Opinion: The Charge of the Lib Dem Brigade

There’s a by-election! Chaaaaarge! This pretty much sums up Lib Dem strategy in Crewe… or is it tactics masking as strategy? And if there are any voices in the party who think our blind rush to by-elections is as mad as the Charge of the Light Brigade, I have news for you. It’s the only strategy we have.

Tactical voting is our ‘strategy’ even if the circumstances don’t suit it – for example, if we are third in polling data and the main strong challenger is not us! In Crewe our message was, err… ‘Vote for us because we can….ummm……win’. After we came third, our main pronouncements were, in effect, ‘Hooray, Labour got a pasting because it increased taxes on the poor,’ and, at the same time, ‘People voted Tory as a protest but they don’t want a Tory government’. To describe this as unclear for the public and limp as a position (whether deliberate or not) would be euphemistic.

What’s worse is… well… let me put this as a question: what percentage of the voting public now identifies us with which policies? That is a more important question than what our main ‘headline’ policies actually are.

Tactical voting as an approach can help us in some circumstances, even in a general election, but it has come to dominate. Some might say it filled a nearly-empty space. Blind Charges of the Lib Dem Brigade need to be stopped, however. This will force us to face an uncomfortable truth. At the root of the ‘strategy deficit’ are the fragmented policy development and implementation processes across the party. By this I mean the actual, not theoretical, system.

There is too much (often poor quality) detail on issues of low importance, and not enough focus on practicalities and potential unintended consequences. Often we live with very weak and unclear narratives – for example those that describe succintly the problems we are trying to solve. Local income tax is a classic example.

Our policy processes are thus wasteful of resources, and often work on the basis that senior Lib Dems in the various party cliques have somehow aquired a monopoly of wisdom on UK society. We have a perilous combination of too much policy driven by vested interests, and too many MPs and inner clique members moneymaking from their positions; and I write from personal experience.

The party puts often enormous energy into short bursts of top-down policy activity, as if suddenly from nowhere. Trident is the best known example, but there are many others. All of our many policy systems – both the formal and the less formal – need to work more coherently together, and they should be based on good ‘quality’ rules, for example with systems for ensuring the analysis and problem-definitions are clear, that consistency or otherwise with other policies is known, and so on. Clear themes, and consistency with themes (or not as the case may be) should always be spelt out.

It’s not easy for sure, but it is time for Nick Clegg’s leadership campaign promises of policy process reform to be iniated… thoroughly and speedily. No more blind ‘charges’ please!

* Paul Reynolds is Professor of International Government at the University of Westminster, and approved Lib Dem Parliamentary candidate, and former Lib Dem councillor in Lambeth.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds and Party policy and internal matters.


  • David Morton 2nd Jun '08 - 9:03am

    I think there are actually two articles here which have been cellotaped together to both of their detriments.

    1. With regard to By elections. You can view the party’s obsession with them in a number of ways. Dirkheim said you can’t have a “Culture without a Cult”. For a party that hasn’t been in national government since 1922 (don’t nit pick…) it must be nice to have at least one thing at which you are the best and deify it. You could use an economic analogy and say that we are the Switzerland of British politics and by elections are are Watches or Banking industry. We may not do much as nation but we are the best at it in the world and we make a living. Or you could have a freudian analysis and say by elections are our displacement activities used to avoid repressed pain and needed action ( eg if we win Hneley we needn’t worry about the Conservative revival). Or in perhaps my most controversial analogy you could see the party’s obsession with by elections as an addiction. By election wins are the crack high of politics. However intense the come down is awful and like all addictions it stops you developing more fulling and steady relationships.

    However the first party of the article seems only superficially about By elections. Its really the standard attack about us not having a narrative. While I have some sympathy with that its difficult to see any causual link with by elections. If the article went a bit further and critiqued the effect that community politics/focus culture in general had on narrative or lack of them that may be more interesting.

    2. the second part of the article/article its self seems to be more about policy making structures. I’d have liked to have seen some examples ( only Trident is given and then there is no justification for the statement) given.

    And specifically what does Philip want to see happen?

  • I agree with David that linking the apparent lack of a clear narrative and/or strategy is better separated from the issue of by-elections.

    By-elections are important to the party tactically. Good by-election results have repeatedly put the party back on the political map at points when we were at risk of fading or disappearing altogether.

    For a third and relatively poorly resourced third party it is sensible for us to prioritise them.

    Whether the party has a clear enough narrative, or an overall political strategy are really separate questions, and more realted to why we tend to keep fading in the first place.

  • I concur that this article is really two articles. We have a great record on by-elections, and we should be proud of it.

    If you want to claim that party policy making process has faults it would be helpful to set out an alternative, rather than insinuating that people at the top are making policy on a corrupt basis (how else should we understand the line “many MPs and inner clique members moneymaking from their positions”?).

    I have been involved in policy making at all levels in the party – as a member of MPs advisory teams, as a member of FPC working groups, as FCC motion advisor, etc, and although I have heard some daft ideas, the idea that those daft ideas were put forward because the person could make money out of us saying one thing seems to me to be preposterous and is clearly unsubstantiated.

  • Stanley Foreman 2nd Jun '08 - 10:12am

    Quite. By priding ourselves on by-election successes and boasting about how nervous it makes others we’ve lost focus on the bigger picture.

    It’s quite embarrasing that despite spectacular by-election successes in the post World War Two period we have never been able to translate that into national success. Even more embarrassing when one considers that a nationalist party with moderate by-election success has been able to win an election.

    However they were able to use those successes as part of a narrative to take themselves forward and to seize the agenda. 1967 to establish a foothold as a serious political force. 1973 to establish themselves as a Parliamentary force. 1988 to overtake the Liberal Democrats. 1995 to overtake the Tories. 2006 to say they were on their way to Government and to overtake Labour. In all cases their victories helped seize the agenda.

    In comparison I can’t think of one LibDem by-election victory which was followed by any tremendous success at a national elections. I think they actually benefitted the other main opposition party by showing the Government’s weakness and allowing them to be part of the narrative as the only alternative.

    Case in point. Dunfermline. We did have the narrative that it showed we had momentum but it wasn’t set in a narrative of us heading into Government in Scotland along with a set of clear policies. It didn’t seize the agenda. Rather it helped the SNP by building up the narrative of Labour in trouble.

    And by staying in coalition with Labour right up to the bitter end we only confused our message of being their alternative. The SNP had an open goal on that one.

    What if we had pulled out of the Executive shortly after the by-election on the issue of tolls and Labour’s apparent support? I believe we would have set ourselves in a narrative that was persuasive considering that we came second in Scotland at the previous General Election.

    We would have firmly established ourselves as the alternative to Labour and we would have gained the advantage to present an alternative policy programme that would attract attention.

    Instead we remained in the Executive and allowed the SNP to win back the initiative in Moray and use its opposition status to be seen as the only clear alternative to Labour in Scotland.

    They took advantage of their by-election victory and we squandered ours.

    We really have to think if it is worth pouring so many resources into by-elections (some clearly no-hopers) over policy just so we can puff our chests out for a few weeks. What we need are clear policies to present the narrative of an alternative government in tune with people’s concerns on a national basis.

  • Really good comments, Wit and Wisdom has it spot on.

  • Hywel Morgan 2nd Jun '08 - 4:51pm

    “many MPs and inner clique members moneymaking from their positions”

    Who makes money out of influencing the Lib Dem policy-making process. I obviously missed out when I was on a policy working group 🙂

    “In comparison I can’t think of one LibDem by-election victory”

    Newbury/Christchurch in 1993 set the agenda of us as credible challengers to the Tories along with the 93 County elections.

    “Case in point. Dunfermline.”

    IMO that strategy would have catastophically backfired. We would have looked incredibly opportunistic. As it is the Scottish people can see that (1) We stick to our position in a coalition government and (2) we stick to the pledges we give in an election when it comes to coalition talks (you can criticise the policy of not supporting an independence referendum but we were absolutely right to stick to it)

    There is an analogy with the Maastrict vote – we stuck to our principles despite dire warnings about what would happen and ultimately got the benefit.

  • “Decontaminating the brand” seems to have recently overtaken “narrative” at the top of the political buzzword chart. Fortunately it is not a concept that applies to us, but if you think about it our ‘brand’ identity is pretty weak. As activists we tend to know why we spend our time working without much reward for the Party, but most of us are hard-pressed to convey the reasons to anyone else. Sure, liberalism is inherently more difficult to package than socialism or conservatism: the Labour Party brand remained much the same from the formation of the Party at the beginning of the twentieth century to its withering away at the end with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the advent of New Labour; the Conservative Party, like capitalism, has always adapted to events, but in most of its fundamentals it is recognisably the same brand that was created in the late nineteenth/early twentieth century. The strongest element in our brand identity is, unfortunately, ‘neither of the above’: that just about keeps us in the market place, but UKIP, the BNP and the nationalist parties are also crowding into that space. ‘Brand’ is not quite the same as ‘narrative’, and neither are solely a function of policy. Perhaps if the delegates at the next conference were given a piece of paper and one minute to write “Why I am a Liberal Democrat” some themes might emerge which could be worked up into a stronger brand image. We will never make a breakthrough to power simply by being nicer than/working harder than/ and not being the Labour/Conservative Party.

  • Excluding the importance of earlier by-elections to the credibility of the then Liberal Party:

    Bootle (I think it was) saw off the SDP tick

    Eastbourne saved us from near extinction

    Newbury, Christchurch, Eastleigh and Little & Sad gave us credibility as an anti-Tory force in the run up to ’97

    Romsey showed we could still beat the Tories in the run up to 2001.

    Brent East, Leicester South, Hodge Hill and Hartlepool showed that we could take on Labour in the run up to 2005.

    In each of those elections we then made a significant step forward.

  • Martin Land 2nd Jun '08 - 8:17pm

    My gripe with by elections is not whether we fight them of not; of course we should – fighting elections is one of the main reasons for our existence. My gripe is that we are fighting 2008 by elections with 1993 techniques.

  • rochdale cowboy 2nd Jun '08 - 9:37pm

    The really significant one for us was littleborough and saddleworth – here we were 2nd in the previous election and managed to stop lab overtaking us – which meant that we could take many seats in 97 – otherwise Lab landslide would have been even bigger –

  • I’d go along with the “political crack” comment.

    The problem with by-elections is precisely that they are winnable with (relatively) small amounts of people resource.

    Unfortunately, come GE time we haven’t managed to put together a credible strategic Air War and our tactical ground successes get pulverised by the strategic air forces of the Other Two.

    Until we learn how to fix that problem (and Charlotte Gore has some good ideas about that), we’re destined to remain a “hit and run” guerilla force.

  • ‘Hooray, Labour got a pasting because it increased taxes on the poor,’ and, at the same time, ‘People voted Tory as a protest but they don’t want a Tory government’.

    Love it. Because nobody has ever voted Lib Dem as a protest vote before, eh?

  • Paul Reynolds 3rd Jun '08 - 6:44am

    Dear LDV readers. I appreciate these comments. There is a slight misunderstanding about the need for very significant reform in the Party’s policy processes, both formal and informal.

    I have a little quiz for LDV readers.

    Which LibDem parliamentarian has been trying to sell a major construction project in China ? Which Lib Dem parliamentarian lobbies for mining interests ? How many senior advisers make a living introducing foreign business dealmakers to UK civil servants ? Which parliamentarians regularly undertake work for lobbyist firms or law firms with overseas clients ? What is the background of LibDem leading policymakers on a) transport b) military issues including procurement c) telecom sector d) energy sector ? While we are at it, which MPs and Lords have government-related businesses, share ownership, and other forms of income that they did not have before they were parliamentarians ?

    If you answer these questions it will begin to become clear why our policy processes are so ineffective, and why we are so reliant on the negative ‘strategy’ of tactical voting. Answers also help to explain why our corporate fundraising is so dismal (a clue – corporate relations are coveted for reasons unrelated to the interests of the Party).

    Our policy should be public policy and our senior advisers, officers and Parliamentarians should be focused on their constituents if elected, holding the bureaucracy and executive to account, and undertaking the back-breaking work necessary to devise ways to address well-researched and clearly-spelt-out problems of interest to the public and in the longer terms interests of the UK as a nation-state.

    If activists think that the Party’s policymaking does NOT need a shake up, they have not Bothered yet to find out how the systems really work ! The roots of the Party’s near-autonomic responses to by elections lie in the very wide scope for improvement in the quality of LibDem policymaking. Reforms are long overdue. Prof Paul Reynolds

  • 1) No-one on this thread has suggested the currently policy making process works well.

    2) We can all agree with Paul that “Our policy should be public policy and our senior advisers, officers and Parliamentarians should be focused on their constituents if elected, holding the bureaucracy and executive to account, and undertaking the back-breaking work necessary to devise ways to address well-researched and clearly-spelt-out problems of interest to the public and in the longer terms interests of the UK as a nation-state.”

    3) That said, I am not sure what that last paragraph means in practice

    4) On the quiz – I have no idea. But if you believe that policy is being written to enrich a handful of LDs, elected or unelected, then you need to state the person, the policy, and the means by which they have been enriched. Perhaps it has happened, but we want evidence, not rumour or nudge, nudge, wink wink innuendo.

    5) Finally, I think that there is scope to investigate not only govt ministers, but also members of select committees for this sort of thing. When I appeared in front of the transport select ctte a few years ago, my recollection is that every single Labour member of that ctte was funded by the RMT or ASLEF (including, of course, Mrs Dunwoody). Guess what? Their report said we should nationalise the railways! The conflict of interest was remarkable, and for my money, parliament should not allow people with such vested interests to be on such cttes, whichever party they are from.

  • Paul Reynolds 3rd Jun '08 - 12:46pm

    Greetings. It is just laughable for anyone to suggest that Liberal Democrat policies are being written to enrich anyone. One needs to understand a little bit how the world works – well, the Westminster bit of it at least. We are not in government and do not have the prospect in the near future of being so, so such a suggestion would be patently absurd, and I confess some surprise, that my text has been interpreted in this way. Making money from changes in Lib Dem policy, can only elicit a suppressed guffaw. In opposition, that is not how money is made. I have been lobbied personally at different times, as well as seeing the non-public-policy activities of many of our senior peoiple first hand, based on their positions in relation to the Party rather than their normal careers. That is why I talk about ‘personal experience’.

    I very strongly believe that we as a party need to get the clique to focus on the matters I referred to, rather than government-related income generation. My questions are a clue….Think about them a bit more and you will see what I am taklking about. The Party is more under threat that activists think, and if we don’t reform……the Party may not exist as a national; force 10 years from now – or it could be sooner. Paul

  • Paul Reynolds 3rd Jun '08 - 1:01pm

    If anyone thinks that Lib Dem policy should be to ‘solve the problems’ of UK railways by nationalising the operators, following the nationalisation of the the track & infrastructure, and if it is thouight that private companies are leeches, then why are you in the Lib Dems and not the Labour Party ? The Tory rail privatisation was an utter disaster, and the subsidisation system the daftest thing I have ever seen in contractual form ! And it continues as a daft idea implemented by arrogant but naive civil servants with zero experience of the business world. Billions of pounds have been wasted and some operators have made huge sums of money. The real scandal has been on the infrastructure side, with contractors running rings round the civil servants at scandalous cost to the taxpayer. But where have the LibDems been ? Well, well, well, guess what ? We have folk from the contracting side writing our policy, so no hope there of Lib Dems making a big fus over the missing billions…although Nick Clegg has tried to raise issues. Nationalisation with further enrich the contractors – since the civil servants will then be in complete control and the contractors will be drinkiung Champagne ! Sorry but the answer is not nationalisation. I might suggest also that the question of share ownership by some key civil servants in the contractor and sub-contractors – which is surprisingly common (scandalously) in the UK. Paul

  • Paul Reynolds – no law should be formulated to make anybody richer, while we create and insure our own wealth laws ensure fairness in the process.

    As for privatisation, this line was used against us by both the Conservatives and Labour during the Northern Rock saga, so I’d point any naysayers at comments made by Vince Cable at the time which apply equally across the board: it’s important not to get dogmatic when the national interest and the public well-being is on the line.

  • …the National Liberals raise their head… where is Michael Meadowcroft when you need him – oh, yeah, I forgot!

  • Grammar Police 3rd Jun '08 - 6:17pm

    It was independent (formerly Labour) to Liberal Democrat, I believe, in Liverpool. You talk about the Lib Dems as being “EU-fanatics” – except you’re the one posting long messages about the EU in a post on by-election tactics.
    Before I learned something about the way EU institutions worked I was a eurosceptic liberal and had voted Green at Euro-elections.

  • There are plenty of problems with Europe that are hangovers from history, but that only makes the case for reform, such as was proposed by the Lisbon Treaty and continues under current discussion.

    Continued membership of the EU and its’ constituent parts is not a serious question, what is are the exact terms of full integration, which are nowhere near being fully settled.

    I accept the principle of pooled sovereignty as the best guarantee of security, which is also how I walk down the street without perpetual fear.

    I think that makes me reasonable and normal.

  • passing tory 3rd Jun '08 - 7:08pm

    Orangepan: “Continued membership of the EU and its’ constituent parts is not a serious question”

    So why the **** did the Lib Dems want to put precicely this question to a referendum then? Or do you only put questions that you don’t consider serious to a plebiscite??

  • PT, important, not serious. Or, so serious it couldn’t be entertained rationally.

    Dane, I don’t take continued membership for granted, but the alternative to integration is a return to the perpetual shifting battles for domination and continuing spread of devastation.

  • If Dane Clouston wishes to join a sect, that is his affair.

    What he cannot do is deny that he was a member of the Liberal Party (and indeed a Liberal Parliamentary candidate) at a time when that Party was an enthusiastic supporter of Britain’s membership of the EEC (as it then was), and a very large number of whose members advocated a “united states of Europe”. As I recall, only Emlyn Hooson voted against accession.

    Costa v ENEL and Van Gend en Loos were decided in the early 1960s, long before Britain joined. Was Dane Clouston unaware of this, or has he undergone a Damascene conversion which he is now trying to present to us as “pure” liberalism?

  • Sorry Dane, but just as no man is an island so too is no nation.

    Independence at any level is only secured by interdependence at all levels and the alternative to integration is division.

    Civil war may be one possible consequence of failed integration, but division leads to certain war and war to the death at that.

    History shows the continued growth of human polity and it creates a hugely damaging risk to fight against that, whereas reform enables us to control the forces behind social development.

    To choose to be on the outside looking in and absolve yourself of any power to make a positive influence is highly irresponsible.

    I agree it is important to maintain a healthy scepticism and there is little about the EU which is perfect, but that’s no argument against it. The CAP is rising up the agenda for reform right now because it has helped cause the market imbalances which have lead to rocketing food price inflation – so if you want to maintain both food supply security and its affordability you have to be in favour of staying in from where we can use our membership to push to reform the instition.

    Maybe you see the LibDem policy position on a European referendum as confusing, but that says more about you than it does about the policy.

    Personally, I could evangelise all day about it and how it shows us to be the only party with a serious European policy and that it makes us stand out from the crowd – however badly it may play in sensationalist headlines I’m amazingly positive about the whys and wherefores of our policy and I think it is a great reason to support us.

  • Dale, If you really wanted to join the good fight you’d stop arguing partisan lines and explain why you are against dogma but retain a religious devotion to ancient definitions of boundaries which have nevertheless constantly moved – Berwick-upon-Tweed, please?

    I do constantly question what it means to be European and to what extent I think our involvement would be best served, but at the same time I ask why different groups might abandon any control or self-determination on one side, or abandon any influence or co-determination on matters of shared interest on the other.

    As for your two alternatives, we already hold independent membership of the UN (as a charter member no less) so it is irrelevant as an alternative, while joining a ‘coalition of democracies’ alone is as equally divisive and threatening as renouncing membership of the EU, as well as having the potential to be far, far worse (anyway ‘coalition of democracies’ or ‘concert of democracies’ is a contradiction in terms and exclusive by definition).

  • Paul Reynolds 4th Jun '08 - 7:48am

    From Paul Reynolds. Comment on THE WESTMINSTER INFLUENCE SYSTEM AND LIB DEM POLICYMAKING referred to in my op ed.

    Some might say it is normal for parliamentarians to undertake lobbying or legal representation work to use their status in the Commons or Lords to achieve high incomes. Each day in Portcullis House and in the hotels and conference venues around Westminster there is interest peddling. Little of it is to do with ‘official’ government or political party lobbying, although special interest pleading in legislative drafting is common. The main role of MPs in this influence system is often to raise issues of interest to client groups or corporations with civil servants. In the majority of cases this is to do with either large scale contracts or sub-contracts (some can be in the billions of pounds but most are in the tens or hundreds of millions), or to do with regulatory changes or individual regulatory decisions….a long way from the gaze of parliament.

    The decision makers in these matters are almost always civil servants or other officials. With the UKs vast ‘quangocracy’ and 85% of local government funding coming from central government under tight control, Britain is the most centralised state in the OECD. This lends itself to a huge lobbying industry which parliamentarians get swept up in – and they have many chances to build their ‘comfortable retirement nest egg’. The background of UK MPs is also typically narrow in the UK. Few have experience of international government or business at senior level, and so, major interests often find that their orientation and ‘language’ is not understood by parliamentarians. Parliamentarians can arrange meetings or facilitate access to civil servants, however. They can raise pre-prepared questions and less formal correspondence which civil servants are obliged to answer. Much of the influencing and lobbying on the CONTENT of contracts and regulatory matters therefore is undertaken by lobbyists, law firms and others. Many MPs have no grasp at all of the technical content of the matters they raise in written questions and other correspondence. My local MP is clearly not capable of drafting the technical questions he raises, and has no way to fathom out the meaning of the answers (I might add that such matters bear no relationship to any relevant constituency issues or even to the business of the trade union, who, deplorably, employs him)

    There are two other factors which shape the influence system around Parliament. The first is the influence of foreign governments and ‘government overseen’ international business. UK big business and government affairs are the most ‘internationalised’ in the EU. For inexperienced MPs with their (seemingly to international governments) trivial obsessions, Labour especially, the foreign governmental trip is the most coveted. Often the visits are with groups which include UK business interests. For sponsored MPs with a narrow background the foreign trip gives an elite feeling and long terms business relationships are usually established.

    More importantly however, the legal position for civil servants and quangocrats is among the most lax in the world. The UK combination of having no constitution and being the only industrialised nation without a civil service law, make the UK a haven for influence peddling – it should be remembered that civil servant practices that most British voters would regard as shockingly corrupt, are perfectly legal in the UK, and the prohibitions that do exist are laughingly easy to circumvent with impunity. This includes for example civil serants having financial interests in companies that they award multi million pound contracts to, and civil servants inducing government suppliers to form joint ventures with companies formed by those civil servants for that purpose, and sometimes as a condition of getting contracts ! Hence UK civil servants have economic and political power beyond that of any OECD country, and using UK protocol to gain access to civil servants via MPs and Lords is a high value process that corporations are willing to pay for. What’s more, civil servants know that parliamentarians are being remunerated when MPs lobby them or introduce them to business people of foreign government representatives & proxies. These practices are, shockingly, legal in the UK but not in the US or other EU countries. This also puts the petty arguments about the expenses of MPs into perspective, and one might say that these issues have rather too conveniently for civil servants, deflected any spotlight on their ‘corrupt’ practices.

    My real point about all this is thus. It is necessary to understand a little of this whole system in order to get a grip on our policy process. Lib Dem parliamentarians get sucked up in the system as any other MPs – and we are especially vulnerable given the ‘localist’ background of many of our MPs, for whom the practice of international business and international affairs is a world apart.

    But I am arguing that we need to be different.

    I argue that our policymaking should be of higher quality AND more independent of financial interests. We are not backed by big business or labour unions and so our independence is one of our main potential advantages – an advantage however that we are not fully utilising. I am argiung for ‘non naive’ reform of uour policymaking processes. Paul Reynolds

  • Paul Reynolds 4th Jun '08 - 8:00am

    Oh and I agree that the subsidisation system in the rail sector is an insane system with peverse incentives, made even more bizzare by the apalling contractual implementation of an already daft idea. I also agree that diverse ownership types and the control of train operators by not for profit organisation is a very good thing indeed. The subsidisation system MUST be top of the reform list however. It has led to such a vast and breathtaking waste of public money.

  • Dane Clouston,

    If you have never heard of Costa v ENEL and Van Gend en Loos, then you are in a very poor position to lecture us on the subject of the European Union.

    Believe it or not, Ted Heath did not deceive us (at least not intentionally). Professor Ian Loveland, who taught me EU law, told me that one of his PhD students had looked into the circumstances surrounding Britain’s accession to the then EEC.

    Civil servants had written briefing papers for Ministers on Costa v ENEL (the doctrine of supremacy) and Van Gend en Loos (the doctrine of direct effect), but Ministers simply didn’t bother to read them. So when Baillie Vass assured the House of Commons that there would be no diminution of national sovereignty, he simply didn’t know what he was talking about.

    More of a cock up than a conspiracy.

  • Dane Clouston,

    Let’s ignore your sarcasm and cut to the chase.

    You want the UK to leave the EU?

    So you are quite happy for millions of UK citizens living in other EU Member States to be deported? You are quite happy to have tarrif barriers raised against British goods? You are quite happy for Britain to become a second rate economic power?

    If, occasionally, people vote for your sectlet it is because they mistake you for the Liberal Democrats.

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