The Observer says: vote Liberal Democrat

From today’s leader:

Nick Clegg is the most instinctively European leader at Westminster. That is currently a lonely position, but the Lib Dems have a decent record of taking minority stands that are later vindicated. On the environment, on civil liberties and on the mounting debt bubble, the Lib Dems were quietly but consistently ahead of the Westminster curve.

Likewise on transparency. In 2007, they opposed the Conservative move, tacitly encouraged by Labour, to exempt Parliament from the Freedom of Information Act. The Lib Dems alone took a party line for openness…

While MPs from all parties are tainted, the parties themselves are not equally guilty. A credible record of support for transparency and for constitutional reform reflects well on Nick Clegg’s team.

This Thursday’s vote is being held in a uniquely febrile climate. It should be about Europe; it will be about the expenses scandal. On both counts, it is a moment to reward the principled consistency of the Liberal Democrats.

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  • Europe is now becoming the “lightning conductor” for anger about political corruption: people see it as a big part of the problem. If you don’t believe me, have a look on the BBC website Have Your Say on the European Elections. Clegg should be making some noises about sweeping out corruption from the European Parliament as well. “Taking the fight to Europe” might not sound very Europhile, but it would at least contrast with Cameron’s sitting on the edges and we could put forward some concrete proposals that might make some headlines.

  • Robert C – Noooooooo! We’ve got so many anti-Europe parties I’ve lost count. We don’t need another one. It’s British politics and Westminster in particular that has this massive, built in and long term, corruption. It’s Westminster that needs sorting out. Nobody must allow the Westminster village to try to deflect criticism in the direction of Brussels.

    As the Observer has rightly pointed out being the only party to take a constructive approach to European unity is a huge strength for the Lib Dems. Anti-Europeanism is massive vote lower – just look at what it did for William Hague. The Lib Dems mustn’t be enticed by it.

  • Silent Hunter 31st May '09 - 10:16am


    Could you tell us if your party are about to commit electoral suicide and accept any offer from this criminally corrupt Labour Government to ‘join them’ as they try to ‘clean up politics’ (excuse me whilst I choke on that last phrase) LOL

    Your about to become the official opposition – for God’s sake don’t blow it now.

  • David from W5 31st May '09 - 10:23am

    Fighting corruption in the European Union doesn’t mean that you’re anti-Europe – far from it.

  • The LibDems gave up any right to claim a principled stand on the question of the EU when they chose a ‘policy’ of abstention on the Lisbon ConstiTreaty – having promised a Referendum on the EU Constitution (basically the same thing).

    The majority of the country is Eurosceptic – and a sizeable and growing minority want out altogether. Denying the people a say in the future Constitutional position of our country is not empowering the electorate. It is treating them like an irrelevance when it comes to the important issues.

    Incidentally, we all know the Brussels Gravy Train is even more profligate with taxpayers money than Westminster. Billions are lost and wasted every year: why on earth would we want to belong to such a corrupt entity.

  • Ignoring the manifest problems inherent within the European project is not the way to go. If people won’t put up with corruption and waste at Westminster, they sure as hell aren’t going to tolerate the even greater profligacy in Brussels. What I am arguing for is emphatically not an anti-European stance. It is based on the principle of “change it in order to improve it”, and God knows, Europe needs improvement. Also, I have to say that Boudicca is right: just because Lib Dems might want what is contained in the Lisbon Treaty doesn’t mean it should be imposed over people’s heads. A durable European Union can only be built on democratic legitimacy and sound foundations. The kind of “de haut en bas”, I-know-best-attitude really grates with the British people. Clegg’s decision not to offer a vote is a really bad move.

  • Regarding the Freedom of Information (Amendment) Bill 2007 – which intended to exempt Parliament from the FoI Act, let us not forget that it was the reforming, modernising Conservative party that

    “remains neutral on this Bill”

    – Source:

    As that song so clearly said: “Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right”

  • Look let’s get this straight once and for all. Few people know anything about the EU. Most care even less. Once every five years a large percentage of people can forget political correctness and race relations legislation and under the guise of criticising ‘Europe’ give vent to their racist and xenophobic spleen.

    If you doubt this you should spend more time on the doorstep and less on the Web. I’m off out canvassing now…

  • It’s my understanding that the vast bulk of the text of the Lisbon Treaty is simply a repeat of the existing EU treaties – so we hardly need to “impose” it – it’s already in place and in some cases has been since 1973.

    What would be helpful for all concerned, I think, would be a nice bulleted list of all the things in the Treaty that are new or changes from the status quo.

    I’m a politically interested person who spent three days in Brussels last year meeting our MEPs – and I haven’t a bloody clue, so how can the rest of the population?

    Personally, I think we need to have a long-term project of educating the electorate about what the Lib Dem position on Europe (great idea, very necessary, currently highly flawed) actually is. I believe this is an honest platform that could garner a lot of support but, even if the campaign season had not been overshadowed by the credit crunch, Gurkhas and expenses, this was not a message we were in a position to articulate.

  • I can already see huge chunks of this appearing in Focuses all over the country….

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