Tag Archives: dick taverne

LibLink: Dick Taverne: The MP who beat Eurosceptics to hang on to his seat

A passionately pro European MP faces deselection by an anti-European local party. What happens then?

You could imagine this scenario unfolding for a fair few MPs today, but one person actually had this happen to him  and he survived. In 1972, Dick Taverne’s local Labour Party in Lincoln deselected him or voting for us to join the then Common Market.

It wasn’t the end of the world for him. He resigned as an MP and fought the subsequent by-election as an Independent and won.

He writes about his experience in this week’s New European to give moral support to any MPs in a similar situation today.

What also swayed a lot of votes was my appeal that politicians should put country first, constituency second and party third.

Burke proved popular. Indeed Roy Jenkins, not a natural populist, temporarily became a popular hero and told me that taxi drivers would wind down their windows if they passed him and shout: “You stick to your guns, mate.”

Are circumstances less favourable for a deselected dissident today? They are probably more favourable. At that time, party loyalties were much stronger than now. When I announced I would stand as an independent, the general view in the media was that I had committed political suicide.

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Lib Dem Lords vs the Article 50 Bill: Dick Taverne: Dictatorships don’t allow people to change their mind

The Lib Dem Lords have made some cracking contributions to the debate on the Article 50 Bill. Ahead of its next Lords stages, we’re bringing you all the Lib Dem contributions over the course of this weekend. That’s no mean feat. There were 32 of them and cover more than 30,000 words. You are not expected to read every single one of them as they appear. Nobody’s going to be testing you or anything. However, they will be there to refer to in the future. 

Our Lords excelled themselves. Their contributions were thoughtful, individual, well-researched and wide-ranging and it’s right that we present them in full on this site to help the historian of the future. 

Dick Taverne looked at the nature of democracy and concluded that the people must be allowed to change their mind. He also spoke about parliamentarians having a duty to speak out against the country taking a disastrous course of action.

My Lords, like the noble Lord, Low, who is not in his place at the moment, I want to talk about democracy. I never thought that, one day, speaker after speaker in a Commons debate, on an issue of immense significance for Britain’s future, would announce that, although they believed that Brexit would gravely damage our national interests, they would nevertheless vote to leave because the will of the people must be obeyed. They did not say, “Of course, we have to take the decision of the people very seriously, but in the end we have to make up our own minds”; they declared, in effect, that they were not in Parliament to exercise their own judgment but were delegates who had to vote the ticket of populist correctness.

Out goes the tradition of parliamentary democracy, with its checks and balances; out go Locke, John Stuart Mill and others, who created liberal democracy, which has been much admired; and out goes Edmund Burke, who argued that MPs were representatives, not delegates. The doctrine of Rousseau now rules in Westminster, that the will of the people must always prevail, a doctrine much admired by autocrats ever since the days of Robespierre and the Committee of Public Safety. With great respect to my noble friend Lord Ashdown, the idea that the will of the people equals democracy or the national interest is a fallacy. Before the Second World War, Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin all commanded overwhelming public support and represented the will of the people. That hardly made them democrats or left their countries better off. Today Putin and Erdogan are among the most popular populists. They boast about their majority support. Are they democrats, even though they suppress dissent and trample on the rule of law?

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AD LIB Preview: The one with the kilt

AD LIB September 2013The September issue of AD LIB magazine hits subscribers’ doorsteps this weekend. And it’s wearing a very fetching kilt as Glasgow prepares to welcome the Liberal Democrats for Federal Conference. It even has Gaelic on the front cover. And a saltire, which is bound to annoy our nationalist friends, but, hey, they don’t own it.

There’s an article by someone you might recognise which mentions the Krankies and drinking cocktails out of a gramophone. I have to say that much of the cool stuff in that “Welcome to Glasgow” …

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Next week in the Lords: 8-11 October

Yes, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the House of Lords is back! And whilst I get to spend less time with my wife, legislation awaits. Will the death of Lords Reform change anything on the red benches? Just what are they going to discuss without it?

There are three Bills carried forward from before the summer recess;

As a gentle loosener after a summer of grouse shooting, light naps and memoir writing, Monday sees Day 6 of the Committee Stage of the Financial Services Bill, perhaps now …

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  • User AvatarSean Hagan 21st Jan - 12:04am
    David, I obviously meant Lib Dem, not Lib Cem! (It’s getting late - so it’s now goodnight from me.)
  • User AvatarSean Hagan 20th Jan - 11:52pm
    @David Raw - 10.51pm Sadly, you’re most probably right that it is unlikely, largely for the reasons that you’ve stated. I’ve been a loyal Lib...
  • User AvatarMartin 20th Jan - 11:26pm
    The somewhat strange vote of confidence means that May can struggle on, priding herself on her inflexibility, yet delaying the Brexit problem as much as...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 20th Jan - 10:51pm
    @ Sean " suspending normal party political rivalries and fighting that election (in Scotland at least) as a ‘Stop Brexit’ Coalition …. " Very unlikely....
  • User AvatarSean Hagan 20th Jan - 10:23pm
    @David Raw - thanks for posting the excellent speech by Betty Boothroyd; she’s clearly as sharp and incisive as ever and certainly doesn’t mince her...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 20th Jan - 9:31pm
    He wasn't perfect, but I'd say Obama did pretty well on the whole. He did what he could with Obamacare. His main achievement was to...