Tag Archives: eu referendum

Vince, Brexit and inequality: a day at the Social Liberal Forum Conference

Vince  Cable SLF Conference 2016The alarm call at 4:30 was pretty brutal. I suppose it was my own fault. I could have been sensible and not have drunk large quantities of wine at a wonderful dinner with friends and got home before 12:30, but you only live once and all that.

So, I felt a little weary heading off to London for the Social Liberal Forum’s annual conference.

The event took place in the Resources for London building – definitely worth going to if you are planning a similar event. It’s a super space with halls and breakout rooms all on one floor. Our Mary Reid has a leading role in organising this event every year and she always does a brilliant job. Everything is run with efficiency and the programme is planned so that there is enough time for socialising and networking.

The theme of the day was Inequality Street, looking at the various types of inequality in our country, why it’s so bad and how we deal with it. It was based around the 2009 book The Spirit Level, which showed that the countries with the highest levels of inequality also had the highest levels of all manner of social problems.

The day started with a minute’s applause to remember two great social liberals we’ve lost this year – Eric Avebury and David Rendel.

The vote to leave the EU meant a significant re-jigging of the programme to give us an opportunity to discuss the implications of the vote and what we should do about it. Investigative journalist Shiv Malik, Jonny Oates, David Howarth, Lindsay Northover and Sal Brinton shared their thoughts with us. 

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Engaging with disgruntled Leave voters

Beside the ongoing drama around Westminster, there’s an urgent task to be done among those who voted to leave the EU and are beginning to regret it. This is crucial for the country, and wise for us as well.

I’m thinking of those taken in by false “promises” — there isn’t an extra £350 million a week for the NHS, or an end to free movement of people, Brexit doesn’t mean an end to fishing quotas, and “taking back control” now sounds like a joke. They were already alienated and this is not helping.

We’re hearing stories of Brexit hitting places that voted for it: Lush moving from Poole, Forterra mothballing plants in Accrington and Claughton. Vacancies and job prospects are down. We need a more constructive response than a brutal “You voted for it”.

If Labour were acting as a proper opposition rather than embroiled in in civil war, they would be highlighting further betrayals from the Tories: most startling is the abandoning of plans to move to a budget surplus. If it were to be so quickly abandoned now, why was it clung to for so long despite fuelling misery for millions? How many voted Leave because of that pain?

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A Dutch liberal MEP’s perspective on Brexit

Last week, Dutch MEP Sophie in”t Veld made a speech in the Parliament about Brexit. Conference goers will remember her from Bournemouth last year where she gave a keynote speech.

Here are a few key quotes:

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Be optimistic post Brexit

The best thing you can do for your country now is to be optimistic about the opportunities ahead. This nation does its very best when dealing with a problem and working out a solution. A trading nation, an outward looking people, both hallmarks of the UK for many years, with no sign of our zeal for global trade and responsibility to be a global force for good diminished. We should not allow those who can only see doom and gloom to dominate the discussion of the way ahead, instead, we should listen most to those who principally see opportunity as the brightest future, and will strive tirelessly to achieve and negotiate excellent outcomes for Britain, the remaining EU and indeed our worldwide trading partners.

Nor should we forget our responsibility to othersÖ The UK has had a proud record of achievement in providing foreign aid, and getting involved on the ground in situations that are desperate. We are no stranger to difficult situations, providing leadership, resources, direction and real hope to many. In such ways, Britain has remained Great, and that same spirit to engage with the difficult decisions, create positive change, and tackle major directional changes is exactly what is required now on our own shores.

As Liberal Democrats, we have an opportunity at conference to consider our response and create policy that protects the principles we hold dear whether the UK is in or out of EU. In my view, campaigning to rejoin the EU would be a mistake and be out of step with many of those who are looking for a party to vote for post UKIP, however we should be very active in promoting a pro ‘working together’ agenda as we have for many years. We should reach out to our contacts and continue to display what is bright and good about the UK, its people, its businesses and its future.

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Hopefully this will be the last stunning day in British politics for a while

Well, well, well. Yet another stunning day in British politics.

There we were expecting two months of two candidates touring constituency Conservative parties. And then suddenly we hear that we’ll have a new Prime Minister on Wednesday evening.

Our Prime Minister exits the stage humming a bar of the West Wing ending theme tune.

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Engaging Young People in Politics


In the lead up to the EU Referendum young people were seen as the demographic that could decide whether the United Kingdom leaves or remains in the EU. There were all sorts of ideas to get young people to register, David Cameron was on tinder, “Register to vote” geo-filters were on Snapchat and even Facebook was notifying people of the registration deadline. On paper it seems like this would work, as a young person, I use all of those apps on my Smartphone. I was reminded of it constantly and I expect frequent users of either of these apps were too.

When the registration deadline was extended after the website crashed two hours before it was supposed to close, there were some rather vocal members of the Leave Campaign stating that it should have closed regardless and it was clear they were worried that a 48-hour extension could hinder the hopes of a Leave vote.

Where did it go wrong then? I was at University at the time of this and all my friends were registered. A recent study by Opinium has revealed 64% of 18-24 year olds turned out to vote which is the lowest out of the age groups, for example the same study found that 90% of over 65’s voted. Those 18-24 year olds who did vote, voted overwhelmingly in favour of remaining however.

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The EU: did we ever really belong?

In just over two weeks pro-EU people have gone from despondency to incredulity as we have seen a succession of Conservative MPs topple each other over Europe, seemingly unconcerned about the damage that has been done to the country by the Leave vote. The Labour Party too are in disarray over this issue and only the Lib Dems are going forward on a pro-EU footing – even though it looks like the country is now heading for the exit door.

But Europe has actually been a divisive issue for political leaders since we first joined the EEC in 1973 and this whole saga, sadly, feels like the final scene in a 40-year soap opera. The political pundits tell us that Europe was the undoing of John Major, and David Cameron has now lost his job because of it. And ever since we joined, successive governments would go to Brussels with the begging bowl, always wanting special treatment for Britain, rather than wanting to get stuck in and build a better Europe.

It seems to me that many of our leaders – and clearly many in the nation at large – never really embraced Europe or, perhaps, even understood it. Many people just wouldn’t know that over many years, a lot of our best social and environmental legislation originated from laws passed in Brussels, and that much infrastructure was built in the poorer regions of the UK with EU money. It has now entered our common folklore that the most searched for term on Google the day after the Referendum was, “What is the EU?”

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The EFTA/EEA Norway model provides some scope to lessen the pain of Brexit, while increasing control over immigration

One of the legacies of the Leave’s irresponsible, hotch-botched campaign is that, in the public mind, leaving the EU has become inextricably intertwined with leaving the single market and eschewing free movement of goods, services, capital and people. We need to move beyond this binary thinking, which is bordering on the moronic.

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Lib Dem policy now


In a way the recent focus on the EU has been a distraction from the things we ought to be talking about and campaigning on. There are many good reasons to want to be inside rather than outside, but there are also many good things to work for whether in or out.

Our political and economic elites are almost entirely neoliberal in heart and doctrine, determined to reduce the power of the state and increase that of corporations, despite the world, with the end of the Soviet empire a generation ago, having moved beyond the phase that made that an attractive proposition for stability. Thus we find ourselves with a choice between being beholden to a neoliberal elite on a European scale, or a neoliberal elite on a countrywide scale (the size of the country yet to be determined). Put in these terms, the choice is unappealing, but, all other things aside, given the option, I would still plump for being in the EU, as human rights were woven into its institutions and practices before the neoliberals came along, and woven in so firmly that they have been unable to do winkle them out.

But, in or out, we find ourselves in a fundamentally divided world, in which inequality grows by the minute. Not just inequality in income but in security, worth, identity and a whole host of other fundamental criteria.

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WATCH: Alex Cole-Hamilton’s speech to March for Europe: No Tory civil war will take our EU identity away

“If you change your mind, I’m the first in line” from Abba’s Take a Chance on Me was not quite what we expected to come blaring out of the PA system at the Young European Movement’s rally after the March for Europe in Edinburgh this afternoon. The good tunes just kept coming, though, with Dancing Queen and the Proclaimers 500 miles featuring as well.

There was a pretty big turnout, which was amazing given that the event was up against Andy Murray winning his second Wimbledon men’s singles title.

The Lib Dem contingent was pretty big, too. We were led by Edinburgh Western MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton who gave a stonking speech. We are here, we are united, and we are citizens of the European Union, he told the crowd. He told people from elsewhere in the EU living here that this was their home, they are our family and they are welcome here. His speech was extremely well received by the crowd. Watch it here.

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The referendum: What were people voting about?

Two articles give much food for thought about the referendum. The Independent’s “Austerity and class divide likely factors behind Brexit vote” finds that 60% of the country self identfy as working class and have strong views on immigration, benefits and the unemployed. The report also mentions anti-establishment feelings towards bureacracy and government. The social mobility of the second half of the twentieth century, which saw many working class people move into middle class jobs has all but ended so the possibility of social mobility as a route to security is no longer available. The article also notes short terms changes in that in the years immediately following the 2008 crash there was high approval for austerity, but that has now lessened, with views on related issues, such as the proper rate for benefits, being confused. There is also a mixed pattern with regard to stress and freedom at work and also towards the ideas of coalition and voting reform.

The Guardian’s “Meet 10 Britons who voted to leave the EU” outlines a series of views from leave voters about what they were voting for and against.

The views expressed resonate with the idea that people were voting against the EU as representing the interests of the elite and not the interests of ordinary people. This quote sums up that view:

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Liberal Democrats must seize the moment

Both the main parties are currently paralysed as political forces by their leadership battles. The Government is leaderless, the country at a standstill politically. This is our moment to assert our right to be heard as former and future political leaders, and force our presence on the airwaves and on social media. Moreover if the right-wing press will not accept our voice, this is surely the moment to invest in national advertising.

The week of the Chilcot report is the time to remind the country that it was the Liberal Democrats who opposed the attack on Iraq, along with a great mass of the public whose voices were also ignored. We should now claim again to represent the majority of the public, not by ignoring the result of the Referendum, but by acknowledging the many doubts that were felt by people voting either way, and pledging to try to meet the needs that were  ignored by their self-obsessed leaders.

While the politicians of the two main parties fight for supremacy, we, the united Liberal Democrats, must fight for the people. With a growing recession, we must fight to protect the poorest, demanding government measures to alleviate probable rising food costs, and extra rises if necessary in the Living Wage. We should demand investment for growth, so that jobs can be created that are not just short-term or on zero-hours contracts, and social security reform to stop penalising those least able to protect themselves. We must insist on more funds for the NHS, more integration of health and social care – and also a welcome and thanks to the immigrant doctors and nurses and care workers. We should demand more social housing and some re-introduction of rent controls. We must develop economic policies which highlight the scandal of excessive pay rises for top executives, challenge the power of sophisticated predators linking hedge funds with top Tories, and promote greater equality through taxation.

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Catherine Bearder MEP writes…Thanks to all for a positive campaign

IntogetherThis has been a tough week for us all. It’s followed the hard work in the build-up to voting day, the exhaustion of the day itself and the dreadful night as the results saw the collapse of the political and structural certainties we have all come to understand.

Firstly I want to give a huge thanks to all those up and down the country who have worked their socks off campaigning to keep the UK in the EU. Ours was a positive, passionate and patriotic campaign. It was always going to be a tough fight, trying to reverse in a matter of weeks the anti-EU propaganda and anti-establishment mood that built up over many years. But the Lib Dems stood firm, and our thousands of activists can be proud that when the time came, they stood up for the values we hold dear and for what we believe was firmly in the national interest.

On my return to Brussels on Monday, the overwhelming mood amongst my fellow MEPs was not one of anger, but of huge shock and sadness. Sad that a country that they love and admire could be so led astray by the lies and deception of the Leave campaign, and sad for the millions of young people who overwhelmingly voted to remain but who are set to be deprived of the opportunities EU membership brings. There was a spontaneous sign written on the windows of the European Parliament that simply said: “We will miss you.” This is the real European Union. Not faceless bureaucrats, but real people from all over Europe working together, celebrating our differences and eccentricities and doing our best to respond to big common challenges. That’s a vision that millions of people in the UK share. And it’s one we must stand up for in the difficult months and years ahead.

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Beware the 1930s

My mind keeps going to parallels between the worlds of Brexit and Trump and what happened in Germany in the 1930s.

At the time of the referendum I was at the annual conference of the International Society for Psychoanalytic Study of Organisations. A gathering of people from across the world who are used to exploring unconscious processes was a rich context in which to explore what was going on under the surface.

By coincidence, on polling day one conference session was intended to focus on ethical dilemmas. We were shown short films on two famous psychological experiments, the Milgram experiment and the Stanford experiment which are controversial both because people were harmed, and because they shed light on how civilised people can come to behave badly. They have been used to understand what happened in the concentration camps, but are much more widely applicable than that.

The ensuing discussion seemed a little dry, as if there was something important which was being avoided. I took the microphone and made a link with some of the violence of the referendum: the murder of Jo Cox, an incident in a supermarket where someone I had seen earlier in a Vote Leave stall was shouting at a cashier planning to vote Remain, and some very aggressive comments from Leave supporters in door-knocking in the campaign. This is not to accuse Vote Leave of orchestrating violence, but it suggests something was being mobilised (which has become more obvious since then). I commented on the dark streak in Europe: along with our capacity to be civilised, there is a capacity to behave in very destructive ways. I expressed my fear that this was close to the surface in the referendum and struggled with tears as I commented on the way the EU has been set up to contain that destructive streak in the European psyche, and the fears evoked by some in the UK wanting to pull away from that. I was met with a round of applause.

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Kick off the sandals and get on the DMs


12000 new Lib Dems in 7 days.  Wow.  That’s a lot of angry people.  Just the tip of the iceberg though: there are millions more angry people marching to Westminster and angry people venting on Facebook.

Tim Farron is resonating with them.  Why?… because he and we are all angry.  On 24th June 2016 we woke up in a country that is no longer tolerant, open, progressive or friendly.  Love not Leave: we want our country back.


Although this is about the EU for the angry mob, we are about so, so much more than that.

Liberalism is living life how you choose without oppression and without oppressing others: a value all modern Brits hold dear.  Brexit has woken-up the inner-Liberal of the digital generation.  We need to help them into a new dawn.

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What about the languages?


With the referendum already having had a number of impacts on the value of the pound and the political stability of the UK, what impact will it have on the education of future generations and, more specifically, regarding language education?

It seems that people forget what a huge influence the European Union has had on our workers’ rights and the contribution towards farmers, the NHS, Cornwall… this list could go on forever, but has anyone really thought about the ability for our children to learn languages? Language education is already at risk due to Nicky Morgan and the rest of the department for education, with the majority of language teachers having to teach at least two languages, with French being the main language and a number of schools not offering German or Spanish, despite Spanish growing in popularity.

According to the European Commission, the Barcelona European Council called for action “to improve the mastery of basic skills, in particular by teaching at least two foreign languages from a very early age”, yet 14% of young people still lack basic knowledge of even one language and, with A Levels of languages rapidly decreasing, it wouldn’t be a surprise if a large portion of the 14% was from the UK.  Every year the news reports that the number of modern foreign languages is falling and does leaving the EU mean that this shall continue? Although the English Baccalaureate is going to be made compulsory as of September, what will leaving the EU mean for A Level or University uptake?

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Is anti-Brexit the only Lib Dem response? It can’t be

After voting for the Conservative party in the last General Election, I abruptly left the Conservatives and joined the Lib Dems. It appears over 10,000 people have taken a similar step in joining the Party since the EU Referendum. Every extra member is a positive BUT c.98% of the population are not members of political parties. It is the 98% this Party must attract on General Election day (importantly, date TBC).

I am not advocating populist policies. I do not want Tim Farron to mimic Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, or even Donald Trump. What I want is for the Lib Dems …

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LibLink: Nick Clegg calls for general election before article 50 is activated

Nick Clegg Q&A Liverpool Spring conference 2015 Photo by Liberal Democrats

In today’s Guardian Nick Clegg has been making the case for calling an early General Election before any steps are taken towards Brexit.  He writes:

Who would have thought? The Conservative party, the party of continuity and tradition, is now the cause of the greatest constitutional crisis in modern times. The party of business is now the source of reckless economic turmoil. The natural party of government is now presiding over paralysis in Westminster and Whitehall. The party of the British bulldog spirit is now leading our great country towards rudderless introspection.

He adds:

This cannot go on. Somehow we must navigate the country through the months ahead. The government not only finds itself without leadership, it has no plan, no consensus and no clue about what it wants to do in the future. The only thing it agrees on is that the UK should leave the EU. But how, when and to what end all remain unanswered. It enjoys a mandate to quit, but no mandate as to how this should be done.

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Post-Brexit: We need to embrace plan B

Flag of EFTA

Tim Farron is playing a blinder at the moment. Our clear support of the European Union, while accepting the referendum result, is absolutely right.

But we need a dual track approach here. We need to have an alternative to EU membership lined up. “Plan B”, if you like.

It seems to me that rejoining the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) (we left in 1973 after 13 years membership) and staying in the European Economic Area (EEA), is the answer to the current UK post-Brexit conundrum.

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Leading the 48%

There is a reason why the Liberal Democrats were born to lead the 48%; it’s because we have always been on the side of the minority. Admittedly, at nearly half of those who voted, 48% is a pretty astoundingly large minority. But perhaps that is exactly why this is such an exciting moment for us. By pledging to take Britain back to the heart of Europe, we have taken on the leadership of the largest, most energised and inspired minority of voters to emerge in modern times.

For years we have sought to find a core of voters who share our fundamental values of liberal tolerance and internationalism, and indeed for years we have suffered when international issues have been relegated to the second division of political discussion. Here, now, before us, is the national sentiment that most befits our attitudes; frustration and anger towards the nationalists and the isolationists, but also passion and drive to force Britain to be the kind of member of the international community that it ought to be. It is the kind of climate where just being our liberal selves makes us poised to lead the way, and crucially, be instantly understandable to a vast portion of the electorate.

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Should Parliament put a stop to Brexit?

Most suggestions for resolving the “What the (insert expletive of choice) do we do now?” conundrum tend to involve various degrees of access to the Single Market or a General Election. Few are brave enough to suggest that Parliament simply declines to invoke Article 50. Until now.

Professor A C Grayling, Master of the New College of Humanities in London, has written to all MPs telling them that they have a responsibility not to support any such motion. He lists several reasons, not least the paucity of the campaign, the likelihood of the break up of the UK if we leave the EU and the fact that the threshold for such a huge change was set way too low. He has a point. You can’t change the number of places on a toddler group committee without a 2/3 majority. When the party conference considers a vast swathe of constitutional amendments in September, they will need a 2/3 majority to pass. With hindsight, you have to wonder why on earth we let such a major change through on a simple majority.

Harvard’s Professor Kenneth Rogoff agrees that the threshold is too low:

In terms of durability and conviction of preferences, most societies place greater hurdles in the way of a couple seeking a divorce than Prime Minister David Cameron’s government did on the decision to leave the EU. Brexiteers did not invent this game; there is ample precedent, including Scotland in 2014 and Quebec in 1995. But, until now, the gun’s cylinder never stopped on the bullet. Now that it has, it is time to rethink the rules of the game.

Grayling isn’t a fan of referenda anyway:

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WATCH: Nick Clegg slams “brazen, industrial-scale lies” peddled by Leave campaign

In an emotional and angry speech to Hammersmith and Fulham Liberal Democrats on Friday night, Nick Clegg set out his fury at the result of the EU Referendum. He emphasised how funders of the Leave campaign had their own interests for a low-regualation economy resulting from Brexit:

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Tom Brake MP: After Brexit negotiations, give people another chance to have their say

Tom BRake speaking on pavement Two Chairmen pub London 2nd July 2016 #marchforeuropeAfter yesterday’s March for Europe in London, some Liberal Democrats repaired to the Two Chairmen pub in Westminster. As I approached, I became aware of a speech taking place. It was Tom Brake MP (right), on the pavement outside the pub, giving an impromptu view of the EU situation, and answering questions. It was, in many ways, a return to old-fashioned democracy. Certainly Tom gave a fascinating commentary on what might happen next.

Thanks to my colleague Joe Otten, who videoed most of the speech, I have been able to transcribe here much of what Tom said. He started by saying how much he was worried about eastern European countries, such as the Czech Republic and Poland, and how they might react to Brexit. He said that Poland’s people are in favour of the EU, broadly, but that their government might use Brexit as a trigger against the EU.

He went on:

We’ve got to fight.

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Listening, not just hearing

I have had several requests through facebook from voters on both sides of the EU issue on how to find a healthy, positive way forward. As deeply upset as many of us still are, it is difficult to think in positive, helpful terms when there still so much anger about this referendum taking place at all.

But I have put some thought into this and wish to share some ideas. In conflict resolution and mediation, lot of weight is placed on listening. This is a deep kind of listening, not one in which words are heard and then our point of view put forward, ‘but, but, but….’ Having done a fair bit of EU speaking and hustings, I am familiar with the riposte and parry required in refuting arguments and arguing a case.

Deep listening is understanding what is behind the words a person is saying. Many have suggested that much of the ‘leave’ vote was an anti-establishment vote, not an anti-EU vote. Tim Farron has pointed out that worries over housing, lack of school places and an under-resourced NHS were salient factors in the ‘leave’ vote.

I would further suggest that fear is behind many of the views of those who voted against the referendum. We live in a global world, a shrinking world, one that is quickly changing with technological advances. Those who voted leave, among them the majority older people, I suggest would like a return to a simpler world of pen and paper, not email, where everyone knows everyone in the village and stays there their entire life. But that is not the world young people live in – we train in different cities and countries, we work around the UK and in the rest of the world, we fall in love and have relationships which transcend borders. Younger people understand and embrace a fluid, global world. Many older people are frightened by it.

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Why march today?

This is just to follow up my earlier post to talk about why we marched today. These are my personal views.

Since the referendum, there has been an increase in racial abuse directed at people in this country. One of the things I was marching for was to stay loud and clear that immigrants are welcome in this country.

Secondly, I was marching for the 48% of people who voted “remain”, to say that we stand with you, we believe the UK’s future lies in positive co-operation with our European partners. I was marching to say clearly that we believe that whatever settlement is worked through, visa vis our relations with the rest of Europe, we need to have those principles of co-operation and tolerance at the centre of our thinking.

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A very proud day for Liberal Democrats #marchforeurope

Wow! That was quite a day! I got up at 6am and decided, on the spur of the moment, to go up to London to join the Liberal Democrat contingent at the March for Europe.

After being fortified by a breakfast from a well known food outlet in Praed Street W1, I hot-footed it to the assembly point at the Cumberland Hotel.

I was the first Liberal Democrat there. Nah-nah-na-na-nah!

Actually I was so early I did a recce and walked on. Or I would have walked on, if I had not overheard a comment from one of the two smart, frock-coated, top hatted doormen of the very posh Cumberland Hotel. One of them said to the other:

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Tim and Vince write for the Times on the need for ministers to provide leadership on Brexit strategy

Tim Farron and Vince Cable have written for the Times’ Red Box website setting out what they think should happen in negotiations with the EU and in economic strategy as we face a self-induced Brexit recession.

As Nick Clegg said before the referendum, so called Project Fear was understating the impact Brexit would have. We are also suffering a void of leadership and some very unrealistic thinking from the Brexit camp who, as we discovered, didn’t really have a plan.

We can’t hang about, they say:

Business and investors won’t wait around forever to see leadership.  Many first tier organisations will simply pack their bags and go unless they see a path ahead.  Meanwhile our smaller businesses, and particularly those in high risk/ high innovation sectors will feel the squeeze as bank lending dries up as it did in 2008.

Two things need to be done. You get the feeling this was filed before yesterday’s extraordinary events:

The first can only be done by leaders of Leave – those who wish to lead us into the new unknown – and in particular, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove.  They must now show his vision for the UK and provide a clear plan for Britain’s relationship with the EU.  To reassure the market they, and other potential prime ministers, need to make clear that membership of the single market is the priority ask for any negotiations.  Businesses need to know that, whatever else, their key relationships will not have to fundamentally change.

It will require real leadership, rather than populist platitudes.  It may mean securing a deal which pleases no one and does not address many of the concerns raised by leave voters about immigration and freedom of movement.  Leading is about making choices, it’s now time for Boris and Gove to tell us theirs.

The second urgent priority must be the responsibility of the current government.  There is now every likelihood of a Brexit recession.  If the government acts now, by abandoning its already unnecessary financial straitjacket and allowing capital investment and stimulus support to flow into precarious parts of our economy, we might avoid the worst impacts on jobs and livelihoods. The economy could be stimulated through the Network Rail Capital Project and local authorities being allowed to borrow to build houses. The £250bn the governor of the Bank of England has put aside could be put into the Funding for Lending and the Regional Growth Fund.

Of primary concern must be our most innovative industries.  Those businesses on the cutting edge are likely to see funding from traditional financial institutions dry up as banks revert to their core business model.  Giving serious financial help and stability to these industries is vital to ensure their long term future in the UK.

The British Business Bank, set up by the Lib Dems in Government, is a crucial part of the support for business that’s needed:

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Letter to a friend: Why I’m so upset about the Referendum result

No, my friend, my lodger. I don’t ‘feel better’ this evening than I did this morning, nor will I ‘get over’ this in a couple of days. Here’s why.

I want to express, calmly but passionately, why I am so distraught about the result of the referendum. I voted remain, primarily because I was, and am, intellectually convinced it was by far the better option, but also because I am, in my very being, a European. I am not arguing in any way against the outcome of the referendum. I am confident that it was fairly conducted. However, I am not comfortable about being asked, or sometimes told, that that’s the way democracy works and I just have to come to terms with it. Here are the reasons why.

I have a French surname. I was born and raised in Jersey, to a Jersey father and English mother. I learnt to speak French quickly. All our school trips were to France, sport competitions were against neighbouring French teams and we had partnerships with French youth orchestras. I was ‘adopted’ by a French family with whom I am still in contact. France is in my blood. In my twenties I moved to live there, in Angers. I bought a flat and had three of the happiest years of my life there. I was embraced by the French, got very involved in French life and have ongoing friendships with people there too. Looking back, I’m not sure why I left, but I moved to the UK to do a second degree. Apart from my three years at music college aged 19 to 22, it was the first time I’d lived in England.

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Vince Cable writes…The birth of the 48 movement

For our party and its supporters in the country the last few years have brought one defeat after another:  local councils, devolved government, national government, AV referendum, now the EU referendum.  There is a limit to the number of times a boxer can climb back up off the floor.  What fortifies me is the adage that winners are losers who never give up.  And perhaps we should think bigger: not as a small party with an 8% core vote but the centre of gravity of a broad movement of 48% of voters who chose Remain.

The first step in responding to defeat has been to look for scapegoats: the people who led a poor and failing campaign.  Cameron has gone and (hopefully) Corbyn and Osborne are going.   But in truth the Remain campaign as a whole failed to grasp the strength of the opposing coalition: not just conservative pensioners who want the past back but the’ left behind ‘who have suffered declining living standards and public services, the Commonwealth voters who felt Europe was at their expense and many who felt this was the best way to give an unpopular and unrepresentative government a good kicking.

That is why we have to approach the result with some humility.  There is nothing to be gained by denial: crying foul. We wuz robbed, ref.  I see petitions demanding a re-run, legal challenges and appeals to parliament to ‘do something’.  Dream on.  Of course the Leave campaign was mendacious; of course the referendum shouldn’t have happened; of course parliament was negligent in not building in thresholds. But the public was clearly told by both sides that the result would be final. And there was a big turnout.  That is it..

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 132 Comments

How did our constituencies vote in the EU Referendum?

It’s obvious from the maps published after the referendum that several former Liberal Democrat seats voted remain – Cambridge, Bath, Cheltenham, Lewes and others. It’s equally obvious that plenty didn’t – all of them in Cornwall and Devon, for example. But because the results were counted and declared by local authority area, we haven’t been able to tell how individual constituencies voted – until now.

Chris Hanretty, Reader in Politics at the University of East Anglia, has tried to estimate how all the 574 Parliamentary seats in England and Wales voted (it’s a reasonable assumption that all or almost all Scottish seats voted remain). He’s taken each council area result and applied demographic factors – average age in the area, the proportion of residents with degrees, average income, etc. – which we know are strongly associated with voting leave or remain to break it down to constituency levels. He can’t be precise, of course, but his model fits reasonably well the results in the 26 local authority areas which are also parliamentary constituencies.

He expresses the result as an estimated leave vote with a prediction interval (i.e. a range of outcomes, since we can’t be precise) on either side. You can see his reasoning, and download the full spreadsheet here.

Based on his calculations, this is how all the seats Liberal Democrats won at the 2010 election break down, in descending order of the remain vote (seats we hold now are in bold):

Posted in News | Also tagged | 16 Comments

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