The Lib Dems’ two aims in this election

Liberal Democrats should have two main aims in this Election. The first should be to convince a majority of the electorate that to remain in the EU is right for our country, and that no form of Brexit is acceptable. The second must be to point out why this diseased Tory government needs to go, to be replaced with a government where Jo Swinson and our party have major influence which can address the causes of the Brexit vote.

Focusing on the European Union, we need to make the point much neglected in recent debates: the absolute value the EU gives our country, in the past, now, and, if we succeed, in the future.

This is the greatest alliance of peace-loving nations that the world has seen. It has kept the peace in Europe and promoted its prosperity since its foundation. It has protected the freedom and rights of its citizens, promoted good employment and environmental standards, fostered the economic growth of member states, furthered international co-operation for refugees and migrants, developed scientific advances, and shown how democracy and freedom can co-exist with order and security, through shared institutions and respected legal systems.

Britain led by Brexiteers has been prepared to disregard all this, including the benefits of the single market which makes the EU our largest economic partner. Currently we are valued by countries such as Japan as a means of access to the whole EU.  Once we are no longer in the single market the benefit for international companies of moving production to the UK will be lost. The Brexiteers claim that FTAs with individual countries will generate the same amount of trade and UK production as will be lost by leaving, yet the EU has already made 67 free trade agreements which we share.

Our little-England outlook will all too soon be exposed, and already we must be diminished in the world’s eyes. What power can we offer for international peace and combatting terrorism by going it alone? How can we combat the threat of climate change without working through Europe? How defend our values and our cyber-security against the great powers of Russia and China? How expect co-operation from a Trump-led America, when he denies climate change and refuses to work with Iran? In fact we could become the little extra state of the USA under Tory leadership, reluctantly accepting lowered agricultural standards and the inroads of US drug companies into our pharmacies.

Meanwhile under this government we have been squandering national wealth in preparing to leave the EU, even without a deal. Billions have been spent which could have reduced poverty, protected our NHS and schools and restored local services. What folly is this, when the statisticians show us we have already reduced growth compared to the other G7 countries, and that it will worsen if we leave? Financial hardship awaits us. Yet this government, its ministers well insulated personally from hardship and indifferent to the difficulties of citizens whose standard of living was static for eight years, has promised grand financial largesse in its bid to be re-elected.

We have heard Boris Johnson refer consistently to ‘our friends in Europe’ while suggesting that parliamentarians against him have ‘surrendered’ to these apparently hostile EU negotiators. We have seen him dispense with his moderate former Cabinet colleagues while belittling a Supreme Court judgement and deceiving the Queen. He claims to represent the people while trying to silence their representatives in Parliament.

We have to be rid of him and of his government. We have to denounce its record and its purposes. And we have to lead our country to stop Brexit, and prevent finally this national act of self-harm.

* Katharine Pindar is a long-standing member of the Lib Dems and an activist in the West Cumbrian constituency of Copeland and Workington.

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11 Comments

  • David Allen 7th Nov '19 - 5:53pm

    Great article – but I hope the author won’t mind me placing this comment:

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/live/2019/nov/07/general-election-sajid-javid-and-john-mcdonnell-come-out-fighting-on-economy-live-news
    (see Daily Telegraph, 16.15)

    “The modern Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn… point their fingers at individuals with a relish and a vindictiveness not seen since Stalin persecuted the kulaks”

    So – Boris Johnson is now desperate enough to accuse his opponents of mass murder!

    Completely unfit to be a Prime Minister.

  • nigel hunter 7th Nov '19 - 9:16pm

    Talking about the PM. We see him crowded round by supporters.These seem to be warehouses. Are the media right behind the supporters so that you do not see the WHOLE warehouse? They are huge and by the media being ‘kettled’ to the supporters you will not see the huge vast empty space of the warehouse. His support therefore looks more strong that it really is.

  • Peter Martin 8th Nov '19 - 12:23pm

    @Katharine,

    “…..no form of Brexit is acceptable”

    Our present membership of the EU is only partial. We don’t use the euro, we aren’t part of Schengen and we have a lot of opt-outs. TM’s and BJ’s deals just make it even more partial.

    Hardly anyone, including most Lib Dems, wants full and complete membership of the EU to match what Germany and France have. The debate seems to be on how much we want. 90%, 70%, 50% ? But if it’s only half as good as generally claimed, why wouldn’t we want all we can get?

  • Katharine Pindar 8th Nov '19 - 2:18pm

    We know, because they keep telling us, that the Tory ministers want only “the brightest and the best” workers to come to Britain to justify their shifty immigration targets.. It strikes me that to get the ‘brightest and best construction workers’ for their proposed infrastructure projects might be a little more difficult after Brexit. Oh, and what about the ‘brightest and best’ care workers, hospitality staff and agricultural labourers? Sorry, chaps, if you’re pulling up the drawbridge you’ll be lucky even to get those who can swim!

    Thanks to people who are commenting. Peter Martin, as you say we didn’t want the full works as an EU member, but we had acceptable compromises which met our needs and could continue. However, once assured members again we can work out with fellow members what reforms would make the EU even better for us all.
    could do so

  • Peter Hirst 8th Nov '19 - 4:06pm

    I’m not sure a General Election campaign is the best time to alter people’s views on policies. Better to persuade them that any Brexit will be a disaster for the country and that the referendum was a political stunt to thwart UKIP. We must make the argument for a strong centre Party while we sort out climate change, Brexit and our outdated constitution.

  • Peter Davies 8th Nov '19 - 4:39pm

    I’d be happy to take both Schengen and the Euro.

  • Katharine Pindar 8th Nov '19 - 10:15pm

    Peter Hirst – thanks for your comment, Peter, but I’m not trying to change people’s minds on policy, only being ready to remind them of all we will be losing if we leave the EU. As to what we should be asserting as well as being anti-Brexit, I agree on its being high time to have a fairer voting system, and to keep on pressing the urgency of strong measures to deal with climate change. But I believe we should stress just as urgently the need for welfare reform, working towards ending relative poverty and actually bettering the lives of ordinary people whose standard of living has slipped and is liable to worsen again if Brexit happens.

    Peter Davies – lovely comment, Peter! You remind me of my first instinct on hearing the 2016 Referendum result, ” Oh heavens, I shall have to go live on the Continent now!” And if we don’t stop Brexit, I shall still be dreaming of living in France or Germany for evermore, though I know it’s not possible really. We have to make this country a dream place again. After all, it’s believed to be so by thousands of migrants, yearning to be here, and many of them might be as welcome residents as some of our fellow politicians!

  • Peter Martin 9th Nov '19 - 9:50am

    @ Katharine,

    “I shall still be dreaming of living in France or Germany for evermore”

    But not Italy, Spain or Greece? Germany and Holland do well out of the EU, but even France has its problems. Its a good place to go to if you’re looking for a cheap retirement home but not a place for a young person to find meaningful employment.

    Peter Davies is the true Europhile and the true Remainer. What would we think of an Alaskan government that didn’t want to use the American dollar and wasn’t prepared to allow the same travel arrangements as the rest of the USA. Would we really believe them if they claimed to be Remainers in an American context?

    The euro hasn’t been designed simply to save us all the trouble of changing money at international borders. It’s an integral part of the political project. If we are rejecting the euro, and Schengen, we are also rejecting that political project. The next name change will be from the EU to the United States of Europe, or an equivalent nomenclature, as described in Guy Verhofstadt’s book of that name.

    I probably sound like a judge on Dragons den when I say that the EU is a nice idea, but it is far too ambitious for it to succeed without a definite ‘business plan’ and timetable. The chances of success with the present right wing neoliberals and ordoliberals in charge aren’t good. It is all far too risky and for that reason, I have to say, reluctantly, I’m out.

  • Katharine Pindar 9th Nov '19 - 4:32pm

    The success of the EU? Read my third paragraph again, Peter Martin, and think what a narrow judgement of its success you must be making. It has surely fulfilled its main ideals, and I am content to await its continued rational development, with the hope of course that we will be there to participate and influence. For the moment, it would be a sad waste if splendid English MEPs such as Chris Davies from our north-west region have to pack their bags in the spring, even if it would be a minor relief to see the Brexit MEPs silenced.

  • Peter Martin 10th Nov '19 - 10:05am

    @Katharine,

    It’s far too early to say the EU is going to be successful. There is a big difference between the old EEC which was successful and what we have now. The EU is not the EEC simply renamed. If what we loosely call ‘Europe’ had stayed as it was in 1990 there is no reason to think that couldn’t have continued indefinitely. The Maastricht Treaty which brought about the introduction of the euro and the introduction of a European Constitution, aka the Lisbon Treaty, has changed all that. It’s set the course of ‘Europe’ in the direction of GV’s ‘United States of Europe’.

    The EU is a transitional, but relatively unstable stage in the process. ‘Europe’, like the USA, needs to be have a Federal Govt to make everything function properly. Maybe it will make it to the U.S.E. and maybe it won’t. We’ll have to see.

  • Katharine Pindar 10th Nov '19 - 6:33pm

    Peter, the EU should always be transitional, because it is itself a living, growing organism. The idea of cutting ourselves off from it is like severing a limb. Most of us Lib Dems want to be part of this living, growing and vibrant body of nations, and it will be a truly happy Christmas if Brexit is seen by then by most of our people to be a cold shutting-us out starveling policy that is just wrong-headed.

    Roll on a happy 2020 of real rejoicing, with our genuine anti-Brexit bonus to spend on relieving poverty, boosting care and health services and bettering life in a reunited United Kingdom for everyone! Meantime, thanks to Michael BG for his contribution to the article that heads this little thread.

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