“What I really wanted to hear from Remain”

I don’t know who Little Jackie Paper is but I am grateful to her / him for the following comment on  Katharine Pindar’s recent article o EU reform: “What I really wanted to hear from REMAIN in the referendum was, ‘if we remain in the EU the things that we would do differently in future are…..’”.

I think we all accept how ineffective the Remain campaign was overall. It is still quite painful to revisit it. I can still feel the daily gut wrenching at seeing opportunity slip by as the Leave campaign outthought and outfought us. We had so little to offer that was positive, and Little Jackie Paper’s comment sums that up. It focussed my mind, so here is my answer:

End within two years the silliness of the EU working in two places. It is a waste of money and time and it symbolises everything that is wrong about the EU. Find something to placate French feeling about the loss of prestige involved.

Invite every single EU country leader here on a rolling programme over the next two and a half years to explore concerns and mutual interests.

Get properly involved in the give and take of EU negotiation. We are so often a dog in the manger that we make people reluctant to give us concessions when they can.

Recognise (tough one this) that Britain needs the security of military and intelligence co-operation with all the countries that lie between us and Russia, and work to develop those links.

Give up our support for the remnant of TTIP, and support starting to work on a trade deal that benefits citizens, not corporations.

Work with others in the EU to ensure transparency, particularly in government spending. It should be UK and EU policy that any contract awarded by government must be subject to FOI scrutiny, and cannot be hidden by the fig leaf called commercial confidentiality. People have the right to see how their money is being spent regardless of who is spending it.

Develop an overall EU policy to tax corporations in the countries where they make their sales, not where they are able to set up their headquarters with sweetheart deals.

Make a point of publicising the benefits of immigration for this country, but at the same time recognise that central government policy has been unhelpful in dealing with effects. We should work to create quicker, more generous and longer term responses to places where immigration surges put pressure on housing, schooling and health services. We demand subsidiarity from the EU: we should practise what we preach and put more power, and more money, in the hands of local authorities who have to deal with the negatives of immigration.

That is one way of recognising that, as well as changing our approach to the EU. we need to change the way we do things in this country. The EU is not the cause of many of our problems. The bigger problem is the fascination that Tory, Labour and some LibDem leaders have for neoliberal practices which benefit elites far more than they benefit ordinary people.

We must develop a regional policy that spreads jobs and prosperity beyond the south east.

We must develop a housing policy that actually builds houses.

We must develop a principle that any major spending project, like HS2, must pass a test of benefit to the regions, rather than the de facto test of benefit to London.

We must immediately provide significantly more resources to HMRC to pursue payment of corporation tax.

That’s a start.

* Rob Parsons is a Lib Dem member in Lewes. He blogs at http://acomfortableplace.blogspot.co.uk

Read more by or more about or .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.
Advert

109 Comments

  • paul holmes 23rd Dec '16 - 6:20pm

    Rob -excellent points throughout. The ‘domestic’ ones are certainly urgent priorities for us to make the case for.

    I’m afraid however that the EU points are too late. The reality is that a democratic Referendum said we should leave and the democratically elected Government has every intention of doing that. The Government is not going to spend the next 2 or 3 years trying to improve the EU when they are struggling with the mammoth task of negotiating Leave. By the 2020 election it will almost certainly be a done deal.

    We must avoid entering the next election still fighting yesterdays lost battle.

  • Jon. Taylor 23rd Dec '16 - 7:00pm

    I agree with most of the points as discussed in this article. I am personally saddened & frustrated by the fact that during our 43 year membership. We have often appeared as the reluctant family member , a pseudo ‘sulking teenager’. In doing so I believe that we have been ineffective EU members. When we could well of used our strong economic position to our benefit . That said, dare I suggest that with regard to the imbalance of our econmy & therefore country. Is there a case to argue for an English Parliament based in the West Midlands (?Birmingham) to address this issue, once & for all. The cost offset by a reduced Westminster Parliament,

  • Alfred Motspur 23rd Dec '16 - 7:35pm

    And – let us highlight – any reform of the European Union should aim to democratise and federalise the European Union further. The European Parliament should be strengthened in powers and the Commission abolished or significantly weakened, with direct elections to the President of the European Parliament. Europe-wide strategies should be adopted for strengthening the turnout at elections for the Parliament, possibly including policies aiming at the closer integration (or, failing that, visibility) of Europe-wide parties.

    Liberals favour transparency, openness, accountability and democracy; hence the pressing need to reform an opaque, closed, little-accountable and indirectly-democratic gigantic supranational government like the European Union. Guy Verhofstadt should be the inspiration for this, with all his talk of a United States of Europe that focuses on the global challenges rather than obsessing about regulations regarding the amount of water a toilet within the EU can flush.

    Yes, it is true that the case for such reforms is weakened by how little European electorates know about or participate in the democratic processes of the EU – hence Nick Clegg’s argument in the Orange Book that ultimate sovereignty must rest with national parliaments. Yet until the European project is made relatable to individual Europeans at the ballot box, the European project must exclude those countries whose electorates cherish their democracy – of which the UK is the first. The argument that the House of Lords is more undemocratic and unaccountable than the EU – which some Liberal Democrats made in the campaign – might be true, but it doesn’t in itself suffice for a reason not to reform either.

    Democratisation of the EU is an important reform that I would add to those which the article accurately lists.

  • Simon McGrath 23rd Dec '16 - 7:41pm

    There is no such thing as ‘neo liberalism’. Its a term used by people who dont like capitalism but know that socialism has no credibility

  • Eddie Sammon 23rd Dec '16 - 8:04pm

    Some good points, but “Remain” are still making the wrong noises. Andrew Marr wrote an article yesterday about the benefits of soft brexit and it was informed, principled and pragmatic.

    Andrew Marr’s approach in this article is the key to electorability and I don’t see how it is illiberal either. Again, I voted remain, but the referendum was lost and barring exceptional circumstances it should be implemented.

    http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2016/12/optimists-guide-brexit

  • Stephen Hesketh 23rd Dec '16 - 8:08pm

    @Simon McGrath 23rd Dec ’16 – 7:41pm
    “There is no such thing as ‘neo liberalism’. Its a term used by people who dont like capitalism but know that socialism has no credibility”

    Where on earth did you get that definition from Simon?

  • @Eddie Sammon

    Thank you for that link. That was a very interesting read and there is a lot to agree with, with Marr.
    The future looks very bright, if only politicians would open their eyes.
    To take a phrase from Marr’s piece
    “politicians and civil servants have become a bit “computer says no”, taking it as the first principle that we can’t do this, we can’t do that.”

    They need to change the mentality and realise, that outside of Brussels, anything is now possible

  • Little Jackie Paper 23rd Dec '16 - 10:22pm

    Mr Parsons – Well…good to know that someone reads me and thinks about my comments! For my part I had a go at answering my question in an earlier post. What I think REMAIN should had said was something like this:

    ‘‘Yes – we get it and we will do something about it. In Denmark they have restrictions on immigrant ownership of residential property. In Germany they have restrictions on welfare seemingly beyond what Cameron proposed. Other countries sharpen the distinction between free movement of people and of labour – Spain indeed temporarily stopped free movement of Romanians. We will stop these A8/A2 only job agencies and make it stick. If other countries can do this then so too can we. We will stop at nothing to find other examples of what we can do WITHIN the EU to change.

    While we are at it we will look long and hard at non-EU migration, starting with ICT visas and the work allowances in student visas.

    Too many EU leaders have done nothing whilst their citizens vote with their feet. We will challenge those leaders and we guarantee that the days of asymmetric EU enlargement are now gone and won’t come back.’

    But that very simply is not what REMAINers (of any party) said. The message I got from the campaign was More Of The Same.

    I am very open to the argument that the UK government could (should?) have done more within the EU. But that is not an argument, still less a policy position, set out by remain in the referendum.

    What to do about the EU’s corporatist outlook is another matter, and one that REMAINers will need to grapple with.

    For what it’s worth I think you are asking many of the right questions Mr Parsons. The EU referendum result was a direct vote against More Of The Same. The rewards for someone who thinks different are probably huge electorally.

    I would add that on balance I am not in favour of a referendum on the exit proposal – that just opens the door to referendum 3, 4 and so on.

  • By all means campaign for greater democracy in European Union institutions but the fossilised democracy of the UK is not something I “cherish”. We’ve not been all that wonderful in developing our democracy over the past hundred years.

  • Little Jackie Paper 23rd Dec '16 - 10:25pm

    Jon Taylor – ‘We have often appeared as the reluctant family member , a pseudo ‘sulking teenager’. In doing so I believe that we have been ineffective EU members.’

    The UK has long been a significant net contributor and it opened up to the A8 states in full on day one. That’s rather more effective than can be said for a great many states now handing out lectures on the European Ideal.

  • Little Jackie Paper 23rd Dec '16 - 10:30pm

    Alfred Motspur – ‘Yes, it is true that the case for such reforms is weakened by how little European electorates know about or participate in the democratic processes of the EU’

    To me this is a red herring. EU states are not great participatory democracies. Think independent central banks for example. The simple point to my mind is that governments (in a democratic framework) have given away powers that were arguably not theirs to give away. In doing so they bound their successors – from a constitutional stand point that might be democratic by dictionary definition, but it’s problematic.

    It is the binding and permanent nature of much supranationalism that is the real problem here. Governments are basically carrying accountability without responsibility. As the Euro is showing this is not just whimsy.

    Unfortunately German Ordoliberalism, wonderful though it might be, is not a product of treaties and fine proclamations.

  • Little Jackie Paper 23rd Dec '16 - 10:35pm

    Mr Parsons – Just to add to my earlier comment. The Guardian today references a piece of research (sadly it didn’t name the source) that suggests more than 50% of REMAIN voters want at least some greater form of border control.

    Just say that again – people who voted REMAIN. Not UKIP, REMIAN voters. Without seeing the research it’s hard to form any judgment. However I do think that some REMAINers need to really take the rose-tints off when it comes to the EU. If people think that the EU’s Open Agenda isn’t working for them they are quite entitled to say so at the ballot box.

  • any reform of the European Union should aim to democratise and federalise the European Union further […] Guy Verhofstadt should be the inspiration for this, with all his talk of a United States of Europe

    If the Remain campaign had said that openly the vote would have been 70% ‘Leave’ instead of 52%!

    Do you not realise the horror the words ‘United States of Europe’ invoke in the vast majority of Brits? When we say we want reform of the EU we mean we want less federalism, not more.

    Even now every time Guy Verhofstadt opens his mouth, it swings another 10,000 voters from ‘Remain’ to ‘Leave’.

  • I am personally saddened & frustrated by the fact that during our 43 year membership. We have often appeared as the reluctant family member , a pseudo ‘sulking teenager’.

    That’s because the EU isn’t a family. It’s a business partnership: we’re it it as long as we get a good deal, as long as the benefits to us of membership outweigh the disadvantages, as they did in 1973.

    We didn’t marry the EU for better or worse. We entered a business arrangement. If you want to make the UK stay, you have to change the deal so that we gain more (in terms of markets, etc) and lose less (in terms of sovereignty, control over borders, etc etc).

    We have no emotional commitment to the EU. We’re in it for what we get out of it, that’s all.

    It’s not a family and there’s no reason to behave as if it is.

  • @ LJP 10.35pm
    “The Guardian today references a piece of research (sadly it didn’t name the source) that suggests more than 50% of REMAIN voters want at least some greater form of border control.”

    Think this may help? – National centre for Social Research
    http://natcen.ac.uk/news-media/press-releases/2016/november/voters-want-uk-to-stay-in-the-eu-single-market-but-be-able-to-control-immigration/

  • @Tim – Actually it is a family and the other member state view and treat it as such, right down to having blazing family rows, followed by subsequent calming down periods. Our problem is that we have viewed it as a “business relationship” at best and a Jim Hacker style reenactment of the Battle of Britain the rest of the time. Tony Blair once commented that, after attending European Councils, he was cheered to the rafters in the HoC if he had a disastrous meeting and was subjected to total abuse if he had a successful one (even though those were the ones in which he advanced the UK’s interests the most).

  • Rob P – Germany operates in three locations: Berlin (Parliament and most(?) Ministeries); Bonn (Presidency, many Ministeries and Agencies) & Karlsruhe (Constitutional Court). Likewise, there is absolutely no reason that the EU should be compelled to operate in one location. If anything the Council of Ministers & European Council should be based away from Brussels, and ideally colocated with the EP in Strasbourg (or wherever). The bureaucracy should chase the legislature not the other way round.

  • Our problem is that we have viewed it as a “business relationship” at best and a Jim Hacker style reenactment of the Battle of Britain the rest of the time

    I think you mean that the other member states’ problem is that they have succumbed to the foolish romantic idealism of seeing the EU as a family, rather than coldly and pragmatically pusuing their interests, which is how they’ve ended up with a disaster of a currency union which is probably going to bring down the whole EU project within a couple of decades, with or without Brexit.

    After all it’s only be ause of such misguided notions of a ‘family of Europe’ that Greece was allowed to join the Euro even though everybody knew their books were cooked — and it’s that decision that was the beginning of the end of the EU.

  • jedibeeftrix 24th Dec '16 - 7:26am

    @ LJP – “It is the binding and permanent nature of much supranationalism that is the real problem here.”

    No parliament can bind its successor! Sounds great doesn’t it… until you realise that every parliament that signed away a new tranche of powers was doing exactly that. One of my oldest political beliefs goes as follows:
    I give my consent that you may govern in my name, and assent to be bound by the actions you take in my name as if they were my own.
    However, the authority to govern that you possess in consequence is never to be leased out to a third party, and I will not deem those actions as were they my own.

    I was quite content with what modest renegotiation Cameron pulled off, and would have been happy for Remain to have won on a narrow margin. I may even have supported it. However, throughout the renegotiation I said the one thing I wanted more than anything, was that whatever we got back should apply to all. An end to ever-closer-union, i.e. the ability for a recent accession state to say no to the Euro if that is their wish, or, the ability for an existing Euro nation to withdraw if it was bad for their society. This resulted in a third reason:

    3. At the end of the renegotiation, when all was looking positive, Belgium with the support of others, demanded that the concessions secured by Cameron must apply only to Britain.

    I looked at millions in Southern Europe being broken on the wheel of the Euro, and I looked at callous indifference of Belgium and Co in demanding what they did. The project mattered more to them than the people. Not in my name.

    I wanted an inner and an outer EU, which would permit the eurozone core to integrate fiscally and politically, and a looser home to which any EU nation could retreat if they too saw the EU in transactional terms rather than a new ‘us’.

  • Let us face facts…The UK is leaving the EU; I don’t like it, didn’t vote for it but it WILL happen..What WON’T happen, under the current government, are any of the domestic changes proposed in the article…

    We have always been a ‘spoilt brat’ at the EU table. When we haven’t got exactly what we wanted the tabloid press (run mainly by those avoiding UK tax) rushed to blame others..
    So what will happen when we’ve left the EU; will we, as a nation, accept responsibility for problems, loss of jobs and businesses, etc.?
    No chance! We’ll still blame it on the EU; those nasty Germans, French, Dutch, etc. We’ll trot out how, if it weren’t for them, the UK could have had a good deal (forgetting that the world doesn’t owe us a living)…It’ll still be the fault of those wicked foreigners conspiring against us.

  • Alfred Motspur 24th Dec '16 - 10:02am

    Little Jackie Paper, your points are entirely accurate, and it is on the issues of accountability and sovereignty which you’ve highlighted that the EU’s own mandate needs to be strengthened. Governments have given away sovereignty; hence the need to consult Europeans on the EU’s future, preferably through further democratisation. Of course, however, I’m sorry if I didn’t make it clear that institutions such as central banks and the judiciary ought to remain independent EU functions.

    Tim – oh of course, I would never call for a United States of Europe in front of a Brexiteer! There was a satirical video published by the Leave campaign, if I remember correctly, of schoolchildren pledging a republican oath à-la-American to a USE in order to rally votes for Brexit. Nonetheless, a central concern to many Brexiteers was the issue of the EU’s accountability and democracy. Strengthening it in the manners suggested by Verhofstadt, albeit without his language, can dissuade many of these fears. And the vision of the ‘USE’ is not meant to imply the authoritarian, unaccountable superstate which one might at first think of – but the idea of a global power setting the global agenda with a clearly-defined democracy and accountability. I think that the idea of a federal USE would gather more support across the EU than the current EU does today. I wasn’t alive in 1975, but campaign leaflets from the first referendum which I’ve seen seem to suggest that the ‘Yes’ campaign at the time portrayed the Common Market as a mere transitory organisation towards a greater superpower (interestingly, the literature also suggests that this is exactly what the ‘No’ campaign portrayed the Common Market as too).

  • The cold reality is the pro-European side of the argument in the UK has let the ‘antis’ have all the best tunes for over 40 years. Only a minority of Liberals have ever made the positive case for the EU, too often the attitude has been ‘don’t frighten the horses.’
    I agree with what Rob and other posters have written, but most take too much of a UK-centric view of reforming the EU.

    A coherent and positive case for a stronger, more democratic EU is being made by the ALDE, and Guy Verhofstadt in particular. UK Liberal Democrats should be promoting this vision, not trying to reinvent the wheel.

  • So spoilt that we have a huge trade deficit with our partners, took in A8 countries without transitional arrangements and mop up unemployment from PIGS countries helping our partners save face.

    Lib Dems = Stockholm Syndrome

  • Christopher Haigh 24th Dec '16 - 10:36am

    In my opinion the original objective of the founding fathers of the EU was to create peace between France and Germany. People in this country only seem to be interested in what economic benefits we get out of it so the UK really been a very poor member state. However the fact that Germany is now relaxed in a modern version of the Holy Roman Empire federal structure rather than ruled by autocratic Prussian dictators is a great cause of celebration to us as Liberal Democrats.

  • David Evershed 24th Dec '16 - 11:01am

    Free trade and competition are core liberal and thus Lib Dem beliefs.

    They enable products and services to be provided from the most efficient source. The resultant increase in productivity is what increases the wealth of mankind.

    Everyone benefits from the lower cost of efficiently provided goods and services.

    Communist countries fail because of having the provision of goods and services decided by the state rather than by open market competition.

  • John Barrett 24th Dec '16 - 11:21am

    It is good to read so many well thought out comments on the entire EU issue.

    Like Little Jackie Paper, I am not in favour of another referendum on the exit deal, as I am not in favour of a second referendum on Scottish independence, despite the fact that I voted Yes to independence. I am happy to accept that the majority thought otherwise. The official party line is to be in favour of another referendum where they did not like the result, but against a second referendum where we were happy with the result. Not a position that stands up to much scrutiny.

    The electorate have spoken on both issues and we should now respect their wishes.

    In some previous strings the Brexit deal was compared to buying a house and that after the offer was submitted there was still time to withdraw from that offer – if the terms of the sale were not all that the buyer expected.

    I would say that Brexit is less like a house purchase and more like a divorce.

    Whatever details can or cannot be agreed in the future negotiations, the decision that was taken is clearly a separation and lack of agreement over who gets what CD, or the cat, is not going to reverse that decision.

  • Brexiteers voted to march off a cliff, they are now demanding remainers ensure a mattress is at the bottom to break our fall. You voted for it, it’s up to you to mitigate the consequences, not the side who lost the vote. Always hard facing up to the consequences of your actions isn’t it.

  • The votes been lost so bewailing what we would like to have heard won’t help. To be blunt EU reform is up to them, nothing to do with us, we voted to leave the club and at that point our views become no more relevant than those of any other third party country.

  • The EU is absolutely abysmal when it comes to negotiating trade deals.
    The ones that it has managed to negotiate never fully take the UK and it’s needs into it’s considerations. For example most trade agreements do not include services {Something that the UK economy is highly reliant on} it also excludes a lot of agricultural goods, making it more expensive for us to import food from outside the EU and harder for our farmers to export out of the EU.

    The EU is becoming ever more protectionist for it’s members state. The EU’s share of global economy is due to shrink to just 15%. Instead of reaching out globally they are forever tightening the noose around members states necks.

    There is no reforming the EU. It can not be done because they simply are not prepared to listen or negotiate that much is clear and has been proven time and time again.

    We need to remove ourselves from the confines of the EU, reach out to the rest of the world and become the internationalists most people want us to be and where we can most prosper

  • matt
    ” Instead of reaching out globally they are forever tightening the noose around members states necks”
    The EU has an office in Bangkok. The EU has played a role in ensuring that illegal labour is not used in the Thai fishing industry to prevent the exploitation of workers.

  • Thailand and the EU have negotiated and initialed a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) which provides a comprehensive and ambitious framework for EU-Thailand relations and will open up wide opportunities to develop cooperation. The EU and its Member States will not sign the PCA with Thailand until a democratically elected government is in place. Thus the EC-ASEAN Agreement of 1980 still constitutes the framework for relations with Thailand, complemented by the Council Conclusions of 23 June 2014. In response to the military take-over in Thailand in May 2014, the EU called on the military leadership to restore, as a matter of urgency, the legitimate democratic process and the Constitution, through credible and inclusive elections.

    Following the endorsement of the Council, the EU and Thailand launched negotiations on an FTA in March 2013. Both sides seek to negotiate a comprehensive agreement covering, inter alia, tariffs, non-tariff measures, services, investment, public procurement, intellectual property, competition, regulatory issues and sustainable development. Four negotiation rounds have taken place so far. The last negotiation round took place on 8-10 April 2014 in Brussels. Since the military take-over in Thailand in May 2014 no further FTA rounds have been scheduled.
    Elections and a return to civilian rule in Thailand is scheduled for 2017.

  • Paul, yesterday 6.20 pm, Eddie yesterday 8.04 pm

    First of all, apologies to everybody for my lack of engagement with the comments so far: LDVdid not tell me they had published it, and I have only just noticed.

    I do not accept that the referendum was the final will of the British people.

    Andrew Marr says, in the piece referenced by Eddie “If parliament asked the people of the UK to vote on a subject of such huge importance; and if, after exhaustive and exhausting debate, they made their decision, by a clear majority”. If that had happened, I would be much less inclined to contest the result. But it did not happen. What we got was a wafer thin majority. And we did not have exhaustive debate: we had a failure to engage on one side and a mountain of lies on the other. This was not democracy, it was a travesty of democracy. And the public’s mind has been changing since. The referendum was not a safe or a democratic basis for such a momentous and such a long term decision.

  • Little Jackie Paper – thank you for your various contributions. I think we agreee on a broad range of things. I woudl have said some of the things you have said, as well as what I originally wrote, but I was already past the word count that LDV like for their contributions. (It’s a great discipline.)

    I think immigration is a very difficult issue to deal with. Public attitude is often based on misinformation as well as lived experience, and it would not help us to throw the baby out with the bathwater. OK, the public is concerned about immigration: the solution to that concern is not necessarily to turn of the tap, but it may work better – I think it will work better – to find ways to mitigate the effects of the flow. Hence the idea of more timely help for local authorities.

    I think also we need to treat survey results with some scepticism. I have not had time to delve in detail into the survey reported in the Guardian, but, for instance the question: “Should we end free healthcare for EU visitors?” gets aa big thumbs up. Would the result be the same if the question was: “Should we end free healthcare for EU visitors if that prevented all of us getting free healthcare when we’re on holiday in any of the other EU countries?”

  • Simon McGrath yesterday 7.41 pm. You clearly need this explained to you. There is most certainly a thing called neoliberalism. It is the outgrowth of the originally soundly based ideas of Hayek on how to prevent governments being too powerful. his answer was to make people freer to do what they wanted, outside government control. Since the 80s it has become a way of making corporations freer to do what they want, and what they want to do is to make money regardless of how or of who suffers. Neoliberalism is the state where the balance has swung too far in the opposite direction so that corporations have much more power than is compatible with the freedom of citizens. Those who “serve” in our governments are under the thrall of neoliberalism because they expect to be among the 1% to whom most of the reward accrues. Neoliberalism is not actually liberalism in any guise; it is corporate dominance.

  • Starting from David Evershed’s post 11.01 today

    “Free trade and competition are core liberal and thus Lib Dem beliefs. They enable products and services to be provided from the most efficient source.”

    And also responding to Matt, Manfarang and various others.

    Free trade
    Yes, I agree. Wouldn’t free trade be great. The problem is we do not have it. I don’t see many people trying to negotiate trade deals which benefit citizens, but rather deals that benefit corporations. If we have seen the back of TTIP, I am very glad, because all I saw there was the opportunity for many corporations to make more profit at the expense of our health, our environment and our working conditions. The EU does not do a very good job at making trade deals, but I am terrified of what British negotiators might achieve once loosed from the EU’s “shackles”. They’ve already said they intend to have the lowest corporation tax in the G20. I bet they won’t have the lowest income tax. That is where our trade policy will go.

    On the EU
    I think the EU is a fundamentally flawed institution. But it is less flawed than what we would have if we were outside it. it is run on behalf the same neoliberal (sorry to use that word, Simon, to describe a real thing) elites as everywhere else is run by. But the idea that we might take control “back” from it is misconceived; all we will be doing is handing power from that set of elites to this set of elites.

    The difference is that the EU is underpinned by a fundamental platform of human rights that is thickly woven into its principles and practices. it was put there before the neoliberals came along, and they have been completely unable to undo it. Our Brexiters want to take us out of the EU so that they can do away with all that human rights “nonsense”. Yes, Matt, you’re right, many things will be possible outside the EU. Top of the list is even greater exploitation in the name of profit.

    That is why I prefer to be inside a flawed institution rather than outside it in an even more flawed one. And there are people we can work with to start to loosen the grip the elites have on everything we do. Out on our own, we will have no chance of doing that.

  • @Rob Parsons

    ” What we got was a wafer thin majority” A majority of 1,269,501 people is hardly wafer thin. 4% more people voted for leave than remain

    “And we did not have exhaustive debate”
    The EU debate had been going on for years, the campaign went on for months, we had television debates galore covered by the BBC, ITV, SKY etc.. how many more televised debates would you have liked. There was debate after debate in parliament. There were state funded leaflets delivered to every household.

    “we had a failure to engage on one side and a mountain of lies on the other.”
    Actually we had a remain side that FAILED to make the case for staying in the EU and what they would do to reform the EU if we stayed, instead they relied on project fear, doom and gloom and outright lies to scare people from voting for change. It was a very much, business as usual thank you very much, Nick Cleggs vision for the EU in 10 years time was, that it would look pretty much the same. The out campaign set out a positive case for leave and gave people “hope” and set out “possibilities” and “alternatives” that could be achieved outside of the EU, that’s not to say that there were not any exaggerations made, of course there were, all parties and politicians exaggerate.

    “This was not democracy”
    Yes it was democracy. Parliament, our representative democracy, decided in this instance, on such an important issue as our future within the EU, the people should get to decide if we should remain or leave and so handed back our control and gave us direct democracy in the form of plebiscite. Parliament asked the people to consider and vote accordingly. The people did so and they voted to leave, you can not get anymore democratic than that.

    “And the public’s mind has been changing since.”
    Evidence to support this claim please.

    “The referendum was not a safe or a democratic basis for such a momentous and such a long term decision.”
    Why was a referendum not safe or democratic? Because we voted leave??

  • @Rob Parsons
    “The difference is that the EU is underpinned by a fundamental platform of human rights that is thickly woven into its principles and practices.. Our Brexiters want to take us out of the EU so that they can do away with all that human rights “nonsense”. Yes, Matt, you’re right, many things will be possible outside the EU. Top of the list is even greater exploitation in the name of profit.”

    See this is just project fear at work all over again..
    Leaving the EU does not mean there will be a great rush to abandon all Human rights, workers rights, or environmental policies. Outside of the EU, the UK will be FULLY ACCOUNTABLE to the UK electorate.
    Are you really suggesting that the UK Citizens as a whole do not care about these things and would allow a government especially a tory government to abandon all these things? Of course they won’t, any party that was seen to abandon any of these issues would quickly find themselves booted out of office at the next general election.

    We do not need the EU to hold our hands and tell us what our Human Rights / Workers Rights / Environmental polices should be. That just gives our politicians the opportunity to hide behind the EU and blame them when things go wrong or do not go far enough.

    Outside the EU, the UK government will be fully accountable to the electorate on everything it does and i have faith that the public will not tolerate any government abusing these principles

  • Matt, there will not be a sudden nirvana when we’re outside the EU. How is the British government not accountable now? it *is* fully accountable to the public – that won’t change. And some of the public will still be as gullible as they were before – that’s how Leave won with a mountain of lies. This is not project fear, this is a sober assessment of life and politics once the Brexiters have got their way.

    And you’re doing that them and us thing. The EU is not them. It is us. We have as much power inside it as any other country, and more than most. We are not being told what to do on human rights, employment rights or the environment. (And on the few occasions that we are, I am glad we are, given waht this government is trying to do to the environment.)

    From ITV fact check: http://www.itv.com/news/update/2016-06-09/fact-check-britain-outvoted-more-than-other-countries-in-eu/

    “Official EU voting records show that the British government has voted ‘No’ to laws passed at EU level on 56 occasions, abstained 70 times, and voted ‘Yes’ 2,466 times since 1999.

    “In other words, UK ministers were on the “winning side” 95% of the time, abstained 3% of the time, and were on the losing side 2%.”

    95% of the time we get our way. That is not “being told” what to do.

  • @Rob Parsons
    ” How is the British government not accountable now? it *is* fully accountable to the public – that won’t change.”

    I was talking about in reference to Human Rights, Environmental protections and workers rights etc. We constantly keep hearing from remainers that the UK government will abolish all these protections the moment we leave the EU. I am saying that is nonsense, it won’t happen, the public would not allow that to happen and any government that tried to would find themselves quickly booted out of office, I also said that at present within the EU, the Government is able to hide behind some EU rules, therefore making themselves unaccountable.
    That would change once were outside the EU and fully govern ourselves with rules and legislation that are 100% entirely attributable to UK Law.
    Without the EU to hide behind or blame, Governments will be more directly accountable to it’s people. That’s great for democracy and for the people as far as I am concerned

  • Katharine Pindar 24th Dec '16 - 1:12pm

    Rob, thank you for keeping the debate going on what reforms Remainers would like to see from the EU in future, and for your own suggestions. I had felt uneasy that we were saying we must stay in the EU without suggesting how we would like to see it develop in future, and at least now in canvassing shortly in Copeland I can say there are ideas for that development. I think as LJP reiterates there has to be modification of the idea of free movement of people, and I guess the other EU countries are coming round to that. I think we do have to avoid the idea of a United States of Europe, and perhaps as Jedibee says seek an inner and outer EU, with only part integrated fully; and I want as Alfred M. proposes a stronger Parliament and weaker Commission, and more democracy, accountability and subsidiarity. I’d like to see the party now set up a study group, including ALDE people, to study these ideas and make firm proposals for the EU which we may yet stay in, or, if not, seek to rejoin, and remain committed to.
    Now I must resume Christmas! – best wishes to all fellow contributors for a peaceful and happy time.

  • Rob Parsons 24th Dec '16 - 1:47pm

    Matt. I wish I had your optimism. But I fear it is not well founded, not at all. Merry Christmas.

  • Rob Parsons 24th Dec '16 - 1:48pm

    Katharine – well, if what I have done helps you to garner a few extra votes in Copeland, I will be well pleased. Merry Christmas. 🙂

  • Rob Parsons 24th Dec '16 - 1:57pm

    Sorry, Matt, I missed your post at 12.31.

    ‘“And the public’s mind has been changing since.”
    Evidence to support this claim please.’

    https://ig.ft.com/sites/brexit-polling/ – currently showing 48% remain 46% leave
    And in one of the key places: http://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/politics/sunderland-echo-poll-shows-u-turn-on-brexit-1-8282851
    https://www.opinionoutpost.co.uk/en-gb/blog/oouk-q3-2016/results-of-our-post-brexit-online-surveys 47% remain 43% leave.

    ‘“The referendum was not a safe or a democratic basis for such a momentous and such a long term decision.”
    Why was a referendum not safe or democratic? Because we voted leave??’
    For a decision of this nature, 52-48% is wafer thin. The snapshot that we got on June 23rd was unsatisfactory for all the reasons already mentioned. I respect it as a snapshot but not as the basis for such a long term decision. And “because we voted leave??” – Nigel Farage said (I bet he wished he hadn’t now) that he would regard 52-48 for Remain as unfinished business. If he can, why can’t we?

  • @Rob Parsons

    So your evidence for the public changing their mind is the results of one opinion poll?

    Here is another poll for you from yougov
    http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/bg3iahmaw8/TimesResults_161205_VI_Trackers_W.pdf
    In hindsight, do you think Britain was right or wrong to vote to leave the European Union?
    Right 44
    Wrong 42
    Don’t know 14
    And amongst Liberal democrat Voters: do you think Britain was right or wrong to vote to leave the European Union?” for those intending to vote Lib Dem is:
    Right: 17%, Wrong 79%, Don’t Know 4%.
    and for those who voted Lib Dem in 2015 it is
    Right: 32%, Wrong 54%, Don’t Know 14%.

    {30% of Libdems being around about the same amount that voted to leave in the referendum}
    I don’t think attitudes are changing at all, it is wishful thinking, but then it is Christmas after all and a time for wishing 😉

    “For a decision of this nature, 52-48% is wafer thin. The snapshot that we got on June 23rd was unsatisfactory for all the reasons already mentioned.”
    The language being used here is really not becoming of someone calling themselves democratic. The June 23rd Referendum was not a “snap shot poll” it was a democratic election which had the highest turn out in our political history, to be dismissive of this historic and major event is really not becoming.

    “If he can, why can’t we?”
    Nobody is saying that the Liberal Democrats should not be a party that campaigns to rejoin the EU AFTER we have exited, if that is what the party wants to do, what is not democratic is for a party to frustrate and attempt to block brexit when the public were asked to make the choice. Liberal Democrats party leaders even campaigned themselves for years for an in / out referendum. They got what they wanted, they just did not get the result they expected. but hey that’s democracy.

  • Rob Parsons 24th Dec '16 - 2:47pm

    Matt, – not one opinion poll. Three, one of which is a poll of polls. And I do not accept that what I am saying is not democratic. It is completely democratic. To regard such a small majority based on a campaign of lies as the final outcome of a democratic decision making process of such magnitude is itself undemocratic. To make a massive and very long term decision on that basis alone is very short sighted indeed. Democracy goes much further than a single vote and a mountain of lies.

  • Andrew McCaig 24th Dec '16 - 3:10pm

    To all those on here who say “the decision is taken, we must respect that decision and Leave” I ask this question:

    “If, in 2 years time, with a clear hard Brexit on the table and polls showing that 65% of British people by that time favour Remain, would it be correct to leave without another referendum?”

    I contend that anyone would answer yes to that really would be “anti-democratic”…

  • If, in 2 years time, with a clear hard Brexit on the table and polls showing that 65% of British people by that time favour Remain, would it be correct to leave without another referendum?”

    And if that is the case, and we have the second referendum, and the result is the same as the first one, will you then accept that the democratic will of the people of the UK is to leave the EU?

  • @Andrew McCaig

    “If, in 2 years time, with a clear hard Brexit on the table”

    All this talk of soft brexit, hard brexit, red white and blue brexit, it really is all nonsense. It is quite simply Brexit, nothing more, nothing less. The UK voted to leave the EU, that means leaving the single market.
    If we manage to negotiate a trade deal that gives us “access” to the single market, that is great, but there is a world of difference between having “access” to the single market and being a “member” of the single market.

    The only thing that is going to weaken our position and end up getting us the worst possible deal, is this constant farce that is being carried out by hardball remainers, whose hopes are, that by frustrating the process of exiting the EU and weakening the Government, the EU will offer us such a bad deal, people will change their minds and hopefully a 2nd referendum will take place and the decision will be reversed.

    Firstly, those who voted leave will never support a 2nd referendum on those terms when it is brought about by sabotage.
    Secondly, It is more than likely the case that once article 50 has been triggered it can not be revoked. So Remainers should be mindful of the sabotaging tactics they have been employing or intend to employ

  • Rob Parsons 24th Dec '16 - 4:13pm

    Of course Leavers won’t want another referendum, Matt. They’re terrified that democracy might work against them. Advocating remaining does not damage any case that Britain might ahve: enough damage is being done to that by the complete absence of a plan or any kind of unity among those in charge of leaving. the consequences and the complications of leaving were hidden from the public during the campaign, which was most notable for the have-our-cake-and-eat-it-Brexit nonsense spouted by Boris Johnson. And some people believed him, although many were smart enough not to.

  • jedibeeftrix 24th Dec '16 - 4:28pm

    @ Rob – “Matt, – not one opinion poll. Three, one of which is a poll of polls.”

    John Curtice in a recent report: http://ukandeu.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Brexit-Six-months-on.pdf

    “There is also little consistent evidence that people would vote any
    differently if the referendum were held again. A couple of surveys
    immediately after the referendum suggested that many ‘Leave’ voters
    regretted their decision; but of the eight readings taken since the start
    of July, five have put ‘Leave’ ahead, two had the sides tied and just one
    reported ‘Remain’ supporters outnumbering ‘Leave’. Six months on, it
    seems that Britain is just as divided on the merits of the case as it was
    on 23 June.”

  • Rob Parsons 24th Dec ’16 – 4:13pm……Of course Leavers won’t want another referendum, Matt. They’re terrified that democracy might work against them…..

    Had remain won I wonder how a ‘Leaver’ demands for a second vote in the name of’democracy’ would have been greeted on LDV?

  • Ethicsgradient 24th Dec '16 - 5:58pm

    I was just rwadi

  • Ethicsgradient 24th Dec '16 - 6:13pm

    I was just reading some of the comments and seem to be a bit down on the UK’s attitude to the EU thought-out the years. Spoilt brats, only wanting the trade side, not being good Europeans etc….

    These comments filter through the base-truth of the situation. That being if Edward Heath had been honest about what the EU aims were then the UK would never have joined (resumed in) in the first place. The UK was taken in on a false perpectus that the EU was about trade only and only marginal pooling of insignificant soverignty areas.

    The was, is and always will be the core truth to all of this. The UK was never happy to relinquish being a fully independent soverign country. It only ever wanyed a free trade agreement/area

    The blame lays at the feet of Heath for thinking he knew better.

    It is the same mistake that keeps being made. I still remember vividly the Labour government claiming the new EU Constitution was simply a ‘tidying up exercise’ rather than a massive transfer in soverignty. No wonder people wanted to leave.

    The UK are not bad Europeans, we were hookwinked into join a political organisation we did not want and did not care for and did not want to be a part of.

  • @Rob Parsons

    “Of course Leavers won’t want another referendum, Matt. They’re terrified that democracy might work against them.”

    That really is rich I’ve got to say.

    We have had democracy, we had that when parliament decided that on such a monumental decision, the decision of our future in the EU must be put out to the people to decide in direct democracy. The people decided.

    You are aware of your parties history on calling for an in / out referendum are you not?

    It was in your Manifesto and the 2009 European Manifesto “” Liberal Britain, Liberal Europe
    Despite a promise to put Britain at the heart of Europe, over the last 12 years Labour has lost its way, leaving Britain
    without much influence in many areas of EU business.
    Liberal Democrats have argued for a referendum on whether Britain stays in
    or leaves the EU.We are the only party confident enoughto put the pro-European case to the
    British people on the big issue facing us– and let the people decide. Britain will
    only win the case for a flexible,democratic Europe in Brussels if we settle our arguments at home on
    whether we should be part of the EU or not.”
    Nick Clegg when leader of the party was calling for an in / out referendum
    There was a 3 line whip imposed on the party to abstain on the Lisbon Treaty, because the party believed there should be a full in / out referendum, not just a referendum on the Lisbon treaty. Tim Farron, Alister Carmichael and David Heath all stepped down from the front bench in order to support the then oppositions motion, they were joined by 12 other Liberal Democrat MP’s.

    So please lets not accuse leavers of being afraid of democracy.
    It is remainers, who supposedly believed in democracy and thought they could make the case and win the argument who are now changing their minds and trying to stifle democracy

  • Paul Murray 24th Dec '16 - 7:15pm

    “For a decision of this nature, 52-48% is wafer thin. The snapshot that we got on June 23rd was unsatisfactory for all the reasons already mentioned.”

    But here’s what Paddy Ashdown had to say on TV on the night of the referendum at a point in time when it was widely expected than the remain side would win: “I will forgive no one who does not respect the sovereign voice of the British people once it is spoken whether it is majority of one per per cent or 20%… It is our duty as those who serve the public to make sure the country does the best it can with the decision they have taken. In. Out. When the British people have spoken you do what they command.”

    I’ll eat my hat if Paddy hasn’t found a way to change his mind on that.

  • Denis Mollison 24th Dec '16 - 9:36pm

    Rob – many thanks for your excellent article and for your equally good responses between 12.00 and 14.00 today.

    I hope the party will remain firmly against Brexit, and doing everything it legally can to derail it. The EU has many flaws and needs reform, but it’s the best effort at international democratic cooperation – not least on the environmental issues essential for human survival – that we have and we should fight to remain part of it.

    My own favourite argument for the EU is the Rupert Murdoch quote on why he opposed it: ‘When I go into Downing Street they do what I say; when I go to Brussels they take no notice.’

  • If there is going to be a vote like Brexit again the MPs should say beforehand who can stay in UK and who must leave. It is still no clearer.

  • Arnold Kiel 25th Dec '16 - 7:59am

    Dear Rob, my sincere thanks and congratulations, especially for your follow-up contributions. The referendum was anything but democratic and an unfit method to answer a question of such complexity and gravity. I do not remember who had said: not every leave voter is a racist, but every racist was a leave-voter. How many might there be? 2 or 3%? I am not suggesting that racists should not have a right to vote. I am suggesting that it is them, amongst others, the UK has a representative democracy for.

    Concerning EU reform, I am less hopeful, but share your conclusion. In the current situation, I am a big fan of the EU (and the UK’s continued membership) precisely because of its principle-based rigidigy. With your current Government at the table, together with Greece, Hungary, Poland, maybe a Le Pen led France, and who knows what will happen in my home country Germany, the need to reform unanimously effectively means no reform. I consider this a blessing at the moment. Reform will come when a new consensus arises. That is soon enough.

  • jedibeeftrix 25th Dec '16 - 8:22am

    @ arnold – “The referendum was anything but democratic and an unfit method to answer a question of such complexity and gravity.”

    You don’t take the Dicey’en view on the correct application of referendums I take it? I.e. matters of deep constitutional importance that cut across party lines?

    “I do not remember who had said: not every leave voter is a racist, but every racist was a leave-voter.”

    Do you accept that many in ethnic minority communities voted to leave because they saw eu free movement of people as suffocating the links to their cultural roots in the Caribbean, africa, middle east and asia? Take that line of thought one step further, and you end up looking at the eu as a mechanism to preserve britain as white and western, relegating ethnic minority communities to a colourful dash of multiculturalism with which to liven up a dull year with a festival or two.

    “In the current situation, I am a big fan of the EU (and the UK’s continued membership) precisely because of its principle-based rigidigy. …the need to reform unanimously effectively means no reform. I consider this a blessing at the moment.”

    Two points:
    1. Are those rigid princples good ones? Or, are the cruelly damaging, such as the one that promotes a single currency with only rules enforced austerity, rather than a transfer union legitimised with political union.
    2. I take a rather opposite view that countries must always evolve to meet the demands of a changing world. This means no constitutional road blocks to parliamentary sovereignty, and preserving chunks of governance in eu aspic. To me, what you argue for is the very cause of the rising populism you so deplore.

  • @Eddie Sammon
    The Marr article just demonstrated brilliantly how little Marr understands about the EU. It’s been fisked brilliantly here

    https://jonworth.eu/fisking-andrew-marrs-delusional-view-of-brexit/

  • First of all, merry Christmas everyone.

    Secondly, apologies for silence again after about 2 o’clock yesterday. LDV decided I was commenting too much on my own post and blocked me.

    I had some specific replies to make to some points at the time, but we have moved on so I’ll make some general points and hope they serve as a response to several of the posts that have happened since I was last allowed in.

    It is not just a simple question of whether or not the referendum was democratic. Yes, it was, but it was not sufficiently clear to for the basis of such a monumental and long lasting decision. In particular, the question of where we were going to land when we jumped out of the window was completely opaque. (I blame both sides of the debate for that.) All sorts of people voted to leave for all sorts of reasons, and their reasons should be respected, but at the same time the reasons for voting to stay in should be respected. I believe that a lot of the reasons for voting to leave are not actually the fault of the EU and can be dealt with, if only the UK government had the will to do so.

  • A good example emerges today in the Sunday Times. http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/treasury-snubs-global-plan-to-stopmultinationals-avoiding-tax-fdqp2p0z9 Many of our problems would be dealt with if we had a efficient way of making sure corporations paid their taxes. There is an agreement emerging among the OECD on a system for dealing with multinational corporation tax that wil be much more effective. The UK government has today said it will not sign up to it. That is not the EU, it is the UK government. That gives the lie to Matt’s optimistic assertions about how much nicer our government will be to us when we’re out of the EU.

    On the EU in general, much of the criticism levelled against it in these comments is true. That was the point of this piece, in a way. I wanted to set out a road map for how we could make the EU work better, not jsut for us but for everybody. And at the same time recognise that much of what the EU is blamed for is actually the responsibility of UK governments, both Tory and Labour, neither of whom show much sign of changing their ways. But my position remains that it is better than the alternative in which both Tory and Labour parties are determined to axe human rights legislation and race to the bottom in order to continue to fuel corporate greed.

    More comments are welcome. If I don’t respond, it’s because I have been blocked again.

  • Dear jedibeeftrix, a leave-vote by non-EU immigrants to achieve equality is entirely legitimate, but they will not achieve such thing.
    The EURO was not a rigid principle but a joint project with voluntary participation. What is wrong with balancing your budget? The non EURO UK tries that as well. A transfer-union could happen only in the USE; not even I am ready for that, you certainly even less so.
    A sovereign UK parliament continually evolving sounds nice. It just means that you cannot even sell a screw tariff-free and without certificates of origin and conformity to the single market. What price are you prepared to pay?
    Whenever I read a UK paper, it is full of housing-, care-, NHS- crises. Poverty, homelessness, foodbank-dependency etc. are on the rise, French build your powerplants with Chinese capital and sovereign wealth funds of dictatorships buy your gas network.
    I can only underline Rob’s warning concerning your preferred local elite which is currently enjoying a solid majority without effective opposition.

  • jedibeeftrix 25th Dec '16 - 10:51am

    @ Arnold – “The EURO was not a rigid principle but a joint project with voluntary participation. A transfer-union could happen only in the USE; not even I am ready for that, you certainly even less so.”

    There is nothing voluntary about the euro, only two nations have treaty exemptions from joining, and none from post-euro accession nations. [You] have an obligation to be ready for a transfer union:

    Germany benefits from the single currency by having its natural foriegn exchange rate suppressed by the wider currency region. Its goods are cheaper, but by the same token it raises the exchange rate for the wider currency region. Making their goods more expensive.

    And do so whilst engaging in none of the normal solidarity acts that nation states engage in to normalise wealth potential within regions:

    Federal US taxation is ~25% of GDP and the variation in spending levels between rich and poor states is ~5% of GDP, so a variation of roughly 20% of federal spending.

    How big a budget would the EU need to be able to slosh around 5% of combined GDP into the poor regions (bearing in mind the current budget is only 1% (and heavily constrained by CAP payments)?

    The other point is that americans accept this, they are all american, whereas we are rapidly finding out just how german the germans are, and finnish the finns are, when it comes to firehosing cash at nations they consider to be essentially delinquent! In the UK this ‘sloshing’ occurs in the form of:

    a) National pay-bargaining which benefits poorer regions (teachers, nurses, etc)

    b) National social benefits more generous than poorer regions could afford alone (eg.housing benefit in glasgow)

    c) Targeted regional development grants/discounts to encourage business growth (objective 1 EU/WEFO funds)

    d) Additional infrastructure spending to support the local economy (the mainland-skye bridge)

    e) Operating national services hubs from depressed regions to boost wages (DVLA in swansea, etc)

    Unless Germany recognises the ‘familial’ relationship, and the obligation that goes along with that, then it needs to leave for the good of its neighbours.

    This principal applies equally to the netherlands and finland, but since it is Germany that is the driving economic power for the euro’s sake the answer must be ‘right’.

  • jedibeeftrix 25th Dec '16 - 11:07am

    @ Arnold – “Dear jedibeeftrix, a leave-vote by non-EU immigrants to achieve equality is entirely legitimate, but they will not achieve such thing.”

    A leave-vote by anyone for whatever reason is legitimate. But why will they achieve no such thing? It should be obvious that any system that avoids the present situation – where 7% of the worlds population take 50% of the total of inward migration – will end up being more equitable to the RoW. And this reason is not only something that affects ethnic minorities, for the same desire exists in native Britons to maintain ties with cultural links to Ca/Oz/Nz.

    “A sovereign UK parliament continually evolving sounds nice. It just means that you cannot even sell a screw tariff-free and without certificates of origin and conformity to the single market. What price are you prepared to pay?”

    I think we can both admit in privacy to each other that the EU has moved far beyond defining mechanical properties and recycling regimes for tap-fittings, and deep into areas of social policy, justice, monetary and fiscal policy, and foriegn policy and defence.
    I’m very happy to have free-trade, but if it comes at that price (and it needs to for the eurozone), then no thanks.

    “I can only underline Rob’s warning concerning your preferred local elite which is currently enjoying a solid majority without effective opposition.”

    I don’t get too concerned about political elites, the system we enjoy is scrupulous in punishing them severely once people realise they are no longer representing the interests of the people that voted for them. i.e. Liberals in the 20’s/30’s, the Tory’s in 1997, Labour in Scotland in 2015, and europhile MP’s in 2016. It’s a self correcting system.

  • Andrew Tampion 25th Dec '16 - 12:54pm

    Three points
    To Rob Parsons (10.28) the only way of respecting the views of the majority who voted to leave the EU is to leave the EU and if the only way of doing that is to leave the customs union and the single economic area then that is what our country will have to do.
    Regarding the necessity or otherwise of the referendum it is entirely mistaken to ascribe the calling of the referendum to the conflict with the Conservative party. Whilst this may have been the the immediate reason for the decision to hold a referendum last June it has been clear to anyone with any political sense that there has been a significant number of members of the British public have had grave doubts about the merits of EU membership for 10 years at least. The growth and success of UKIP was only the most obvious symptom of this. The fact that some 30% of Liberal Democrat voters voted leave is further evidence in support of this proposition. The only legitimate and practical way of resolving this festering sore was a referendum.
    Final point there is no 48%. In my case I vote remain because having weighed the evidence as I saw it I concluded 60% – 40% in favour of remain. But I could easily have come to the opposite view. Thus I and I believe many other of the 48% who voted remain are not hurting and do not wish the decision to be revisited. In the unlikely event of a second referendum my prevent intention is to vote leave for several reasons. First nothing has change to justify a re-vote, see for example the ONS’s recent upgrading of our countries GDP since the referendum result. Second I refuse to be party to an undemocratic attempt to subvert the will of the people as expressed in the referendum. Finally I believe my vote to remain was in part influence by the murder of Jo Cox MP, but for that I would probably have voted leave, however on reflection deplorable though that event was it was a bad reason for voting remain.
    Finally I have been a Liberal then a Liberal Democrat supporter Al my adult life I have never voted for another party and have been a member since 2010 I love our party and it’s principles but I love our democracy more and I will not support or vote for any candidate who does not accept the outcome of the referendum as binding.

  • Rob Parsons 25th Dec '16 - 4:07pm

    Andrew (12.48)

    I think that what you suggest is a diminution of democracy.

    I respect your position and your change of heart. But I can point to plenty of leave voters who were in two mids and whose mind has changed since. My point is that basing a permanent decison on such volatile feelings is wrong for us and a bad form of democracy.

    Discourse since the referendum has been that the result must be respected, elided into = it must stand whatever the circumstances. I do respect the vote for what it was – an advisory vote with a wafer thin majority won on the basis of a mountain of lies. But democracy is so much more than a single vote. Elections are regularly won by such small margins, but with elections the voters regularly and frequently get the chance to change their minds. There is no such chance with this vote and people have changed their minds to the extent that polls are now pointing the other way. Democracy is people being able to deliberate and come to a considered conclusion, knowing what the outcomes will be. We were denied that chance in the referendum. To insist that the result must hold regardless of subsequent events is not upholding democracy, it is an abnegation of it.

  • Arnold Kiel
    “The EURO was not a rigid principle but a joint project with voluntary participation. What is wrong with balancing your budget?”

    Firstly joining the Euro is compulsory for new members. Secondly there is nothing wrong with having as your main economic priority balancing the national government budget if you do not care about the economic consequences. However after Keynes it is irresponsible to give a higher priority to balancing the national government budget than ensuring the national population has full employment.

    For the Euro zone to have been a success for everyone there should have been a mechanism to provide huge resources to the poorer areas to bring their prosperity up to the levels of the highest. Limiting government deficits and national debts is not a mechanism to achieve this. The wealthiest half should have been paying more into the EU so this money could be used to increase economic activity in the poorest half. There was and is no political will to do this.

    Democracy is not the dictatorship of the majority. It is a shame this is not taught in schools. We expect our government to govern not on behalf of those who voted for it, but for everyone. I would argue that the reasons President Mohamad Morsi was removed from power were not only because he declared himself above the law, but that he was not governing for the whole population, especially those who did not vote for him. In our Parliamentary democracy it is right and proper for those not in the government to oppose and vote against government legislation, even when it was included in the government’s manifesto. We don’t expect MPs to abstain when they disagree with what the government is proposing, therefore why should we expect them to do so when the government is trying to take the UK out of the EU and these MPs think it is not in the best interests of the people of the UK?

    Of course the Cameron government could have drafted a bill to take us out of the EU if there was a leave vote in a referendum, then MPs who believed it is not in the best interest of the UK to leave would have been silly to vote for it. However the EU Referendum Act was not such a bill, because it did not include anything on what action would follow a leave vote. Personally I have thought it was a really bad idea to have a referendum on our membership of the EU and I have thought this when our MPs made this policy up (I think when Ming Campbell was leader [2006-07]).

  • Andrew Tampion 26th Dec '16 - 9:34am

    Rob
    Apologies for the delay in responding to you reply to my post. I was not blocked merely enjoying my Christmas Day and I hope you did the same.

    We are going to have to disagree about whether it is democratic or the reverse to have a revote or not. My reason for Refering to my position was to counter the wide spread assumption my posters on LibDem voice that all of the 48% who voted remain are firm supporters of the EU. In my case and I suspect in many others took a balanced view and are not therefore “hurting” that the vote when against us. In your post of 1.57pm on the 24th you provided a link to an article on Opinion Outpost if you look at the paragraph headed “Remorse or no Remorse” it says that only 42% of the respondents wanted a re-run of the referendum. Which does not support your call for a further referendum. Of course the position may be different in 2 years time we will have to wait and see.
    Your comparison of the referendum with a General Election is a poor one for several reasons. One is that referenda are rarer and designed to deal with major issues on a once in a generation way. Another is that even before the Fixed Term Parliaments Act General Elections only tended to occur every 4 or 5 years.

    Returning to your post of 1.57pm of the 24th the link to the Sunderland Echo does indeed show that in that area there may have been a change of heart. But if you go to the link to the FT website and scroll down you will find that the latest poll referred to is dated 22 June. Which means that this was published after the polls had closed for the referendum but before the result was known. The 48% – 46% split in favour of remain is therefore not a reflection of a change of heart by the electorate but a wrong prediction of the outcome of the vote. Also in the Opinion Outpost article that I have already referred to in the “Remorse or no Remorse” section it says that if you strip out the don’t knows and don’t intend to vote then the result would have been the same.

  • Thanks, Andrew, for your thoughtful responses. I did have a good Christmas Day, and I am glad you enjoyed it too.

    I could quote other polls, but my point was not to say that Remain would definitely now win, just that the result is so close that it varies, and such a major decision should not be taken on such a narrow and – I thought hard about whether to use this word, but I will – fraudulent basis. You are right “referenda are rarer and designed to deal with major issues on a once in a generation way”, and it is vital that they should be conducted in such a way that the public fully understand the issues and are not misled by a mountain of lies.

    And you’re right, most of the public do not think there should be a second referendum, but that is because of a widespread misunderstanding of the nature of democracy. We have been led to believe that democracy exists only in votes. An our politicians have let us down in heping to cement that misunderstanding. There is also still a misunderstanding, or perhaps more a not-wanting-to-think-about the consequences. The cmplexity of the consequences is beginning to come clear, and I think a lot of people are reacting by saying, don’t want to know about that, just do it. They haven’t yet realised that “just do it” is not an option.

  • What we needed from Remain was passion and positivity neither of which were in great supply…

  • @Rob Parsons

    I can not believe that you have stooped to such levels as to call the referendum fraudulent, that’s very disappointing language to hear.
    One could attempt to throw the hot potato back at you and ask, do you think the Liberal Democrats 2010 election campaign was fraudulent which ended up putting them in power for 5 years, inflicting policies on the country {Top down reorganisation of the NHS, Welfare cuts, Bedroom Tax, Tuition Fee’s. etc.} that they had no such mandate to do so??
    Then we move in to the tired territory of the public did not understand the issues. Do you have any idea how condescending that sounds.
    Liberal Democrats are not some superior sub species, with a better understanding and concept of the world and politics. In fact 30 % of Libdem Voters voted leave, or are you forgetting about that fact?

    I know you were limited in your responses for over commenting the other day, but I was wondering what your thoughts were on my comments
    matt 24th Dec ’16 – 6:29pm regarding your party history on Referendums.

    BTW, I do hope you had a fantastic Christmas and are enjoying your festivities.

  • Matt, I’m having a good Christmas, thank you. And I hope you are too. I said the basis was fraudulent, not the referendum itself. The fraudulence was from the Leave campaign. Backed up by the electorate being softened up for twenty years by an unchecked campaign of lies from the right wing press – including, at its forefront, Boris Johnson.

    Your remarks about us and referendums – yes, our policy was to hold one. It was to hold a proper democratic one.

    LibDems in 2010, well, that’s a whole different debate, worthy of a thread of its own. Actually, you cannot accues us of being fraudulent. We went into the election with a manifesto we intended to deliver if we were in power. After the result, we became the junior partner. The realities of power are that you do not get everything you want. People still say we could have refused to go into coalition. But you have to think back to May 2010, not think of it with hindsight. What was most needed was stability so as not to spook the markets, and coalition between us and the Tories was the only way to achieve this. I regret very much some of the things that happened after that. Tuition fees in fact was not one of our major policies. It was not on the front page, and it was never going to be a red line in coalition negotiations. It only became an issue because of the NUS pledge which put our MPs in a bind – they could not have refused to sign it without beig accused of duplicity.

    Welfare cuts, bedroom tax- another whole different story. IDS was utterly incompetent, utterly vindictive, but also completely out of control. Cameron couldn’t control him, for reasons I set out here: http://acomfortableplace.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/iain-duncan-smith-when-politics-goes-bad.html. Steve Webb, the LibDem minister in DWP was never going to be able to. Webb in the end chose to do a good job on pensions, which he managed, but he knew there was no point even trying to mitigate IDS’s venom.

  • Steve – yes, absolutely.

  • @Rob Parsons

    Yes, I did have a good Christmas thank you.

    ” I said the basis was fraudulent, not the referendum itself” I really fail to see what was fraudulent about it. The Liberal Democrats where calling for one for years and had it in their manifesto’s. The Tory party promised to have an in / out referendum if they were returned to power in 2015. Parliament debated it tirelessly and can to the collective decision to put it out to plebiscite and voted through legislation accordingly so that could take place? what is fraudulent about that?

    “The fraudulence was from the Leave campaign. Backed up by the electorate being softened up for twenty years by an unchecked campaign of lies from the right wing press”
    Don’t you think fraudulence is going over the top here? if you are talking about £350 million pounds going to the NHS claims, I would say that that was an exaggeration and was always understood that the leave campaign where setting out what “could be alternatives” to do with the money, not what would happen, after all, the leave campaign where merely that, campaigners, they were not the Government and therefore in no position to say “what would” happen with the money. I think everybody understands that and remainers are really desperate to keep over egging this pudding.

    There was plenty of “fraudulence” if that’s the terminology we are going to use here instead of exaggerations from the remain campaign. Talk of instant recessions, families being £4’200 a year worse off, stock market crashes, instant job losses, emergency punishment budgets..the list goes on.. They also claimed that the leave campaign was lying when it said that the EU was wanting to create an EU army, turns out not only was it true, a lot of remainers are almost advocating it.

    “Your remarks about us and referendums – yes, our policy was to hold one. It was to hold a proper democratic one.”
    And that is exactly what happened, we had a democratic plebiscite and the majority voted for leave. Yes politicians from all sides exaggerated, you are never going to stop that, that happens in every single election, every time a minister stands at the dispatch box, almost every time a member of parliament opens their mouth, people exaggerate, that’s not condoning the behaviour, it’s just how it is, it certainly does not make the biggest political event in our entire history undemocratic.

  • jedibeeftrix 27th Dec '16 - 8:59am

    @ Arnold – Due to an entirely understandable pause in (auto) moderation over Christmas, I’d like to draw your attention to two of my posts in response to yours on the 25th Dec ’16 – 10:51am and 11:07am.

  • “LibDems in 2010, well, that’s a whole different debate, worthy of a thread of its own. Actually, you cannot accues us of being fraudulent. “
    Hold on why can’t I. If you can accuse the EU referendum being fraudulent and the Leave campaign as being fraudulent, why can I not say the same is true for the LD 2010 Election campaign? After all, we had Nick Clegg and various other parliamentary party members taking every photo / media opportunity to get on camera holding up a pledge with their signature that they would vote against any rise in tuition fee’s. We had PPB Video’s of nick clegg walking through the streets of London scattered with leaflets saying no more broking promises. Liberal Democrats won a significant portion of their vote based on those promises from students and their families that resulted in them getting into government.
    “Welfare cuts, bedroom tax- another whole different story. IDS was utterly incompetent, utterly vindictive, but also completely out of control. Cameron couldn’t control him, for reasons I set out here: “
    I don’t dispute that IDS was vindictive, but I do not accept that he was out of control. Liberal Democrats were a partner in Government and you had a VETO over any policy that you did not agree with. Liberal Democrats could have simply said NO it’s not happening, not on our watch, under no Circumstances will we support the Bedroom Tax. As you said yourself, when you go into a coalition you do not get all you wanted. Not only did Liberal Democrat MP’s vote for it, we had Clegg, Alexander, etc defending it.
    Let’s not rewrite history here and pretend the LD’s have been Holier than Thou when it comes to being 100% straight with the electorate.

  • Andrew Tampion 27th Dec '16 - 9:43am

    Rob
    Since you have not disputed my post in which I pointed out that two out of the three opinion polls you claimed showed a change of heart by the electorate did no such thing then I assume you accept that I am right and therefore you might want to be a bit more careful before you start making accusations of fraud.

  • Rob Parsons 27th Dec '16 - 9:57am

    Andrew, I have responded. I accept that two did not support my case, but you clearly accept that one does.

    Matt, no, we were not fraudulent in 2010 – we did not set out to mislead the public. We told them, honestly, what we intended to do. We were unable to deliver it. You can accuse us of naivete, maybe, and you can accuse us of not being as ruthless as the Tories were, but you cannot accuse us of lying about what we intended to do.

    And it’s interesting how the Leave side has rewritten its own history. £350 million a week was apparently just an exaggeration. No, it was a lie, a lie deliberately forged, and used over and over again persistently and knowingly. I will continue to call that a lie and the campaign fraudulent.

    Calling it an exaggeration enables the Leave side to say both sides did it. Yes, the Remain side did exaggerate, but their activity was around the norm for a political campaign. It was in no way comparable to the monumental lies of the Leave side.

    As I have said before, the referendum was democratic, but only fleetingly so. It was not a fitting basis for an irrevocable decision.

  • Christopher Haigh 27th Dec '16 - 11:58am

    Rob Parsons 9.57am. You are quite right. The tuition fees vote was an example if how labour and tories and right wing media seek to destroy the liberal democrats. Ours was the only policy to minimise or scrap these fees. Tories and labour wanted unlimited increases. We moderated them yet were set up as the patsy to take the blame by the media tories and labour in the eyes of the public.

  • @Rob Parsons
    “Matt, no, we were not fraudulent in 2010 – we did not set out to mislead the public.”

    I beg to differ, it came to light after the event that Clegg and co never believed in the party’s policy on tuition fees, in fact they tried to get it removed from party policy but conference stopped them from doing so. So to sign that pledge was totally dishonest, especially as LD’s knew that 2010 election was the best chance of a coalition result occurring and LD’s would be held to that pledge

    “No, it was a lie, a lie deliberately forged, and used over and over again persistently and knowingly. I will continue to call that a lie and the campaign fraudulent.”
    Which was no different to what the remain side had said and done, or was the threat of a punishment budget not a lie?
    Was the threats that we would see an instant recession not a lie?
    You seem to have a bad case of double standards going on here

  • Rob Parsons 27th Dec '16 - 3:10pm

    I don’t think any political party ha ever gone into an election with every detail of its programme positively supported by every member. But what they do is agree to support the manifesto, and to put it into action if elected. If the LibDems had been in power after May 2010, we would have enacted our policy on tuition fees.

    Punishment budget – that is what George Osborne said he would do; I have no doubt he would have done it if he had still been chancellor. He likes doing that sort of thing. And maybe you’re forgetting that one of the key reasons why we are not in worse shape is that Mark Carney poured billions and billions of our money into the markets to calm them. Brexit has already cost us a fortune.

    And I maintain there was a massive difference between Remain’s exaggerations, and Leave’s deliberate and persistent campaign of monumental untruths.

  • jedibeeftrix 27th Dec '16 - 3:25pm

    And I disagree.

    “Punishment budget – that is what George Osborne said he would do; I have no doubt he would have done it if he had still been chancellor.”

    £350m – that is what Farage would have done, he likes the NHS!

    Does either statement have any evidentiary worth?

  • Andrew Tampion 27th Dec '16 - 4:39pm

    Rob
    I am prepared to accept that you made an honest mistake when you suggested that those two polls supported your case for another referendum. Do you not have the grace to accept that it is possible that the Leave campaigners who made various claims you consider fraudulent may not also have made honest mistakes?
    As far the tuition fees are consider the issue is that having public pledged not to raise tuition fees and signed a document to that effect every one of our then MPs who voted to increase tuition fees acted dishonourably if not fraudulently?

  • Rob Parsons 27th Dec '16 - 5:46pm

    Jedibeeftrix. That we do not, and never have, sent £350 million a week to Brussels is an indisputable fact. George Osborne’s statement was a statement of intent – different things. And his strategy has always been to reduce public spending as much as possible, while protecting rich people from its worst effects. So it is a tenable claim – it has historical evidence behind it. Whereas “Farage likes the NHS” – yes, good joke, I like the irony. Andrew, the £350 million idea was the centre piece of their campaign, delivered daily in every way they could. There was no question of it being an honest mistake, it was a planned and deliberate piece of dishonesty.

  • Rob Parsons

    The leave campaign where just that, a campaign group, they were not a party of Government, they would not ever be able to enact policies. All they could ever do was set out “idea’s” “alternatives” and / or “possibilities” the electorate understands that.

    “LibDems had been in power after May 2010, we would have enacted our policy on tuition fees.”
    The Libdem signed pledge was to vote against any increase in fee’s. Being in coalition did not force them to abandon that promise, it was a choice to break it. To try and paint it as otherwise is plain wrong.

    You are really having a bad case of double standards here, people in glass houses and all that.

  • The Libdem signed pledge was to vote against any increase in fee’s[sic]

    Indeed, far from being a statement of what the Lib Dems would do if elected to govern, the wording of the pledge seemed to presuppose them being in opposition (the pledge was to vote against any increase in tuituion fees — a Lib Dem majority government would presumably never have even brought legislation to increase tuition fees before the house, so the pledge would have been in that case redundant).

  • John Barrett 27th Dec '16 - 6:59pm

    Matt, “I beg to differ, it came to light after the event that Clegg and co never believed in the party’s policy on tuition fees, in fact they tried to get it removed from party policy but conference stopped them from doing so”.

    How true.

    Rob, “If the LibDems had been in power after May 2010, we would have enacted our policy on tuition fees.”

    Do you really think so?

    We were in power in the coalition and sadly we let down our own members and millions of supporters by the way we handled the Tuition Fees issue.

    The MPs at the time, including Nick, were under no illusion that we were going to end up in power on our own and those who wrote the manifest also did so knowing that we were not going to have a Lib-Dem majority government.

    Rob – If in some fantasy world we had ended up in power on our own, I doubt that Prime Minister Clegg and his key Cabinet members, who never did support the policy and fought against it, would have then delivered it.

    What they might have delivered, is that other policy Nick truly supported and that the party called for – an In/Out Referendum on the EU.

  • John Barrett 27th Dec '16 - 7:55pm

    Rob – “I don’t think any political party has ever gone into an election with every detail of its programme positively supported by every member.”

    This certainly was the case in the EU Referendum for the Lib-Dems, as every poll I have seen appears to indicate that around 30% of Lib-Dem members voted Leave.

    There will no doubt be a wide range of reasons for doing so and who knows if this percentage is increasing or decreasing?

    In most elections we would be happy to poll 30%, so those who are happy to dismiss the 30% as racists etc. should consider that possibly 50% of party members might also be happy to see some degree of control over immigration from EU countries. If this is the case, there will probably be other issues where the majority of members have a degree of sympathy for some other aspects of the Leave case.

    Continuing to argue for EU reform, or a second referendum on the Brexit negotiations, looks very much like ignoring the decision of the 33 million people who participated in the largest ever exercise of the democratic vote in my lifetime.

  • Rob Parsons 27th Dec '16 - 8:18pm

    Well, I wanted to talk about the referendum, and not get side tracked onto another whole load of issues. I would just like to point out to John 7.55 today that I do dispute the result of the referendum, for respectable arguments laid out in several of the comments. In a nutshell, I respect the result of the referendum for exactly what it is, an advisory poll won by a wafer thin majority, based on a mountain of lies. We were not well served by the media, by the Remain side, which bottled it, or by the Leave side, who were mendacious throughout, and it is perfectly respectable to continue to campaign for what we believe in. A lot of other people will also campaign for what they believe in.

    It’s been a fascinating debate, and I thank everyone who took part, but I think we are beginning to talk past each other rather than to each other, so I am going to end my part in it now. Merry Christmas to everyone, and a happy new year.

  • Rob Parsons 27th Dec '16 - 8:30pm

    There’s a comment on the way. I’ve been modded again.

  • @Rob Parsons

    Firstly, I do want to begin by thanking you for the article, although we obviously come from opposite ends of the spectrum, it has been very enjoyable engaging with you on this issue and it has given me something else to do / think about in between the celebrating the festivities, so thank you for that.

    It is somewhat telling though that out of almost 100 comments, hardly any commentators even attempted to make the case for what reforms they would have liked to have seen the remain camp argue for if we stayed in the EU and how they would would go about achieving it.

    ” We were not well served by the media, by the Remain side, which bottled it”
    I don’t think the remain side bottled it at all, they just failed to make a compelling argument for why we should remain, Cleggs prediction / vision for how the EU would look like in 10 years time was ” it will be much the same as it is now”
    All these years Clegg argued that there should be an in / out referendum and the party would be able to make a positive case for staying in the EU and win the vote and it all boiled down to ” it will be much the same as it is now”
    The problem for the remain side was, especially with hard ball remainers, they simply do not really see anything wrong with the EU and probably given the choice would probably opt for more EU. That argument was and never will win the argument.

    Thanks again Rob for your article.
    I do hope you enjoy the rest of the festivities and have a fabulous New Year.

    Best Wishes

    Matt

  • John Barrett 27th Dec '16 - 10:53pm

    I should have said Lib-Dem supporters instead of members in my previous comment.

    I blame too much mulled wine and too many mince pies.

  • jedibeeftrix 27th Dec '16 - 10:57pm

    @ Martin – “The only polling data that suggests anything even a bit like that refers to people who have voted for a Lib Dem candidate, not the same category at all.”

    Is nearly one third of lib-dem voters of no import when it comes to determining party policy?

  • @John Barrett

    I think most of us knew what you meant, some people were just being pedantic, which isn’t uncommon when someone is losing the argument.

    However, even though it can not be proved, I would not be surprised if there were significant similar numbers from the “membership” to those of “supporters” who also voted to leave, I suspect though that many would have done so from the shadows for fear of being vilified by other more domineering members.
    The Liberal Democrats likes to paint themselves as the most united party, especially on issues such as the EU, though I think the reality is really quite something different.

  • John Barrett 28th Dec '16 - 9:53am

    Matt – Thanks for that comment.

    I accept that there is no clear evidence as to how members voted on Brexit, but after my experience during the Scottish referendum, I am not surprised at how few people in the party raised their heads above the parapet.

    There actually was a poll in 2014 detailing how party members in Scotland voted on Scottish Independence. As someone who did not follow the party line at the time and when I was interviewed about my views by the media, the party leadership stated that the number of members voting Yes could be counted on one hand. The poll after the referendum then revealed that approximately 30% of Lib-Dem members, yes Lib-Dem members (not voters) had voted for independence.

    While I received many emails of support from other party members who shared my views, others were not so considerate and the issue of whether I should be thrown out of the party or be stripped of my position as President of the Scottish Liberal Club were raised. Thankfully neither gained any traction.

    For the record, following the Brexit vote and because of a number other factors, I would now vote No to independence, if there is a second referendum on the issue.

  • Peter Watson 28th Dec '16 - 10:49am

    @matt “hardly any commentators even attempted to make the case for what reforms they would have liked to have seen the remain camp argue for”
    Indeed.
    The official line is that Brexiters voted for departure but not a destination, though it is clear that those of us who voted Remain were equally unclear about the destination for the sort of EU we wanted to remain in. This lack of clarity was not helped by, but probably helps explain, the dismal Remain campaign which instead attempted to exploit a fear of change.
    A binary In/Out referendum would never resolve that (a weakness of all the recent referendums e.g. for those who might have wanted PR instead of AV or Devo-Max instead of independence), but at least it establishes a preferred direction of travel.
    The Lib Dem approach still seems to be rooted in the failed Remain campaign, driven by outrage and fear of change, and the subject of this article, “What I really wanted to hear from Remain” could be expressed in the present tense as “What I really want to hear from the Lib Dems about remaining in the EU.”.
    And as the second part of the article indicates, we also need to hear what is the Lib Dem position on issues other than Brexit. Unfortunately this still sounds like “Lib Dems want jam tomorrow”, with which we can all agree, without specific policies to bring that about, with which I am sure there would be a lot of disagreement.

  • Katharine Pindar 28th Dec '16 - 11:00am

    I would like us not to fall into the trap of thinking that Leavers and Remainers are two distinct tribes. They are not. The leaders on both sides sharpened the debate, understandably because there was a simple binary choice, but very many people hesitated over which way to vote. They saw that there were many good arguments as well as bad ones for each side. Now though the choice has been made and opinions for many may have hardened, for many more it must surely seem that compromises have to be found. Most, I would guess, want us to stay in the single market, and have some management of immigration to this country, and to have those two things though difficult may not be impossible. The EU is not one impervious bloc but is in a state of flux itself. We who intend to stay with it should surely try to influence its development. We Lib Dems can perhaps say to voters, we have been complacent about the EU but will engage more with it in future to make it more meaningful to us, at the same time as we point out how much good it has done for us already. So, because there really aren’t two distinct tribes among us, we can try to work together to sort out this difficult situation.

  • @Martin “This is a fairly stretched meaning for ‘supporters’. Not everyone who votes for a candidate of a political party would remotely describe themselves as a supporter of that party”
    It would be pretty hard to ever get voted to local or national government without them wouldn’t it. I regard myself as a floating voter, which means when I vote for a party I am “lending my support” to that party, be it on a short term, medium term or long term basis, depending how that party behaves and performs and whether in my opinion that party deserves to get my continuing support in the form of my vote.

    @Simon Shaw
    “but when did the Lib Dems say that?”
    I am pretty sure I have seen examples from leading Libdems in the media saying that Labour are in Disarray or The Tories are split and the Liberal Democrats party is the most united party on A) B) or C), Europe etc….I will try and find proper examples and links when i have more time later…
    @Peter Watson
    “The official line is that Brexiters voted for departure but not a destination, though it is clear that those of us who voted Remain were equally unclear about the destination for the sort of EU we wanted to remain in. This lack of clarity was not helped by, but probably helps explain, the dismal Remain campaign which instead attempted to exploit a fear of change.”
    I agree and since most of the UK was and still is screaming out for change, we are not happy with the status quo, people felt as though there was no alternative but to vote leave. The overall impression from the remain camp was, well we love the EU and the way it is now and we do not want to leave and if we do dare to leave then. “And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers”

  • Paul Murray 28th Dec '16 - 2:33pm

    Polling shows no evidence of buyer’s remorse on the part of Leave voters. Allison Pearson in today’s Telegraph has caught the mood of many Leave voters. The whole article is well worth reading – particularly her critique of enforced federalism and the consequential growth of the right on the continent. She concludes:

    “Brexiteers are not crazed Pollyannas… we knew that disentangling ourselves from the EU would be incredibly tough and that we might not see any benefits for several years… If anything, there is a growing sense that the vote to leave the EU has put us on the right side of history. It was the brave choice, and the right one”.

    The response to defeat from some Remainers has been to traduce the motives of those who voted Leave. If you are looking for consensus you do not begin by labelling your opponents with epithets and slurs.

  • Jayne Mansfield 28th Dec '16 - 2:46pm

    I am torn on this issue. I would have preferred that the vote went for remain, but the issue for me in now one of democracy and trust.

    I read everything that I could about the benefits of the EU on this site. I watched the Clegg V Farage debate, but even I did not know that the referendum was advisory until after the vote. The referendum was mis-sold to people, many who voted for the first time and whatever the legal outcomes, nothing changes that.The majority who voted leave have every right to be angry.

  • jedibeeftrix 28th Dec '16 - 11:20pm

    @ Martin – “The analysis refers to a percentage of people who have voted Lib Dem. This is a fairly stretched meaning for ‘supporters’. Not everyone who votes for a candidate of a political party would remotely describe themselves as a supporter of that party.”

    in the context of a political party being interested in the views of those likely to vote for it (again), using the previous general election doesn’t seem a bad starting point when making an observation on the leave/remain vote split.

    do you disagree, Martin?

    The following text:

    “…A sad characteristic of Brexiters appears to be how they inhabit an alternative reality,….”

    Is displacement activity.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarTony Greaves 18th Nov - 10:47pm
    Why does LDV not report the results properly with the votes cast? Just putting %%% is less than half the story. They are available easily...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 18th Nov - 10:41pm
    Arnold, that was a magnificent piece of prose writing, so well articulated, so reasonable, and yet so passionate and sad at the same time. It...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 18th Nov - 9:08pm
    @ JoeB, I normally agree with Stiglitz but not this time. A two tier, or a multi tier, euro wouldn't really solve anything. In every...
  • User AvatarRichard Easter 18th Nov - 8:51pm
    And that is why people voted for Kennedy in 2005, Clegg in 2010 and now Corbyn.
  • User AvatarGlenn 18th Nov - 8:49pm
    The cut price less sonorously Machiavellian British Kissinger, but only because he as a squeaky voice.
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 18th Nov - 8:46pm
    @ Andrew Melmouth, You could be right about John Lanchester. There are those who do understand what a complete cock up the introduction of the...