Tag Archives: labour

19-20 January 2019 – the weekend’s press releases

  • GP postcode lottery shows vital need for a national workforce strategy
  • Lib Dems: Car insurance rise shows cost of Brexit
  • Labour failing their duty as Official Opposition on Brexit
  • Fox’s failure to sign trade deals shows Brexiters’ ‘Global Britain’ does not exist
  • Corbyn isolated as over 100 Labour MPs set to back Lib Dem call for a people’s vote

GP postcode lottery shows vital need for a national workforce strategy

Responding to the analysis done by the BBC which shows the huge variation in the availability of GPs in different parts of England, Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Judith Jolly said:

Getting access to your GP should never

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Lib Dems want a People’s Vote to stop Brexit. Corbyn can’t say what Labour would do

The Sunday morning political programmes can be summarised as follows: Tory psychodrama (Sophy Ridge had three rounds of it), Labour obfuscation and Lib Dem consistency and clarity.

Just imagine that you were the Leader of the Opposition. You’re supposed to be showing leadership on the most important issue of most of our lifetimes. You talk about how you want a General Election, though you haven’t actually bothered to do anything to make one happen.

Then you’re asked what your policy in that General Election would be on the said major issue. Surely to goodness you would have something to tell people. You wouldn’t go on about how it still had to be decided by some party meeting. Surely you would have done that preparatory work already.  I mean, you’ve been going on about this General Election for months.

At least, if you wanted to show that you had even basic competence to run the country, you would be able to say where your party stood. If your policy was coming from principle and value, it would be instinctive.

Unfortunately, you don’t have to imagine any of this. It’s actually happening. The two paragraphs above is pretty much what Corbyn said on Marr this morning. And it’s pretty much what Rebecca Long-Bailey said on Sophy Ridge.

Corbyn did say, though, that if there was no General Election, he’d prefer a Brexit deal to a People’s Vote. He thinks he can go back to the EU and get what are essentially terms of full membership without being members. He said he wanted a customs union that enabled us to have a say in trade deals. And a unicorn that poos glittery rainbows. He didn’t say that last bit, but he might as well have done.

No wonder that Tom Brake tweeted:

Compare and contrast with a brilliant interview from Vince. He was incredibly clear and consistent.

  • Lib Dems want a People’s Vote because we oppose Brexit
  • Lib Dems oppose a Norway style compromise because we’d have all the expenses of EU membership but none of the say on policy
  • Cross-party working is happening and essential not just now but after this is all over to bring country together
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9 January 2019 – (the rest of) today’s press releases

You can hardly blame my editorial colleague for publishing one of today’s releases a bit earlier in the day than usual. After all, our unwritten constitution isn’t often redrafted on the hoof, as it were, as Parliament hurtles towards a possible unintended ‘no deal’ Brexit.

Is there anyone out there who can rally enough MPs behind them to at least apply the brakes?…

  • PM shamefully sides with Putin, not people (see here)
  • Lib Dems: People do not trust politicians to take the final decision on Brexit
  • Parliament ‘takes back control’ from a failing Govt (see here)
  • Corbyn letting down his party and country

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Biggest poll since EU Referendum says Labour will be punished if it enables Brexit

Labour would crash to a worse defeat than it suffered under Michael Foot if the party enables Brexit, according to a huge new poll. YouGov surveyed a huge sample of 25000 people and the results show that the party risks losing millions of supporters in two scenarios under which it either votes through some form of compromise deal or fails to order MPs to oppose Brexit.

These findings are consistent with the Channel 4 poll in November which showed that a majority of its 20,000 sample backed Remain.

The fieldwork was done over the Christmas holidays and was completed on Friday, so this is about as fresh as you can get.

It is amazing that current voting intention shows only 34% support for Labour, the main opposition party, at a time when the government is driving us over a no deal cliff that could see shortages of food and medicine.

The poll suggests that Labour’s vote would crash to 26 per cent – and 16 points behind the Conservatives if its MPs vote with the Tories to bring about Brexit. That would bring about Labour’s worst result since the 1930s. Maybe that’s the real reason that Corbyn has gone cool on a motion of no confidence.

The YouGov poll shows a majority for Remain under any scenario in a new referendum on the deal vs remain and no deal. 

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Liz Jarvis explains why she joined Lib Dems from Labour

I’ve been talking to Liz Jarvis, who joined the Lib Dems from Labour in the Summer a bit on Twitter. Remarkably, out of 700,000 people, we found each other to have a brief conversation at the People’s Vote march in October. She’s written for the Independent Voices website about why she joined us.

She was pretty involved in the Labour Party as a student and voted Labour throughout her adult life. When the Liberal Democrats went into coalition with the Tories, any positive feelings she had towards our party evaporated and she continued to vote Labour. But along came Jeremy Corbyn:

I might have remained “soft” Labour but for the perfect storm of Jeremy Corbyn and Brexit. The latter is quite simply anathema to me, not just because I’m the granddaughter of immigrants, but because I believe so strongly in freedom of movement, and that the evidence backs up the overwhelming truth that we are better off in the EU than we can possibly be out of it.

The Momentum-propelled adulation of Jeremy Corbyn left me cold. I was also increasingly uneasy about the accusations of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, and for the first time in my voting life I started to feel politically homeless.

Last summer I explained how I was feeling to a friend who had joined the Lib Dems, and he asked me why I was still supporting Labour. After a heated debate, the conclusion was tribalism. I had been clinging on to my political heritage and the promise of what might have been, had Blair not led Britain to war in Iraq, had Corbyn not become leader, had David Miliband stuck around or Ed not eaten that bacon sandwich.

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21-30 December 2018 – press release catch-up

You’d been wondering where I’d gotten to, hadn’t you? Well, following some consideration of how this regular feature works, I’ve decided to change it a bit. From now on, I’ll publish on Monday to Thursday inclusive, and on Sunday evening. My thinking is that politics goes a bit quiet when Parliament isn’t sitting, and one can develop a false expectation as to the flow of press releases from that.

And now, a catch up of press releases you’ve probably missed…

  • Lib Dem call to scrap Vagrancy Act gets Labour backing
  • Cable: Corbyn offers no real alternative
  • Govt must take no deal off the table

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17 December 2018 – today’s press releases

Another week begins, and the Press Team are back on the frontline.

I am reminded that press releases are not all that our Press Team do, thus what you see here is not a full reflection of their work. There are specialist press releases not necessarily appropriate for a wider audience, and the team work with editors and journalists to gain better coverage, or to bring issues to their attention, and support our Parliamentarians when they interact with broadcast or print media too.

Anyway, on with today’s selection for you to enjoy…

  • Lib Dems: Case for a People’s Vote has spread to very

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Wanted: A Leader of the Opposition who doesn’t help the Government wreck the country

It’s really hard to imagine an old revolutionary socialist keeping a right wing government in power, enabling them to take a destructive course virtually unhindered.

Really, at the moment, any decent opposition would be miles ahead in the polls. They would be taking advantage of every bit of parliamentary trickery they could to thwart the Government at every stage. Especially a government that doesn’t have a majority.

But, no. Everything Jeremy Corbyn does just helps out Theresa May.

Take his pretendy- No Confidence motion that he said he’s putting down today.. If you want to take down the Government, you do what it says in the Fixed Term Parliament Act and put down a motion of no confidence in the Government. The Commons Library has prepared a useful guide on how to do it. It’s not difficult.

He’s not done that. He’s done the equivalent of taking a marshmallow to a duel by making his motion of no confidence in the Prime Minister. It might succeed but nobody will care.

Nobody knows whether a proper motion of no confidence would succeed. The DUP might well back Theresa May but the Tory MPs from the 17th century could decide to bring her government down so that they can pursue their goal of not very splendid isolation. We just don’t know until we try. I actually think it is unlikely that Tory turkeys would vote for Christmas. Mind you, Corbyn doesn’t actually want to be in a position where he has to sort this mess out because his chances of commanding a majority in the Commons are even less than May’s. If there was an election, what manifesto would Labour fight on?

So, if he put down a proper motion of no-confidence and it failed, he would then have to go to the next thing on the list – a People’s Vote, which is the last thing on earth that an old socialist brexiteer like him actually wants. 

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Class politics, race and UKIP-phobia

We should always take class seriously, especially in England, if we want to understand the society we live in and the route to a fairer and happier society. That is not the same as taking class as a key driver for the creation of a political party, philosophy or programme.

Meanwhile this doesn’t stop us taking poverty utterly seriously. I was born in the poorest part of Newcastle, spent my working life as a Methodist minister in some of the poorest communities of the North of England, and In May this year I was elected for the third time in one …

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Unlike Labour, Lib Dem MPs will oppose Budget tax cut for better off

As I said on Monday, the bit that annoyed me most about the Budget was that better off people were getting  a tax cut when the benefit freeze continued and only a third of what was needed was put back into Universal Credit. Add to that the people who have their much-needed disability benefits cut back for the most arbitrary of reasons after deeply flawed assessments and you can maybe see why I am so fuming.

Astonishingly, Labour is backing the Tory plansalthough some may revolt.

So it’s good to see that Vince Cable will lead Liberal Democrats in voting against the tax cuts and asking for the £1.3 billion to be spent on reversing the cuts to social security. The press release actually says welfare, but I really wish they wouldn’t call it that. Social security is important for everyone. There needs to be a safety net to help those in the most difficult situations at any time. It’s what a civilised society does. It should be enabling and freely given, not grudgingly given with unreasonable expectations written into its heart as it is at the moment.

Vince said:

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New Labour ‘Brexit Fudge’ unveiled

To mark Jeremy Corbyn’s wishy-washy policy on Brexit, a new Labour ‘Brexit Fudge’ has been launched.

The Labour ‘Brexit Fudge’, which will be handed to activists at the ‘People’s Vote’ march in London today, is expected to be a bittersweet reminder of Jeremy Corbyn’s party fudging their position on giving the people a final say on Brexit.

Labour ‘Brexit Fudge’ has been described as a soft, dense sweet, handmade by the Labour leadership. The product will be on a limited release, exclusively for voters between now and March 29th 2019.

Tom Brake said:

Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour leadership have defied us all with their ‘Brexit fudge’. Inspired by Willy Wonka himself, the Labour’s opposition to Brexit is just ‘pure imagination’.

This ‘Brexit fudge’ will stick in the throat of most Labour voters. Given the damage Brexit will cause, Labour’s failure to oppose this Tory mess will be difficult to stomach.

But for Brexiters, Chef Corbyn’s ‘Brexit fudge’ will have them salivating. It will make their Brexit dreams that much sweeter. Indeed, it will go well with a glass of Raab’s confusing concoction and the Eton mess being served up by Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg.

While we know Corbyn likes a fudge, the number of Labour supporters marching for a People’s Vote should give him something else to chew on.

Liberal Democrats demand better. Only the Liberal Democrats are united in fighting Brexit and giving the people the final say, including the option to remain in the EU.

We’re told that the ingredients for 1kg of ‘Brexit Fudge’ include:

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Corbyn is right about inequality

Corbyn is clearly right to highlight the ‘grotesque inequality’ in our society. Wage growth has stagnated. Continued cuts are hitting the poorest hardest. And this generation is on set to be the first on living memory to be poorer than their parents.

Even if you try and ignore the unfairness, the evidence shows it harms productivity and creates the sort of ‘asset bubbles’ that caused the 2008 financial crisis.

But I have one question. Where are Labour’s answers?

At first glance the most radical is renationalisation. But this is nothing more than a recycled plan from the 1970s. It just tinkers at the edges of inequality, and carries significant risks for our future economic and energy security.

Next comes Labour’s big ticket spending item. Abolishing tuition fees. Our higher education system is far from perfect, but how many better ways could we spend £7.5 billion a year? What amounts to a tax cut for the middle classes does absolutely nothing to tackle inequality.

Most significantly, we have some Labour economic doublespeak –  ‘borrowing to invest’ in public services. While the NHS, for example, clearly does needs to be better funded, ‘invest’ falsely suggests that we get an economic return on borrowing for public services. That it will all be fine.

And this, maybe even more than Brexit, is the big danger of a Labour government. The government is already, as the Prime Minister admitted last week, spending more on paying interest alone than the entire schools’ budget. Labour’s borrowing plan would mean future generations would have to pay higher taxes and spend even less on public services.

We demand better. The Liberal Democrats have a genuine, radical plan to combat inequality.

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Can Lib Dems meet the Labour challenge?

Editor note – this article has been corrected to reflect our opposition to the proposed cut in corporation tax rates…

“Labour is offering a radical plan to rebuild and transform Britain”, Jeremy Corbyn declared at the recent Labour Conference. He said people knew the old way of running things wasn’t working any more, and boldly claimed that Labour had defined “the new common sense”.

Liberal Democrats had already agreed at our Conference, “The current British economy is simply not working for enough people today.” Passing the motion F27 on Jobs and Business, we had resolved “to work towards creating a new economy that really works for everyone.” This followed the declaration in our 2017 Manifesto that “We need a radical programme of investment to boost growth and develop new infrastructure.”

So how do the two programmes compare? The Labour plan described by McDonnell and Corbyn certainly offers radical transformative measures. They demand nationalisation of water, energy, railways and telecommunications. Companies of more than 250 employees are apparently to be obliged to grant 10% of their shares to their workers, to admit worker representatives on their boards and to allow every employee union rights. These and other overtly Socialist plans predictably have been viewed as a threat to capitalism.

We meantime had resolved, in passing motion F27, “Reforming the labour market to give control and choice back to workers, with additional rights for those in the gig economy, and a powerful new Worker Protection Enforcement Authority to protect those in precarious work.” We want a new Companies Act for the 21st Century to oblige large companies fully to reflect the interests of all stakeholders, serve the common good and be accountable for their actions, and for there to be mandatory reporting of pay ratios with “corrective action plans”. On share ownership, we are to seek a big boost to employee ownership by extending the Liberal Democrat ownership trust scheme. 

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Working through the LabCon trick

We all know that the duopoly of Labour and Conservative parties is awful. We all know that this particular lot are awful. So again, the question arises: why are we, and other parties like the Greens, flat-lining in the polls?

I have a theory about part of the cause and a suggestion for what to do about it. It is that lovely thing, the UK’s dysfunctional electoral system. The system does not just attribute different values to different votes; it also distorts how people cast their votes. Voting for who you most want runs the risk of helping elect whom you least want.  First Past the Post not only accentuates this risk, it is such that the risk is far greater for parties outside the duopoly than for either member of that duopoly.

That puts non-duopoly parties in a fix.

Every time we attack the Conservatives we not only differentiate ourselves from the Conservatives but also Labour from Conservatives, and vice versa. We may offer a benefit to make the risk of voting for us worthwhile, but we also offer the same benefit, against a much lower risk, for voting Conservative/Labour. If we criticise the Conservatives, we bolster the “we must get rid of the Tories” narrative, and the lowest risk way of doing that is to vote Labour. If we attack Corbyn, we feed into the “stop Corbyn” narrative, and the lowest risk way of doing that is to vote Conservative. The duopoly maintains a system so arranged that anytime another party criticises either of the duopoly parties the electorate’s benefit in sticking with that duopoly increases.

It’s a LabCon trick.

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Don’t be fooled by Labour’s posturing on #peoplesvote

In the last few days we’ve had some tantalising hints that Labour may be willing to support a public vote on the Brexit deal. John McDonnell said on Friday that Labour weren’t ruling it out. Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry said on Marr that if there were sufficient public demand, Labour might think again.

So should we all breathe a sigh of relief and think that this might happen any time soon?

Not a chance.

For a start, Emily Thornberry’s threshold to determine what might be a suitable level of public demand to get them to change their minds was 80-90%. You don’t get 80-90% of people backing anything. Even the Monarchy at the height of the much loved Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations  was only getting 75% support.

So let’s not hold our breath waiting for the Labour leadership to back a vote on the deal. But why are they doing this? It’s all part of their deliberate tactic of making their policy as ambiguous as possible. This is exactly what the Leave campaign did, too. Nobody understood what Brexit would mean because they tried to make sure that the details were as non-existent as possible.

The reason they’re drip-feeding it all now is because there are some important local elections coming up. A lot of them are in Remain voting metropolitan areas in places like London and Manchester. They must be getting some indication that their stance on Brexit is costing them so they are trying to make it sound like they might just go for the vote on the deal.

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Was Corbyn right to sack Owen Smith, after he advocated a referendum on the final terms of a Brexit deal?

One answer is horror: there’s a compelling case for asking the British public whether the Brexit that is negotiated is what they actually want — not least because the dishonest and contradictory messages from the Leave campaign mean that many who voted Leave will find a large gap between the deal that is offered and what they thought they had voted for.

But an Exit From Brexit means healing the deep divisions that it has exposed, not just a narrow vote the other way in a referendum. That means bringing across many of those who voted Leave, and engaging …

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Remembering the SDP

SDP logoThe events that led to the formation of the SDP were also formative years for me as a very young man becoming fascinated with politics.

I can recall Roy Jenkins giving the Dimbleby Lecture and the Labour party conference of 1980 when the left won every vote on key issues such as Europe and Defence.

Then the elevation of Michael Foot to the post of leader an election in which many had thought the moderate candidate Denis Healey would triumph.

James Callaghan had timed his resignation so that MPs would elect his successor before  a conference arranged to discuss changing the method of election was held at Wembley.

Callaghan knew that the conference would adopt an electoral college system widening the franchise to include trade unions and constituency parties.

This change would give a left wing standard bearer a much better chance of winning.

Healey bungled his chances by alienating key moderates and the dye was cast. It wasn’t long before he would face a strong challenge for the deputy leadership from Tony Benn.

By then Roy Jenkins, Shirley Williams, David Owen and Bill Rodgers had walked out of the party taking a substantial number of MPs with them.

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Willie Rennie: It’s time for pro EU progressives in Labour to speak out

This week, Willie Rennie gave a keynote speech to the David Hume Institute in Edinburgh. He said that all pro-Europeans must step up and called on particularly those supporters of the Labour Party who oppose Corbyn’s position to join with us to campaign against Brexit.

I know many in the Labour Party feel very frustrated by Jeremy Corbyn’s approach to Europe.

His long standing Bennite antipathy.

His lacklustre participation in the referendum.

His failure to put any real pressure on the Conservative Government.

His oscillating position on our future relationship with our neighbours.

When we look back at this time people will be astonished at the leader of the opposition.

Labour has a big responsibility.

It cannot stand by as we are made poorer, are more divided, and are rejecting our neighbours.

My warning to Labour moderates is this.

The people are running ahead of the people’s party. People want the final say on Brexit.

Jeremy Corbyn is not playing a long game on Brexit. He does not have a masterplan to swing into action at the last minute.

You will get to the last minute.

You will check your watch and he won’t be there but Brexit will be.

It is time for pro-EU progressives in the Labour Party to speak out.

To those who are angry and frustrated with their leadership now is the time to speak out.

Vague complaints about Brexit won’t be enough.

You need to show how to escape from it.

Join us to make that case before it is too late.

He also set out very clearly that Brexit is not inevitable:

If I started talking about life after Brexit people might think that even I think it is unstoppable, inevitable, irreversible.

So that is not what I will address this evening.

Especially as in 2018 people are starting to think again.

And we now know Article 50 can be stopped.

It’s remarkable that 20 months on from that vote, the UK Government is still no clearer on what it wants to achieve by Brexit beyond broad wishful thinking and formulaic incantations.

Tonight I am going to look at the new evidence on the costs of Brexit to the UK and Scotland.

I am going to show how the public is taking note of these costs and that minds are changing.

Here is the speech in full:

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What should we do about Labour?

We need to talk about our relations with the Labour Party. Are they essentially still the centralised, top-down, union-led anti-capitalist party of the past, or are they sufficiently on our wavelength now for us to work with them against the baleful effects of austerity? Should we minimise opposition to them in strong Labour constituencies and regard them as likely future Coalition partners?

Perhaps in this country now equality as an ideal should trump freedom, and in practice the need to fight gross inequality and strive for social justice may demand our party working with Labour for similar ends.

Yet if the price is accepting Socialism, Liberal Democrats can’t go there. As well as having a different economic approach, we have a different outlook. We want an open, outward-looking, tolerant society where individuals count, not one focussed on class divisions and workers versus bosses. So Liberal Democrats welcome the EU as a co-operative enterprise while Labour leaders are suspicious of it as a capitalist club. Labour’s approach to Brexit is closer to the Government’s than to ours, so how could we be allies?

However, look at the demands Labour made of the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, in the lead up to his autumn Budget. They were:

  1. Pause and fix Universal Credit.
  2. Provide new funding to lift the public sector pay cap.
  3. Spend on infrastructure to boost the economy and create good jobs.
  4. Have properly-funded public services including health, education and local government.
  5. Launch a large-scale public housebuilding programme.

What’s not to like in that, considering how much it fits with our own proposals?

But the Labour General Election manifesto last June had been very different from ours. Its radical demands such as ending student tuition fees and nationalising water and energy companies and the rail services had an instant appeal that brought voters flocking in. Acute analysis indeed showed major flaws. Their package would have meant an economic cut in welfare for the poor, saving funds which would be directed to services for the middle classes. While our own manifesto sought reversal of £9 billion-worth of the 2015 and earlier welfare cuts, Labour allocated only £4 billion to this. We were much more oriented towards the poorest, in a well-costed progressive manifesto. Thoughtful voters may have grasped that; unfortunately it is unlikely to have been widely understood. 

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Labour “betraying members and parliamentary base” by opposing single market membership

Jeremy Corbyn told the Andrew Marr Show this morning that Labour did not favour the UK staying in the single market. Will Labour members, who overwhelmingly want to do so now realise that Corbyn is not going to deliver what they want? A Queen Mary University study showed that 85% of Labour members want to stay in the single market. There is even higher support, 87% for staying in the customs union. 78% want the public to have a final say on the Brexit deal. Corbyn ruled that out too.

Vince Cable had this to say:

As has long been suspected,

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Responding to Labour Remain

Recently a friend and Liberal Democrat activist showed me an email from Labour Remain — formed in the last few weeks and claiming significant support. This comes on the back of a survey showing that 78% of Labour members disagree with Jeremy Corbyn’s opposition to a referendum on the terms of Brexit. How should we respond?

Brexit is a profound threat to British values, the economy and the very integrity of the United Kingdom. In that sense it needs us all to pull together.

The country is in a crisis. We have been so intertwined with the rest of Europe, for so long, that the referendum result has had a deeply destructive effect on public life. Parliament seems paralised. Andrew Adonis has written of a Brexit-induced “nervous breakdown” in Whitehall. The Conservatives and Labour seem massively dysfunctional. There are stories of moderate councillors in both parties being de-selected. Most of the pro-Remain majority in the Commons is silent or vanquished. My excitement over the formation of Labour Remain is more than a little tempered by the lurch to the Left in their recent National Executive Committee elections and stories of MPs being threatened with de-selection. Faced with Brexit, this has all the wisdom of re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. We need to think differently.

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Jeremy Corbyn empty-chaired at single market summit

This morning a summit took place in Parliament to discuss ways of working together to make sure that the UK stays in the single market on which so many jobs depend.

Our Vince was there

But there was an empty chair:

Which was a real shame because most of the rest of the opposition parties showed up too.

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Vince: Labour should be ashamed

Over the past few days, Liberal Democrats have been challenging Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party to back our amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill which would keep us in the single market which is so important for jobs and prosperity.

We are at this singularly unlucky point in time where we have a reckless and incompetent government leading us towards a potentially terrible Brexit. It doesn’t know what it wants as ministers say different things. You have both Gove and Davis undermining the deal before the ink is dry. It does nothing for the reputation of our country.

You would think …

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Brake: Labour Brexit Bill intervention “Too little, too late”

Today’s pronouncements by Keir Starmer that Labour might, if it feels like it, work with Tories to secure some moderate changes to the EU Withdrawal Bill are hardly earth-shattering.

I can’t find the words “single market” anywhere in his red lines. Perhaps the people’s red lines are, like the Glee Club song, slightly pink. I certainly don’t think that Labour should be expecting gratitude any time soon. They are barely managing the minimum you would expect from an opposition.

Lib Dem Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake is similarly unimpressed:

It’s entertaining to see the  Labour front bench attempting to have a backbone,

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Compassion and compromise – to get things done Labour has to work with the Lib Dems

The Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party are two parties that historically have had many things in common. The birth of the Liberal Democrats stems from a splinter section of the Labour Party joining with the Liberals. Therefore, whilst the two parties are further apart than they ever have been in their histories they both share a common history of social justice and a willingness to oppose the Conservatives.

Given that we are once again in a Hung Parliament it is more important than ever for Labour and the Liberal Democrats to work together to ensure that Britain gets the best possible deal out of Brexit and that positive legislation is passed to ensure that Britain can continue putting forward radical, innovative and game changing legislation despite having a Conservative government. This may certainly be a difficult task – whilst the Conservative’s majority is practically none existent even with the help of the DUP they still have a majority – but it is not an impossible task. If Labour and the Liberal Democrats alongside the SNP can work together Brexit can still be held accountable.

Similarly, though the most extreme elements of the Conservative’s manifesto won’t be implemented it is not impossible that they will not try to pass legislation which is ultimately detrimental to the people of Britain. Attempts at the restriction of privacy or the failure to check where British weapons are being sold are not something that either Labour or the Liberal Democrats wants to see or can allow to happen. Therefore, neither party can stand idly by in the Houses of Parliament and let the Conservatives turn Britain into a free for all, allowing any unscrupulous private investor to buy up companies, property or landmarks of British culture without proper investigation and examination of their motives. It is vital that both Labour and the Liberal Democrats come together and force these issues to the forefront of debate in the House of Commons. 

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Why it’s perception that matters

 

There has been plenty of analysis and commentary on the Liberal Democrats at the 2017 election. There were significant positives from some great seat gains.  But it is difficult not to be disappointed by the low vote share nationally.

Much has already been said as to why, which I won’t repeat here. I’d like to instead focus on three specific areas which pose – the third especially – a broader long-term question for the party.  Namely that of how the public perceive us, and what they think we are truly “for”.

The first point concerns increasing polarisation. Of course there is still a centre ground. However, it’s clear that an increasingly large number of people do support the Conservatives’ hard-Brexit, continued austerity and increasingly nationalistic swing to the right. Likewise there’s an increase in those in favour of Jeremy Corbyn’s brand of socialism and high public-service spending, funded by significant tax hikes to higher earners and UK businesses.

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If they say you’re a Red Tory or a Yellow Tory, ask about Corbyn’s welfare cuts

Jeremy Corbyn’s team had promised to reverse child tax credit cuts, but in their 2017 manifesto, they did nothing of the sort as the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows:

Corbyn’s manifesto planned to increase taxes by £46bn per year and to borrow an extra £350bn. With so much extra funding, there was enough to honour their promises on welfare, so voters could be forgiven for assuming that they would.
In his first leadership election, Corbyn said: “Families are suffering enough. We shouldn’t play the government’s political games when the welfare of children is at stake”.  This issue of welfare cuts is why he defeated his Labour rivals for the leadership, because they had previously abstained on a number of votes.
In autumn 2015, John McDonnell, his Shadow Chancellor, didn’t just commit not to implement these cuts, he promised to reverse those that had already happened: “We are calling on Osborne to reverse his decision to cut tax credits. If he doesn’t reverse these cuts, we’re making it clear that we will”.
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Moving towards a progressive alliance

General Election campaigning has got off to a flying start across the country and it is exhilarating to be ‘back in the saddle’. Oxford West and Abingdon was hard fought at the last election and it looks like it will be again. Like many seats, the Tory incumbent increased her majority here in 2015, yet this still feels like a marginal, and we are campaigning to win.

We were knocking on doors yesterday and what struck me was just how different this election feels compared to 2015. The political sands continue to shift beneath our feet but the wind is very definitely no longer against us. This constituency voted strongly to remain, yet the local MP flip-flopped and is now totally behind a Hard Brexit. This, combined with a weak Labour party nationally, has meant that local Labour and Green voters are more open than ever to lending us their vote to beat the Tory this time. And we are going to need them to do it.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 34 Comments

Loyalty and respect

Politics in the UK seems to be in flux following the Brexit vote. With the Tories split between remain and leave and Labour too busy squabbling amongst themselves to be effective it ought to be a time for the Liberal Democrats. Yet, so far, although we have seen many individual members of both the Labour and Conservative parties switch to the Lib Dems, only a handful of councillors and no MPs or MEPs have done so. Why is this?

I want to suggest that in the case of the Labour Party there are two factors; loyalty and respect

We often accuse the Labour Party of being tribal. The reality is that loyalty is ingrained in the psyche of Labour Party supporters and even more so in MPs. The worst thing that you can do is be ‘disloyal’. Crossing the floor is unthinkable for almost all Labour MPs and we need to recognise that this is a real factor in preventing people from joining us. When you couple this with the attitude of Labour people to what they perceive as treachery – for example the Lib Dems joining with the Tories in government – you begin to see how difficult it is to get people to come across, even if they share our values to a much higher degree than the values of the Labour Party.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 26 Comments

So this is how Jeremy Corbyn will be holding May to account on Brexit….

At Prime Minister’s Questions today, any half decent opposition leader would have lined up his most ferocious MPs to go to town on the PM over Brexit. We’ll gloss over the fact that any decent Leader of the Opposition wouldn’t have let the Article 50 Bill pass unamended in the first place.

But we don’t have a decent Leader of the Opposition. We have Jeremy Corbyn. You just get the feeling that if PMQs had been extended by a couple of hours, he wouldn’t have got round to asking a question on Brexit. No doubt he’d have asked about the weather and who the PM thought had done in Ken Barlow on Corrie.  He should have taken May apart on Brexit. He should have had half a dozen MPs lined up with killer questions.  But Labour MPs asked about anything but – until Tulip Siddiq came along. The MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, a passionate and effective opponent of Brexit, asked about the £350 million a week for the NHS.

Later, in his reply to the Prime Minister’s statement, rather than deliver a feisty riposte, he sounded like he was discussing the relative merits of different kinds of broad bean. There was no passion, no fire. “If she meets our tests, we’ll back her,” he said. Labour’s tests are meaningless anyway as they have failed them themselves. They had every opportunity to ensure that the Government’s strategy was changed to include membership of the single market, to stand up for the rights of EU nationals, and to give Parliament a meaningful vote on the deal. 

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , and | 42 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarPeter Martin 22nd Jul - 5:15pm
    @ Joe B, Anyone saving their money will end up saving it with Govt in one way or another. I could buy some shares but...
  • User Avatarfrankie 22nd Jul - 4:58pm
    The major policy that will help poverty is building affordable social housing. It would drive down rents and housing costs. The problem is it faces...
  • User AvatarRussell L Simpson 22nd Jul - 4:58pm
    Brilliant speech. Congrats Jo. And thanks Ed
  • User Avatartheakes 22nd Jul - 4:55pm
    Brilliant, what a speech. Who wrote it , credit where credit is due. Now for Gloucester on Thursday & Brecon next week. I noticed last...
  • User Avatarfrankie 22nd Jul - 4:48pm
    Enjoy the day, the hard work starts tomorrow. O remember nice seldom wins and it won't win against this set of delusionists.
  • User AvatarBill le Breton 22nd Jul - 4:48pm
    Stunning acceptance speech - simply stunning. Listen in full if you haven't had the chance to hear it live.
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