Party members question Vince Cable on Brexit, freedom of movement and single market

It now appears that Vince Cable will be unopposed in the upcoming party leadership election, and so party members will not receive the opportunity to quiz him at hustings on his record and policy views>

Many of us within the party are concerned by this. We believe that in a democratic party, it is imperative that the leader receive proper scrutiny. We need to know that the candidate is up to the job. The leader of the party must be able to deal with uncomfortable questions.  As we’ve seen in the recent election campaign, the inability to give a straight answer to a simple question can be fatal to a leader.

The party leader must also be able to speak for the party and to defend party policy, especially when it comes to the most important issues of the day. In particular, many people have expressed concern about Vince’s statements to the New Statesman calling for an end to single market membership and freedom of movement, which appear to go against both party policy and the party’s constitution.

>For that reason, a number of us have put together an open letter to Vince Cable, the full text of which can be found here. This letter has been signed so far by hundreds of party members, including a substantial number of parliamentary candidates, councillors, and local party exec members. These are the people on whose support a new leader will need to rely, and so those people in turn need to know that the new leader is worthy of such support.

The core of the letter is a set of five questions. We believe that Sir Vince needs to answer these questions, clearly and unambiguously, before becoming leader, so we know what kind of leader, and what kind of party, we will have over this current Parliamentary session.

The questions are:

  1. Do you agree with the statement in the Preamble to the Liberal Democrat constitution that “Our responsibility for justice and liberty cannot be confined by national boundaries; we are committed to […] promote the free movement of ideas, people, goods and services”?
  2. Do you want the UK to only have single market “access” in the event of Brexit – as the Conservatives and Labour are advocating – or do you want full British membership of the single market?
  3. Do you still think that customs union status with the EU would be an acceptable trade-off for the UK in exchange for greater restrictions on immigration than EU membership currently allows?
  4. If you are elected party leader, will you respect and champion our existing party policy to protect freedom of movement with the EU as a positive in its own right in addition to it being an essential requirement for UK membership of the European single market?
  5. Do you agree that our national interest is best served by full UK membership of the EU and will you commit to ensuring that that belief remains integral to Liberal Democrat party policy?

We hope Vince will give swift and comprehensive answers to these questions, and we are inviting our fellow party members to join us in signing the letter to emphasise the strength of feeling that these questions need and deserve to be answered.

* Andrew Hickey is a Liberal Democrat member from Manchester.

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60 Comments

  • Alisdair McGregor 1st Jul '17 - 10:24am

    It looks for some reason as if Question 1 from the letter has been cut (& the others renumbered).

    The first question should read:

    1. Do you agree with the statement in the Preamble to the Liberal Democrat constitution that “Our responsibility for justice and liberty cannot be confined by national boundaries; we are committed to […] promote the free movement of ideas, people, goods and services”?

  • Zoe O'connell 1st Jul '17 - 10:28am

    I do hope as many people will sign the letter as possible, as we don’t have the usual chances to scrutinise a potential leader this time round. That means we would not otherwise find out how Vince will use the unique opportunities presented by being Leader of a political party to advance certain key issues.

    I think most will agree that opposing Brexit is *the* key issue for Liberal Democrats at the moment.

  • I believe these questions are very important to many members, as well as potential voters. I look forward to seeing Vince’s responses.

  • Evan Mortimer 1st Jul '17 - 10:30am

    These questions absolutely need answering, so many members (including me) joined after the referendum to oppose Brexit and the leader’s position on party policy cannot be open to question

  • I would hope that this is an easy challenge for Vince to handle by simply agreeing with the party’s policy and the preamble to the constitution that free movement of people is a good thing in itself and that he supports it.

  • Sarah Brown 1st Jul '17 - 10:32am

    This is needed, to stop us falling into the same mess Labour currently find themselves in. I hope Vince answers them quickly and unambiguously so we can move on with fighting the Labservative hard Brexit.

  • Holly Matthies 1st Jul '17 - 10:33am

    This is a crossroads for the party. Nobody is properly representing the people who want to stay in the EU (over half, surveys are now suggesting) and more importantly, the people who will benefit from us staying in the EU, which is all the people in the country. British or not, whether they could vote or not. Lib Dems need to look after the people, because no one else is. We have to be unequivocal.

  • Matt Severn 1st Jul '17 - 10:39am

    Surely Vince will want to use the time over the summer to turn the hustings events into meet the leader q&as?
    It would be a very poor move if the party did not facilitate this

  • The fact that Vince will be un-opposed does not necessarily have to mean that members can’t question him at meetings around the country. I’m happy to endorse your letter – which I think is very good, and important – but I also think the party should organise a series of Q&A meetings for Vince before he is allowed to take on the job.

  • Richard Flowers 1st Jul '17 - 10:56am

    This is a great opportunity for Vince to win over the trust of the Party.

    This is an issue where we – pretty much alone – stand for the viewpoint that being part of something greater is a thing worth fighting for, and people are crying out for us to take a firm stance, in opposition to the extremists who want to rip us away from our friends. *And* the compromisers who are going along with it.

  • James Moore 1st Jul '17 - 10:56am

    These are very fair questions which is why I put my name to this open letter. I like Vince and I like a lot of what he has achieved in the past, indeed he was one the people who caused me to join the Party in the first place. I am sure many of us want him to succeed if he does indeed become Leader, so addressing these questions early on will help with this and mean we can get behind him from a very early stage. I especially agree with Andrew’s bit that says: “The leader of the party must be able to deal with uncomfortable questions. As we’ve seen in the recent election campaign, the inability to give a straight answer to a simple question can be fatal to a leader.”

  • Adam Bernard 1st Jul '17 - 10:56am

    These all seem very reasonable questions that *any* aspiring Lib Dem leader should be able to answer. I’m sure that if there were hustings all candidates would be asked these any number of times.

  • There is a danger Vince becomes leader without having to in any way set out his plans and strategy for his leadership. 11 days after announcing he was running his website has absolutely nothing about his leadership campaign.

    Either he was expecting not to have to mount a serious campaign or wasn’t that serious about running in the first place.

  • An excellent and fair letter – I really hope Vince gives the convincing answers the party deserves.

  • Howell: given the formal process only began last week we can assume that as yet he has not formally submitted his nomination papers with all the required counter signatories (I think 200 party members and more besides – see article below on the process). If I were a candidate I would want at least to complete that process before I launched my campaign.

  • Could someone please let me know why, if freedom of movement is such a totem, do we not advocate extending it to all? Ie people from across the world? Or is it just for the rich nations n Europe?

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 1st Jul '17 - 12:18pm

    Vince has put this up on Facebook this morning:

    https://www.facebook.com/VinceCableForTwickenham/posts/1504936662905087

  • Matthew Huntbach 1st Jul '17 - 12:22pm

    Vince Cable was showing an understanding of the concerns that led many people to vote Leave in the referendum. What this party needed to do was show an understanding of those concerns, and use that understanding to put the point of why leaving the EU will not resolve them.

    The lack of understanding of those concerns shown by the contributors here, and the way this has led to an elitist denunciation of people who voted Leave rather than an attempt to bring them back to support us all contributes to the reason why I am finding it hard to renew my membership of the party. I have been a member for 39 years. The party now seems to consist mainly of just the sort of people I joined it to oppose. I have sat on my membership renewal form for a month now. It will be hard to leave, but I just can’t see much reason for staying if the sort of hoity-toity people posting here are what the party is now all about.

  • Matthew Gallagher 1st Jul '17 - 12:27pm

    Recent suggestions that the UK needs a new party to represent the centre ground and those opposed to Brexit, have come about because of the poor job we have done in making it clear that the Lib Dems ‘are’ that party. The leader cannot be woolly or vague on this crucial issue.

  • What Matthew huntbach just said!! Spot on.

  • David Becket 1st Jul '17 - 12:33pm

    The meet the leader sessions in the summer MUST take place and MUST include the Deputy Leader. That will give members a chance to raise concerns, including those from Matthew Huntbach, with our leadership. Above all it puts the difficult questions (i.e Tuition Fees) before the media gets at them.

  • To prevent companies picking up staff on the cheap rather than training them you need to make it uneconomic. A tax on companies refundable or even tax positive e.g train your works qualify for a lower tax rate. You want the lower corporation tax rate meet the training criteria, otherwise it’s the higher rate.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 1st Jul '17 - 1:07pm

    I find it absurd that I have been insulted by Mathew Huntbach as being to the right of where he thinks I am, only to find some of what he says very apPosite here, and that just when Labour and the Tories are showing their divisions, some are wanting to do more to divide here.

    This letter is virtue signalling if it does not allow the new leader to be his own person and do what is needed, lead!

    Of course he can answer affirmative to some of the points but why all ?!

    Have you heard of compromise?

    The signatories and editors here did a lot of that over the coalition .

  • You want to implement free movement of people as official lib dem position – which has had for the last 10 years 4 percent of public support? Not 48 or even 23 but only 4 think immigration should be higher.
    How is that supposed to increase support and credibility and heal the divisions of last year?
    This is not a vision that will build vote share. Free movement of labour and single market yes absolutely. It’s all the Euro demand.
    The country is broken- this is no time to be throwing the doors open further. Improve the lives of the people already here first.

  • Jonathan Alexander 1st Jul '17 - 1:19pm

    Is it really such a foregone conclusion that Vince Cable will be unopposed?
    As a new member (one of many now we are over 100k) it feels to me that this would be a terrible thing, not just on EU-related policy, but as a waste of an opportunity to think and debate deeply about what the role of our party is in the broader current context.
    Arguably the Conservatives are living in the 1920s and Labour show worrying signs of being in the 1970s… should we not be the party of the future, bringing among other things much needed understanding of the digital era into parliament?
    Can Vince Cable – for all his qualities – lead that party?
    Surely that should at least be tested…
    If none of our MPs will stand against him, is it possible under party rules that one of us rank and file could stand, at least to make sure he is properly tested?

  • The EU is probably the most ambitious socio-economic project in human history outside of force of arms. If anyone can think of a parallel I would be interested to hear of it. It is therefor not surprising that we have hit a problem of this nature. It has not been handled well by successive UK governments. It has not been handled well by the EU. I think Vince has got an understanding of this and his views on freedom of movement reflect where we are now. Economic arrangements can be changed overnight with a signature on a treaty. Social attitudes take far longer. I hope both sides will show flexibility in navigating this situation. I don’t have much faith in the Tories, I have a little more faith in Labour but oh what a price we will have to pay. I think the LibDems will have to be flexible as well. We will have to settle for moving in the right direction instead of thinking we can achieve the destination in one hop. Hopefully the EU will conclude the same.

  • Peter Watson 1st Jul '17 - 1:35pm

    As usual, Matthew Huntbach writes eloquently and passionately, summing up why, despite having haunted this site for the last 6-7 years, I find myself ever further from returning to the party as a supporter or member.
    There is much introspection and navel-gazing by party members on this site, little discussion about bread-and-butter policy issues, and an indication that the priorities and concerns of Lib Dems are often a world apart from those outside the bubble.

  • paul barker 1st Jul '17 - 1:38pm

    Ive just read the short version of Vinces Statement, put up by Mark Pack.
    It seems to me that Vince answered all the questions, what do other members think ?

  • Laurence Cox 1st Jul '17 - 1:39pm

    Matthew Huntbach makes some sensible points about the referendum. Lord Ashcroft’s exit poll: http://lordashcroftpolls.com/2016/06/how-the-united-kingdom-voted-and-why/ revealed that 30% of our supporters voted Leave. Even the Greens had 25% Leave voters and they were the only party with a higher proportion of Remainers than the Lib Dems. We have to reconnect with everyone who supports us on other issues if we are to restore our fortunes and that includes talking to Lib Dem supporters who voted Leave and understanding why they did. It is no use saying the country as a whole will be better off by staying in the EU, but your area will be worse off (because of, say, the Common Fisheries Policy) so you just have to accept it. The majority of people vote based on what they perceive will be best for themselves; few are so comfortably off that they will willingly vote for something that makes them worse off.

  • James Baillie 1st Jul '17 - 1:52pm

    I’m fed up with people telling me that my concerns over dropping freedom of movement are “elitist”, or somehow less “real” than those of people’s hypothetical idealised Brexit voter.

    Freedom of movement is a requirement for the single market, and the single market is a requirement for jobs and for our export industries. Our economy has been carefully constructed for literally longer than I’ve been alive to work within those Europe-wide structures, via financial passporting, by being a goods entry point for international trade, via our service industries, our research sector, and so on. Our economy is almost uniquely badly placed to work outside those structures, and that means us getting a lot poorer, fast, if we abandon them. These concerns aren’t “elite”, they’re literally about the bread and butter base of our economy that people rely upon to maintain their standards of living.

    It’s not elitist to want food to be cheap enough that single parents can afford to feed their children, it’s not elitist to want jobs to be available for young people like myself that desperately need them, and it’s not elitist to want an economy that can afford to treat the worst off with dignity and compassion. Because that’s what our single market access means for actual people who are struggling to get by, in the end, and if anyone has a problem with those things I want then there’s not much more I have to say to them.

  • James
    I agree with much of what you say- but my understanding is that you are all arguing for basically open access for anyone who wants to walk over the border.
    That is not the same as free movement of labour which I believe is what the eu stipulates for access to the single market?
    Yours appears to be an idealist position which seems far divorced from what can be sold to the uk population at the moment.
    If you want to achieve the things for the people here that you’ve just outlined, It needs surely a more pragmatic approach that may require some clever politics and patience,
    Adopting a stance on your ideal position that only 4 percent of the population will support is not a way I don’t think to achieve the influence you need to achieve your aims.

  • Sarah Brown 1st Jul '17 - 2:05pm

    Thanks for the responses everyone. I’m one of the people behind the letter. It’s important that we don’t allow the apparent disconnect between previous statements Vince has made on the EU and our support for remaining as a party to dilute our message. We wanted charity when we wrote our letter, and it’s pleasing that Vince has responded with that clarity in a way that, I think, reconciles what needed to be reconciled.

    I’m fedora my much better about the direction of tyr party now, and confident that Vince has solid answers to give the media if they try to pin him down on this.

  • Sarah Brown 1st Jul '17 - 2:07pm

    Please excuse the autocorrect atrocities in that last paragraph. I’m not quite sure why my phone thought I wanted to talk about ancient gods and hats.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 1st Jul '17 - 2:18pm

    Mike S, as often, understands reality.

    Freedom of movement is the norm throughout the world in, and in and out of, democratic countries.

    Right to settle is not the same.

    The former has been practised everywhere apart from ghastly dictatorships , for a couple or so hundreds of years.

    The latter has been practised only in the EU for a couple or so decades.

    When communities share public services regardless of class or income , supply does not keep up with demand , unless govenments are more business savvy.

    That is the reason economic liberalism, has been better understood in this party , and , to those of us , on the centre left. It is or must be social liberalism too.

    We need to realise that as we prioritise freedom of movement, we need to restrict, right to settle.

    All the denigration of the Labour party that contains a broad spectrum, does not realise, they are committed to ending the spousal income threshold for foreign immigrants denied the right to be with their uk spouses.

    That is more important than the immediate right of someone to pick fruit here , paid little, because a corporate business does not want to pay more, and a migrant is in need.

    There we as economic liberals could do with another dose of social liberal centre left common sense of understanding.

    Sir Vince has got more to answer for on the coalition caving in on spousal income, by far , than on his sensible understanding of the needs of community and country.

  • I think Vince has answered the questions in this letter and I hope no one in the party would oppose the idea that we shouldn’t be “free market fundamentalists” and that we need to “take account of wider social concern at the national level”. Especially if we wish to stay relevant to the majority of the British population. Vince is correct, we do need to look at how the free movement of labour can be restricted while still being in the single market and if we had done this when in government we might not be in the mess we are in now. How can anyone argue with Vince’s concluding statement, “the leader has the right, and the duty, to put forward his or her views and to debate them with party members in an open and positive way, but at the end of the day it is the party, not the leader, which decides our policy – and that is entirely right”?

    Those who advocate the free movement of people have rejected the harm principle within liberalism. Unrestricted mass migration causes some harm to both the people of host country and of the home country.

    We also need to recognise that being a member of the EU restricts the free movement of food into the EU and food would be cheaper in the UK if were not a member of the EU. This idea of free trade and cheap food was liberal policy for a long time (1846-1960).

    @ Matthew Huntbach

    I wish you would renew your party membership. We as a party need people who understand the concerns of the majority of British people and who wish the party to find social liberal solutions to the issues we as a society face.

    @ James Baillie

    Being concerned about membership of the single market is not the same as being concerned about the loss of free movement within the EU. It is possible to want to stay in the single market while not being a fundamentalist on the free movement of people within the EU. Cheap food is not provided by EU membership, it would be outside of the EU.

  • Keith Sharp 1st Jul '17 - 3:08pm

    It will be unfortunate if we do not have a contested leadership election, but if there is only one candidate, that’s unavoidable and we have to get on with it. The reasons given by the other ‘potential’ candidates for not standing make sense and deserve our respect. (I was half-hoping Tim would not just resign, but also offer himself for re-election, but that’s improbable I suppose.)

    Vince’s FB statement is very positive — a) he has ‘lived’ the EU/Single Market as Business Secretary and in his various opposition spokesperson roles; b) he makes a good, nuanced set of qualifications about how things work in practice, notably in the German example he cites.

    Key though will be to come up with an account of the party’s coalition record — Vince and Nick were our only cabinet-level politicians who were in post for all five years, and it was Vince’s dept that was responsible for tuition fees — because he/we will be attacked on it. I believe there is a sound account to give — eg. the 11% deficit of 2010 was destructive and unsustainable and simply had to be tackled; the tuition fees policy from 2011 was a big improvement on what Labour had put in place — but Vince and we will have to be positive and articulate on this when confronted.

  • tonygreaves 1st Jul '17 - 3:08pm

    Hm. If Matthew Huntbach thinks I’m hoity-toity there’s not much I can do about it. But I have read the letter 9whcih I support) and I have rad Vince’ response which seems to me to be fine in principle and equivocal in practical detail.

    Europe has at times consumed and debilitated both Conservative Party and the Labour Party and seems to me to be in the process of doing so again, in both cases. I fear that with Vince as Leader it will do the same to us. Fudging on this issue will end up upsetting everyone. The Labour and Tory parties are big enough to survive. We may not.

    Vince is a much cleverer economist than most leading politicians. But on this issue he may be just too clever for his own good, and for ours.

  • tonygreaves 1st Jul '17 - 3:09pm

    Apologies for the typos!

  • Joseph Bourke 1st Jul '17 - 3:16pm

    Good article from VInce on the recent election and the Party’s prospects and future role:
    https://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/politics/vince-cable-britain-needs-a-progressive-credible-party.

    The last thing this party needs is making any more promises or pledges that it has no hope of delivering on. To be credible we need policies and leadership that can command cross-party support. That will require the flexibility and pragmatism needed to garner support from a majority of MPs in the house for remaining in the single market and customs union. Without addressing widespread concerns around freedom of movement, any remain policy lacks the necessary credibility.

    Cameron negotiated an emergency brake – a four-year freeze on in-work benefits for newly arrived EU citizens working in the UK. Such an arrangement could give lower paid workers resident here a competitive edge and lessen the propensity of employers to recruit migrant labour directly overseas rather than recruiting from within the home based labour force.

    While these concessions were not sufficient to swing the remain vote in 2016, they are potentially decisive in a 2nd referendum on a new deal that keeps us in the single market and customs union.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 1st Jul '17 - 3:33pm

    I really do think the party and some here, are dividing unnecessarily.

    Lord Greaves, it is because Sir Vince is both a politician and economist, a Liberal and
    a social democrat, that he is to be truly understood and should be completely supported on these issues herein, this thread.

    He knows that freedom of movement, which is in our preamble, is meant, for all of us traditionally internationalist, to be the freedom to travel, leave and visit countries. It separated liberals of all hue, from demagogues and dictators, in states that kept people as prisoners even as they were told they were free. It is this right to travel that is the freedom we celebrate.

    No country on earth has ever had automatic , right of settlement. The EU does not. It has , freedom of labour, or to work , settle with a job in other words, or to run a business.

    We as a party can be delighted and disappointed in the coalition record, but we should, along with many Tory and Labour government policies they should be ashamed of too, be really ashamed of the spousal threshold, creeping up, monetarily , and thus meaning people can only be with their loved ones if immigrants from other countries, if financially better off.

    There needs to be a Europe that is sensible, only then can we take in the refugees who have a call on our humanity, and the spouses who have a connection to our country, only then, when we see sense , and recognise what is a horrible injustice against those in need and in love !!!

  • Don’t forget hundreds of millions in Europe will also benefit from our continued membership of the EU. No reason why the Lib Dems shouldn’t be altruistic, as well as self-interested. Brexit benefits nobody, except a few newspaper proprietors and offshore billionaires. It really isn’t difficult to oppose it.

    Frankly, I’m sure Vince is on our side, and if he isn’t, making him sign the Magna Carta will not make much difference. He has to lead us and hopefully he will reassure us, but he should also be allowed to be his own man.

  • James Baillie 1st Jul '17 - 3:57pm

    I’m not sure where this rather silly idea Lorenzo has that the pro-free-movement people here are “economic” rather than “social” liberals is coming from. I’m probably one of the least pro-free-marketeering and most economically redistributive liberals I know, I just consider it a point of liberal principle that giving people the freedom to move, live, work and love in as many places as possible is a good thing. I likewise reject the view that migration is inherently a harmful thing; it’s something we should be better at dealing with, but fundamentally people being able to move where they want is an essential good that liberates people, which is what we’re here to achieve. Of course that’s a direction of travel and one can’t get there instantaneously – indeed there’s nothing being actually called for in our letter that’s significantly more radical than the UK’s current, and excessively anti-migrant, system – but to rebuild our party with so few even second place finishes we do need to be clear about our principles and how those relate to people’s lives. That means defending migration as an essential, liberating principle.

    The other fact, as much as people seem to be conditioned not to accept this, is that pandering to the anti-immigration consensus is not a plausible solution to literally anything at all, because migration is primarily blamed for problems it doesn’t actually cause and the hatemongers of the right will just move on to find another group to hurt and blame if we let them. All you do by trying to put in place “sensible” but minimal restrictions is allow acceptance of the “migration is bad” nonsense, fuel calls for further and harsher anti-migrant policies, and shift the overton window further away from liberalism. We need real solutions – getting houses built, relieving public service pressure with more funding, stronger local economic investment – rather than fig-leaf migration restrictions that will achieve pretty much nothing of value. Radical liberal policies to tackle the crises of public services and unearned wealth could liberate ordinary people and give them the support and opportunities they’ve been lacking. This might actually address some of people’s major frustrations in society, and is what we should focus on; restricting freedom of movement won’t.

  • Riccardo Sallustio 1st Jul '17 - 4:23pm

    I have signed the letter and I thank Sir Vince for his answer.

    After having read his reply I have a few related questions that I would like to bring to the attention of other members and to be discussed as a part of the party’s policy on Brexit, namely:

    1) Considering that migrants from EU only count for 28% of the overall number of migrants in the UK, is the party ready to put first (consistently with our manifesto for Young People) the right of young people to travel, work and study in the EU before any amendment to the FOM regime is considered?

    2) Is the party ready to affirm through its MPs in Parliament that the effects of Article 50 Notification should be suspended (given that the referendum was advisory – as indicated by Supreme Court and Hansards -) until Parliament has fully assessed the relevant budget, social and economic consequences deriving from exiting the EU and/or Single Market and/or Customs Union)?

    3) Is the party ready to affirm and lobby that the Salisbury Convention does not apply and that our peers should promote for the House of Lords to abandon Brexit altogether?

  • Martin Land 1st Jul '17 - 4:48pm

    God we do get uptight about things don’t we? Freed of movement has become a problem because we, alone in Europe, actually practiced it. Try getting a job in France as a hairdresser, for example. Not unless you have passed an exam proving that you are able to communicate in French to a very high level! If we simply adopted the practises of our European neighbours the public perception of uncontrolled immigration never would have come about. Successive governments have allowed this as a favour to their big business buddies who want cheaper labour and as a method to reduce the necessity to better educate our citizens and increase their productivity.

  • James Baillie 1st Jul '17 - 5:02pm

    Riccardo – even in its standard form, my understanding would be that the Salisbury convention doesn’t apply to anything in this parliament, because no party won a majority of Commons seats; as a result, no party can claim that their manifesto pledges have a direct mandate from the electorate.

  • Eddie Sammon 1st Jul '17 - 5:07pm

    I hope Vince’s reply somewhat satisfies some. Also, I’d like to defend Lorenzo: I can’t see him making a claim about social liberals being on the right. I also think Lorenzo is right that Vince has more to answer for on the party caving in on the spousal income rules whilst in coalition, but I think this is probably more the fault of Nick Clegg and whoever was in the Home Office from our side (but probably not Norman Baker because he resigned). I know Jeremy Browne was in it, but seems unlike him.

    I have a self-interest in preserving free movement but I recognise it’s not politically popular, so I don’t mind using some of the rules in the single market that Vince talks about. Of course, some unpopular battles should be fought, but 300,000 net per year was a lot of people and infrastructure wasn’t keeping pace with the volume.

    We need a debate about infrastructure, why it hasn’t been keeping pace with population growth and how much should be built.

  • If Liberal Democrats don’t stop nitpicking – and if they fail to get behind the one parliamentarian they have who is capable of matching the heavy artillery in the H of C, – then they deserve to – and will – drop into the dustbin of history.

    It’s the last chance saloon folks. Stop scuttling around and start to behave like a grown up political party.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 1st Jul '17 - 7:08pm

    Thank you to Eddie for his insight , kindness and perception.

    I have just about had it with being insulted when I try and unite.

    I do not appreciate the description, “silly ” from James . or “absurd ” from Andrew.

    Nowhere do I equate the views of those who advocate for freedom of movement with those of the right wing of this party . Libertarianism can be left or right. Here it is probably more left , but it is libertarianism , much of the time, can you really imagine Liberals of old advocating ,no restrictions , or rules, or requirements , at all, on immigration, settlement and related issues.Some here are advocates of just that. I have no problem with that until they deride what I say as that which it is not.

    I repeat I would not be here without immigration. My father was Italian.And my wife would not be here without immigration. She was born in the USA ! I mentioned Sir Vince marrying a wife of southern Indian , Kenyan Asian origin, the other day because some accused him previously here of pandering to racism. I was criticised then. Why was that mentioned they cried ? How about reading more consistently here and contributing therefore considerately!!!

    I merely explain in an , even if I say so myself, heartfelt piece, above and before, how Sir Vince, being both an economic liberal , a social liberal, and , that much maligned, lately here ,stance, a social democrat, is to be trusted.

    It is a good thing for us all to recognise big business wants cheap labour and that is often it’s motive in its support of ,freedom of movement.

    The poor of other countries, leaving their own ,in ever greater numbers, whether it makes us poorer or richer, certainly leaves those countries poorer in many ways.

    I think increasingly why the party , or , rather some on this site, are resembling the mirror image in reverse of UKIP, including the intolerance.

    Some here seem to think virtue signalling, not a phrase I like much , but appropriate now, is the New Liberalism.

    With a wife once upon a time from America, can I say , this particular element of a ,sort of ,modern ,American liberalism, virtue signalling deluxe , is precisely why the centre, centre left, and left are regularly ,and recently, discredited in the US , leading, not to the progressive Shangri La the virtue signallers supposedly crave, but to , Trump !

  • Mick Taylor 1st Jul '17 - 8:00pm

    No leader will ever be perfect, but reading these tweets you would think people want the leader to be as infallible as the archangel Gabriel. Come to think of it, if our leader was the archangel Gabriel some LDV writers would complain he hadn’t dealt satisfactorily with the issue of angels on pinheads!
    For once I agree with David Raw

  • Riccardo Sallustio 1st Jul '17 - 8:12pm

    Thank you, James for sharing your views on the Salisbury Convention. If so, the House of Lords would then have a pivotal role in the Brexit process, and our peers would play an important part in it. Any policy on Brexit would require clarity of vision, consistency of message, setting of priorities as well as proper assessment of consequences. Our party, whether we like it or not, has the honour and the burden of representing the remainers, the young people who are being let down by Labour and the EU citizens in the UK and the Brits in the EU. It is up to us to deliver on this: if we are unable or unwilling to do it, we should speak out and say so sooner rather than later. If instead we are ready to take this onerous challenge, then we should do so with passion and with no ifs and no buts.

  • That’s big of you, Mick.

  • @ James Baillie

    “I likewise reject the view that migration is inherently a harmful thing”

    If one individual migrates to another country there are no great harmful effects, there might be a small amount of family harm. However if all the young people from a country migrate this causes great harm to the country they left. There are opportunity costs of immigration. If an employer employs migrant workers and pays them as little as possible the missed opportunities are for the people who were not employed because they needed higher wages to take the job; the missed opportunity of investing in new equipment so less people would need to be employed at higher wages. Being able to migrate benefits the individual who migrates but can cost those left behind and those who lose the opportunity of employment which is taken by the migrant. According to Mark Park social liberalism is about reducing inequalities while I would say that economic liberalism is concerned more with a smaller state, free markets and more individualism. Therefore it can be said that supporting the idea that every individual in the world should be able to live and work in the UK is an economic liberal position, while believing the movement of labour should be restricted so the poorest in society can benefit more and reduce inequalities in society is a social liberal position. Liberals support the idea of reducing economic inequalities across the world and therefore some might say that once the economic pressures on people to move to better themselves have been removed everyone should have the freedom to live and work anywhere in the world.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 2nd Jul '17 - 12:13am

    As I made some of the same points , Michael BG does , here , earlier , and was pilloried for it , it is nice to have someone saying things similar , as he does on freedom of movement , economic and social liberalism, and David Raw , on Sir Vince and the existential need to concentrate on more than attacking or criticising the leader to be , and other colleagues when we endeavour to consider things , like Sir Vince , sensibly.

    Appreciated that Eddie is the only one who actually seems to support more readily, here, and is directly effected by the issue in his family, and yet so fair.

    I am glad I have regularly called on him and encouraged him to join the party as others criticised him at times, and his doing so , being a member now is very welcome.

  • Mick Taylor 2nd Jul '17 - 5:57am

    @David Raw. I was just making the point that if two people who often disagree actually agree on something, they must be right!

  • @ Mick Taylor Fair do’s, Mick. Point taken.

    In practice I think we agree on most things – certainly on Trident. Knowing your geographical background, I’d place myself as sympathetic to the position of Charles Trevelyan in Elland in 1914.

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