Tag Archives: political strategy

Is it time for Theresa May to admit that Brexit is impossible and retract the Article 50 notice?

If Brexit goes ahead in any form, it would need exceptionally-good government to address all the resulting challenges. The parliamentary chaos of recent weeks has shown a government a long way from this. Is it time to admit that Brexit can’t be delivered?

Theresa May has given it her best shot. It is hard to see anything else she could have done to make Brexit work. The game-changer of the last few weeks has been the sheer level of parliamentary dysfunction. It’s now clear that Brexit can’t happen on 29 March because of the sheer volume of legislation to be …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 31 Comments

TIG’s not it

When you are an active member of a political party, the amount of the infrastructure of your life that is embedded in it is colossal. My husband knows that we have a bird of liberty as well as a spaniel determinedly pushing its way between us when we try to grab some time together.

Our lives revolve round election cycles and meetings and protest marches. And this blog.

Most of my best friends are in the Liberal Democrats. To be honest, I think they would still be my best friends wherever our lives took us, but, still, I share stuff with them that if we were in different parties I wouldn’t be able to any more.

Making the decision to leave is difficult and painful and not at all easily taken.

So when I see people leaving the Labour Party when they have finally reached the end of their rope with Jeremy Corbyn, I know how hard it must have been for them. I respect them for having the courage to do so.

I like some of them a lot on a personal level and I have no problem with working with them on the areas where we share common aims.

However, I am underwhelmed by their statement of values on their website. Some of them are fine – just a bit motherhood and apple pie.However, parts of it made me cringe:

…the first duty of government must be to defend its people and do whatever it takes to safeguard Britain’s national security.

It’s a bit hawkish. I get that they are trying to get away from the spectre of Corbyn, but the first thing above all else, when 3 million of our citizens are about to have their rights massively downgraded and people have trouble putting food on the table? Really?

There are also some real deserving/undeserving poor undertones to it – and an echo of that awful phrase “hard working families.”

I think the thing that bothered me most, though, was:

We believe that our parliamentary democracy in which our elected representatives deliberate, decide and provide leadership, held accountable by their whole electorate is the best system of representing the views of the British people.

I get that they are restating the obvious that democracy is a good thing, but you can’t say that politics is broken and then say that our way of doing it is best. How much more powerful would it have been if they had said, as we do, that our political institutions need redesigning and rebuilding so that people get the Parliament that they ask for. If they did, the country would not be in its current disastrous pickle.

I lived through the birth of the SDP 40 years ago and it genuinely felt exciting. They used phrases like “breaking the mould” and talked about pursuing a reforming agenda in every area of life. This doesn’t have that coherent approach. It’s like TIG’s members can agree what they’re against – the various circles of Hell in Corbyn’s Labour – but writing a coherent vision statement has not come easy. In some ways their statement is more cry of pain than beacon lighting our path.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 18 Comments

First impressions from my first party conference – by a Lib Dem who voted Leave

I joined the Liberal Democrats in April 2017. This was my first party conference. I also voted Leave in the EU the referendum. Should I be in this party? Absolutely.

Europe

I sensed that many members didn’t truly understand Leave voters. Nick Clegg seemed a bit more in tune: “why wouldn’t you vote Leave after all you were promised by the Brexiteers?”. Remain is one thing that undoubtedly keeps the party unified. But Remain in what? Jean-Claude Juncker’s vision of a more federalised EU with power centralised? Seems profoundly un-Lib Dem to me.

Nick Clegg convinced me on Remain when he talked about “concentric circles of membership” with the UK sitting on an outer layer, and that is the rub of it. It is not a credible position to just articulate “Remain.” The Lib Dems have to put forward a simple vision for what type of EU we advocate remaining in and how we will make it happen. Nick’s vision or something else that the UK population will buy into? That is how you can convince Leave voters.

The party of the centre

I understand liberalism – it’s why I joined the party, but I still wasn’t sure by the end of the conference, where the ‘centre’ actually is. One member gave Jo Swinson and Norman Lamb a good ear bashing during a session on how to revitalise the centre ground: “why have we gone through 6 conferences, 2 general elections, 1 referendum, and the party still doesn’t have a clear vision on this?”. To own the centre ground you have to be the party that defines it to the public, otherwise you are just emulating others and playing catch-up; to win the game it helps to set the rules.

We need to articulate what the Lib Dem USP is for the ordinary person, defined in a way that is easily consumable and clearly differentiated. At the moment I’m still not sure, and I can’t explain to my wife the unique difference between us and centrist leaning Conservatives / Labourites. Norman Lamb gave us a great starting point when he talked about the business of government being “how to create prosperity and how to share it”. This is the question to which we need some radical answers that differentiate us.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 25 Comments

Opinion: Liberals must learn the lessons of Thatcher

It is a truth often acknowledged that Tony Blair and David Cameron, in moving their respective parties to the centre ground, left a gruelling obstacle on the road to a truly Liberal Britain.
But it’s not from those leaders that the next generation of Liberal Democrat’s must learn, rather it is from a leader who would regard liberalism as a dirty word, and many Liberal outcomes as inimical to her view of society, Margaret Thatcher.

The lesson for Lib Dems is that Thatcher understood that the less well off are just as aspirational as those born to wealth. The Tory method …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 64 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User Avatarmatt 21st Mar - 12:40pm
    @Peter Martin I am torn Peter. I wonder whether it would be worth taking the deal, (getting one foot out of the door so to...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 21st Mar - 12:30pm
    I don't know if my opinion would be typical of most Leavers but I'd rather remain in the EU than accept May's deal. The UK...
  • User AvatarDavid-1 21st Mar - 12:07pm
    The concept of the "People's Vote" was not just any vote by any people, but a specific vote on the terms of a Brexit Deal....
  • User AvatarDavid-1 21st Mar - 11:56am
    I'm afraid I don't follow the logic of this article. Surely from the point of the EU the more obvious alternative to "a short prolongation"...
  • User AvatarSue Sutherland 21st Mar - 11:45am
    For me the second referendum was always about voting on the terms of the deal. It’s a pity it has morphed into a Peoples’ Vote...
  • User AvatarJohn Chandler 21st Mar - 11:26am
    It's okay, I have it on very good authority from Corbyn-worshipping friends that he's still playing the long game and that he will back a...