What can we expect from Vince today?

Vince has a couple of jobs in his keynote speech today. First of all, he has to continue to stake our claim to be the Party that wants to stop Brexit. The Party is stepping up its anti-Brexit rhetoric. Tom Brake explicitly told Conference yesterday that Brexit was such a disaster for the Country that we would be doing all we could to ensure that people got a say on the final deal. Catherine Bearder MEP said that “the Emperor is stark naked.”

But that is only half the story. This Conference has made some key proposals on other issues that voters care about – dealing with the housing crisis by giving local authorities radical new powers to build more houses, reforming schools by replacing OFSTED and abolishing SATS to reduce stress to pupils and teachers. Today we’ll have some serious proposals to give the NHS the investment it needs. This is part of building a programme of policy that looks to tackle inequality and poverty in this country. Expect Vince to talk about that.

We can also expect him to really have a go at Labour. We’ve seen a it of that already at the Conference. Yesterday, Simon Hughes highlighted Labour’s huge failures on housing which let a whole generation of young people down. He’ll also highlight Corbyn’s complicity with the Tories on Brexit. 

And amid all this where is the Leader of Her Majesty’s Official and Loyal Opposition?

What does HE want?

These early days of 2018 have seen Labour make a few tentative gestures in the direction of sanity. But very few. And very tentative.

To be a member of a customs union. Not the customs union.

And still strongly committed to working with Theresa May to make Brexit happen.

Make no mistake about it, Conference:

Jeremy Corbyn is letting down the very people he claims to defend…because:

You cannot speak up for the poor and be complicit in making the country poorer.

You cannot claim to love the NHS knowing that Brexit will starve it of cash.

You cannot be an advocate of strong rights at work, and stand by while your country walks away from the organisation which has most stood up for workers.

The Labour Party has imported into politics the principles of quantum physics where an object can be there and not there, at the same time.

They believe you can be for Brexit it and against it.

But politics is not physics.

Jeremy –

The time has come to decide.

There is no ‘jobs first’ Brexit.

But there is a new way to inspire those young supporters you won last year. and to make a real difference.

Join our campaign.

Together we can win an Exit from Brexit.

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

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • “First of all, he has to continue to stake our claim to be the Party that wants to stop Brexit. The Party is stepping up its anti-Brexit rhetoric.”

    We had a debate about that, followed by a referendum, in which the Remain side lost. Whether there is a deal or no deal, the UK is going to leave.

    The Lib Dems’ continued insistence on fighting a democratic decision is the main reason why it is at 6% in the opinion polls. Why no-one within the Lib Dems can see this is a mystery to me.

  • John Marriott 11th Mar '18 - 9:22am

    OK, Vince, go for the Anti Brexit vote in May. BUT, if it doesn’t work this time then, THINK AGAIN!

  • Another LDV conference article when, under a Tory administration, most of the article is devoted to an attack on Labour; you couldn’t make it up…
    As for, “Yesterday, Simon Hughes highlighted Labour’s huge failures on housing which let a whole generation of young people down.”? Corbyn has already said much the same; so no mileage there…

  • John Marriott 11th Mar '18 - 11:18am

    First of all I do not intend to ‘campaign’ against Brexit in the local elections. My campaigning days are over. Those who currently appear to be running the Lib Dems can, of course, decide what they do. However, if they fail to shift public opinion – and where I live it’s still apparently firmly in favour of Leave – then surely it’s time for a rethink.

    Call me naive if you like; but I’ve always fought local elections on local issues, whether or not they can be impacted upin by leaving the EU. Let’s wait and see what happens when people vote (and what the turnout is).

  • @ Expats Agree. Continuing attacks on Labour merely reinforce the perception of the general public post Coalition that the Lib Dems are merely pale blue Tories – which sadly is probably true in some cases.

    Vince has an opportunity to put that right today – but if he misses to take it then a fair number of the lingering loyal 7% who’s membership goes back to the 1960’s might just decide that enough’s enough.

    The country needs a change of Government.

  • Alex Macfie 11th Mar '18 - 1:27pm

    Jenny Barnes: So at the next general election, I take it you’ll be voting Conservative because “that’s what was voted for”, and “to keep campaigning to remake a decision that has been made looks pointless”?
    The whole point of democracy is that democratic decisions can be challenged and remade AT ANY TIME. This is why we have regular elections. Or did you think an election was for one time, to elect a government to govern in perpetuity? Your idea that once a decision is made it cannot be changed *is simply not how democracy works*. It’s what happens in dictatorships; it’s the Leninist doctrine of “democratic centralism”. You write “At some point in the future there might be a majority to join whatever trade bloc the EU has turned into,” but by your argument campaigning to do this should not be permitted because this would be going back on the 2016 referendum decision. In which case it is not likely to happen.
    Democracy didn’t end on 23 June 2016. It does not end with a decision. It is about continuous challenge, and that is what Lib Dems were doing.

  • Alex Macfie 11th Mar '18 - 1:35pm

    To those who criticiser the Lib Dems for attacking Labour, we ‘re only doing back what they are doing to us. There is really no sense in us being friendly to a party that has been taken over by far-left rabble-rousers who are doing their best to undermine us and really don’t mind if the Tories win as a consequence.

  • Richard Underhill 11th Mar '18 - 1:38pm

    John Marriott: We are asked to address the entire electorate, including those who were disenfranchised in the 2016 referendum and continue to be unfranchised in general elections. Francois Mitterrand pushed for all EU citizens to be allowed to vote, but the compromise outcome was only for local elections. We should try to reach these people before others do. The Tory government is there on the rhetoric but not delivering in practice.

  • The LibDems need to criticise the dodgy policies and statements of all rival political parties, and that includes Labour, especially when they are going along with the Tory Brexit plans, but could so easily stand against them. The sad truth is that too many Labour supporters are in denial about the Labour party position on Brexit. That pointing out the truth of their actual policy is treated as an attack says an awful lot.

    In reality, Vince, and others in the LibDems are constantly critical of the Government position, and frequently make digs at various prominent members of the Tory party, but Labour party supporters don’t notice that, and only seem to get worked up when they see an assumed slight against Corbyn and his woeful approach. Inevitably, Tory party supporters see our criticisms of their party and their policies as evidence of us being closet Communists. Some on both sides believe it, but I’m guessing that most just use it as a lazy slogan to avoid engaging with the issues. It’s an attempt to bully us into giving them an easy time. It’s not surprising that Labour party supporters would rather see us only criticising the Tories, and that Tory party supporters would rather see us only criticising Labour, but we must do our own thing and it would be irresponsible for us to pretend we didn’t notice when Corbyn says something awful about immigration, just so as not to offend his devoted following, who would prefer to stay in denial.

  • Neil Sandison 11th Mar '18 - 4:09pm

    I have no problem working and collaborating with genuine progressives in the Labour party The Greens or the more socially liberal Conservatives to build alliances around deliverable policies .What i would find it difficult to do is work with reactionaries in both Labour and the Conservatives where justification to promote polarised and divisive politics and hark back to the failed remedies of state socialism or ideologically lead free market privatisation at any cost was key to their agenda .We need social liberal economics that work and state support adequately funded through taxation so the nation once again feels at ease with its self .Congratulations on a sound housing policy that meets the objective of delivering homes affordable to all and for avoiding the corrosive politics of envy which seems to be the bench mark of the new left.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 11th Mar '18 - 6:01pm


    Tremendous we have such views, herein, agree totally, with you and Fiona.

    There is a very dark force left and right. There’s too much vilification of the centre, yes centre left, but radical centre makes sense, to be moderate and strong with it when so much is extreme and attempts to weaken that stance of strong moderate yet progressive politics, is …radical!

  • Alex Macfie 11th Mar ’18 – 1:35pm……..To those who criticiser the Lib Dems for attacking Labour, we ‘re only doing back what they are doing to us. There is really no sense in us being friendly to a party that has been taken over by far-left rabble-rousers who are doing their best to undermine us and really don’t mind if the Tories win as a consequence…….

    I’ve not read any Labour anti-LibDem rhetoric; why would they bother wasting effort on a fringe, one policy, party?
    I have read an awful lot of anti-Labour rhetoric by this party; rhetoric which would be far better spent in attacking a government whose policies are the antithesis of ours (2010-15 excepted)…

    Tories must love you, Alex, such assistance in their ‘divide and rule’ will enable yet another term for them…

  • @ Fiona

    I think you are correct, if Exit from Brexit is your big idea then attacking the Labour Party’s position on Brexit and their support for Brexit is a good idea.

    @ Alex Macfie

    Generally there is little benefit in attacking Labour’s economic policies because to do so makes us appear as mini-Conservatives like we were seen in the Coalition years. We need to be seen as an anti-Conservative party as we were seen in 1997 and 2001. To attack Labour for being illiberal and not being radical enough are fine.

  • Alex Macfie 12th Mar '18 - 6:18am

    expats: I’m thinking mainly of local Labour (especially Momentum) activity and the stuff they put out on social media, rather than what the leadership say and what gets reported in the national press.
    Lib Dems DO attack the Tories. Why do you assume it has to be an either/or? It appears that because we sometimes attack Labour, you assume we must be pro-Tory, completely ignoring the fact that (i) we also attack the Tories, and (ii) part of our criticism of Labour is that they are supporting the Tories over the main political issue of the moment. I agree with Fiona, we have to do our own thing, not be cowed into supporting the two-party system by being soft on one side or the other.

  • Alex, for every article attacking the government there are at least two attacking Labour; even this article devotes most of its time to making my point….
    The idea that Labour are supporting the Tories over ‘Brexit’ is untrue, they are respecting the referendum vote and, if you listened to anything they say, their view of a post EU Britain is completely different.

    As for your, “a party that has been taken over by far-left rabble-rousers”, straight from the Daily Mail…

  • Alex Macfie 12th Mar '18 - 5:14pm

    expats: You just can’t countenance any criticism of Jeremy Corbyn, and think that any criticism of Labour must automatically mean that the critics are right-wing Daily Mail readers. Well since I come from a pro-Remain perspective, I cannot possibly be a Daily Mail reader. Mine and the Lib Dems’ critique of Cobyn’s Labour is from exactly the opposite perspective from the Tories on Brexit, and on a lot of other issues as well. As a liberal, a social liberal even, I despise the hard left because they are illiberal.
    As for “respecting the referendum vote”, well I respect the referendum vote, in exactly the same way as I respect the last election result — that is to say, it is not the result I wanted, and therefore I shall continue to campaign for what I believe in, in the hope that the electorate will come to my position next time. That is how democracy works —
    continuous challenge. Respecting the vote does not mean slavish obedience. If it did, then Labour ought to be respecting the 2017 election result by giving their 100% backing to every government policy. As I stated above, this is a Leninist approach to democracy. And saying this does not make me a right-wing Daily Mail reading Tory, because the Daily Mail and the hard Brexiteers take exactly the same line on “respecting the referendum vote” as Labour are doing, namely that it makes any criticism of Brexit unacceptable.
    Anyway the idea of “respecting the referendum vote” must be very convenient for the Labour leadership, many of whom (including McDonnell and Corbyn himself) are long-standing opponents of the EU as shown by their voting record, because to them it is a capitalist club and undermines their dream of socialism in one country. This means they end up taking in the same camp as the Daily Mail and the Tory hard Brexiteers, but for different reasons.

  • Alex Macfie 12th Mar ’18 – 5:14pm….expats: You just can’t countenance any criticism of Jeremy Corbyn, and think that any criticism of Labour must automatically mean that the critics are right-wing Daily Mail readers…

    Wrong on both counts; by all means criticise them on policies but remarks about “a party that has been taken over by far-left rabble-rousers” are pure Daily Mail..As for the Leninist remark; do you have any idea of what it means and, if so, in what way do are the policies of the Labour party Leninist?…

    Labour propose a ‘balanced system’; their programme for public ownership is in tune with the vast majority of the electorate and far more like Northern European models than a Russia of the early 20th century…Their policy on health, housing, borrowing for investment, etc. are ahead of ours…

    As for you not using Daily Mail language; the old adage of, If it walks like a duck, etc.”, comes to mind…

  • @ expats I usually agree with you, and I do on the policy stuff above, but to be honest JC completely blew it on his own banana skin on the Salisbury Statement today. He was rescued by his own backbenchers ….. who he’ll need if he ever gets near to forming a majority government at an advanced age out of the reach of Momentum.

    Watch out for Keir Starmer, he’s definitely not on public manoeuvres.

  • David, Ah, the ‘Salisbury Incident’….How coincidental that, after months of us being told by the Defence and Foreign secretaries that Russia is a threat and every Syrian news report emphasising “Assad and his Russian ally”, Moscow should seek to confirm that threat with a bungled assassination attempt on an ex spy whom no-one in the UK remembered. Not only that but they used a nerve agent that even had a Russian name ( I’m only surprised that the would be assassin didn’t leave behind Russian cigarette butts and an empty vodka bottle)…
    Also coincidental is the fact that it happened when the EU negotiations are at an impasse and have been ‘knocked off the front page’ whilst investigations continue…These investigations, that were mainly carried out by bobbies with no more protection than rubber gloves, were replaced after six days by army experts in full protective body suits and, to calm the situation, after 8 days, members of the public were instructed to ‘wash their clothing’…

    Still Theresa May has had the opportunity to be ‘Strong and Stable’ in issuing an ultimatum of retaliation (unspecified) to Russia…Rumour has it that it could even involve our World Cup favourite team not attending and throwing the footballing world into disarray….

    Of course, all this could just be ravings of a 74 year old looney. After all, who’d believe that a manufactured incident in the Gulf of Tonkin could convince a nation that a war in SE Asia was a great idea or that, when faced with a sabre rattling S. American dictatorship, the removal of all naval forces from the region could transform an unpopular PM (beset by domestic problems and facing electoral defeat) into a modern Anglo version of Joan of Arc?

  • Expats: I suppose the annexation of Crimea and the continuing war in Eastern Ukraine which has already taken 10,000 lives and where people continue to be killed is also manufactured by the UK Government ? No one really knows what happened in Salisbury but I shall not be visiting any time soon. The Russian Government is responsible for many crimes, just like every other Government

  • Putin knows that Western countries will not go to war unless one of them was actually attacked, and possibly not even then because their voters might not back them, so he has taken advantage of this to do all the things he and other Russian Nationalists want to do so as to strengthen their position and win another term in office without too much fiddling of the ballot boxes. It will all end in tears but not just yet so the elite can go on robbing the Russian people. Sounds familiar ?

  • Lorenzo Cherin 13th Mar '18 - 1:20pm


    When even Davis here can see Corbyn got it terribly wrong, you cannot do what you are here and not be ignored, a ludicrous diatribe against decency that means you are not pro social democracy you are pro Corbyn.

    Social democrats in the Attlee tradition, though few in substance today, would have backed John Woodcock and Chris Leslie, neither in that league but at least in that tradition, who could see this was and is a time to unite in common cause against horrible acts with murderous potential consequences.
    But Corbyn you say can only be criticised on policy.

    Wrong. He can be on decency. Which he too often shows he does not have in the things he says and company he keeps.

    I left Labour because the Attlees and the like are too few. Corbyn is no Attlee.

  • nvelope2003 13th Mar ’18 – 11:51am….Whereas our involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria don’t count?

    Lorenzo Cherin 13th Mar ’18 – 1:20pm…My post never mentioned Corbyn! FYI I do think he got it wrong by concentrating on the wrong things…Still, just as well we LibDems never do that…

  • Lorenzo, Sorry, but I’ve not ‘even’ become anything remotely Welsh yet, and your comments about JC are OTT and out of proportion. Predictably, Councillor Otten has jumped in with both feet too.

    I do wish you (and the party) would get a bit more exercised about food poverty.My local food bank has just fed 311 people (99 of them children) in terrible weather conditions in the last three weeks. Delays and changes to benefits (as voted for by Vince & Co) continue to be major reasons for referrals – as does low income.

    I found Sir Vincent’s comments about older persons much more objectionable and electorally ill judged than JC’s flailing bat – despite the fact that he sees fit to provide ‘delicious egg sandwiches’ to the cognoscenti.

  • Peter Hirst 13th Mar '18 - 6:02pm

    It is essential that we bear down hard on Labour as they are acting irresponsibly and purely for political gain or more accurately to minimise political loss. Putting the two Parties together in one giant coalition to leave the eu might awaken the electorate to what is going on. Some great local by-election results promise hope.

  • @ Peter Hirst “It is essential that we bear down hard on Labour”.

    It would be much more impressive and effective if the Liberal Democrat Party actually had something fresh and relevant to say about the state of modern society that would resonate with the electorate…. all we get now is Brexit and emails to DONATE. There’s plenty in Piketty’s ‘Capital’ if anybody can be prepared to look.

    The Tories will be negative enough about Labour…. if we join the chorus it simply reminds everybody about the Coalition.

    Back in the sixties when I first joined, the Liberal Party under Jo Grimond it was brimming with ideas, bubbling over with radical research documents commissioned the Universities and brought a fresh radical feeling to politics.

    Now it just seems lethargic, amateurish, self-obsessed and tired with nothing fresh to say that appeals to anybody in the wider electorate. I’m afraid I don’t see any obvious quick fix and I heard nothing new from Southport to the contrary ……… but bashing Labour certainly isn’t the answer.

    Somehow that anonymous ‘Muzak’ in the first twenty minutes on the now disappeared Conference video seems to sum up the whole emptiness.

  • nvelope2003 13th Mar '18 - 8:24pm

    Expats:There you go again. My last sentence made it clear that ALL governments are responsible for crimes and that includes not just Russia but those you mentioned – got it ?

  • Lorenzo Cherin 13th Mar '18 - 8:34pm


    I did not say you mention Corbyn, I myself notice and retain information, you many times say we should criticise the party on policy not the leader, ball, not the man etc I say fine, but the leader is a target when a disgrace, he is on the facebook group, less on this . I do not have much time for him or his policies compared to this party, but it is his p[arty’s not criticising him on issues we must, his complacency on associations.


    I unlike you was in the Labour party, and unlike you have as a result of very difficult circumstances been in poverty or near it before.I certainly as a result of the car accident, loss of income, wife with permanent disability issues, loss of house, diffident contacts, do not based on your own excellent caring for humanity need your advice about my priorities policy wise as we are often on the same page, difference, you do not worry about the possibility of losing the roof over your head and I do yet.

    Corbyn in the Palestine live facebook group should be ashamed of himself and his party of him on that at least.

    And I heard his very quick and general condemnation of the attack not of Russian government on anything much ever.

  • Alex Macfie 14th Mar '18 - 7:32pm

    expats: What I was calling “Leninist” was the idea that once a policy has been voted on there can never be any further discussion or criticism of it; this is the idea that is implied by the “Labour are respecting the referendum vote” refrain that it used to justify their continued support for the hard Brexit policies of the Tory government. It si also the language of the Daily Mail, saying that the referendum result on 23 June was the final word on the UK’s place in the EU, and anyone who challenge it is a “traitor”, a “saboteur”, an “enemy of the people”. I am saying THE EXACT OPPOSITE, i.e. that it is totally legitimate in a democracy to question any democratically agreed policy at any time, and the Daily Mail “will of the people” rhetoric has a touch of the dictatorial about it. The Labour leadership are singing from the same hymnsheet as the Daily Mail and the Tories on Brexit. Deal with it.
    Besides, considering Vince Cable’s latest remarks on Brexit voters, you can hardly accuse Lib Dems of pandering to the average Daily Mail reader.

  • @ Alex McFie ” it is totally legitimate in a democracy to question any democratically agreed policy at any time”, Quite right – except at Lib Dem Federal Conference.

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