We let the remainers down – now we need to focus on a Green New Deal

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The Liberal Democrats let the EU Remainers down, right from the 2016 Referendum.

On Nick Clegg’s recommendation the architect of our disastrous 2015 election campaign was appointed as chief of strategy for the remain campaign. The result was entirely predictable.

The party then spent four years in the wilderness. A steady, but uninspiring, leadership from Vince and hard work from our local government activists saw the party slowly improve its position.

In the 2019 Euro Elections the Remainers put their faith in the Lib Dems, only to be let down again at the General Election. This time a combination of a terrible campaign, inexperienced and badly advised leadership, fear of Corbyn and First Past the Post ensured that faith in the Lib Dems was once again misplaced. Not all our fault, but with a good campaign and steady leadership we should have made 50 seats, and the picture today would have been different.

The next challenge is more critical than Brexit. It is not our future in Europe at stake, it is the future of the planet. The youth have shown that they are concerned about Climate Change, but what about the political parties? In the UK the Green Party, with their Green New Deal, are ahead, the Lib Dems are not far behind and Labour is pushing us. The Tories are way behind – leave it to them, and our grandchildren are in for a very rough deal. On Housing and Transport they have little to say, and on Industrial Strategy nothing.

We must not let the public down again.

Ignore the calls that there are no votes in Green Policies. Australia is on fire; the BBC are about to launch a series of programmes on Climate Change and our current wet weather will wreck our food supply. The public will start to wake up, we need to provide a home.

We need in this country a Green New Deal Campaign, cross party. We should be talking with the Green Party to produce one, we are not far apart. If Long Bailey does not win the Labour Election we might be able to bring Labour in. If she wins, we could provide a home for the refugees. We are years off a General Election so at this stage we do not have to worry about guidelines for standing in individual seats.

One of our policies is to avoid trade deals with countries that have policies counter to the Paris Agreement. To do a trade deal with Trump’s USA would be an environmental crime, and we need to be saying so now.

For a start take Stop Brexit off our web site and replace with Stop Climate Change.

We need to be part of a mass political movement that will tackle climate change.

* David Becket is a former Lib Dem County Councillor, Unitary Councillor and District Councillor; he has held positions of responsibility at all levels.

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  • nigel hunter 18th Jan '20 - 1:40pm

    One way of getting the public interested is by encouraging community development .Helping them to be introduced into making things themselves or by repairing itemsor letting things last longer. etc. The rape of the planet is warning us that we must be more in tune with nature.Start by educating the children from an early age. There are plans for this and it must be pushed. The adults of today may be sleeping (until I am directly affected it does not harm me) but it is future generations that will feel the consequences of not doing anything. Consumerism has to alter. We should seriously push EDUCATION in all its aspects (ie Vince Cables education thru life ) as a persons life changes thru time . For example,today,learning for jobs,tomorrow, how to look after the planet and nature. A wide education .broadens the mind to all sorts of future possibilities IT MUST NOT BE ALOUD TO BE CHEAPENED BY TORIES. lowering standards for the many whilst looking after theEtonian sort etc..

  • Paul Barker 18th Jan '20 - 2:09pm

    This article would have made a lot more sense if the first section wasnt in it. My advice would be to take it down & split it into two pieces.
    Did we let The “Remainers” down or Vice Versa ? They Voted Labour & Tory, both Brexit Parties & they got Brexit, I dont see they have anything to complain about.
    The 2nd half of the article is great.

  • Peter Martin 18th Jan '20 - 2:34pm

    Congratulations on your call to focus on “a Green New Deal”. It would have been even better if you’d left any reference to “Remainers” and the EU out of the article. As you rightly say “The next challenge is more critical than Brexit”. If we can’t unite around this issue then things will be very grim indeed.

    Brexit is neither here nor there by comparison.

    The GND does need some explanation. It’s not simply about building a few extra wind turbines. It’s more about putting the economy on a ‘war-time’ footing to defeat an enemy which presents and existential threat. In this situation no-one counts the beans and asks silly questions about where the money is going to come from. It’s all about mobilising the available resources in the economy. That doesn’t mean just ‘putting a penny on income tax”!

    In the USA the GND is associated with political figures such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who espouses a type of economics very close to my own. Paul Mason doesn’t seem totally sold on the idea but at least he’s talking about it in this article.


  • David Becket makes a really good point about where the Lib Dems need to focus and actually where I believe a (post-Brexit) broad centrist umbrella grouping could evolve. The Lib Dems are well placed to work with like minds on a ‘Green Book’ / ‘Green New-Deal’!

    But there are three profound dangers to such co-operation here! Firstly, premature knee-jerk, conference top-down green policy commitments that have little in the way of impact statements for Jill & Joe Public’s day-to-day, let alone in the language attuned to them so effectively by the likes of Farage, Johnson and Cummings. Secondly, the “obstacle” of Europe! And thirdly, the trip-wire of Scottish independence!

    We have to “reconnect with democracy” on these! Aside from criticising the flaws in the Tory’s plans, our ambitions for EU membership need to be almost put on to an ‘educational project’ footing. Should the Lib Dems propose joining the EU in the future? Yes-in-principle and IF (in capitals) opinion polling showed consistent circa 2/3 support in the public. And IF the process can be as “unhijackable” by politician’s slogans and moneyed interests as possible.

    The process we advocate for that needs to be the same approach as we need to stay relevant and democratic in Scotland. You needs a consultative Citizens’ Assembly to legitimise a Referendum – hearing evidence and impact statements, proposing the questions and vote method, and the pros & cons prospectus from its findings. After all, a Green New Deal may also need to include the SNP in its electoral arithmetic!

  • Apart from the few climate change deniers out there, I think we all understand the need to move fast on climate change. Frustratingly, I am no clearer having read this article HOW we are going to achieve the reductions in greenhouse gases and hydro carbon use without crashing the world economy and creating mass unemployment and poverty ?
    So, a little flesh on the bones please. Are we prepared to use nuclear power to make up the shortfall until renewable power is ramped up sufficiently ? Are we prepared to compensate developing countries whose future prosperity depends on the exploitation of their natural resources (eg natural gas from Mozambique)? Are we prepared to subsidize electric and hybrid vehicles to make them affordable for most people ? Or will only the rich be able to take to the roads, the rest of us back on our bikes ? And foreign holidays, now only for the wealthy who can afford the massively inflated airport taxes ? And who pays for all of the above ? And many, many other questions.

  • You are still floundering in the mire of policies that the voting public have already profoundly demonstrated they are not in agreement with. This party will continue to get absolutely nowhere with this washed out thinking.

  • Nigel Jones 18th Jan '20 - 9:55pm

    As in the time of Charles Kennedy, green issues must form a thread through almost every policy. That means it will take time to work out the way forward, but i agree with David Becket we need to start this now as a key umbrella for our thinking and messaging. We also need to deal with the priorities we face, so that no one section of the population is unfairly treated by any proposals. For example, as Caroline Lucas said this week, we should find greener alternatives to short-haul flying even if that means some people loose jobs in companies like Flybe, YET we must prepare for this by enabling people made redundant to be supported BEFORE that happens and find other jobs.
    In the past there was a good case for closing coal mines, but Thatcher did it in the wrong way and Arthur Scargill should have fought to have support for miners, rather than simply oppose closures.

  • Nigel Jones 18th Jan '20 - 9:58pm

    I must add to my comment that we must simultaneously deal with inequality, otherwise many people will not support us on green/international issues.

  • Well said Chris Cory, I could not put it better.

  • David Becket 18th Jan '20 - 10:48pm

    @ Simon McGrath
    I will deal with comments possibly to-morrow, but I must point out a correction.
    Simon Please read Page 94 of our 2019 Election Manifesto

  • Matthew Huntbach 19th Jan '20 - 6:50am


    Understand that Labour will not be part of any arrangement with the Lib Dems unless the Lib Dems give an absolute cast iron commitment to working with Labour to keep the Tories out of power in the event of a future hung parliament.

    It was thanks to the electoral system that the Labour Party supports but the Liberal Democrats oppose that the only stable government that could be formed in 2010 was a Conservative-LibDem coalition that was largely Conservative.

    If we had proportional representation, there would have been enough Labour and LibDem MPs to form a majority. Also there would have been two LibDem MPs for every three Conservative MPs. That would have enabled the LibDems to get much more control over the coalition than the one that the electoral system the Labour Party supports led to: one LibDem MP for every five Conservative MPs.

    I.e. the difference between Labour and the LibDems is that Labour support the Conservative wanting to push up their number of MPs rather than have a system where a coalition would need to be formed.

    We needed to make this lear, but of course our useless national leadership didn’t. Our useless national leadership didn’t make it clear that it was thanks to the electoral system supported by Labour that we had only a minor say in the 2010-15 Coalition, and that what it did reflected it being five-sixth Conservatives and so was very far from what a Liberal Democrat dominated government would do.

  • David Becket 19th Jan '20 - 1:18pm

    I thank everybody who has commented and I will try and answer some of the points.

    We will need to get uncomfortable messages over, or as John M states produce impact statements for Jill & Joe Public’s day-to-day.
    We cannot dictate difficult measures from the centre, we need to establish local Citizens Assemblies to inform communities and develop community solutions. We will need to ensure that people have a say in how climate change can be mitigated, this is after all Liberal Democrat DNA.
    Changes to life style and loss of jobs must be managed with care. It is only when people see the need and are given alternatives that we will get some acceptance. Work has not started on this yet.

    Our national publicity, our web site and our ALDC Focus templates must be fully on board.

    A Vision for Britain, edited by Lynne Featherstone suggests that nuclear should be kept as an option, but might not be the best option. Indeed, this report, commissioned by the Liberal Democrats in 2017, goes some way to putting flesh on the bones.

    Co-operation with the Labour Party will be difficult, or even under RLB impossible. However, we should not give up, we should keep in touch and reduce our attacks on Labour. They may come to their senses.

    Reference is made to both the effect on world economy and inequality. The Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Green New Deal gives pointers as to how these issues can be addressed, as to a lesser extent does our Vision for Britain Report. The Lib Dems need a Climate Change Working Party, with a representative from ALDE, meeting by Video Conferencing and including regional representatives. We need to fund support from Iken and/or Culmer Raphael.

    I accept the criticism on the two sections of the report, but I will not change. We got into the mess we are in by letting the public down. We need to make sure we do not let the country down this time.

  • Dilettante Eye 20th Jan '20 - 8:38am

    “We will need to get uncomfortable messages over… “

    This is why Green policy is intentionally kept vague, because politicians know that the public just won’t accept it. If you go to the New Green Deal website you get the same waffly nebulous words and you have to dig deep to find out what it means in practical terms to the average person on the street.

    Be clear, I’m not denying the moral argument or the imperative to live more sustainably, but unfortunately the moral imperative will hit the buffers when you tell people, in actual practical terms, what they will be forced to give up.

    A Green Lifestyle cannot be dictated ‘top down; it can only be achieved from the ‘bottom’ up’. It is for each individual to make that commitment to never stepping on an aircraft again, or giving up their car, or moving to a diet of food sourced no more than 40 miles from where they live.

    And I really don’t appreciate an establishment ‘gob’ like the BBC telling me what I must do to save the planet, when the next story comes from an over paid reporter the BBC have flown to Melbourne to report on a sporting event.

    The time for Green waffle and hypocrisy is over; it’s time for personal commitment to leave our air miles behind us.

  • I’m curious – there seems to be a consensus that the Lib Dems could work with any Labour leader except RLB on a “Green New Deal” – but RLB was probably the most vocal of the five candidates about Green policies in the recent general election and seems to be continuing that in the current Labour leadership election.

    It seems that on this specific issue there’s not that much difference between what RLB has been proposing and what is suggested in the article above. Obviously on most *other* issues it would be different, but specifically on environmental cooperation?

    From a campaigning point of view, if you’re going for something “radical” like a “Green New Deal” – and as Peter Martin says, it would have to be extremely radical, not just tinkering while carrying on as before – someone else “radical” like RLB rather than a “let’s have someone safe and electable this time” leader might be more helpful.

  • David Becket 20th Jan '20 - 3:29pm

    It is not that we would not work with RLB, from her hard Labour background. she is unlikely to work with us. We should have learnt by now that going on about who we would not work with does not win votes.

  • I agree with Dilettante Eye, inthat whilst there is a lot of support for preventing or minimising global warming, most parties refrain from saying what this would mean in practice as most people are not yet ready to support the necessary changes. No multiple car households. No leaving heating on all day. Flights to be restricted and costs to significantly increase. A move away from the throw away society..no new phone.computeror x box.
    Then there is the really unpalatable stuff like one child per family and ultimately the need to reduce world population by around a third if any of this is actually going to work.

  • When one looks at what actually needs to be done in the time that is left iris actually quite scarery. No wonder most parties talk only in the vaguest of terms about a green economy or green new deal. The U.N. has said that democratic states may not have the ability to persuade their populations to accept the necessary changes in the time that is left to implement those changes.

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