Tag Archives: snap general election

Why calling for Article 50 to be revoked actually makes stopping Brexit less likely

I want to make the case that Jo Swinson MP’s proposed policy of revoking Article 50 if the Lib Dems win a majority government actually makes stopping Brexit less likely.

Calling for a final say referendum on any Brexit deal has been our defining policy for over three years and has brought this party back to life and back to electoral popularity. The reason a final say referendum has grown in popularity (with the public and in Parliament) is not especially because the arguments for voting Remain have become more persuasive than the arguments for voting Leave, but because it is seen as a sensible way of unblocking the Brexit process. If we change our policy and start calling for revoking Article 50, we risk narrowing our tent and losing people who are beginning to see the logic in having a second plebiscite on this issue.

On Tuesday Sir Oliver Letwin MP voiced his support for a referendum as a way to break the impasse. I fear we risk losing people like Letwin from this growing people’s vote coalition with this policy change. It makes us seem like the Brexit Party of Remain in that we will be perceived as Remain at any cost rather than willing to put our case to the public again in a referendum. In my opinion, the Brexit Party has made Brexit less likely as they have popularised the act of Brexit into an extreme ‘clean break’ scenario which has become untenable for a majority of MPs. If we pursue revoking I fear we will do the same to Remain.

I understand the attraction of going for revoke, we can better distinguish ourselves from Labour and clarify that we want to stop Brexit even further. This may have worked well in a European Parliament election with proportional representation, but in a General Election we need much broader coalitions. With our current policy we can say to even Leavers tired of Brexit that a referendum will end the Brexit mess for good.

So those of you going to Conference on Sunday please consider this policy carefully. We are the most pro-European party in the country, but we are also democrats and our policy of a people’s vote to stop Brexit is a product that people have just voted emphatically for in the European elections. Let’s not make our message Remain at any cost, but end the Brexit mess so we can move on and fix the real problems in our country.

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Revoking Article 50 is a highly risky strategy

Death is in charge of the clattering train!

(Edwin James Milliken)

The now seemingly inevitable general election that we are doomed to endure will without a doubt be one of the most divisive and decisive in British political history. Boris Johnson’s strategy is to divide the Remain vote and set himself as the people’s champion – no matter how irrational that theory is. Labour, who plan to try a rerun of their 2017 campaign and put Jeremy Corbyn forwards as a radical, reforming leader, and polling miserably for an opposition to a disastrous government. Dominic Cummings is intent on capturing northern working-class seats who want a no-deal Brexit, as he successfully did for the Leave campaign in 2016.

Both main parties will have to offer manifestos that capture the public imagination and offer clear paths forward. They will have unfunded spending sprees, promises of immigration caps, and patriotic tirades. No change there, then. The sceptre of Brexit does, however, add an extra dimension – the polarisation that has divided the country will shape any public vote.

For the Lib Dems to succeed, they need to offer a new message disenfranchised voters, beyond the boundaries of the Remain-Leave divide.

Jo Swinson’s announcement that the party will be arguing in their manifesto for an unequivocal reversal of the referendum result must be treated with caution therefore. Many voters on both sides of a traditional Liberal base – Tory voters despairing at the economic crisis of a no-deal and Labour voters outraged at Corbyn – are not natural Leave voters. Neither are they going to be brought over, I suspect, by the option of revoking Brexit without a public vote. Voters who want to revoke Article 50 would pick the Lib Dems as the main pro-European voice in Parliament as it is. This latest move brings little support and many even detract from it.

Brexit has divided many, but beyond the date Britain leaves the argument for revoking will become less. The argument for another referendum will become more credible, as the consequences of the exit become clearer, and the powerful Remain voice is no longer the establishment.

The recent surge in Lib Dem support and new recruits in parliament show that a new, radical liberal movement has palpable support nationally. This requires new policies that can bring swing voters over and ensure that the party does not continue to fall foul of the first-part-the-post method that shows no sign of being reformed.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 59 Comments

Members must decide!

Election pacts and participation in an Emergency Government need to be agreed by members.  

As a No Deal Brexit and a possible General Election get nearer there has been much talk of how we Remainers can stop it. The focus at the moment is on legislation to stop it but there are two other areas said to be under discussion: 

  • An emergency government to hold a referendum followed by a General Election 
  • A ‘Remain alliance‘ so that in key seats Remain parties don’t stand against each other (though  Alastair Carmichael has been reported as saying we would not stand down for the SNP).  

I believe that it is really important that we don’t abandon one of the fundamental principles of our Party – the primacy of members in taking key decisions  

If we participate in an emergency  Government then our Constitution is very clear about what needs to happen. Section 23 says that support for a government which contains other political parties applies

where the Parliamentary Party in the House of Commons (‘the Commons Party’) enters into negotiations with one or more other political parties with a view to the formation of a government supported by the party and such party or parties; 

There are various provisions about consultations  etc but the key point is that  any agreement would have to be approved by  a 2/3rd vote at either a regular or special Conference.  

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Snap Election – Threat or Opportunity

So, according to the press, Local Conservative Associations have been put on alert for a potential General Election on 28th February. This would presumably be intended to solve the Brexit crisis – though for the life of me I cannot see quite how.

I have no idea what the chances are of an election happening on that date, but it might be worthwhile for Liberal Democrats to think about how we might respond practically if it were to happen.

Let us assume a) that the Tory position in such an election would be to back the May/EU Deal, and b) the Labour …

Posted in Op-eds | 22 Comments

Could we be facing a November General Election?

The Sunday Times today has a report that Tory strategists are starting to think about a General Election in November. I would be very surprised if they were only just starting to think about it now.

The chances were always that there would have to be some recourse to the country if Theresa May couldn’t get whatever deal she managed to get through Parliament.

How on earth, though, could Anna Soubry and Jacob Rees-Mogg fight an election on the same manifesto? If, as is being suggested, the Tory manifesto goes for a hard Brexit basic Canada style trade deal, how could the likes of Sarah Wollaston, Nicky Morgan and Justine Greening back that? I mean the Chequers (Dis)agreement sells our predominantly service based economy down the river and the Canada deal is worse than that. We also have to remember that Canada is already part of a major free trade alliance in America. The EU deal provides them with new opportunities but they don’t need it to survive. In contrast, we would be isolated, forced to accept terms that would be injurious to us from the likes of Donald Trump and trading on a much worse basis with our closest neighbours than we are at the moment. There is no upside to this at all.

How on earth could David Lammy, Stella Creasy, Hilary Benn and the bulk of the Labour Parliamentary Party fight an election on a manifesto written by Corbyn’s team. We know he is a Brexiteer. We know that he put absolutely no effort into the Remain campaign during the referendum. There is no way he would run on a stop Brexit platform. We need the Labour leadership to go out there and win the arguments among its voters and, just like in the referendum, they won’t. And we know that in any snap election, the Tories will, to distract from their own divisions, go after Corbyn’s character and record  in a way they didn’t manage in 2017.

So we could be the only party across the UK going into this with a clear and coherent policy – Stop Brexit Chaos with the Lib Dems. And we would really have to articulate that message with clarity and purpose.

In Scotland, we would be the only party going into this with the eminently consistent position of supporting remaining in both the EU and the UK. That puts us on the side of most people in the country.

We have to recognise, though, that we would be fighting in a First Past the Post system. Conversations would, I think, have to be had with people of a similar mindset to us. There is no point in splitting the vote. We have to stand pretty much everywhere because that is critical for Short funding, but all of us of who want to stop Brexit across all parties would have to make some pragmatic decisions on an informal basis about how we campaign in individual seats.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 22 Comments

There may be a snap election – your country needs you to do your duty

 

The key question on the mind of most journalists is whether Theresa May will call a snap general election. Personally as a supporter of fixed term parliaments I would not be in favour of this as we have had enough uncertainty of late.

Yet, there are very powerful reasons why she might do, which relate to the strength of our democracy.

Firstly the awkward squad of right wing Eurosceptics has far too much leverage in a government with a majority  of just 12. A group of 25 Tory Brexiteers in the Commons (2016 lexicon for those Major called bastards) are already meeting to try to form a policy which would aim to minimise immigration at the expense of our membership of the single market. I am not too old to remember the paralysis and internal division of the Major government over Europe and he had a bigger majority than May does. Indeed we know that Boris and Liam Fox have already began a spat worthy of my six and four year old girls over who should have the ability to call decisions in the Foreign Office. Mother May it would appear, was not amused.

If Theresa May were to call an election and win big, then she would have a comfortable majority to work with where she could come up with a Brexit Strategy without the influence of the awkward squad. I am not sure the City or most international busineses would be happy seeing their role dimminished just to enable the sulky teenagers IDS, Fox and David Davis get what they want when it comes to immigration (i.e. bringing numbers down to the impractical tens of thousands level promised by Cameron).

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 27 Comments

Who will be fighting Richmond Park and Guildford in a snap General Election?

More selection news from seats the party used to hold comes in as we prepare for a possible snap election.

In Richmond Park, held by Susan Kramer until 2010, Sarah Olney has been selected to fight Zac Goldsmith. From the local Guardian:

Sarah Olney was selected on July 22 as the party believes new Prime Minister Theresa May might consider going to the country before 2020 to take advantage of Labour in-fighting and to precede a possible recession.

Ms Olney, who campaigned for GLA member Caroline Pidgeon during May’s London Assembly elections, said it would be a huge honour to represent the

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Daisy Benson, Claire Young and Dawn Barnes selected for former Lib Dem seats

You can’t call for a General Election and then act surprised if it happens.

That’s why the Liberal Democrats are quietly getting on with the business of putting candidates in place with breakneck speed. Seats are using the sorts of expedited procedures normally used in by-elections  to get candidates in place. These selections will expire next May if there has been no election.

Daisy Benson, indefatigable campaigner and commentator, has been selected for the key seat of Yeovil, which was held until 2015 by David Laws with a majority of 13,000.

This is a very exciting appointment. One of Daisy’s massive strengths is the way she has thrown herself into finding, welcoming and engaging new members of the Liberal Democrats. She was pivotal in establishing the Lib Dem Newbies group on Facebook as one of the best and most positive Lib Dem discussion spaces.

Also in the West Country, in Steve Webb’s former seat of Thornbury and Yate, long-standing local councillor Claire Young has been selected.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 76 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarSteve Trevethan 16th Sep - 3:47pm
    Thank you for raising an important matter. Might it be the case that governments create money first and then tax some of it back? If...
  • User AvatarPaul Walter 16th Sep - 3:23pm
    Yes, if they had a majority mandate from a General Election based on a manifesto saying that. But none did.
  • User AvatarSean Hyland 16th Sep - 3:19pm
    Would it be too hard if once in a while the party put up a general notice with some rough figures/percentages - a kind of...
  • User Avatarnigel hunter 16th Sep - 2:27pm
    This coffee cup tax on Costa cups that the Tories stopped.That is one idea to re-introduce but at a cheaper rate. That is one idea...
  • User Avatartheakes 16th Sep - 2:27pm
    By the way, in the Gym yesterday and overhead conversation about Brexit. "Aye, it is getting like the 1640's, Johnson needs to be careful, I...
  • User AvatarTerry 16th Sep - 2:23pm
    Worth noting, Richard, that £100 in 1988 = nearly £300 in 2019. All in favour of more personal thanking, though.
Thu 10th Oct 2019