Remember when all we had to worry about was Ed Miliband forgetting to mention the deficit?

Remember when Ed Miliband made his last leader’s speech before the 2015 election and he forgot the bit that had the deficit in it? To be honest, it was quite incredible that he managed to memorise an entire speech and deliver it without an autocue. It was just a shame that the bit he missed out was about something so politically important.

At least it was there, though.

Today, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell made a speech ahead of the budget that barely mentioned Brexit or the single market. There is an argument, I suppose, that they don’t need to. I mean, why go to all the effort when the No 10 comms unit can do it for you.

I was in the Houses of Parliament the other night at a Federal Board meeting. The peers in the room had to leave the meeting to go and vote on the amendment to the Article 50 Bill that would have protected our place in the single market. They came back shocked at what they had seen. Three Labour whips had been standing directing their peers away from voting for the amendment. That’s as aggressive as it ever gets in the Lords in terms of party discipline so it’s a big deal.

McDonnell’s speech today did briefly mention the vote last night to protect the rights of EU nationals in this country but is as far as it went. Brexit is the biggest challenge to face this country in generations. The economic cost is massive. It will make the current austerity look like a walk in the park. Not a word from the Shadow Chancellor.

Our Susan Kramer noticed the omission, saying:

Labour have nothing to say on the biggest threat to our public finances and living standards, the Government’s rush towards a hard Brexit.

We are facing  a £100 billion Brexit black hole in the budget, yet John McDonnell failed to mention the Single Market once in his speech.

The simple truth is you can’t have a hard Brexit and strong NHS and social care services.

The best way to ensure our public services are properly funded is to stop this Government’s reckless plans to leave the Single Market.

I have been infuriated by the Labour Party in my time. The way that they neglected the communities over which they had unchallengeable power for decades, their sense of entitlement to power and their disrespect for anyone who dared challenge them from my earliest political days made me distrust the party. However, I don’t think I have ever been so ashamed of them as I am at the moment. Not even over Iraq, which was a humanitarian catastrophe in that country and a reputational disaster for this country.

It’s hardly surprising that, for the first time, we have raised more money in a quarter than Labour – only just, but it’s significant. People recognise that we, despite our depleted parliamentary numbers have the potential to build a game-changing momentum to stop us heading to a monumental disaster.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • the Unfinished Comment piece….

  • nigel hunter 2nd Mar '17 - 3:25pm

    Is it possible that COrbyn wants the country to slide into poverty,loose his MPs have the Tories in power in 2020 so that people can riot in the streets to bring his dream of a socialist revolution into action? After all only the Tories will be well off then the rest of us will scramble for crumbs.

  • @Nigel hunter

    That may well be their plan, the problem is if people revolt they are unlikely to follow established politicians, more likely to be someone as yet unknown and unheard.

  • Michael Cole 3rd Mar '17 - 11:46am

    Corbyn and his acolytes are a symptom of the malaise of the Labour Party, not the cause of it.

    Labour claims to represent the ‘working class’, the poor and underprivileged. For far too long they have let ‘our people’ down with empty promises and failure to deliver, locally and nationally. The so-called moderates are to blame, not just the Corbynites.

    Far from being a progressive party they are an obstacle to progressive politics. Let’s have no more talk of electoral pacts and deals with them. It is our duty and mission to complete the utter demise of Labour and replace them. We are beginning to do exactly that.

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