Opinion: Truth Hurts

So, the EU couldn’t hold it in any longer after bearing Farage’s taunts, and the mess with the negotiations by the prime minister the EU eventually lost their cool and the European Council President Donald Tusk wondered if there was a “special place in hell for those who promoted Brexit without even a sketch of a plan of how to carry it out safely”. Not sure whether to be shocked that he is offending the UK or say Bravo … I think Bravo, wish he would have said this a bit earlier.

The usual dross of right-wingers has come out with predictable counter comments: “arrogance of the EU…”; “this is what you would expect from unelected bureaucrats…”, “17 million people voted to leave…”, “The man has no manners,” said Leadsom, and it goes on.

I personally liked Guy Verhofstadt (EUs chief Brexit negotiator) who tweeted “Well, I doubt Lucifer would welcome them, as after what they did to Britain, they would even manage to divide hell.”

Amusing as this is, it’s just a storm in a teacup alongside the disastrous negotiation stance that the prime minister is taking. After losing the vote in parliament (one of the worst, if not the worst defeat for a government in history), she has not in any way changed her red lines. The prime minister’s plan B was to try to persuade everyone else that her Plan A was right. The government’s approach hinges on one thing, and that is some sort of a deal on the backstop which will appease the DUP. If this is achieved the European Research Group (wonder if they will change their name if we leave the EU) will vote grudging with the government; the alternative being an early general election that Labour has a chance of winning. The prime minister knows this, and therefore all she is focused on is trying to get a backstop acceptable to the DUP.

This is so dangerous as Sabine Weyand (said to have an intellect like a nuclear reactor – whatever that means – and is Mr. Barnier’s deputy chief negotiator) in a recent interview went through all the variations relating to the Irish border that have been discussed over the last two years. She explained, exasperatedly, that there is nothing the prime minister can bring to discuss on the Irish border which has not already been considered.

The prime minister went today to Northern Ireland to discuss her deal with politicians from the five main political parties at Stormont. After listening to the prime minister, Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald said, “Theresa May has no plan, no credibility and frankly no honour”.

All this leads me to believe that, if we leave or don’t extend the date we plan to leave, we will do so with no deal. With a constitutional crisis in this country, possible general election and facing the reality of WTO rules. Interesting to hear Liam Fox today in parliament talking about a possibility of zero tariffs for a no deal Brexit. This is the man who said we would be fighting countries off after Brexit and easily establishing trade deals (which on average take 28 months to negotiate). Tusk is right the dogmatic right wing of the Tory party, over two years on, still doesn’t have a “sketch of a plan of how to carry it out”. Bravo!

* Tahir Maher is a member of the LDV editorial team and the Chair of the English Party

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107 Comments

  • Yeovil Yokel 6th Feb '19 - 10:05pm

    Well, I thought Donald T. (no, not that Donald T.) ‘s remark was mild & generous towards the leading Brexiteers.

  • John Marriott 6th Feb '19 - 10:14pm

    Now there’s one Donald I HAVE got some time for, even though the people to whom the “hell” remark was directed will obviously use it against him and the EU. Peter Bone has already stepped forward at Westminster. Whether it will concentrate minds is debatable. Mind you, the truth does hurt, as Tahir says.

  • I thought Tusk’s remarks were spot on:
    “Today, there is no political force and no effective leadership for Remain. I say this without satisfaction, but you can’t argue with the facts.”

  • The thing is parts of The Remain camp are so convinced they can get some sort Exit From Brexit that they’re actually making leaving under WTO more likely. The chances of getting a people’s vote are pretty slim, any extension of the leave date is really only going to prolong the inevitable (if it’s even feasible). All the anger, the endless articles, the pontificating about why people voted the way they did, the constant barrage of bitter humour and declarations of commitment to the Pan-European Political Project are going to make not one iota of difference, except help run the clock down.

  • Glen,
    We knew it would end badly, you didn’t. You now seem to be crying please help us. Please stay consistent you wanted a hard Brexit, rejoice and own it. Or has the realisation that it will be a total disaster and you won’t escape unscathed starting to rattle you. Welcome to the school of experience, I rather doubt at the end of it your reputation for foresite and wisdom will be improved.

  • Bernard Aris 6th Feb '19 - 11:56pm

    As a history student from a Grammar School-like background I wrote a paper about Dante’s political views (and his enemies personifying what he opposed), so I could immediately relate to what both Tusk and Verhofstadt were talking about.

    The only thing I wondered was: will the devil force those brexiteers to dig their own fiery pit to sit in it, or does he dump them in an existing hole with some of the worst political sinners Dante claimed to have met there?

    😉

  • Malcolm Todd 6th Feb '19 - 11:57pm

    Actually – though I do agree with the sentiment – I don’t think it’s particularly helpful of Tusk to say this; he’s more eloquent than Trump and in many ways on the side of the angels, but this sort of remark is a rather Trumpish sort of diplomacy.

    (Of course, the last people whose complaint should be taken seriously are the Brexiteers – we haven’t forgotten the two long years of national embarrassment that were Boorish Johnson’s stint as Foreign Secretary, and I don’t remember hearing Peter Bone complaining about him…)

  • I’m perfectly fine with hard Brexit. I actually just find the irony of ardent remainers making it more likely boggling.
    I was unaware that I had a notable reputation of any sort that could conceivably be improved or lost. You say the oddest things sometimes. It’s like you imagine you arguing with an Edwardian or something.

  • Peter Watson 7th Feb '19 - 1:42am

    @Alan Jelfs “there is no political force and no effective leadership for Remain”
    Googling that clause lists plenty of articles with the “special place in Hell” headlines (which will predictably be seized upon by both sides of the argument to support their case for or against the EU) but surprisingly there is little reaction to what is effectively a pretty damning (see what i did there 🙂 ) indictment of those who seek to prevent Brexit, particularly Vince Cable and the Lib Dems.

  • Guy V. Quote 7th Feb '19 - 2:37am

    “Well, I doubt Lucifer would welcome them, as after what they did to Britain, they would even manage to divide hell 🙂”

  • William Fowler 7th Feb '19 - 8:24am

    EU commission is run by rule-loving bureaucrats who are having their minds scrambled trying to deal with the British character which is very civilized on the surface but contains all sorts of madness underneath that veneer

    Nothing wrong with zero tariffs as long as they are time limited, say for first year or two, so that there is still pressure on other countries to make free trade deals. Still waiting for the government to admit lack of revenue means deep spending cuts and BOE to up interest rates to protect Sterling, already in a ruined and battered state… that combination might make Brexit less appealing.

    I see Labour have come up with five conditions to support the govn including customs union and access to single market, the latter impossible unless you allow FOM, which means you may as well stay in the EU, which is what they are supposed to be doing according to their members (strange how they are keen for democracy only when it mirrors what the leadership actually wants).

  • I detect a change in the mood music, as reality bites harder the cry of “be nice” is dying. Certainly reality is driving the swivel eyed loons and fellow travellers on the Brexit side to even higher heights of delusion, but people on the remain side are now calling a spade, a shovel and if that upsets the feckwits on the other side tough, truth can often hurt. The other change I detect is the majority of the population who care less about Brexit than we would care to imagine are starting to wake up and they are worried. When Brexit goes badly they will scream for “heads on a pike”, Glen, Peter and Co better hope blaming the EU will deflect the blame or it will be their heads.

  • I have a feeling that this was Donald Tusk giving up: he simply cannot deal with this lot anymore.

    I think he knew there would be a reaction in the UK but there is simply no point in trying with the UK anymore. That picture of him with Leo Varakar is the future: a united Europe perhaps not happy but certainly content to leave all consideration of the UK behind. The UK is simply not important enough to worry about keeping it sweet.

  • The other thing I love about parts of the remain Camp is that they are always trying to characterise Leave as an angry howl of rage. And then wish their opponents would burn in hell, spend their days hanging around waiting for old people to drop dead, and are constantly screaming that everyone one else is an extremist, whilst claiming the EU is togetherness, hope or love or some such. It’s highly amusing.

  • Bless Glen as reality day gets ever closer is it starting to dawn on you that the cheer leaders for national disaster won’t be popular. Well get used to it, perhaps like Milwall you can all chant
    https://youtu.be/kdB2WBtzUDg

  • Malcolm Todd 6th Feb ’19 – 11:57pm………….Actually – though I do agree with the sentiment – I don’t think it’s particularly helpful of Tusk to say this; he’s more eloquent than Trump and in many ways on the side of the angels, but this sort of remark is a rather Trumpish sort of diplomacy………….

    I agree! It has given fuel to the ‘intransigent EU’ lobby and, when even the supposedly neutral BBC headline was only half the quote, as done far more harm than good.

    What was almost amusing was the DUP demanding an apology. This from a group whose mouths say, “I disagree with the motion”, but whose eyes are waving flaming torches and screaming, “Burn the heretic!”.

  • One wonders where we’d be if certain sections of politics had accepted the result of the referendum and set themselves on a course of finding the best way of carrying it forward.

    Shouldn’t there also be some kind of hell for people who were very informed on how the EU worked but did nothing to use that expertise for a compromise?

    The UK is still split, and you can’t force 17.4million people into believing that the EU is some kind of benevolent, democratic system of government.

    There were better and workable ways out of this: but the pros are as guilty as the antis for the lack of progress.

  • Dear Frankie,
    Thank you for your latest correspondence. I would like to think that it was both erudite and witty. However, I do not wish to ruin this impression by actually reading it.
    Yours
    Glenn

  • I hope there will be a special place in hell for those that supported the destruction of the welfare state that caused untold suffering to hundreds of thousands of poor and vulnerable people.
    Introducing the bedroom tax
    Introducing Pip and ripping away vital support to disabled people.
    Discriminating against those that suffer with mental health conditions.
    introducing Universal Credit and making people wait 5 weeks for money.

    And which party / parties supported this vile assault on the most vulnerable in society..

  • Peter Martin 7th Feb '19 - 10:37am

    Maybe Donald Tusk has got the hump with us because Brexit is causing more damage to the EU than they’d like to admit?

    https://www.businessinsider.com/germany-and-italy-recessions-as-european-economy-slumps-2019-1?r=US&IR=T

  • Leaving without a deal may not be a disaster but if it is don’t say “we told you so “, because if Labour, SNP and LD had behaved constructively a perfectly good deal could have been got through the Commons. It might have split the Tory party too which I thought would have pleased most of the woolly headed do Golders who frequent this website..

  • Do gooders even.

  • Malcolm Todd 7th Feb '19 - 12:12pm

    Glenn 7th Feb ’19 – 10:36am
    Thank you for that – best comment of the thread, and brought a smile (and a small dribble of spluttered coffee) to my face on a grey morning…

  • Jayne Mansfield 7th Feb '19 - 12:53pm

    @ Matt,
    I agree with you.

    The problem though, is that leaving the EU will not help them on their way to a warmer clime.

    It is all very well offering bribes to get people who have suffered most from uncaring governments, but where is all the money going to come from to make good the wrongs that have been done? Isn’t it more likely, indeed absolutely certain in the short term, that there will be less money and that without a real change in attitude and political will, it will still be those who are most disadvantaged who will once again suffer disproportionately?

    Until the EU referendum, there was a complacent belief that such people had no power to hit back. But do you, really believe that lessons have been learnt?

  • I definitely read this as Tusk giving up on the UK. At this point if I were the EU I’d be glad to get rid of us, and don’t forget of course that there’s no guarantee that we’ll be able to rejoin.

  • Alex Macfie 7th Feb '19 - 1:33pm

    wg: If the government had recognised the closeness of the referendum result and actually reached out to Remain voters to seek a compromise solution, then Remain supporters would have been much more likely to accept a compromise. Instead we got the meaningless mantra “Brexit means Brexit” alongside guff about “citizens of nowhere” and talk of an “overwhelming” mandate for Brexit. The government made no attempt to seek a consensus, instead pandering to the most extreme Brexiteers. So why on earth should we Remainers be the ones seeking a compromise?

  • @Jayne Mansfield

    To some extent I agree.

    However, I was more annoyed at those who seem to condone tusks comments about a special place in hell for those brexiteers.
    I was always taught that people who live in glass houses should not throw bricks and considering the party / parties / activists who supported the cruel assault on benefits for most the vulnerable people in society….If we are going to cast moral aspersions on people, then said people should really take a moment to consider their own morality.

    And lets be real. Brexit no Brexit is going to make no difference whatsoever to the most vulnerable people in society when it come to welfare spend. These people were attacked by the government well before the EU crisis. In fact it started in 2010 as soon as the Tories / Liberal Democrats got into power.

  • Peter Martin 7th Feb '19 - 2:06pm

    @ Alex Macfie,

    “If the government had recognised the closeness of the referendum result and actually reached out to Remain voters……”

    Are we discussing ‘what-ifs’?

    How about what would have happened in the result had been 52-48 the other way around? How much ‘reaching out’ would there have been? What sort of compromise would have been on offer?

  • Peter Martin 7th Feb '19 - 2:17pm

    What happens to Remainers after they have passed away? Presumably some go to one place and some to the other? They can perhaps start a movement for political ‘ever closer union’. Common currency, Joint Parliament and all the rest of it backed up by numerous Treaties.

    Most importantly of all they can establish the principle of freedom of movement! That will be one less thing for us all to worry about!

  • Martin,
    Hope springs eternal, you have gone from “the EU will fail, we must runaway”, to “It’s hurting them you know” well progress of a sort. The EU never thought it wouldn’t hurt, they just knew it would hurt us much more, in that they are correct. However i shouldn’t be to hard on you, a step toward reality should be celebrated; I should warn you when you actually embrace reality you’ll be shocked about how those that live there look upon your previous views, no one said reality was easy. The one thing that never ceases to bring a smile to my face is when a Brexiteer breathlessly brings up a fact, only to look crestfallen when it is pointed out, we already know that. Still I shouldn’t be churlish at least your trying to do facts,not many Brexiteers can say that.

  • I see the blame game is in full flow. Tis all the fault of the EU, the remainers but not us. Well actually chaps and chappess you voted for it and anything you get is your responsibility. I know that is frightening, but cheer up the reality will be much worse. Tick Tock time to pay the piper is almost upon us and when it does come time squealing “Tis not my type of Brexit” really won’t cut it.

  • @Glenn – The other thing I love about parts of the remain Camp is that they are always trying to characterise Leave as an angry howl of rage. And then wish their opponents would burn in hell

    The trouble is that Donald Tusk isn’t in either camp, he merely wants the UK to clearly say what it wants and work to agree ways to make it happen in a civilised manner. Currently, it is looking that the UK-EU will enact it’s own version of partition on March 29th.

  • @David Raw: no, we wouldn’t get any of our opt-outs back, even if they let us rejoin. We also currently don’t meet several of the convergence criteria for EU accession or especially the euro. Joining the euro is theoretically required, but in practice it can be deferred indefinitely (see Sweden, I think).

    @Alex Macfie: the result really wasn’t all that close. It was 17.4 million vs 16.1 million — not a huge margin of victory, but a clear one.

  • Former Dem 7th Feb ’19 – 3:40pm………………. the result really wasn’t all that close. It was 17.4 million vs 16.1 million — not a huge margin of victory, but a clear one………………

    A victory but ‘a damn close run thing’. However, it was a ‘blind vote’; how many ‘Leave votes’ would have changed had today’s situation been known at the time?

  • Peter Martin 7th Feb '19 - 5:30pm

    So what was the ‘plan’ when we first went into the EEC? Did we have one? Did anyone see it? If anyone did maybe they can let us know if it corresponded to how events actually turned out.

    What was our ‘plan’ at any time in our history? Or was it simply one thing after another?

    After we leave the course of our history will depend on who wins elections, with the first one being the most important. I hope that’s not the Tories, but I do have to accept that it could be. It’s not any individual’s call so there is no way anyone can ‘plan’ for that!

  • So Peter you voted leave without a plan, just a hope. You now accept Brexit will be set out by the party in power, that would he the Tories and when you voted leave guess who was in power err the Tories, but you believe in Lexit. Bless even by the standard of the deluded you really do take the cake. Planning isn’t a luxury or a nice to have it is a necessity, how have you got through live without planning, do you leave that to others, as you dream of blue skies, unicorns, faries and lexit tasting cake. And you wonder why people take Lexiteers for fools, even more than the average Brexiteer (and that really is saying something).

  • Peter Martin 7th Feb '19 - 8:04pm

    @ Frankie,

    If it all about planning maybe you might like to turn your attention to planning the formation of the first Lib Dem government.

  • Peter,
    I don’t do fantasy, I’ll leave that to others. I do know that “Proper planning prevents poor performance”, a lesson you and the rest of the Brexiteers/Lexiteers either missed or slept through.

  • Tahir Maher Tahir Maher 8th Feb '19 - 6:52am

    mis-post

  • Jayne Mansfield 8th Feb '19 - 7:46am

    @ Matt,
    I agree with what you say, up to a point.

    What I don’t agree with, is that the EU should taking the rap for choices made by UK politicians and that Brexit will make no difference to the most vulnerable people in society when it comes to welfare spend.

    Donald Tusk’s comments have been twisted by some to suggest he was speaking about all brexiteers, but he was speaking about those leave politicians who cannot agree amongst themselves because they entered negotiations without a clear plan, indeed it seems any plan.

    We already know how much this sheer incompetence has cost us, including the amounts spent on attempting to buy off of any potential dissent to this chaos .

    Where I part company from you is that I don’t think that because we have had appalling politicians who have failed to show human decency to those in society who are struggling by attacking the welfare state, (and yes, like you, their continued sense of moral superiority sticks in the craw), one ought not to vote for something that makes the country poorer. To do so will limit the spending power of any future government that genuinely wants to rectify the previous wrongs.

    I would ask you, do you really think that some leading Brexiteers, many of whom are making sure that they will be alright Jack, and indeed will personally prosper if we leave the EU, care about the vulnerable? What evidence is there to support this? I would suggest that in many cases the evidence points to the contrary.

  • Jayne Mansfield 8th Feb '19 - 7:49am

    @ Matt,
    Wobbly eye syndrome strikes again, of course I intended to say ‘ one ought rather than ought not to make the country poorer.

  • Malcolm Todd 8th Feb '19 - 9:21am

    Peter Martin 7th Feb ’19 – 5:30pm

    Seriously? Your argument is that we never really know how things are going to work out so there’s no dereliction of duty in failing to plan? If this weren’t so serious that would be hilarious. Fortunately, there are people involved at all levels of government who aren’t quite so blasé and are now, rather late in the day, making some plans for what happens if there’s no deal in the next seven weeks. But that doesn’t exonerate the fools and charlatans who campaigned for something they didn’t really understand and have made no effort to think about how it can be made to work; who waved their hands airily and claimed it was all very simple and could be made to work if only people believed in it enough. Well, we are all about to find out whether Nephelokokkygia has a breathable atmosphere; I’m not optimistic.

  • Peter Martin 8th Feb '19 - 10:38am

    @ Jayne,

    “The EU…… taking the rap for choices made by UK politicians”

    ‘Austerity caused Brexit.’ It’s an argument we’ve all heard from left Remainers. It allows them to , to sympathise with the plight of those Leave voters ‘left behind’ in the de-industrialised regions far from London, while, simultaneously, saying to them that they were wrong to reject the EU. That they made a mistake. That their grievances were misdirected. Or, to paraphrase many Remain-supporting Socialists and Lib Dems: blame Tory austerity, not the EU.

    As I have have argued many times, austerity not only fails on its own terms: ie to reduce the fiscal deficit and share of Govt in the economy, it fails in broader social terms. It is a visionless, dispiriting project that merely reinforces a deep social pessimism.

    Austerity, as a policy idea is a nonsense. But those wanting to attack the British government’s austerity policies in the name of overturning Brexit are keen to overlook that the EU is, and always has been in the vanguard on the worldwide scene of austerity policymaking. This comes at the cost of people’s democratic rights and their material standard of living, as we see in Greece, France, Spain, Portugal, Finland etc. If every country in the world followed the same Germanic inspired ordoliberal economic model the global economy would collapse. Conflicts, and even wars, and would be the norm as the powerful sought to protect their trading zones from outside aggressors.

    Ostensibly being anti-austerity while championing the EU has to be a form of cognitive dissonance.

  • @Jane Mansfield
    “Donald Tusk’s comments have been twisted by some to suggest he was speaking about all brexiteers”
    I am aware that Tusk’s comments were aimed at politicians who proposed brexit, I know that he was not talking about voters in general. I just got very annoyed at politicians and activists some of whom seem to support Tusks comments and indeed found it amusing. It is especially irksome when some of the same people supported coalition policies that decimated the welfare state. I tend to agree with Mark Carny’s comments “if one wants to be theological, “Do not judge because you too will be judged”

    “Where I part company from you is that I don’t think that because we have had appalling politicians who have failed to show human decency to those in society who are struggling by attacking the welfare state” Do you include mp’s and former mp’s from your own party in that statement?
    “I would ask you, do you really think that some leading Brexiteers, many of whom are making sure that they will be alright Jack, and indeed will personally prosper if we leave the EU, care about the vulnerable?” The same could be said for leading remainers as well, after all it was Mp’s from this party and former Mp’s, Clegg, Alexander etc and Tory remainers who were in Government in 2010 that started this whole assault on the vulnerable and welfare state.
    Jane, please don’t take this as a personal dig at you, because from what I have always read from you on the forum you seem to be a thoroughly nice, decent and caring person who has always spoken out for those disadvantaged..

  • Peter Martin 8th Feb '19 - 10:56am

    @ Michael Todd,

    “…we never really know how things are going to work out so there’s no dereliction of duty in failing to plan? ”

    Not quite. During the referendum campaign those of us advocating Leave didn’t even know if we’d win. So Part 1 of of our plan was to do just that. We couldn’t control just what the Govt would do afterwards. IMO they have spent far too long ‘fannying about’ in Withdrawal talks with the EU and ended up with an document everyone knew Parliament would find totally unacceptable. I’m not sure how we could have planned to avoid that.

    It would have made much more sense to have told the EU that if they weren’t prepared to talk about trade staring on Day 1 of the talks, we were just going to plan for no-deal and postpone any talks until after we’d left. That would have been my choice.

    You can only plan when you’re in control an clearly the people in control weren’t the ones who had argued for Brexit in the first place.

  • Peter Martin 8th Feb '19 - 11:16am

    Sorry should have written “Malcolm Todd”!

  • Malcolm Todd 8th Feb '19 - 12:04pm

    Peter Martin 8th Feb ’19 – 10:38am
    “Ostensibly being anti-austerity while championing the EU has to be a form of cognitive dissonance.”

    Not really. After all, you claim to be anti-austerity whilst championing and “independent” UK, even though you know very well that UK governments of all stripes have been advocates of austerity, aka deficit hawks, for many years. You believe, presumably, that you can change policy at the UK level, but feel you are powerless to do so at EU level. But why? Why not join with the likes of DiEM25 to fight for a EU that really works for its people? The chances of success may be low, but frankly that’s true within British politics as well.
    The point is, austerity is a political choice, whatever level it is made at. Some of us doubt that fighting it at a one-nation level has much or any chance of success in the modern world, because even if you get the government you want they are likely to be blown off course by forces too large to control. A country the size of the US can just about manage it – so can the EU, if the will is there.

  • Malcolm Todd 8th Feb '19 - 12:23pm

    Peter Martin 8th Feb ’19 – 10:56am
    “During the referendum campaign those of us advocating Leave didn’t even know if we’d win. So Part 1 of of our plan was to do just that. We couldn’t control just what the Govt would do afterwards.”
    -That’s pretty much exactly the accusation Tusk is making (though as I’ve said already, I agree that he was foolish to use the language he did and it’s unedifying to see fellow Remainers repeating it with such glee). You (meaning the Leave campaigners generally rather than you personally, of course) planned to win a vote and acted as if it wasn’t up to you to worry about whatever happened next. The height of irresponsibility.

    “IMO they have spent far too long ‘fannying about’ in Withdrawal talks with the EU and ended up with an document everyone knew Parliament would find totally unacceptable. I’m not sure how we could have planned to avoid that.”
    – Well, I agree with you about the first part. However, there’s an easy answer to the second: you could have had at least a framework of a plan to put forward and argue for. You didn’t; just sat back and carped about the failure of those burdened with actual responsibility for government to do what you had failed to do in preparation for the outcome that you supposedly wanted.

  • Peter Martin 8th Feb '19 - 1:32pm

    @ Malcolm Todd,

    I really hope that Yanis Varoufakis and his DiEM25 do manage to achieve some political traction. We’ll have to see if they do.

    Going back a few years, I would say the UK political left, mainly the Labour Party, made a passable to fair job of opposing Margaret Thatcher’s economic austerity programs. Admittedly it could, and probably should, have been a lot better. The miners lost their strike. The Labour Party split and didn’t win any elections. But at least we kept the Tories on their toes. They knew they couldn’t do just what they liked and still expect to win themselves.

    It hasn’t been at all like that in the EU though. The mainstream socialist parties in the major EU countries, if they still exist at all, are just shadows of what their former selves. None of them have showed any backbone for a fight against imposed austerity. They have gone walkabout just when they have been most needed. They have left all that to, sometimes, the far left but mainly it has been the far right which has been only too keen to step into the gap. It has been the parties of the far right which have grown enormously and presented the only credible real opposition to the EU. We’ll, no doubt, see that process continue in the May EU elections.

    When the Troika was crushing the Greek Syriza government in 2015, I was expecting at least some opposition to EU policy from other Socialist groupings, but there was just about nothing. Zilch. The mainstream Labour websites here said little to nothing. Needless to say, there was nothing much on LDV either!

    So we shouldn’t actually need a grouping like Diem25 if the established left in Italy, France, Germany, Spain etc were doing their job properly. If they had they’d be in a much better state than they are and I might actually have some confidence that the EU was reformable.

    I’m not sure I have a complete explanation, but it is all too apparent there’s a whole section of the political spectrum, in Europe, which is prepared to fight Thatcherism, austerity, or whatever it is is called in a particular country, if that policy is imposed by national leaders but not if it is imposed on behalf of the EU. Then it is somehow acceptable.

    Until that changes I would predict that there’s no hope at all for DiEM25

  • Peter Martin 8th Feb '19 - 2:04pm

    @ Malcolm Todd,

    “you could have had at least a framework of a plan to put forward and argue for.”

    Well of course we did. Most voters wanted the Govt to “get on with it” afterwards. I’d say most voters just assumed that the EU and UK were completing a comprehensive leaving agreement which would have included a FTA too. But they didn’t even start on that!
    I didn’t think that, myself, but I must say I was quite taken a back on just how little had been agreed (next to nothing IMO!) in getting on for two years of talks.

    One argument we hear on the left is that it was OK to vote for a Lexit but not a Brexit, on the grounds that we couldn’t trust the Tories. Like we are supposed to wait for some future Bennite Labour govt to do a proper job of it all? And what would a Lexit agreement with the EU look like? I can’t see how it could be anything other than no-deal. The EU is never to to agree to anything with a significant socialist content.

  • innocent Bystander 8th Feb '19 - 2:33pm

    The chaos now so horrifyingly obvious was predicted by those with IQs above single figures before the referendum took place. One of our sons said that Brexit was perfectly achievable but it would need a leader of the stature of Churchill or Mandela to get it right.
    As not a single one of our political class, on any side, could muster the leadership skills of Mr Pastry it was bound, he said, to be a disaster.
    Those who now seem surprised and disappointed show an acute weakness of intellect.

  • Jayne Mansfield 8th Feb '19 - 2:37pm

    @ Peter Martin,

    Peter, if you consider yourself a man of the left, a Brexiteer, and someone who disagrees with the opinion that it was the austerity policies of our own elected politicians that influenced the Brexit victory in 2016, I would like to refer you to an article in the Jan 2019 issue of Socialist Review. which you as a Brexiteer might find thought provoking

    ‘In a hole and still digging: the left and Brexit’.

  • Christopher Haigh 8th Feb '19 - 4:11pm

    @jayne Mansfield -the article that you refer to sort of backs up what I’ve thought studying the referendum voting figures. The large increase in turnout was the result of previously disengaged people who didn’t previously vote but did so in the referendum because they were not happy about immigration and in my opinion probably austerity as well.

  • Peter Martin 8th Feb '19 - 4:17pm

    Hi Jayne,

    I found the article in International Socialist Review. Thanks for the reference. IS is the old name ( pre 75 ?) of the Socialist Workers Party IS Review mentions a lot of SWP people like Lindsey German and Chris Harman so is probably still connected to it. I’m not sure what the present day position of the SWP is. I thought they were mainly still against? Probably for the wrong reasons!

    In any case, my objections aren’t just that the EU is capitalist club. I doubt if most SWP members get any further than that. I could live with that. But it’s not a very successful capitalist club, largely because it eschews the democratic process, and there’s the problem.

  • innocent Bystander 8th Feb ’19 – 2:33pm…………..The chaos now so horrifyingly obvious was predicted by those with IQs above single figures before the referendum took place…………
    A great way to get some of the 17.4 million to change their minds (if, with a single figure IQ, it could be called a mind).

    A major problem is the Irish border. How many, with massive intellects, saw that problem causing the current impasse?

  • Innocent Bystander 8th Feb '19 - 6:44pm

    David,
    And the entire world will always be in WSC’s debt for not messing it up when it really, really mattered.

  • Peter Watson 8th Feb '19 - 8:28pm

    @expats “A great way to get some of the 17.4 million to change their minds”
    At what point since the referendum in 2016 has the campaign to stop Brexit looked like it was trying to change anybody’s mind? Apparently there’s no need if they’re dying quicker than Remainers. 🙁

  • Joseph Bourke 9th Feb '19 - 1:03am

    Churchill was certainly a divisive character and yet was voted by the British public to have been the greatest Briton in the recorded history of these Islands.
    On the defece of Antwerp in the first week of october 1914 the Begian King Albert wrote in March 1918,:
    “You are wrong in considering the Royal Naval Division Expedition as a forlorn hope. In my opinion it rendered great service to us and those who deprecate it simply do not understand the history of the War in its early days. Only one man of all your people had the prevision of what the loss of Antwerp would entail and that man was Mr. Churchill….

    Delaying an enemy is often of far greater service than the defeat of the enemy, and in the case of Antwerp the delay the Royal Naval Division caused to the enemy was of inestimable service to us. These three days allowed the French and British Armies to move North West. Otherwise our whole army might have been captured and the Northern French Ports secured by the enemy.

    Moreover, the advent of the Royal Naval Division inspired our troops, and owing to your arrival, and holding out for three days, great quantities of supplies were enabled to be destroyed. You kept a large army employed, and I repeat the Royal Naval Division rendered a service we shall never forget.”

  • nvelope2003 9th Feb '19 - 8:25am

    Expats – Not many saw the problem of the Irish border but many are now seeing it as the way to reunite Ireland and end the anomaly of British rule in Northern Ireland. The Conservatives and the DUP are putting a brave face on it but they know the time has come and it is all their own fault.

  • nvelope2003 9th Feb ’19 – 8:25am……………………………Expats – Not many saw the problem of the Irish border but many are now seeing it as the way to reunite Ireland and end the anomaly of British rule in Northern Ireland. The Conservatives and the DUP are putting a brave face on it but they know the time has come and it is all their own fault…………..

    A major factor used against an independent Scotland, in the run up to their vote, was that, if they became independent, they would no longer be members of the EU..

    Northern Ireland voted 56%/44% to ‘Remain’. When the economy worsens, as even the most ardent leavers accept, pressure for an all Ireland vote may well become unavoidable..

    The little Englanders may well get just what they want.

  • Jayne Mansfield 9th Feb '19 - 9:15am

    @ Peter Martin,

    My knowledge of economics , other than running a country’s economy is not the same as running a household economy, is zilch.

    What makes me uneasy , has been the politics of those who have been at the leading edge of Brexit, (not voters) . I refer to the extreme Right and Nationalists.

    I remember when the BNP under N. Griffin were opposed to the EU, and N. Farage’s UKIP were arguing the differences between the two parties, UKIP supporters arguing that the BNP were protectionist, UKIP were libertarian. Both in my view, at the extremist margins. I now look at others who would welcome Brexit, such as D. Trump.

    I may not know much about economics, but I do know something about negotiation. When the Liam foxes of this world attempt to negotiate deals around the world, our desperation to strike them after leaving the EU trading block, puts us in a very weak negotiating position.

    The economic health of a country is of course important, but If we are scrabbling around trying to make deals independently post EU, will we not only lack the power to strike good deals, but will we have the strength of bargaining power to make demands when doing deals with countries whose economic success is a consequence of appalling human rights abuses? It seems to me that already present ethical dilemmas will be replaced by even greater ones.

    For these reasons, I cannot understand why those on the left, and I include myself in that grouping, would think that extracting ourselves from a club of liberal democracies, imperfect capitalist that it may be, is the better of the options facing us.

    It distresses me that the people who have most suffered from cut- backs are being sold a pup. There always was money for the NHS, for an adequate welfare net, for decent care and support of the old and the disabled. Our, ‘OUR’ / politicians made choices, and there is no reason to believe that if we leave the EU, our politicians with the same values will not make the same choices as to who will most gain and who will most suffer when it comes to distribution of any available money-.

  • chris moore 9th Feb '19 - 9:19am

    Brexit will worsen Britain’s position economically, culturally and geo-politically. It may lead to the loss of Scotland and Northern Ireland.

    But I have no doubt – on the evidence of Brexiteer posters on this thread – that Brexiteers will place the blame on those who voted against Brexit and on the EU.

  • nvelope2003 9th Feb '19 - 9:46am

    The law of unintended consequences might come to haunt the Brexiteers but they will blame everyone else. It is their predecessors in the Conservative party who used illegal actions to oppose Home Rule who are responsible for this mess. The loss of Scotland from the UK would be a tragedy but the loss of Northern Ireland is a different matter as it could end a running sore and make our relationship with the Irish Republic stronger and more fruitful. Maybe Mr Rees- Mogg could move his business from Dublin to Belfast !

  • Re-the loss of Scotland. The SNP vote went down in 2017.

  • Peter Martin 9th Feb '19 - 10:34am

    @ Jayne,

    ‘Leftish’ reasons, at least for myself, for wanting out of the EU have always been very much as articulated by Tony Benn. I’m sure you’re quite familiar with all those so I won’t repeat them here. I must say that I went through a phase in the 90’s and 00’s when I probably would have voted to stay in – had I been asked. I remember Tony being asked at a meeting, some years ago, why he still kept banging on about the EU when most of the rest of the party had come to terms with it. The euro seemed to be working reasonably well, unemployment was low in most parts of the EU and falling everywhere, especially in the former Communist countries. No-one seemed that unhappy. His reply was that good times don’t last forever, and when trouble struck the lack of a workable democratic structure in the EU would prove its undoing.

    I think he was was right in saying that. The EU has coped much less well in the aftermath of the 2008 GFC than just about everywhere else. They’ll still be struggling with the effects of that slump when we all get hit by the next one.

    Tony always knew that there was money for weapons etc when supposedly there wasn’t money for everything else. Having said that, he didn’t explain very well just why that should be. I don’t think he was a great economist tbh. If he’d had a better grasp of all that he’d have had another powerful argument against what the EU were up to at the time.

    The last straw, for me personally, was Greece. I’d rediscovered more of my old scepticism towards the EU after the 2008 crash but the events of 2015 were far too much for me to take. Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the relative German/EU and Greek positions there should never have been a collective punishment of an entire people. The matter should have been resolved in the courts. Can you imagine what would happen if the Westminster government near-froze the bank accounts of everyone in Scotland in the event of a serious dispute with the Hollyrood govt?

  • Chris Moore and Envelope2003
    If or, IMO, when Scotland and Northern Ireland decide to leave the UK it will not be because someone is to blame. It will be because the people of those countries have chosen to be more independent. You can’t hold nations in unions they don’t want to be part of for ever. It’s why there are independence movements, why empires collapse and why rather than ever closer cultural/political ties leading to big unions of nations the trend is actually towards smaller countries.

  • Bless our poor Brexiteers and Lexi are desperately running round trying to justify themselves. I fear poor Peter will never recover from fessing up he voted for Brexit without a plan or to be blunt even a smidgen of an idea what it meant. Poor Glen twists and turns, tis hard to say what he stands for, other than a desperate desire to be loved and too be taken seriously. Gents even posters who may be much “nicer” than me and want to believe the best in you seem to have realised you really don’t know what you want and that the only thing you believe is “tis someone else’s fault, probably someone in the EU”. The brightest of your brethren have long ago left this site, perhaps they saw how badly things would go and had no desire to have it rammed down their throats.
    Mean while tick tock, keep digging, your acrobatics bring a smile to my face.

  • Peter Martin 9th Feb '19 - 11:50am

    Some ‘left’ reasons for wanting out. “It’s not for MPs to give away powers that were lent to them”.

  • nvelope2003 9th Feb '19 - 11:56am

    Glenn: Maybe you are partly right about Scotland though taking their oil and squandering the money did not endear them to the Union. In the case of Ireland they left because they had been badly treated for centuries and the Conservatives with the help of the House of Lords obstructed every attempt by the Liberals to make things better. Killing the 1916 rebels turned the moderate nationalists into hard line Sinn Fein voters. In the election of December 1918 all but 6 of the moderates lost their seats and 73 Sinn Fein were returned. SF got 46% of the votes and the parliamentary nationalists got 21% but 25 SF members were returned unopposed and it is estimated that if there had been contested elections Sinn Fein would have polled 53% while the Unionists got about 26%. Now if election results can never be changed there should be a united independent Ireland.

    Independence movements tend to be based on language but the Scots and Irish people mostly speak English. It must be because they feel undervalued that they want to leave the Union, although there is a substantial Unionist group in Ireland which is costing the English more than the EU contributions and will cost even more as the Nationalist people get more equal treatment than they used to do. The Imperial power got rid of its empire when it was costing more than it was worth so maybe the English will demand the same in respect of Northern Ireland. I just hope there is no bloodshed.

  • Jayne Mansfield 9th Feb '19 - 3:16pm

    @ Peter Martin,
    As the article I referred to you makes plain, yes, some of the criticisms of the EU raised by the left in the time of Tony Benn, may still be valid, but as the article also points out, and this I agree with, Brexit and nationalist sentiment has already unleashed a rise of of UK far- right nativism and racism. Unless we are careful this situation will worsen and again I agree with the author of the article, that the Tony Benn wing of the Left is too weak to counter this. Momentum understands this. The chaos of Brexit, if it happens, is likely to be the midwife of an increase in this appalling trend.

    You mention Greece, but I remember reading some time ago that Yanis Varoufakis did not think , that despite the Greek experience, the answer was to leave the EU.

    I have now skim read another article by him. And I apologise if I refer you to articles rather that making points myself, ( they are overlong for a medium such as this, and also I have an unfortunate trait , in that I believe that articles I find interesting will also be interesting to others).

    ‘Turning Brexit into a Celebration of Democracy’. Yanis Varoufakis. Project Syndicate. December 2018.

  • Sean Hyland 9th Feb '19 - 3:42pm

    Jayne Mansfield. Yes Yanis is very clear in his books especially that he believes leaving the EU is mistake but that it needs major change/reform. Just reading his book on his time as a minister negotiating with the EU, Adults in the Room.

  • Peter Martin 9th Feb '19 - 7:39pm

    @ Jayne and Sean,

    “Brexit and nationalist sentiment has already unleashed a rise of of UK far- right nativism and racism. ”

    Yes this is true to an extent but it’s part of a general pattern we see in the EU. The situation with regards the far right is much worse elsewhere.

    “Yanis is very clear in his books especially that he believes leaving the EU is a mistake but that it needs major change/reform”

    He should know about the need for reform. But how much has he achieved? How much is anyone likely to achieve? Just what reforms are in the pipeline?

    I’d say none. Any ‘reforms’, in economic policy, there have been in recent years have been in the wrong direction. The euro has only survived for a long as it has because the ECB has deliberately broken the rules to keep the wheels turning with massive amounts of QE. They’ve been able move much faster than the German conservatives who can only go at the speed of the European courts. They’ve got away with it once but I don’t think they’ll be able to repeat the exercise.

    But Yanis Varoufakis still thinks reforms are possible? He’s a smart guy on questions of economics but he must know from his own experience that the PTB in the eurozone don’t want to know about any of that.

    I don’t agree with Arnold Kiel on much, but he recently made the point that the EU is what it is and isn’t reformable. As it is run by people who think like Arnold Kiel, rather than YV, I’d have to say he’s likely and unfortunately right.

  • Sean Hyland 9th Feb '19 - 8:27pm

    Peter Martin I fear you are right on this. I would guess that Yanis may know this but his choice is still to organise and argue.

  • nvelope2003
    I’m not sure independence movements are usually based on language. If you look at South America the language is mostly Spanish but the countries are not connected to each other or Spain in a governmental sense. America , Australia and Canada have pulled away from Britain despite sharing a common language. . Personally, I think devolved rule is the main factor because it makes laws , financial planning and governance more localised, as well as building in a resistance to outside interference.

  • Katharine Pindar 9th Feb '19 - 10:30pm

    Having read all of the above comments, I wish that the Labour adherents writing here would try and influence their own party at this critical time, rather than going on about the ills of the EU and even the Lib Dem weakness in the Coalition’s support for austerity.

    We have a Labour Opposition apparently preparing to compromise on Brexit, pretending that it is enough to avoid No Deal. As Chris Leslie said yesterday on Radio 4’s lunchtime programme, with quiet anger, ‘Do they take us for fools?’ Labour supporters who believe Brexit, hard or soft, blue, red or purple, is BAD FOR OUR COUNTRY should surely be bending every effort now to persuade the leadership to seek the desperately needed People’s Vote, for the one chance to Remain.

  • Katharine Pindar 9th Feb ’19 – 10:30pm……………….Having read all of the above comments, I wish that the Labour adherents writing here would try and influence their own party at this critical time, rather than going on about the ills of the EU and even the Lib Dem weakness in the Coalition’s support for austerity………….

    I’m (possibly) the most ardent defender of Corbyn on here BUT I’m not a member of the Labour Party. I have posted on here, and on other sites, my opposition to leaving the EU.
    Would I like another vote? Yes….However, without one the democratic vote said ‘Leave’ and, although I’ll tell the world that the UK has made a mistake, I have a little voice at the back of my mind asking, “Had the vote gone the other way what would be my attitude if Farage, Johnson, et al, demanded a second go?”

    I can’t see May (or, especially, those in the ERG) accepting Corbyn’s offer so I expect the next step will be the choice between ‘no deal’ and a ‘second vote’…That will make it a simple choice for me.

    As for the LibDem’s part in austerity and hitting those weakest in society; being pro Remain doesn’t negate that responsibility.

  • Katharine Pindar 10th Feb '19 - 12:51am

    expats, with respect this is surely no time to be an ardent defender of Mr Corbyn. When he seems like Mrs May bent on getting a deal, and with many in the country and the Commons now apparently ready to accept any deal, there is a real danger that they will agree on some fudged arrangement, though possibly not until the eleventh hour. And in that case the possibility of their making the democratic decision of letting the people change their minds will probably fade away, much as I would like to hear an outcry from young people demanding it.

    As for Lib Dem partial responsibility for austerity in the years when reducing the deficit was the only agreed national aim, my party has made up for it since in passing better proposals for welfare support and reform, and for taxing wealth and land values, than anything proposed by the Labour Party, as far as I can gather.

  • @Peter Martin – “I don’t agree with Arnold Kiel on much, but he recently made the point that the EU is what it is and isn’t reformable. As it is run by people who think like Arnold Kiel, rather than YV, I’d have to say he’s likely and unfortunately right.”

    People move on, the EU is reformable, just not necessarily with the current bunch running it…

  • Katharine Pindar 10th Feb ’19 – 12:51am……

    I love the way that ‘democracy’ in your (any many others) eyes only applies AFTER the 2016 referendum. Accusing those who voted out of having single figure IQ’s, being ill informed and hoping for the death rate of those over 60 to increase can hardly be conducive to getting a change of mind.

    As for “passing better proposals for welfare support and reform, and for taxing wealth and land values”? The public may remember that we had such better proposals pre-2010 but they were sacrificed on the altar of expediency. In a post ‘Brexit’ society why should anyone believe that ‘expediency’ won’t, yet again, be the deciding factor.

    In any case, the public will also be aware that a party of 11 MPs, can promise whatever promises it likes in the ‘sure and certain knowledge’ that it will not be called on to deliver them!

  • Arnold Kiel 10th Feb '19 - 9:24am

    So I understand that Donald Tusk should descend to hell first for two reasons: he caused all this, and demanding a plan is unreasonable.

    I don’t remember Mr. Tusk, or any austerity-preaching predecessor being around when The UK’s industrial retreat under Thatcher happened (IMO, she just accelerated the inevitable, but did not cause it). His spiritual leadership of the post 2010 UK budget cuts (outside the eurozone!) in the UK is particularly impressive, given how much he is despised among the leading Tories enacting it on his instruction. But indirectly inflicting the terminal deindustrialisation of Britain engineered by May under the ERG and the DUP is clearly his masterpiece. He will certainly request reunification with all these characters down there to eternally celebrate their joint success. Here, Guy Verhofstadt is wrong for once.

    He should furthermore roast for having the audacity to suggest to Tsipras/Varufakis that the guarantors for Greece’s excessive public payrolls, idle assets, and pension levels have also voters (who, unlike many Greeks, are mostly taxpayers).

  • Arnold Kiel 10th Feb '19 - 9:24am

    Concerning planning, the UK-EU negotiations are the perfect example for its blessings. The EU took the time to plan negotiating goals and sequence, and formulated a clear and universally supported mandate for Mr. Barnier; it planned for that even before May invoked Article 50, a period she wasted with a mandate-eroding General election instead of planning anything. It said: let us first settle the three lose-ends which will not automatically cease upon exiting (two simple, one less so), and then speak about the future. The UK, having no plan of its own, concurred. The EU certainly expected to substantially address both, lose ends (simple, after all) and the future, in the ample 2 years available. Because the UK had (and still has) no plan, just the two simple issues were settled, and on the third, only a fall-back agreement could be reached. But the UK negotiators, having neither a plan nor a clear mandate, failed to deliver ratification.

    As a consequence, the UK has already lost GBP 30 Billion GDP, is losing investment at an accelerating rate, and faces the horrible prospect of a crash-out it also failed to plan for (lining up 1% of the trucks crossing the channel in a day or shipping without ships from an inactive, silted harbour are excellent examples).

    Whether one finds this quality of stewardship of the national wellbeing sinful or deserving a special place in hell is a question of religious convictions. But hard to defend it is.

  • Reading today’s interesting potted biog of Donald Tusk, he was around his home city of Gdansk in the early 80s, and had been jailed briefly by the then Soviet-backed regime for being involved in protest. Gdansk is well-remembered as the birthplace of the Solidarity trade union which played a key part in the downfall of the regime. The point is made in the article that Donald has never been a shrinking violet, and his advocacy of liberal principles saw him elected at various levels, culminating with a long term as Polish Prime Minister!

  • Peter Martin 10th Feb '19 - 10:07am

    @ Arnold Kiel,

    “UK has already lost GBP 30 Billion GDP”

    I’m not sure where your figure comes from. We’ve seen dodgy estimates of this kind before so I don’t think it particularly matters.

    If you are so good at planning to avoid these kinds of losses, how is it that you’ve managed to allowed yourself to be owed some €900 billion by the ECB which they are, in turn, owed by Italy, Greece, Spain etc? Of course, if these economies improve under such expert guidance which is no doubt on offer from highly qualified EZ economists they’ll be able to repay their debts to the ECB who’ll then be able to repay Germany.

    I have some doubts that this will happen. You may have to “go whistle” if you do ever want your money back. Anyway good luck with that!

    This is where my figure comes from: https://tinyurl.com/TARGET2imb

  • Jayne Mansfield 10th Feb '19 - 10:47am

    @ Katharine Pindar,

    Katharine, as you say there are many in the Commons and the country now prepared to accept a deal. They are being encouraged to believe that the only choice is Mrs May’s deal or no deal. It is a form of blackmail, accept this or much worse will befall you

    The problem with another referendum, and like Professor Menon on Question Time, I refuse to call it a ‘Peoples Vote’, has been the parliamentary arithmetic and that there has not been overwhelming evidence that another referendum would lead to a different outcome.

    The diversionary tactic of blaming the EU for intransigence and incompetence rather than those who got us onto this situation, seems to be the order of the day and unfortunately it works. Don’t assume that those who want another referendum will favour remain.

    The unfortunate fact is that we had a referendum in 2016 and those of us who voted remain ,lost. It may well be that a deal may have to be struck that both moderate remain and moderate leave voters will accept, a Norway plus deal or something similar that keeps us as close to the EU as possible.

    Do I believe that Mrs May will let go of her red lines in response to Labour’s offer, no, on past experience, I don’t. It may come to it that another referendum is the only way this dispute can be settled, but I sincerely believe that another referendum should be a last resort.

    As a party , have you considered what might come next, if any referendum came up with an inconclusive result, or what might be considered an inconclusive result?

  • Jayne Mansfield 10th Feb ’19 – 10:47am…………….. I refuse to call it a ‘Peoples Vote’…..

    Me, too.
    It is another example (along with ‘ill informed’, ‘stupid’, etc.) of alienating those who voted out for a variety of reasons. Pretending, by wordplay, that the result and, by association, those who voted in 2016 weren’t participating in a ‘people’s vote” does far more harm than good.

  • I’m afraid when Katharine says “As for Lib Dem partial responsibility for austerity in the years when reducing the deficit was the only agreed national aim, my party has made up for it since in passing better proposals for welfare support and reform …” it shows how easy it is to rationalize one’s own failure by pretending a stated future intention (which can of course be ditched as Nick so infamously decided to do as his first act in coalition) can make up for actual damage done to people in the past.

    Simply ask yourself, for someone who has lost significant amounts of benefits, what possible impact will the Lib Dems and their 11MPs having second thoughts, have on their plight? There may be redemption for Christians in repentance, but voters demand much more, and too many of us choose to pretend that a nice shiny new policy is enough.

    In reality (and what chance do so many of our great policies have of becoming implemented for real?) the work has to be done to earn trust back, on the doorstep, day after day, getting elected onto the council, and delivering for residents for years and years, and by then we may be able to claim that “my party has made up for it.” Or at least made a real start.

  • Jayne Mansfield 10th Feb '19 - 3:52pm

    @ Tim13,
    I admire Donald Tusk, but I wish he hadn’t let his understandable frustration get the better of him.

    Hopefully when his time at the EU ends, he will again become a leader in the National politics of Poland.

  • OnceALibDem 10th Feb '19 - 6:01pm

    Jayne, Tusk is the leader of Civic Platform so he has never stopped being a leader in national polish policies.

    According to their wikipedia page, the policeis of Civic Platform include:
    “Civic Platform combines ordoliberal stances on the economy with social conservative stances on social and ethical issues, including opposition to abortion, same-sex marriage, soft drug decriminalisation, euthanasia, fetal stem cell research, removal of crosses and other religious symbols in schools and public places, and partially to wide availability of in vitro fertilisation. The party also wants to criminalise gambling and supports religious education in schools and civil unions. Other socially conservative stances of the party include voting to ban designer drugs and amending the penal code to introduce mandatory chemical castration of paedophiles. However, it is somewhat less strident on social issues than Law and Justice. ”

    Why are Liberal Democrats praising this guys politics?

  • Jayne Mansfield 10th Feb '19 - 7:35pm

    @ Peter and Sean,
    So when a professor of economics at Athens University disagrees with you, you think the answer is to ‘diss’ him.

    OK.

  • Katharine Pindar 10th Feb '19 - 8:19pm

    Well, being attacked while otherwise engaged on a Sunday by both a fellow Lib Dem and two Labour-favouring contributors whose pseudonyms give them handy anonymity, I prefer to reply to the former! But, David, we have had this discussion many times before. Why do you ‘diss’ our party, which has been working hard but

  • Katharine Pindar 10th Feb '19 - 8:42pm

    Something happened, I hadn’t finished! I was pointing out that our party had been working hard but quietly on developing good policies, on welfare reform, on taxation reform, on jobs, businesses and community development, on education and on health. And as has been often noted before, our good policies may well be poached by other parties, as happened with the tax and insurance and children’s free meals policies passed because of our ministers in the Coalition, and then claimed credit for by the Tories. But it really isn’t worth going over all that again.

    As for Brexit, I have never ‘dissed’ the Leave voters, who had many substantial reasons for voting like that. And yes, we may lose another referendum – I think Sir Vince has pointed out to Mrs May that she would have a chance of getting her deal through if she agreed to a referendum – but on a simple, Government deal or Remain vote, I think Remain will win. So the new proposal aired in the Observer and on another thread, to let Mrs May’s deal pass in Parliament on condition that it is put to the people, sounds a good idea, provided that the condition is made legally enforceable.

  • Sean Hyland 10th Feb '19 - 8:47pm

    @Jayne Mansfield. Apologies if it seems that way but far from “dissing” Yanis I actually have a lot of respect for and some agreement with his viewpoint.However I did vote leave but purely in relation to aspects of the Eurozone and how it operates and the need to move to ever closer political and fiscal union in order for it to survive. I have no issue with a move to an “ever closer union of the peoples” as per the original Treaty of Rome.

  • Peter Martin 10th Feb '19 - 8:51pm

    @ Jayne,

    re your “diss” comment at 7.35pm

    Do you mean me? I largely agree with Yanis V on economic matters. However, I wouldn’t go along with his political analysis on the reformability of the EU. Neither myself nor Sean Hyland have ‘dissed’ him. Not at all.

    “Diss”, as I understand the term, means disrespect not disagree. But, maybe, this is not your understanding?

  • jayne mansfield 10th Feb '19 - 8:58pm

    @ Sean,
    Thank you for your civilised response,

    I am a bit tied up at the moment, but I would love to have a discussion about our differences.

  • Jayne Mansfield 11th Feb '19 - 8:04am

    @ OnceALibDem,
    You are of course correct. I should have said Prime MInister.

    Donald Tusk is something of a curates egg when it comes to his politics, but in the context of current ( very worrying) Polish politics, I believe that he has shown the strength that is necessary if one is to oppose the Law and Justice Party.

  • Jayne Mansfield 11th Feb '19 - 8:34am

    @ Peter and Sean,

    I thought it meant ‘to be dismissive of’ .

    If anyone has experience of dealings with the EU, it is Professor Varoufakis, and if he thought that there was a possibility of change given his experiences, I take that seriously.

    Thats the last time I try modern slang so apologies.

  • Peter Martin 11th Feb '19 - 9:07am

    Just going back to the OP, we might ask ourselves just what caused Mr Tusk to lose his cool. Most EU politicians have been sensible enough to not enter the UK domestic fray in this way.

    He’s always complained, not without justification, that the UK has always been too negative. ‘Tell us what you want, rather than what you don’t want’. Suddenly he’s got his answer with respect to the WA and the backstop. He didn’t really want an answer.

    The EU strategy, with the support of prominent Remainers, was always to offer us such a poor deal, we’d have to have another referendum which could deliver a different verdict. So we had the resoundingly rejected poor deal. However, the defeat of the Cooper amendment by 23 votes has made another referendum now seem unlikely.

    So, somewhat ironically, the ‘hardball’ game has increased the likelihood of a no deal Brexit. Therefore Mr Tusk and others are feeling somewhat annoyed if not under some real pressure. IF we do end up with a referendum the ‘hardball’ game will also lose the Remain side votes. The politics of the last few years have made clear that the EU is not just the equivalent of another benign local council and some would have us believe.

  • Peter Martin 11th Feb '19 - 9:52am

    @ Jayne,

    No problem. I might just say that there’s so much politics tied up with economics that it’s just impossible to advance any sort of ‘argument from authority’. I couldn’t say YV must be right on his analysis of the eurozone because he’s an Athens Uni economics professor. Someone like Arnold Kiel could no doubt find a professor in Germany who completely disagreed with him.

    Similarly on questions of EU reformability. There’ll be a variety of opinion on that.

    So we’re on our own , I’m afraid. We have to choose who we agree with. It doesn’t necessarily mean we’re disrespectful or dismissive of others.

  • Arnold Kiel 12th Feb '19 - 6:38am

    Donald Tusk was looking for a UK proposal in the legal solution space, i.e. one that acknowledges the existence and of the Good Friday Agreement, an international treaty both parties are guarantors of. There never was a shortage of UK unicorn (sorry, frankie) proposals.

    If I ever had a chance, I would ask Yanis Varoufakis two questions: are any of Greek’s problems homemade, and, if any, which of them did you solve while being Finance Minister? I know the answer. Everything he said ever since has the single purpose of scapegoating others for his complete and total failure in an important and critical post he never should have held. Even Tsipras realised this after only 6 months.

  • Alex Macfie 12th Feb '19 - 9:31am

    I don’t think any Lib Dem supposes that Tusk is our ideological bedfellow generally. His party belongs to the centre-right EPP group, and there is a liberal (ALDE) party in Poland. But we tend to agree with what he is saying and doing on Brexit in his capacity as President of the European Council.

  • Sean Hyland 12th Feb '19 - 5:22pm

    @Jayne Mansfield. Not on as much as I was but happy to discuss furthe.

    @Arnold Kiel. Never seen or read anything by Yanis Varofakis that he has not been less than aware of the problems of Greece. Not sure that the on going response of the Troika are solving them either.

  • Peter Martin 13th Feb '19 - 10:24am

    @ Arnold,

    I could ask you if any of Germany’s problems are “homemade”? The main problem that German people seem to have is they don’t understand the paradox of thrift. In fact they’d probably say there isn’t even such a paradox. They don’t understand that for every saver there has to be a borrower, and for every surplus there has to be a deficit. We can’t all be net savers and we can’t all be in net surplus.

    I’ve tried my best to point this out. It seems a simple enough concept. But there seems something in the German psyche that just doesn’t want to accept it. Do you have any theories on this?

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