The Tory-Labour Brexit bandwagon rolls on…time for us to shine

How do we get across to all those young people who voted Labour thinking that they were against Breixit on to our side?

Jeremy Corbyn’s speech today brings Labour about a millimetre further away from the Tories than they were yesterday. Corbyn has been dragged kicking and screaming to support membership of “a” customs union but not the single market. That’s not a million miles from Theresa May’s bespoke arrangement where we will apparently be able to do what the hell we want without sticking to any of the EU’s rules.

Our digital people have put out a nifty little video linking May and Corbyn’s position and saying that the Liberal Democrats are the only party opposing Brexit.

The problem is that our capacity to reach the very people we need on side has been limited. The young people who voted Labour so enthusiastically have not yet forgiven us for the Coalition years. We have an awful lot to say to these young people, not just on Brexit but on housing, education, opportunities. We’ve actually got something hopeful to offer them. We’ll give more of them a say by letting them vote at 16, we’ll build more houses so that they somewhere decent to live, we’ll give them wider, more accessible and better choices when they leave school.

As the Is it worth t bus makes its way around the country, telling people that Brexit will cost us all £2000 million per week (and that’s from the Government’s own figures), the way the Tories are going, Corbyn stands there and tells us Brexit won’t be so bad. He’s doing the Government’s job for it.

It’s quite something to see the most right wing Government of my lifetime and the most left wing opposition unite to cause quite so much destruction.

People might talk about new centrist parties and the need for a British Macron, but the reality is that the only organisation with an infrastructure capable of being the rallying point for the anti Brexit movement is us. No Macron-like figure  is suddenly going to appear and our system doesn’t allow the run-off against a Fascist that propelled him to power. Vince Cable is where it’s at.

We can’t just bide our time and wait for people to fall into our laps, though. We need to do something to seize the agenda and show people that we can get out of this mess. Vince’s job  for Conference is to project a hopeful vision of  the sort of society we want and show that it is only possible if Brexit doesn’t happen. He needs to show people the way out. And he needs to show people that he can lead them to safety.  Of course he can. He’s the most credible voice on the economy we’ve had in generations.  His professional career as academic, economist and Cabinet Minister means he has the gravitas that people seem to insist on and his passion to do away with inequality shows that his heart is in the right place. I’d say that his task is to very firmly step up and tell people that if they want to stop Brexit, he’s where it’s at.

It’s not too different than what we’ve always done We’ve always been about showing up the old two as the establishment and us as the transformative, radical new way.

It all comes down to money though. If more of the “stop Brexit’ cash floating about came to us, we could do so much. Imagine the sort of direct mail that was so effective in winning us 4 Scottish seats on a larger scale. If we were able to raise a reasonable 7 figure sum, we could really start to make a difference with some effective material. If each party member were to give a tenner over and above their usual contributions, that’s a million to start with. It’s the price of a couple of drinks to help save our country’s future.  And it’s doable – we put together a whole election campaign in about 5 minutes last April so we have that agility to get it done.

We know thanks to those nice people at Political Betting that those who didn’t vote in the referendum are breaking heavily to stay in the EU. It is highly likely that there is no longer a majority to leave and there almost certainly won’t be on 29 March next year.

One of the things about turning 30 is that you should be getting to be a bit more confident and less diffident. A decade ago (yes, it is, really that long), some guy said “yes we can” rather a lot and ended up n the White House. It’s time for us to do the same and bring about a political transformation in this country.

It’s time to be bright, to be bold and to believe that we can succeed. We are saying the right things. Now it’s time to take it up a notch and show we mean business.

 

 

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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29 Comments

  • Hey Caron, is there anything in particular, beyond the manifesto (which is already on my reading list), you’d recommend as a good source to swat up on the Lib Dems position(s)?

  • I think someone needs to get key figures at the EU statin gopenly that Corbyn’s plans are a non starter. He was ludicrous today when interviewed stating that if the EU refused he would just keep negotiating. Britain needs a few key figures from over the channel to start pointing out the folly of Corbyn (they already do it for May).

    I still hope the nightmare of Brexit can be avoided, but it is a hope that dims a bit as every week passes and there is no decisive breakthrough…

  • “The young people who voted Labour so enthusiastically have not yet forgiven us for the Coalition years. We have an awful lot to say to these young people, not just on Brexit but on housing, education, opportunities. We’ve actually got something hopeful to offer them. We’ll give more of them a say by letting them vote at 16, we’ll build more houses so that they somewhere decent to live, we’ll give them wider, more accessible and better choices when they leave school.”

    I think the problem is that it really isn’t clear that we have much to say to them at all – and I certainly don’t believe it to be the case that we’re saying the right things at all. Just take two of the three examples – to those people who are already voted Labour, votes at 16 really doesn’t mean anything at all because evidently they are already eligible to vote; and likewise, they already have left school and already made their immediate choice as to what to do.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 27th Feb '18 - 12:01am

    This is power to the elbow, venting and analysing and doing both intelligently.

    Two things.

    We must be keen on the good things Corbyn said as well as strong on the missing bits. He talked a lot about aspects of Brexit that he and we should be careful to agree on, his views on immigration are humane and common sense.

    We must not be seen to merely very loudly say stop Brexit, as much as give people a chance to if they want to and say why to, in the campaign on any deal. We cannot just ignore the ballot box as was, we are extending democracy , the ballot on any deal, not denying it, by shunning the result of the other one already.

    The new group Renew, though soft and soggy , are on to something with basic income and an offer of renewal, they are emphasising hope, not fear. We should and Sir Vince might do far better if he did. Is anyone dealing with this new threat at elections in May…

  • We must recognise that many people are strongly opposed to the EU. We need to find ways of giving a positive message on Europe. Things like taking back control resonate strongly with many people. My belief is that we need to find our own positive messages. I have never been a little Englander, but how do we get across the message that we live in an interconnected world, and international organisations are essential to our prosperity? There are many international organisations which share in decision making in the U.K. – and even more international companies – but how do we produce an easy to grasp message?

  • @ Lorenzo I’m inspired when you say : “This is power to the elbow, venting and analysing and doing both intelligently – we must not be seen to merely very loudly say stop Brexit”.

    Well said, Lorenzo. At last you have given us a policy that will resonate : loud intelligent venting. As with the NHS – it should be free at the point of delivery.

  • nigel hunter 27th Feb '18 - 9:17am

    Yes ,Corbyn wants to give May a kicking whilst still being in the Brexit club . This Renew organisation could be threat to our position and Vince should follow its example along with our existing strategies.
    Whilst Corbyn dreams of his plans for government an example of what the extreme right wing brexiteers may want can be read at- thepinprick.com/2018/02/22-enemies-of-the-people-who-was-behind-the-letter-to-downing-stree

  • Caron, yes you have articulated our problem, David Evans and myself welcome this with open arms. after so many years when the party has buried its head in the sand.
    To me yesterdays Labour shift has just made the problem more acute for us and even more difficult to resolve. Peoples perception, and it is a reasonable one, will be why vote Lib Dem now, vote Labour instead after all they are the big challengers in 600 or so seats. You are deposit losing in nearly 400, and then of course you went in coalition with the Tories..
    At the moment I cannot see a way out, unless the Conservative party splits as in 1848/9 and at the turn of the 19th century, but that is hoping in the famous words of Adlai Setevenson , for “hell to freeze over”.
    Nevertheless I really welcome your article and it asks the question that we need to answer if we are, once again, to become a major political force.
    I suggest Conference needs to face the issue straight up, no punches should be pulled, no silly platitudes said about what a great party we are and how we have all the right policies, neither of which the public overall accepts.
    Let everone talk realistically and not theoretically about one thing, our future and survival. We have to rescue ourselves and quick.

  • nigel hunter 27th Feb '18 - 9:41am

    Whilst May and Corbyn are fighting it out between them for who is the best Brexiteer are we endeavouring to obtain the support of those Conservatives who voted Remain?

  • William Fowler 27th Feb '18 - 9:51am

    Corbyn will probably look to the May election results to see the effect of his movement towards custom union and if good move towards single market even though he would prefer clean Brexit personally so a new Labour govn will have huge power to ruin the country at all levels. He will lose some votes but frighten the working class with Tory plans to dismantle welfare and NHS to bring them back in line plus most LibDems will probably come over to Labour just to keep Con’s out if single market is on the cards… but more likely May will do a second referendum than election… and the result will be down to EU to offer a better deal for staying in than they did Cameron.

  • John Marriott 27th Feb '18 - 9:56am

    You need to be accurate. The Lib Dems are not the ONLY party opposing Brexit, are they?

    As I said before, wait to see what emerges from the present negotiations before deciding what to do. Oh, and the ‘guy’, who said “yes we can” was actually only one step from the White House. Where are the Lib Dems in the opinion polls?

  • So, Corbyn gives a speech that commits the UK to ‘A’ customs union whereas May says ‘No customs union of any kind’…but they’re only a millimetre apart?
    His speech is welcomed by business leaders, CBI, IoD, etc., having condemned May’s ‘hard brexit’… but they’re only a millimetre apart?…
    I heard more sense in his 20 minutes than from May in 20 months… but they’re only a millimetre apart?
    As for voters…65% of Labour voters supported leave as opposed to 68% of LD voters..Not a lot of difference..whereas only 39% of Tories did…but they’re only a millimetre apart?

    Labour MPs/voters are those that will shift the balance from hard to soft or even remain; Corbyn is moving slowly but surely..Look at the approbation even this step got from the right wing media…The old adage ofl “Softly, softly catchee monkee”, comes to mind….

  • As always, Caron, you are asking very valid strategic questions. But the situation is tactical. Concil wins are nice, but tactical. What matters is the HoCs. There, forget about labour seats and seats with labour closely behind conservative. They must and should go labour. Defend LibDem seats (by being seen as suporting but moderating the coming labour Government), and concentrate on close Con/LibDem-contests. The remain/second referendum stance is your only ticket; there will not be any meaningful policy-debate or -campaigning anywhere in Britain until this election or the Tory Brexit-crash has happened.

  • William Fowler 27th Feb '18 - 12:54pm

    Corbyn’s loyalty to some of the clowns in his cabinet means its unlikely we will see Sir Vince as chancellor in some kind of Labour?LD alliance…

  • William Fowler 27th Feb ’18 – 12:54pm…….its unlikely we will see Sir Vince as chancellor in some kind of Labour?LD alliance………..

    Let us hope not..The last time we got ministerial cars we bought them with our core beliefs and the ongoing support of voters…Was it worth it?

  • @ expats He won’t remember because at the time he was a Conservative

    – though his comment “Corbyn’s loyalty to some of the clowns in his cabinet” is well up to his usual standard of thoughtful reflective debate on LDV.

  • I don’t want to rain on the parade of the digital team too much but there is no payoff in this video. I’m left thinking who actually did say those things – was it one or both of them? I know the answer but the audience won’t. I know this stuff needs to be done quickly but an extra bit of thought would go a long way and make me actually want to share this video.

  • David Raw 27th Feb ’18 – 2:59pm…………..– though his comment “Corbyn’s loyalty to some of the clowns in his cabinet” is well up to his usual standard of thoughtful reflective debate on LDV……….

    He is not alone…The only hope of anything other than a ‘hard’ Brexit is for Labour to use it’s muscle to moderate May’s Muppets…Instead we seem determined to pick arguments at every statement…
    As far as clowns go, after hearing Boris this morning, I played a song from “A Little Night Music”..No prizes for guessing which one

  • John Roffey 27th Feb '18 - 5:24pm

    @theakes “Let everone talk realistically and not theoretically about one thing, our future and survival. We have to rescue ourselves and quick.”

    Is this view shared by the Party’s leading players – VC must be wondering what to tell the troops at the Spring Conference after indicating that he could be PM after the next GE – as a result of Remainer MPs. from the two main parties, jumping ship.

    It is now pretty clear that the Party is not going to play a significant role in the outcome of Brexit – and there is little doubt that some form of Brexit will take place.

    Investing precious resources in the debate and having to wait a few years for Brexit to prove a costly venture – allowing Party members to smugly say ‘we told you so’ – doesn’t seem a healthy strategy for a party that needs to build its support base before the next GE if it is to hang on to its current MPs.

  • Building more houses? I dont think so … you only have to look at EVERY LIB DEM LEAFLET and you will see trenchant and repeated opposition to more houses “near us”. It’s no use saying “oh yes more homes” at a national level but opposing them locally. That kind of politics makes the Lib Dems less relevant all the time.

  • John Marriott 27th Feb '18 - 6:38pm

    Some Lib Dems appear to want to ‘weaponise’ Brexit. I personally find the idea of trying to gain political advantage out of the present uncertainty somewhat unseemly and even rather cynical. John Roffey is quite right. The Lib Dems alone are not going to play a major role in any campaign to change course. To some extent many LDV contributors remind me a bit of Hitler in his Berlin bunker in April 1945 moving his imaginary armies around.

    As Mr Roffey also states, some form of Brexit WILL take place, if only to honour the spirit of the EU Referendum. So why not cut out the hyperbole and the doom and gloom. They didn’t work before the vote took place. Let’s see what DD can get out of his efforts and then decide what to do!

  • I will laugh my head off when the voters actually get a taste of Tory hard Brexit, or socialist Brexit under Labour, and go in a 180 degree direction and call for not only re-entry to the EU, the Euro, Schengen, TTIP and ISDS, an EU army, Turkey in the EU, a privatised EU healthcare service, Esperanto and all the other stupid scaremongering by Brexiteers of left or right.

  • John Roffey 27th Feb '18 - 6:46pm

    How about focusing on Climate Change? As I explained on another tread the Green Party [nor any other] seem to treat this subject with the seriousness it deserves – and the impact of Abrupt Climate Change [which seems as if it might be becoming even more abrupt than was first envisaged] – makes our membership or not of the EU pale into insignificance.

    Arctic warming: scientists alarmed by ‘crazy’ temperature rises

    Record warmth in the Arctic this month could yet prove to be a freak occurrence, but experts warn the warming event is unprecedented.

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/feb/27/arctic-warming-scientists-alarmed-by-crazy-temperature-rises

  • @ Simon … “you only have to look at EVERY LIB DEM LEAFLET and you will see trenchant and repeated opposition to more houses “near us”.

    It’s been like that for years, Simon and it tells you more about Lib Dem joined up thinking than it does about the need for more houses. They also seem (rightly in my view) to go a bundle on ‘taking a firm stand on dog dirt – tho’ neither is a sustainable position in the long term.

    @ John Marriott Agree, John. That’s the sensible pragmatic view – but some senior Lib Dems seem to have got their tights in a twist which they seem to be incapable of getting out of. For once, I agree with Asquith : “Wait and See”.

    Vince asked the Chancellor at Treasury Questions about the Swansea Lagoon today…. very worthy but not exactly headline breaking. He’s 75 in two months – I wonder if he’s winding down ready to hand over when the young ‘uns get a tad bit more experience ? He’s surely never going to fight the next G.E. and make Jeremy C. look like a spring chicken, is he ?

  • @John Marriott

    “The Lib Dems alone are not going to play a major role in any campaign to change course. To some extent many LDV contributors remind me a bit of Hitler in his Berlin bunker in April 1945 moving his imaginary armies around.”

    I think everyone involved in politics is involved because they either want to change things or stop that change happening. There are many things that I want to happen and am campaigning as party of a political party to see happen.

    If I had to guess I think that we will “re-join” or indeed not leave the EU before we get an elected House of Lords. But hey who knows – you would have predicted the future course of politics starting in 1975 or 1987 or 1991 or 2007 or 2016 or 2017 – even if some physicists think that the “future” may already exist!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MO_Q_f1WgQI

    And yes that may involve working with those of other parties and none.

    “Some Lib Dems appear to want to ‘weaponise’ Brexit. I personally find the idea of trying to gain political advantage out of the present uncertainty somewhat unseemly and even rather cynical ”

    It is not about “weaponising” Brexit any more than it is any other issue – NHS, education, etc. etc. on which we have a view as a party. Come off it – is campaigning on the NHS exploiting the sick????

    We can have a view on what the best outcome would be and that is not leaving – and short of that – anything that keeps us more “in”.

  • We can’t just “stop Brexit” because we disagree with it; that debate was lost in 2016. As long as we fight yesterday’s battles, the public will continue to ignore us.

  • Neil Sandison 5th Mar '18 - 11:10am

    We still have not got it .The pro Brexit vote wasnt anti EU but anti freedom of movement to take up employment particularly in lower skilled blue collar jobs .Agencies imported large numbers of East European workers on below minimum wage and basically removed many traditional working class occupations from the jobs market . Add to that zero hours contracts and reduced employment rights then the cocktail of discontent was already prepared prior to the referendum .People had no problem with overseas students or seasonal workers in agriculture ,hospitality, or catering its when it began to bite into other areas like logistics ,warehousing ,manufacturing and other traditional blue class trades. Corbyn has got it right in terms of recognising that problem if not the solutions , A viable imigration policy would make a customs union and access to the single market more palatable and would help mitigate the fears of those at the bottom of the employment chain who were substantially left behind and felt seriously ignored in their concerns.

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