Vince: Lib Dems are going forward

Vince has been talking to the Evening Standard ahead of Spring Conference. He emphasised our unique position on Brexit and how we are going for the votes of EU Nationals in the local elections in May.

“We are going forwards, the question is how fast,” he said. Brexit might  provide their way back. “I think the Government is making a terrible pig’s ear of it. It’s proving to be far more complicated, far more difficult than people were led to believe. Theresa May’s biggest mistake was probably hubris, making these commitments to red lines on the single market and the customs union that she is now having to slither out of.” His first test will be the local elections on May 3, when the party will bring out videos and social media campaign material in 21  European languages in a bid to harness the votes of a million EU citizens in Britain. Lib Dem campaigners have already contacted 300,000 more than three times each, he revealed. “Our main appeal is to British voters but the  European nationals are people having things done to them. They didn’t have a vote in the referendum, they didn’t have a vote in the general election, but they do have a vote in local elections.”

I suspect we’ll see the hardline Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn together a lot in the coming months:

He remains committed to stopping Brexit altogether. “I don’t think the soft Brexit is obtainable any more,” he said. “Maybe with good organisation and a bit more courage from the Tory backbenches they will stop her leaving the customs union… but that’s not enough in itself to get to a soft Brexit.” He branded Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn “a fairly hardline Brexiteer” who had held open the door for the UK exit and opposed a second referendum.

He also talked about his commitment to make the Lib Dems more diverse and have a BAME candidate in London:

Not just because of London, Sadiq and so on… we are making a big push on diversity. Relatively speaking we are a very white party, often because a lack of effort to diversify.

You can read the whole interview here. 

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

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This entry was posted in News.


  • Laurence Cox 10th Mar '18 - 12:09pm

    We need to major on Corbyn as being as hard a Brexiteer as May. Here he is rejecting the Norway option at Labour’s Scottish Conference:

    His position on Brexit is just as much cherry-picking as May’s and equally likely to be rejected by the EU.

  • Jonathan Reeve 10th Mar '18 - 12:14pm

    The slim 2016 majority for Brexit will have evaporated by the middle of next year due to the higher mortality of the more elderly brexit voters compared to the less ancient anti-brexit voters. Only in the bad old days in Belfast have the dead ever voted in the UK.
    The other key issue for the brexiteers is how much they were prepared to pay for Brexit. About £800 per family was the conclusion of a You Gov poll at the time. The IFS now estimates that if will be orders of magnitude higher. And its seems Brexit voting areas will suffer most. LibDems must bring this home.

  • John Marriott 10th Mar '18 - 12:45pm

    IF no breakthrough occurs in May, will Vince and co then change their ‘new Referendum’ tune? You see, putting all your eggs in one basket could leave you with egg on your face!

  • There are many reasons why people voted for Brexit and it is not just the elderly who voted to leave the EU. I am in the age group that Jonathan Reeves thinks will be pushing up the daises next year yet my wife and I voted to remain in the EU and I am getting rather fed up with being blamed for the referendum result.
    Maybe it would be a good idea to find out why so many young people voted for Jeremy Corbyn at the last election him being such keen supporter of the EU?

  • Peter Martin 10th Mar '18 - 12:54pm

    @ Jonathan Reeve,

    There doesn’t seem to be any obvious trend towards a Remain sentiment along the lines you suggest with your ‘mortality’ argument. See the graph showing levels of support, since 1977, for the EEC/EC/EU in the UK on the link below.

    Older more pro leave voters are likely to be “dying off” which would suggest there should be. On the other hand, the electorate as whole is ageing slightly and that may produce a trend in favour of Leave.

    The young are naturally likely to be more idealistic than the elderly. So its quite possible that they will become more cynical about the EU as they age.

    Remainers aren’t really doing themselves any favours with this argument. Firstly its quite distasteful to suggest that we all should just wait for enough people to die and we’ll get a different result. Secondly, it’s not likely to be correct in any case.

    The EU should promote itself on its merits. The situation in Italy should be a priority. The Italian GDP has declined since 2008. It hasn’t increased much in the UK. The EU is never going to be too popular if austerity economics and contractionary fiscal policies are the order of the day. Concentrate on that and stop wishing for a higher death rate!

  • Lorenzo Cherin 10th Mar '18 - 1:04pm

    This is all good but is a bit complacent.

    Apart from disagreeing with Jonathon, a profoundly insensitive view often put by people intent on thinking the, Brexiteer view is a senior citizens movement, the same one sided view that is thinking the Corbyn cult is a permanent youth movement. We should see politics, like Liberalism, as being flexible, thus views change .

    Also it is a bit pie in the sky, to think when we as a party are moving forward much, when not moving forward in the polls and neither is Labour, with this unpopular and second or third rate government.

    Is Vince or anyone going to ever deal quite soon with the fact that Renew are fielding candidates across the capital and country in the same elections mentioned and directly pitching for support we could get ?!

  • One, at least, of my close family members voted brexit but it wasn’t because of pride in a UK from the past or dislike of the changing world around them. It was a change to “take back control”, even if that made things worse, as result of frustration over cards being stacked against parts of society and how it seems the rules and regulations can be bent if you are well connected or excused if you’re seen as vulnerable. It doesn’t make sense that leaving the EU would solve this issue but staying in the EU and not addressing massive inequality of opportunity, or seeming to only addresses it for minority groups, won’t ease the feeling and it will only be a matter of time before similar vote is cast.

  • Christopher Haigh 10th Mar '18 - 2:51pm

    According to comments on Conservative Home the prime minister is beginning to have nightmares about the economic consequences of Brexit. She should suspend the whole thing and put the referendum result to the consideration of a Royal Commission.

  • The party needs to make a firm choice to accept centre right / right wing economics, liberal social views and be proudly pro globalisation and internationalist.

    The far left and anyone who supports left wing economics / protectionism will never back the party. Ditto the far right / nationalism. Therefore as well as the core vote, we should appeal to Remain voting Tories and Blairites who make up the liberal centre ground.

    Domestic policy should reflect this – the party seems to know where it (rightly no less) stands on social issues, but it should also be a champion of free markets, low taxes, flexible labour markets, open borders, marketised public services, free trade and the private sector.

    There is no point trying to be Corbynism-lite we should not give credence to renationalisation, trade unionism, anti offshoring, anti TTIP, anti investor rights style protectionism. Nor Ukippian migration controls and naked patriotism. The German FDP or New Zealand ACT party should be our preferred model – with the enthusiasm of Trudeau and Macron.

  • Well that’s all very encouraging – not. Stimpson is predictably cheer leading for pseudo Tory policies again despite all the evidence about Lib Dem popularity post 2010-15. Why vote for a cheap imitation when you can vote for the real thing ?

    As for “oldies dying off”, one assumes (one hopes) that the Yoof support the liberal solution of allowing nature to take it’s course rather than producing a more concrete Solution.

    More seriously, given that I’m the same age as Vince – I find the comments of such as Jonathan Reeve not only insensitive but highly illiberal……. I only hope for his sake that he’s not one of the careless increasingly overweight Yoof who arepresently jeopardising their own mortality.

    Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet – England, 2016 – NHS …
    28 Apr 2016 – Youth obesity prevalence has increased from 15 per cent in 1993 to 26 per cent in 2014

    Lorenzo – Do make your mind up : “This is all good but is a bit complacent.” How can something be all good but a bit complacent ? Surely a non sequitur, n’est ce pas ?

  • Well that’s all very encouraging – not. Stimpson is predictably cheer leading for pseudo Tory policies again despite all the evidence about Lib Dem popularity post 2010-15. Why vote for a cheap imitation when you can vote for the real thing ?

    Because the Tories are not socially liberal, Europhile or internationalist, and seem to now be aping UKIP.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 10th Mar '18 - 4:35pm


    What you say on the economy has nothing to do with Liberalism if uncritical of a corporate version of rigged capitalism that John Stuart Mill woulf laugh at or cry over such was his sensitive nature at times. While I am no leftist, a centre left repositioned economy in favour of just think on this, humanity, is needed.


    All well and good… but… was the tone , but as someone who is a positive type, want to be that but in my view complacency is the friend of negativity one leads to the reaction in the other.

  • Arnold Kiel 10th Mar '18 - 5:11pm

    I am largely with Stimpson here. The UK as a system is a rather weak economic player. It must maximize its competitiveness, to be able to support as much as possible those who cannot successfully compete (the EU idea, in essence). This includes the elderly, all of whom (including leavers) I wish a long and healthy life. Their triple lock on pensions, however, made their romantic Brexit experiment risk-free for them. With a lock to wages only, they would have thought a little harder about their choice. It is absurd that the relatively shrinking active age groups, who are struggling to keep this Kingdom afloat against ever more cut-throat global competition, not only have to take a Brexit they rejected, but also of all the additional economic headwind it will produce.

  • Peter Martin 10th Mar '18 - 5:30pm

    @ Arnold Kiel,

    After the recent Italian election results in which the pro EU establishment parties were annihilated, I’d suggest that you might want to brush up on your Italian and concentrate your efforts there. It certainly should be where the EU should be focusing.

    I’d hope that we can continue to have a good trading relationship with Italy after Brexit. There’s no reason for either country to wish the other any harm. If the Italians can help reform, seriously reform, the EU then good luck to them. I’m sure they’d wish us well after Brexit too.

  • Arnold Kiel 10th Mar '18 - 5:30pm

    Lorenzo Cherin,

    capitalism is nothing but the (quintessentially liberal) idea that he/she who risks his money in an enterprise shall reap its success or suffer the loss. This is one of mankind’s best ideas. Nothing is rigged here (or it always was). States (best coordinated, e.g. as in the EU) must formulate and enforce boundary conditions to this unmatched wealth-generation principle to ensure that society as a whole benefits. The UK can get better here, but must never compromise the healthy fundamental principle.

  • paul barker 10th Mar '18 - 5:32pm

    Can I appeal for a bit less extremism in the comments ? Stimpsons views undoubtedly put him on The Right/Liberterian fringe of our Party but calling him a Tory is obviously innacurate.
    Are we going forward ? The answer for Local Votes would seem to be Yes but we will know for sure in the early hours of May 4th, thats only 8 Weeks to wait.
    So far our levels of National support havent shifted but after The 2015 General Election it took 18 Months for the recovery to show up in Polls, we have to keep calm & carry on.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 10th Mar '18 - 5:47pm


    Yes and no, as with my comments David took up, the answer or the question early on which asks for an answer is not so basic as you think.

    Capitalism is not a principle it is a practice , it is not a sense of a thing it is a system.

    Of course what you say about risk is true, but the bailed out coroporate largesse welfare state that allows companies to pay very basic wages, have massive overdrafts at banks that favour them, not pay them back but go into administraton, while I because of a small overdraft of four thousand managed at my bank, cannot get a loan to start a very exciting project or rather develop it as I have much done to develop it all with no money, is not the free and fair market capitalism we should advocate .

    We cannot support a corporate power that has , yes, rigged the so called system to mean it unlike years ago, is fine to store money offshore in tax avoidance. It is not moral or sensible to have a capital emphasis that separates that money from the communities it was made in, that prefers anonymity to involvement.

    Yes taxes that are reasonably low, but are paid !

  • Arnold Kiel 10th Mar '18 - 6:04pm

    Peter Martin,

    it is quite a challenge to connect your comment to what I wrote, the thread overall, or Vince’s interview, but I like challenges.

    The UK and Italy are quite different: the UK was, until 2016, well governed, Italy only since then. The UK lacks locally rooted entrepreneurial talent with global ambition, Italy has it. The UK has crushed its unions, Italian unions crush their companies. The UK is propped up by the Russian mafia, Italy exploited by its own. In the UK, the rich have their own Government, in Italy, the rich rule outright. Strangely, some results are quite similar, especially regional and societal inequality.

    But its people have some remarkable similarities: they perceive a strong, unspecific national pride, they are therefore quite unreflective with respect to their own competitive weaknesses, as a consequence, they blame their politicians for their misfortune, who rather successfully deflect this to immigrants. And when given a fundamental choice, they play with the radical option to stir things up.

  • Arnold Kiel 10th Mar '18 - 6:21pm

    And, not to forget, neither will get what they were promised.

  • Arnold Kiel 10th Mar '18 - 6:51pm

    Lorenzo Cherin,

    every Pound reinvested is a new investment decision, entirely driven by its chance of additional profit. Communities don’t make money, entrepreneurs do. Tax havens are a legal anomaly enabled by politicians (predominantely British), not entrepreneurs, and primarily used by rich individuals, not corporations.

    Bailouts happen to protect an economy and jobs, not capitalists. But without them, the show stops. The market (rightly balanced by strong unions) decides wage-levels, subject to better reasonable minimum-wage legislation.

    Sorry, also bankers are entrepreneurs who give credit based on a risk/reward rationale. This has, indeed, nothing to do with fairness and little with freedom, and it shouldn’t.

  • Peter Martin 10th Mar '18 - 7:19pm

    @ Arnold Kiel,

    “Communities don’t make money, entrepreneurs do.” ??

    Are we talking about counterfeiters here? 🙂

    In the UK, money in the form of the £ is a monopoly issue of the UK government. Via the wholly nationalised BoE.

    Naturally, we all like to acquire a bit for ourselves. The wealthy, by definition, have been more successful than most in this respect. But they haven’t created it. Money doesn’t grow on rich people.

  • Peter Watson 10th Mar '18 - 7:56pm

    @Stimpson “The party needs to make a firm choice to accept centre right / right wing economics, liberal social views …”

    i agree entirely that the party “needs to make a firm choice” (though not with the “right wing economics” option!), and you highlight the confusion about important policy areas that seems to be at the heart of the Lib Dem version of centrism.

    What you describe sounds like the Cameron/Osborne wing of the Conservative party, and appearing to be a clone of that has not done the Lib Dems any favours in recent years. Those who agree with that approach would be better off voting for and joining the Conservative party in order to influence a party of government and to counterbalance its less socially enlightened wing.

    Similarly those for whom stopping Brexit is their priority would be better off joining the Conservatives or Labour to bolster the pro-EU wings of those parties rather than throw brickbats at them from the sidelines.

    So the Lib Dems do need a clearer identity, but being socially liberal is not a USP and being anti-Brexit is not enough. And almost eight years after the start of Coalition and three years after its end, it is still not obvious that the party is any closer to solving that particular problem.

  • @Peter Martin – After the recent Italian election results in which the pro EU establishment parties were annihilated, I’d suggest that you might want to brush up on your Italian and concentrate your efforts there. It certainly should be where the EU should be focusing.

    Perhaps it is also where the UK should be focusing! Much has been made about “the EU” boogieman, however, little has been made about what is going on in other EU member nations with respect to their relationship with “the EU” and how that might assist the UK in changing “the EU”; remaining in the EU may well be the best way for the UK to get its cake, just that it needs to engage directly with other EU member nations…

  • Dave Sheppard 10th Mar '18 - 8:29pm

    The way forward is to join forces with the Greens we agree on so many things not much point in being apart really💍Time for a proposal in my opiniun

  • Lorenzo Cherin 10th Mar '18 - 8:47pm


    Social responsibility means a view of the many aspects of good practice coming together.

    A community of interest, is a good company. Similarly a customer base. Companies that care abut the community implement not just self interest but enlightened self interest , and not just that but community interest across the board, no pun intended.

    Companies are part of a playing field they are not it and should not be it.

    You need to see the world was not started in the nineteen nineties, before that capitalism was a system that also did have freedom and fairness at least part of it, rather more so than now.

  • Martin Land 10th Mar '18 - 8:57pm

    @Peter Martin. Money is created by Government Spending, Central Banks and Commercial Lending.

  • paul barker 10th Mar '18 - 9:56pm

    Sorry to see another thread hijacked by a small group on hobbyhorses.
    @ Dave Sheppard. We were nearly destroyed by the merger of The Liberal Party & The SDP, two Parties who agreed on almost everything & which had never stood against each other, we actually have significant differences with The Greens & a long history of fighting each other.
    Plus, there is Scotland.

  • @ Stimpson

    It seems that you want a Liberal Democrat Party which agrees with your politics – right wing economics and socially liberal. This vision for the party doesn’t fit our history. Historically we were the opposition to the Tories. We are the party of Keynes and Beveridge. We are a party in favour of social justice and this means running the economy for everyone not just the fittest.

    @ Peter Watson
    “it is still not obvious that the party is any closer to solving that particular problem.”

    You are correct. The Party needs to decide if it wants to be economically right-wing, a supporter of the economic orthodoxy or if it wants to have an economic policy that puts all of the people first and leaves no one behind.

  • paul barker 10th Mar ’18 – 5:32pm………So far our levels of National support havent shifted but after The 2015 General Election it took 18 Months for the recovery to show up in Polls, we have to keep calm & carry on…………

    When was this recovery? From May 2015 until now the party has rarely been into double figures; if that is a ‘recovery’ then the patient is still in ‘intensive care’…

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