate, however, are, and if it is put to a referendum and properly debated will vote to leave.

    If you are so confident in the truth of your failed cause why won’t you put it to a referendum of the British people?

    Can’t you see that everyone realises that it is because you know you will lose?

  • I find the open letter rather insulting. The problem with the EU is a complete lack of democratic accountability. Everything else flows from that. We are ruled by unelected bureaucrats. What is it that Lib Dems find so attractive about that?

    Why do you welcome the relentless move towards the Federal States of Europe? Is the Lib Dem vision of the UK as an associate member really about the UK being parked in the waiting room in the vain hope that the Euro may someday become less politically and economically toxic?

    With regard to your final, rather misguided comment, I would imagine that the Southern members of the Eurozone probably still find that the Germans are once again dominating Europe.

    You quoted something Nick Clegg wrote 12 years ago. Let me quote something that he wrote in the Guardian 6 years ago: “Probably half of all new legislation now enacted in the UK begins in Brussels”. I expect the proportion is much higher today. So much for the famous 7% he claimed in the TV debate and yes, I am well aware that he selected only primary legislation in an attempt to deceive the public.

  • @ Peter

    “Why do you welcome the relentless move towards the Federal States of Europe?”

    I don’t like to speak for them (maybe one of the Europhiles on here will explain in my stead??) but my take is that they hate the nation state in abstract, and Britain in particular. Why else would you cheerlead for a political and entity which seeks to submerge countries with differing languages and cultures and histories into one new, “United States of Europe?”

    They are globalised, and post modern, and culturally relativist and all that, but what they really demonstrate is a hatred of Britain as a sovereign state (they would say it is an outmoded concept), together with a belief that Britain isn’t good enough to survive outside Europe.

    I know it beats me, and it beats the electorate but there you have it. It isn’t a logical construct so much as a religious belief on their part.

  • Alex Macfie 9th May '14 - 5:23pm

    @simon: The European Parliament is not merely “consultative”; the Treaty of Lisbon gives it equal decision-making powers with the European Council (as the Council of Ministers is now called). It can also veto EU legislation.

  • jedibeeftrix 9th May '14 - 5:28pm

    “The problem with the EU is a complete lack of democratic accountability. Everything else flows from that. We are ruled by unelected bureaucrats. What is it that Lib Dems find so attractive about that? Why do you welcome the relentless move towards the Federal States of Europe?”

    Presumably because they see a federal state, with the EP devising legislation, as a means to overcome the democratic deficit.

    My objection to this is that I do not recognise a sufficient commonality of interests, aims and expectations, to justify a governance for britain which would be significantly less British than is currently the case.
    Banding together to achieve a common outcome can achieve a stronger and more effective result, but only if there is sufficient convergence to permit the common outcome to be more than a messy compromise that pleases no one.

    It is perhaps not surprising (but a little disappointing), that the left in britain looks to europe to implement an agenda for greater collective action, and a stricter regulatory control, then they can win at the ballot box.

    This is not just a matter of tax but also of law:
    If we look at the average proportion of GDP the British states taxes for public services as compared to the larger continental neighbours, are we in the middle of the spectrum or towards the bottom? By 2017 we will allegedly be on course to spend 37% of GDP…
    If we look at the model of our economy (anglo-capitalism) and compare it to the collective aspirations found in french dirigisme or german rhine-capitalism, so we find it to be notably less restrictive?

    English Common Law with its roots in the concept of Natural Law has led to a presumption of negative liberty; I am free to do anything that which is not specifically proscribed by the law. Rights are defined as being against interference by the sovereign in the liberty of individual on matters of religion, speech, press, assembly, and free markets.

    Continental Civil Law with its closer association with Legal Positivism has led to a presumption of positive liberty. It is my right, as codified in the system of laws, to be able to act in this manner. Rights are defined as things you are allowed to do by the sovereign such as freedom of religion, speech, press, and assembly. You are enabled to do these things.

    This, for me, is why British sovereignty matters, because on balance we get the governance we want, rather than the best compromise achievable through the teeth of continental opposition.

  • @ Alex M

    It doesn’t matter what these arcane European institutions are called! There is a fundamental democratic deficit.

    If we don’t like our government we can kick them out in a general election. THAT is democracy and popular sovereignty. If we don’t like the European Commission, or the decisions of the Council of Europe, or European law we have to bend over and take it up the rear. On the Tobin tax, or open borders, or payment of benefits to EU migrants, or whatever is the hot button topic du jour.

    You say the European Parliament is more than consultative. Maybe, but could you please explain how it embodies the sovereignty of the people in the way, constitutionally, Westminster does?

    This is what the British people would like to say to the European “Parliament” 🙂

    “It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.

    Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter’d your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?

    Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defil’d this sacred place, and turn’d the Lord’s temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress’d, are yourselves gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors.

    In the name of God, go!”

  • The Office Cat 15th May '14 - 9:36pm

    I think there is a very good possibility that if UKIP and other Eurosceptic parties do well in the forthcoming election then we will get EU reforms and in a timely manner, which all parties appear to be seeking.

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