Welcome to my day: 10 September 2018 – in the absence of a plan…

Time to start another week, as the Party’s Autumn Conference beckons. Of course, much of the talk will be about the proposed “Momentum for Moderates”. In truth, the Party needs to build a broader coalition of support in order to gain power, and I can’t say that I’m terribly fussed about the terminology, as long as we remain a liberal force in British politics. And no, that doesn’t mean centrist, unless you can anchor centrism somewhere on the political spectrum. But I don’t doubt that there will be numerous contributions over the coming days.

The knives are out for Boris Johnson, or Theresa May, or just about any Conservative figure willing to put his or her head above the parapet. It seems that the only thing that they can agree on is that they should be the government. What to do with that power seems beyond their power to define.

The ERG fraternity have decided not to publish the plan they drafted, probably because they can’t agree it amongst themselves and, even if they could, it would demonstrate that their vision for the country is one that the country would readily eschew. It would, in terms of credibility, have more than a passing resemblance to unicorn dung, because it would assume that our best interests are miraculously those of our trading partners. They don’t understand how international trade works, know less about what motivates our European neighbours, and disregard any fact which contradicts their vision of our future.

In yesterday’s Swedish election, the far-right Sweden Democrats didn’t do as well as was feared. They still did far too well, but at least our two sister parties, Centerpartiet and Liberalerna, both increased their share of the vote. They have both made it clear that no coalition that might include the Sweden Democrats would be acceptable to them, which is promising, and they will doubtless play a critical role in whatever coalition government that emerges.

That should act as a reminder that our liberal sister parties have not a little influence over Brexit. There are seven liberal prime ministers (Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands), and their willingness to countenance a withdrawal of Article 50 should not be taken for granted. And, of course, young Mr Verhofstadt is leading for the European Parliament on Brexit…

And finally, India saw a breakthrough for the LGBT+ community, with the striking down of pre-Independence legislation means that consensual sexual acts between adults of the same sex are no longer criminal. India is a beacon of democracy in Asia, albeit a slightly chaotic one, and it is promising that there is a trend towards greater freedom there, especially given the need for a balancing power to that of China.

But enough from me, and let the week begin…

* Mark Valladares is the Monday Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice.

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  • Richard Underhill 10th Sep '18 - 10:36am

    “The knives are out for Boris Johnson”:
    TV cameras at the Oval spotted Boris, a spectator sitting, alone, in the crowd.
    The pictures went up on the big screen and he was booed.
    He might have been considering a comparison with resignation of Nigel Lawson, which created a bigger splash, or of Geoffrey Howe, who used a cricketing analogy in his resignation speech in the House of Commons.
    So, now,
    “Take a bucket and fill it with water,
    plunge your arm in it up to the wrist,
    remove it and the hole that’s remaining,
    is a measure of how much you’ll be missed.”
    When Alan Johnson MP (Labour) asked which way Boris Johnson would vote in the 2016 referendum BJ did not stand up to reply. Speaker Bercow intervened to say that he was willing to call him. He subsequently explained his indecision in writing with his summaries of both cases Remain or Leave.
    He chose Leave and the former Mayor saw Greater London voting to Remain.
    There are others who support Leave, but might no support him.
    He might even be regretting that he did not take the advice of his mentor to “Zip up your trousers”.

  • A centrist movement must be appealing enough to bring in voters from both left and right. This will take some doing and without mass media support almost impossible. It must be progressive and bring in some new big ideas as we’re doing with our commercial land levy, abolishing business rates and commercial stamp duty.

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