Vince to stand down as MP if Parliament runs its course to 2022

Just after Jo was on Marr this morning, Vince popped up on Pienaar’s Politics.

He used the opportunity to say, unsurprisingly, that a vote for the Lib Dems is a vote to stop Brexit. Finally, we have a slogan that means something and is in keeping with the zeitgeist. Once we are all sick to the back teeth of hearing it, it will just be starting to cut through to the general public, so prepare to hear it a great deal.

In fact, if any Lib Dem fails to say that within 5 seconds of opening their mouth at the moment, they are not doing their jobs properly.

It was the main theme of our launch the other day – and the New Statesman even described that event as “slick.” It’s a long time since anything we did has been called that.

Vince added that with our campaign infrastructure and momentum from the local elections, we have a big advantage over Change UK.

On that Change UK memo earlier in the week in which they set out their mission to crush us, he said that we have good working relations with them at informal levels, but he reckons that they will see the advantage of working together when they hit the realities of our electoral system.

As that New Statesman article said:

It (the timing of the Change UK launch in Bristol on a day Parliament was sitting) demonstrates one of the implicit arguments that the Liberal Democrats will make as to why they are the best vehicle for Remainer outrage – because they have the know-how and experience to actually get MEPs elected and to make a splash in a way that Change UK do not.

But they also have another ace in the hole – the looming local elections this Thursday. These were seats last contested in 2015, a disastrous night for the Liberal Democrats on which they lost 51 MPs; but more importantly for our purposes they also lost 658 councillors and control of four councils.

They are not going to make those losses up overnight: the difficulty minor parties have is what takes years of work to acquire can be lost in the time it takes to say “rose garden”. But frankly they will be doing pretty poorly if they can’t at least make enough of those losses back that they won’t be able to declare themselves the winners of the local elections and the most well-placed pro-Remain party to give the big two a fright.

Now the Labour-supporting New Statesman is hardly likely to want to up the prospects of Change UK, but even taking that into consideration, they’ve added weight to the point that Vince was making about our expertise and experience making us better placed for success.

Vince also told Pienaar that his decision on whether to stand again for his Twickenham seat would depend on when the General Election was. If it was on its scheduled timetable for 2022, he wouldn’t fight the seat again. If he did, he’d be 84 at the end of that Parliament.

He talked about what he felt he had achieved as leader – boosting the party’s morale and reforming its structures. He said he expects very good local election results on Thursday, something borne out by Sky’s predictions:


He said that his successor would inherit a stronger party with a clearer message.

That’s certainly true. We are in better shape than we were in 2017. We have a much stronger parliamentary team than we had in 2015. Over the Summer, we’ll have to choose what direction to go in next as we go through the election to choose Vince’s successor.

I will not be alone in wanting this campaign to be friendly and thoughtful in a way that 2015’s between Tim Farron and Norman Lamb was not. The party was still in grief and shock after the horrors of the election result and it all came out on social media. For this one we will be in a better place to have reasoned and interesting debates.

But there are two elections to get through first and our current leader and the wider team of parliamentarians and candidates and campaigners are doing a great job on those.

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

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  • I don’t remember the Farron/Lamb election being particularly unfriendly? Certainly the hustings I attended was good-natured. The Huhne/Clegg election was the nasty one.
    But apart that, I agree that both Vince and Jo did good today (though I do wish Jo could control her hands a bit more), and I also agree that ‘A LibDem vote is a vote to stop Brexit’ is exactly the right message for us at the moment. I know some will say this excludes the Brexit supporters, but honestly how many of those are likely to support us anyway, especially now that they have three or four options to vote for? No, we are right to stake our claim to the anti-Brexit vote, which is both growing and natural to us.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 29th Apr '19 - 1:19am

    Long may Sir Vince continue as our wise sage, based on the q time experience this week he has much yet there, long may our Jo Swinson, wave her very expressive hands, based on the extract of her interview on Marr, she has lots to offer us!!!

  • Andrew Tampion 29th Apr '19 - 6:53am

    “He used the opportunity to say, unsurprisingly, that a vote for the Lib Dems is a vote to stop Brexit.
    In fact, if any Lib Dem fails to say that within 5 seconds of opening their mouth at the moment, they are not doing their jobs properly.”

    What if you are a Lib Dem who supports Brexit or, like me, voted remain but believes that the outcome of the referendum should be respected? In my case believe I believe that the damage to our democracy caused by not honouring the result would be far worse than the consequences of leaving the EU.

  • Peter Watson 29th Apr '19 - 8:01am

    “wanting this campaign to be friendly and thoughtful”
    One has to hope there is no truth in rumours which surfaced a month ago that Lib Dem staff were actively campaigning against one of the likely candidates.

  • Steve Comer 29th Apr '19 - 8:11am

    I think its good that Vince has announced that he will stand down in 2022. We have had huge problems in holding seats when a popular MP stands down (Southport, Berwick and Somerston & Frome spring to mind) at least we have local government strength in that area, and time for a new candidate to get known.

  • Jayne Mansfield 29th Apr '19 - 9:33am

    @ TonyH,

    Forgive me if I am incorrect, but I believe that 30% of those who voted leave in 2016 were Liberal Democrat supporters.

  • Rob Parsons 29th Apr '19 - 9:50am

    Andrew Tampion 29th Apr ’19 – 6:53am The answer to that is, sorry, but the damage to democracy has already been done by a referendum in which a wafer thin majority was won by monumental lies and persistent law breaking. For the same reason, the respect that referendum deserves is precisely none. We can begin to restore democracy by having a new referendum in which people can say whether they have changed their minds or not.

  • Rob, I agree; another referendum is needed to test people’s views in the light of what has been seen since the last one. On such a big issue it is right to have the vote twice anyway.

  • @Jayne Mansfield

    5% of Leave voters were Liberal Democrats. Of those that voted in the referendum 30% of Liberal Democrats supporters voted Leave (which is may be what you meant). 70% voted Remain the highest percentage for any GB party except the Greens.

    Now according to Opinium, 1% of those that voted Leave will vote Lib Dem, against 11% of Remainers and 15% of those who didn’t vote. This means that 84% of our vote voted Remain 9% Leave, 7% didn’t vote (Opinium does tend to be a bit a stingy towards us systematically but I had it to hand)

  • Richard Underhill 29th Apr '19 - 2:16pm

    Vince Cable was on Politics Live (BBC1 29/4/2019 12.15) for the entire programme. He was being the Vince we always knew, credible and authoritative on macro-economics and Cabinet-level responsibilities.
    The BBC therefore introduced Pascal Lamy ( The Tory was a resigned Cabinet Minister, somewhat outclassed (except that he was one of the least successful leaders the Tories have ever had, including supporting Tony Blair on an invasion of Iraq). When IDS was peddling one of the usual Leaver lines, Pascal Lamy did not interrupt, but waved his hands above his head, implying that IDS is not merely factually wrong, but possibly mentally unsound.
    Please believe me, or take a look yourselves.

  • Andrew Tampion 29th Apr '19 - 5:12pm

    Rob Parsons. We will have to agree to disagree. But i urge you to reflect on what Henning Wehn said on Question Time a few weeks ago: “The most you can hope for is 52% to 48% the other way and that will only make things worse.”

  • @ Andrew Tampion

    I also witnessed Henning Wehn’s BBCQT performance on that occasion and remember his comment – but, correct me if I’m wrong, when I last checked, he was a comedian rather than an authority on opinion polling!

  • Thank you for instructing me on what I should be saying Caron.

    I will – naturally – ignore the instruction and get on with the local elections.

  • Andrew McCaig 29th Apr '19 - 9:41pm

    Like CreweGwyn, i will be getting on with the local elections and NOT mentioning Brexit. (even though i am about as strong a Remainer as you will find)

    2000 surveys in Huddersfield last year showed that 50% of our local election voters voted Leave. More of our General Election voters did vote Remain, but since that is only 2.6% of the electorate it is not very helpful. People who live in a Scottish or London bubble would do well to remember that if we want any gains in the North or Midlands, Brexit has to be described as something irrelevant to local elections. And we have to make it clear that as Liberal Democrats we have to be on the side of ALL people, not just those who agree with us on Europe (well, there are exceptions of course!).

    The good thing is that very few people notice what Vince says or watch local election ppbs that dont talk about local elections. Not so good for the Euro campaign of course…

  • Andrew Tampion, I will most certainly not agree to disagree. It is time we fought back against this ridiculous idea that the 2016 referendum cannot be challenged. When people say it must be respected what they mean is that it must be fetishised. It is as if democracy died in 2016 and has been pickled in aspic ever since. No, democracy did not die, despite the best efforts of the Leave campaign to drown it in lies and law breaking. Democracy is a vibrant, living and changing thing. The facts have changed massively – we know just how much lying there was, we now have some good idea of the scale of the law breaking that went on and which vitiates any claim that the result has to being democratic.

    You want democracy? Fine, let’s have it. Let’s have another vote, and if the Leave campaign’s arguments are good enough, they will win. If they lose and the undemocratic far right go on a rampage, then I expect the police will do their job and stop them in their tracks.

  • Andrew Tampion 29th Apr '19 - 10:50pm

    Sean Hagan. You’re right it is worrying that a German comedian has a better grasp of British politics than the leadership of our party.
    Less facetiously if you remember the comment then you will also remember that he prefaced it by asking the audience to indicate almost nobody had.
    Where I live in a strong Leave area I have noticed that the opinions of my Leave voting friends have not changed. In the 2015 election Bosworth constituency was a Lib Dem target seat. By 2017 we had slipped to 3rd place behind the Tories and Labour.

  • Andrew Tampion 29th Apr '19 - 11:32pm

    Rob Parsons. If you’re not prepared to agree to disagree then that is your problem not mine. If you are not preparec to accept after nearly three years that it is politically an morally unacceptable to hold a referendum on the basis that the result will be honoured then try to overturn the result because you don’t agree with it then any further debate between us is a waste of time. For the record I am not arguing that if a party wins a general election with a manifesto commitment to hold another in – out EU that it would be undemocratic to hold one.

  • Andrew McCaig 30th Apr '19 - 7:14am

    I think you are really indulging in hyperbole here. “morally unacceptable”??
    What about the 1.4 million young people unable to vote in 2016, but now old enough? How is it “morally acceptable” to ignore their views?

    I do fully agree that it would be quite wrong to simply ignore the vote and revoke article 50 as if nothing had happened. Some people in this Party want to do that and i do find that extraordinary. But Vince wisely is not suggesting that. A confirmatory vote is like the cooling off period on an insurance policy. Read the small print and decide whether you really want what is now clear. If people have not changed their minds then out we go and that is an end of it (although note the young voters cited above. If they have not changed their minds and if Remain voters turn out with the same passion as Leavers last time the result will be overturned without a single person changing their minds.)
    Leaving the EU is something that will affect people who are not yet born. As my daughter said it will take away her birthright of free movement. We should be very sure we are doing the right thing.

  • As much as I usually rate Henning When, I’m not convinced that a comedian who makes money from making jokes at how things have gone wrong is the most objective of commentators, or that everything they say should be taken seriously. His argument is hardly intellectually rigorous and is as useful as the exclamation that ‘it’s funny how your keys are always in the last place you look’.

    The reality is that the way the original referendum was conducted is an affront to democracy and to let it proceed without pause for thought is akin to letting Lance Armstrong keep his Tour de France medals, because we don’t want to offend the stewards who said he was the winner.

    If we think that a 52/48 split the other way is no reason to maintain the status quo, then it underlines how daft it was to have such a narrow margin for victory in the first place. Such huge change should only take place when there is a discernible, significant majority, or at the very least demonstrate that the majority is in favour over a period of more than a few days.

    We have exposed many of the lies and dirty tricks used by the leave campaigns, but my fear is that we still don’t have proper mechanisms in place to prevent a repeat in a referendum on the deal. The only big change I can think of is in how political parties in NI declare their income, which is important, but only part of it.

  • Andrew Tampion 30th Apr '19 - 9:46am

    Mr McCaig. Unless the voting age is reduced to zero there will always be people unable to vote whose vote might have changed the outcome. Even if the voting age was zero there would be the unborn who could complain that their future had been sold out without them having a say.
    In anycase if you followed that principle to it’s logical conclusion you would have to have confirmitory votes on everything every couple of years to make sure that those to young to vote previously could have their say.
    Fiona I refuse to debate with people who don;t identify themselv underselves. Publish that comment under your full name and I will respond to it.

  • Andrew Tampion. I am not seeking to overturn the result of the referendum “because I don’t agree with it”. I don’t agree with lots of vote results – every wretched general election – but I don’t seek to overturn them when they are won fairly. I made it clear in both my posts that I do not respect the result of the 2016 referendum because it was won by monumental lies and serial law breaking. If you defend the result, you are defending those practices. Could you tell me, please, how you can defend as democratic such monumental lies and such persistent law breaking?

  • Andrew Tampion 30th Apr '19 - 3:46pm

    Rob Parsons. I don’t oppose a second referendum because I want to leave the EU: I oppose it because I believe that the result fairly reflected the view of the country as a whole. I do not believe that any breaches of electoral law or lies told by some who campaigned for leave affected the result. Another thing we are going to have to agree to disagree on.

  • Daniel Walker 30th Apr '19 - 4:20pm

    @Andrew Tampion “I do not believe that any breaches of electoral law or lies told by some who campaigned for leave affected the result.”

    Leaving aside the question of whether or not the result was affected for a moment, the breaches & lies did happen. The fact that is impossible to quantify the effect does not mean the result is valid; indeed, quite the opposite. If a winner of the 400m at the Olympics (or Lance Armstrong, as Fiona said above) is found to test positive for a banned substance, then they are disqualified. There is no further “but did it help?” test, precisely because there is no way to know that. What else could you possibly do?

  • Andrew Tampion 1st May '19 - 7:20am

    Daniel I very much doubt whether any election or referendum ever held has absolute no breaches of electoral law. I am satisfied that none of the Leave voters I know where influenced by any of the breaches you refer to. So I hope that unlike Rob Parsons above you are prepared to agree to disagree.
    In any case you might want to bear in mind the following from the Electoral Commission,000-for-breaches-of-campaign-finance-rules if as you say there is no “did it help test” who knows may have resulted in an increased Remain vote.

  • Daniel Walker 1st May '19 - 7:35am

    @Andrew Tampion

    I’ll agree to disagree, but we do sometimes rerun elections in this country when electoral law is breached, and the LibDem fine for breaches, while fair, was literally for misplacing receipts, not on the same scale as the Vote Leave et al. breaches.

    But basically:

    If you don’t rerun elections when serious breaches occur, what you are saying is that if you can afford the maximum fine the Electoral Commission can impose, you can do anything at all that falls short of an imprisonable offence to win an election. Is that what you want?

  • Nonconformistradical 1st May '19 - 8:27am

    “If you don’t rerun elections when serious breaches occur, what you are saying is that if you can afford the maximum fine the Electoral Commission can impose, you can do anything at all that falls short of an imprisonable offence to win an election. Is that what you want?”

    Exactly the key issue. And not addressing it properly gives the wealthy and already powerful carte blanche to do whatever they like to gain more wealth and power at the expense of the masses – as they say “the cost of doing business”

  • Andrew Tampion 2nd May '19 - 7:43am

    Daniel Walker.
    I think that the decision on whether to order a re-run of any particular election or referendum should be a matter for the independent and impartial regulator and that while those who have an interest in the outcome one way or the other are entitled to make representations the decision should be made as impartially as possible.
    As a matter of fact in this case either the Electoral Commission choose not to order a re-run or possibly they did not have that power in which case Parliament choose not to give it to them

  • Nonconformistradical 2nd May '19 - 8:04am

    @Andrew Tampion
    “I think that the decision on whether to order a re-run of any particular election or referendum should be a matter for the independent and impartial regulator…”
    “..either the Electoral Commission choose not to order a re-run or possibly they did not have that power in which case Parliament choose not to give it to them”

    Which strengthens the case for a proper written constitution with proper procedures for changing it – instead of making it up on the hoof.

    The overturning of a referendum result by the Swiss supreme court recently on the grounds that voters had insufficient information to make a judgement is very relevant here. The UK Electoral Commmission is just a bunch of bureaucrats – damned if they do and damned if they don’t. They have insufficient legal standing. There needs to be a process wherebye a challenge to an election or referendum result can go through a proper legal process all the way to the supreme court if necessary.

  • Rob Parsons 2nd May '19 - 10:24am

    Andrew Tampion, all of this has been gone over in the High Court recently. The killer issue here is that if the referendum had been binding, it would have been annulled. It was made not binding and therefore there is no power to annul it.

    The government’s defence of its position in court was that Theresa May knew of the illegalities in the campaign and decided to go ahead anyway and treat the referendum as if it were binding. Let me say that again, just to be clear, the government made its defence out of the fact that Theresa May was aware – completely, knowingly aware – of the illegalities in the camapign, and has decided to treat the result not only as acceptable but as binding. That is rotten, it is corrupt.

    More to the point, the decision to press ahead with implementing the result as if it were binding, in the face of all democratic principle, is a political one, not a legal one. It is therefore quite legitimate to fight it by political means – and that is what we are doing. Quite legitimately, and quite rightly.

  • Andrew Tampion 3rd May '19 - 7:14am

    I refuse to debate with people who conceal their identity: publish your comment under your real name and I will respond.

  • Andrew Tampion 3rd May '19 - 8:06am

    Rob Parsons
    If you are referring to the case of Wilson & others, R (on the application of) v The Prime Minister [2019] EWCA Civ 304 4th of March 2019 it is simply not true to state that the only reason the court decided not to annul the EU Referendum result was because it was not binding. You can read or re-read the judgement from the link I have provided. The key paragraphs in my view are 37, 43, 48, 49, 53 and 56. It is clear that the Court reject the claim because the Applicants had not made out their case. In addition the Court also ruled that a further ground for rejecting was the delay in bringing the case before the Court, see paragraph 62. Two further points on the judgement. Court upheld the decision to order the Applicant to pay the Respondent’s costs which is unusual #for this type of case. Also I refer you to paragraphs 16 and 42 where the judge states that he doesn’t accep6t that the breaches affected the result and that as a matter of fact Remain outspent Leave by £19.3 million to £13.3 million, see paragraph 15.
    In any event the decision to leave the EU was made by Parliament after a General Election in which both the Conservative and Labour Parties who both campaigned on the basis that they accepted the outcome of the Referendum and would leave the EU and those two Parties secured more than 80% of the vote.

  • Rob Parsons 3rd May '19 - 9:43am

    Andrew Campion. I bow to your more detailed knowledge of the case. But you actually support my main point. The decision to continue down this path is a political one. It is therefore perfectly fair and legitimate to continue to resist it by political means.

    The point about spending, by the way, I always think is a weak one when looked at in a longer context. Remain spending only goes a short way towards making up for the tens of millions spent by right wing press barons over the last thirty years or more telling lies about the EU and softening people up for precisely this vote.

  • Andrew Tampion 3rd May '19 - 10:49am

    Rob Parsons
    I refer you to the final sentence of my post dated 29th April at 11.32pm

  • Andrew Tampion 3rd May '19 - 10:57am

    Peter Watson
    With a bit of luck the cobine vote for UKIP & the Brexit Party in the Euro elections should they occur will be so large that it will put an end to this 2nd referendum nonsense once and for all.
    In the contingency of a second referendum with a question such as you postulate and with no “no deal” option then the best thing for a dissatisfied Leave voter to do would be to spoil their ballot paper with the words “no deal”.

  • Rob Parsons 3rd May '19 - 2:31pm

    Andrew Tampion 3rd May ’19 – 10:49am – which does not answer the points I’m making. It merely asserts that you have a different view, which you are entitled to. I am sure you will want to have the last word. I will let you have it.

  • Richard Underhill 4th May '19 - 10:14pm

    TonyH; Do you remember Liberal leadership candidate David Steel telling journalists about the bald patch his opponent had? How about that for toughness?
    John Pardoe lost his seat.
    David Steel was repeatedly re-elected to the Commons, became the equivalent of the Speaker in the devolved Scottish Parliament, became a life peer and created legislation for reform, including voluntary retirement.

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