Why giving up on “rejoin” is the last straw

I’m afraid Ed Davey’s reply to Andrew Marr yesterday, agreeing that the Liberal Democrats are no different from the Labour Party in not being “a rejoin party” is a massively missed opportunity and it’s the last straw for me. Leaving the party I have supported, stood for and donated to, since my teenage years in the 1970’s will be very difficult and heart wrenching. Sadly, I am on the cusp of making that decision. If there is one thing we can learn from Brexiteers, it’s that persistent and passionate campaigning, even when things are not going your way, can pay off in the end.

I am not suggesting that we should be asking for another referendum now, but that we should be making it very clear that we will be doing everything possible to create the situation where it is possible for the UK to re-join the EU as soon as is practical, and that we won’t give up until we succeed.

Doing so would give the Liberal Democrats the powerful distinct reason we need to differentiate us and attract support from both Labour and the Conservatives. With a credible Labour leader, we will otherwise just fall back into our familiar position of getting votes from people whose preferred party can’t win. Opinion polls show at least half of the country would still prefer the UK to be in the EU. Boris’s large majority was not a long term mandate for staying out of the EU. They voted for him because they were fed up with Brexit and believed his would end it. At the same time they judged Jeremy Corbyn as unsuitable for the role of Prime Minister.

I have never seen the party so energised as at the last election, specifically because of our strong EU message. There were many new faces handing out leaflets at 7:00 am outside Hersham station in icy conditions, and “knocking up” all day in the pouring rain until the last possible moment in dark puddle strewn streets. Lord Heseltine spoke at Monica Harding’s HQ urging people to vote for us. He is now saying that pro-Europeans should campaign to re-join. Dominic Raab’s majority of 23,000 was reduced to 3,000.

A unique re-join the EU position will attract new support from disenchanted Labour party supporters, not happy with Keir Starmer’s position as well pro-European Conservatives unhappy with the right-wing takeover of their party. It would also be better position for us in Scotland, where re-joining the EU has strong support.

People who want to campaign to re-join the EU are currently homeless, paving the way for a new party to emerge taking votes that we might otherwise get. Equally, if you think that we might lure Brexiteers with the current approach, you are mistaken. They don’t share Social Liberal values and are unlikely ever to vote Liberal Democrat. We need to change our position now!

* Paul Young has been a member of the Liberal Party/Liberal Democrats since the late 1970s. A major influence on his teenage thinking was John Stuart Mill's "On Liberty" In his very early twenties, he became Chairman of Chertsey Walton and Weybridge Young Liberals, during which time he twice stood as a candidate for the St Georges Hill ward in Weybridge, Surrey. He has a BA Degree in Politics and Government, and after a long career in IT, is now retired.

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  • Applause.

    Why is ‘rejoin’ being left to the nationalist parties?

  • Andrew Bull 18th Jan '21 - 4:48pm

    I agree we need a distinctive point of view and Europe should/could be it. Otherwise we might as well bite the bullet and accept the next election is going to be a straight lab v Tory fight. As currently we have no big USP to attract disenchanted Tory or Labour voters.

  • “I have never seen the party so energised as at the last election”
    That’ds not what I saw. In large areas of the country there was little activity at all.

  • Tony Ferguson 18th Jan '21 - 4:56pm

    I feel the same – I understood that our policy was to rejoin – “Conference resolves to support a longer term objective of UK membership of the EU at an appropriate future date to be determined by political circumstances, subject to public assent, market and trade conditions and acceptable negotiated terms.”

  • Drew Durning 18th Jan '21 - 5:13pm

    I agree turning our back on rejoin is a huge strategic error. This is a question of trust, and until yesterday the electorate could trust the LibDems on Brexit. (@Paul Holmes that is why it equates with tuition fees).

    The decision to ignore party policy is a kick in the teeth for those who have joined the party over the last few years. Many joined because we could be relied on to fight against the loss of our rights as European citizens and all the other harms that Brexit brings.

    The policy agreed at conference was an acceptable compromise. Nobody expects a rejoin campaign to be an overnight success but instead a long hard slog where the Brexit reality continually proves that project fear in many ways underestimated the damage that could be done. The leadership have no right to undermine that policy!

    At the moment, every day brings political opportunities to highlight the madness of Tory (and Labour) policy on Brexit. Instead of showing real leadership on the issue and converting the anger that will build into votes, we are now fudging it with a position that lacks clarity and vision

    Like you Paul I am on the verge of leaving – just waiting to see if there is any hope of a Ed Davey re-clarifying the party’s policy and long term aim

  • Paul Barker 18th Jan '21 - 5:16pm

    Paul, please dont go. Our Leader does not decide Policy, unlike Labour & the Tories we decide our Policy at Conference.
    This is not the first time we have had problems with Leaders & in fact those problems are common to all Parties. Sometimes the tension between Leaders & Membership can be creative, sometimes it gets in the way. I dont want anyone to leave over this & I dont think
    Ed should resign, he just needs to “listen more”.

  • Actually thought the Marr interview was unfair. Just a handful of direct hostile questions. No chance for follow up or depth. Marr clearly saw it as a waste of his time. So perhaps don’t judge Ed too harshly on that basis alone.

  • Agree with much of what has been said. Whilst I think the next election is too soon to argue for a referendum to return ( I doubt the EU would accept us back so soon after leaving anyhow} we should be the party that wants ever closer relationship with the aim of returning when it’s right for both parties to do so.

    We are so short of definable policies as it is. Lib Dem’s are nothing if not pro Europe.

    If Ed meant never rejoin then I too would leave the party. I am not sure he said that however

  • Yeovil Yokel 18th Jan '21 - 5:30pm

    I sympathise with you, Paul, but which party will you support instead? New single-issue parties have a short life under the UK’s FPTP electoral system, and a ‘Rejoin’ party would dilute the energy of those parties opposing the Tories, who would thereby benefit. Remember what happened to Change UK – The Independent Group?

  • Richard Kay 18th Jan '21 - 5:38pm

    Voters will know very well what the sentiments of party members are. By campaigning to rejoin the EU single market as a non member this will be seen as a more pragmatic acceptance of the undesirability of instability resulting from major changes in the international status of the UK being made or reversed prematurely.

    In the meantime, the UK Union itself is under threat from English, Welsh and Scottish nationalism and this needs more urgent repair of the creaking and tattered UK constitution, by campaigning for fair votes and symmetric devolution of most powers held by Westminster to the English regions, Scotland and Wales.

  • We should be the Party of Europe. That Ed Davey seems to be backtracking from this long-forged principle – in clear opposition to conference policy and our own members – is alarming.

    In fact I’d say it goes beyond alarming. It’s unacceptable.

    We should be fighting for clear ground and forging an identity. What Ed Davey is doing is the opposite of what we need, and the anger about this should be plain to see.

  • John Marriott 18th Jan '21 - 5:43pm

    Here’s me back on the old pop music trail to make a point. Another Paul Young sang; “Every time you go away, you take a piece of me with you”. I guess that how this Paul Young, and many others, appear still to think about the EU.

    Now come on, what IS so bloody marvellous about the folks across the Channel? I’ve studied and worked over there and speak two of their languages . Believe me, I’m no little Englanders, just someone who would like it if we could for once stop looking for excuses and try to stand on our own two feet. That way,we might just realise at last that the world doesn’t owe us a living. Yes, I voted to stay and I would probably vote to rejoin as long as I could get the same terms and opt outs we had before. As I have written several times, when it comes to economics, I do know on which side my bread is buttered.

    After nearly forty years’ flirtation with and eventual commitment to liberal values, three years ago I did not renew my membership of the party I thought offered the most realistic chance of some of those ideas becoming mainstream. I won’t say that I left entirely, as I’m still drawn back again and again to a site like this one. However, when I see largely good, honest people continuing to fight the battles of the past I frankly despair.

    For goodness sake, some of you, MOVE ON. As I have written before, the way things are going, there might not be an EU to rejoin in a few years time!

  • Tony Ferguson 18th Jan '21 - 5:43pm

    The interview was not very long but not unfair – he was directly asked about being a rejoin party and explicitly said “we are not a rejoin party”. Its not a question of listening more its a question of saying what our policy is and not the opposite!

  • Little Jackie Paper 18th Jan '21 - 5:51pm

    I would like to hear how a REJOIN movement would convince the public at large to vote for the single currency.

  • Cllr Fran Oborski 18th Jan '21 - 6:14pm

    Party Policy is supposed to be Rejoin when the time is right. In the meantime work for the closest possible relationship which ought to mean the Songle Market and Customs Union.
    I am horrified that by not expressing the true position of the Party on “Marr” , Ed has caused members to resign.

  • I didn’t see the interview but the fact that members are even having this discussion is very concerning. Up here the SNP are already gleefully attacking us as being ‘anti-rejoin’.
    Looks like Ed maybe needs to clarify the situation. How hard can it be to just state the policy agreed at conference? Something like: “We do believe the UK should rejoin the EU, but we’re realistic enough to know that can’t happen immediately. So our focus right now is on repairing the economic damage *caused* by Brexit, on re-building this country’s social safety net and tackling climate change. Make no mistake, the LibDems are a rejoin party, but we can’t have that discussion until the country is ready to have it, and in the meantime there are many other issues to tackle.”

  • My concern is less about the merits about rejoin as a policy, and more about a leader choosing to ignore a policy decided by members because he personally doesn’t agree with it.

    Ed is leader because members collectively voted him into that position. To (ab)use a rare appearance on national TV to ignore a policy legimately voted for by members undermines his authority as leader.

  • It grieves me to report on what’s happening to the largest employer in my former Council seat. I hope Sir Edward Davey will pause, listen, take advice from Alistasir Carmichael, and then get stuck into it :

    The Scotsman newspaper reports : ” DR Collin – Eyemouth’s biggest employer – is unsure of its future. “This has more or less finished the business,” its managing director James Cook told ‘Representing Border’. “We can’t sell anything.”

    One of the key selling points of Brexit was that it would be good for the fishing industry; once out of the EU, we would take back control of our waters. This line was still being promoted late last week. Even as chaos reigned, leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, was telling a near-empty Chamber our fish were now “British fish and better and happier for it”.

    But the industry doesn’t see it that way. Boris Johnson hailed his last-minute deal as a triumph, but the fishermen accused him of selling them short. After a five-year transition period, the EU catch will be reduced by 25 per cent, far short of the 60 per cent cut the UK was asking for. Meanwhile – as forecast – the non-tariff barriers are crippling.

    The D.R. Collin of Eyemouth bright yellow and white lorries were protesting today at Westminster. If you see one give them a wave and a cheer- or pip your horn in support.

  • Oh what a surprise Ed Davey is useless. The massive majority of the party that supported him can now own it.

  • @ Nick Perry

    Neither of the other two leadership candidates made Europe an issue, if rejoin had become a fault line the result might have gone differently but I don’t remember it being discussed at all.

  • Dan Falchikov 18th Jan '21 - 9:28pm

    Well this opens a big opportunity for the Greens in England as well as the nationalists in Scotland and Wales who are still committed to rejoining.

  • Helen Dudden 18th Jan '21 - 9:54pm

    I don’t think you should discount anything at this time.
    What upset me the most, was the treatment of the lorry drivers. How could those hard working men, be treated that way.
    Could there still be a future?
    Meanwhile, our Health Service is being really wrecked, questions asked who is valuable. That’s was pretty awful for that 38 year old woman. I fear for something, the Conservatives were against in the beginning.
    Is it really something you would leave for?
    Our country is in a mess, it needs the faith of those intent to make a better place. I don’t agree with everything, but I’ve learned some serious lessons, on how not to do something.

  • Equally, if you think that we might lure Brexiteers with the current approach, you are mistaken. They don’t share Social Liberal values and are unlikely ever to vote Liberal Democrat.

    Not even the 30% of Liberal Democrat voters in the 2015 General Election who went on to vote Leave in the EU Referendum?

    ‘How the United Kingdom voted on Thursday… and why’ [June 2016]:

  • @ Dan Falchikov “Well this opens a big opportunity for the Greens in England as well as the nationalists in Scotland and Wales who are still committed to rejoining”.

    Dan, I’m not sure whether you are aware of it, but the ‘Rejoiner’ Scottish Greens already have more MSP’s at Holyrood than the Lib Dems and are also well ahead of them in the latest opinion polls.

  • Hostility towards Ed Davey will frankly get us nowhere, and certainly no further than we ended up in the 2019 GE in electoral terms. The UK voted to Brexit and like it or not we ALL now have a role to restore our economy etc. first and foremost. That includes rebuilding our relationships throughout out Europe, both economically and socially, hence why Ed Davey’s main messaging on Sunday revolves around that, first and foremost. Do that and given time the then sensible next step will be rejoin a union of some kind with our European neighbours. If you can’t pitch in and help do that then there is no hope, regardless of who our Leader is. Gloom and doom as expressed by some contributors won’t get us to a brighter, more liberal future, that’s for sure.

  • As one of the estimated 30% of LibDem voters who voted leave i can say that I plan on continuing to vote LibDem when I get the chance. I’ve explained my reasons why I voted leave on here in the past so won’t go over again.
    Rejoin is the long term policy of the party from conference and should continue to remain policy unless the party vote to change it at a future conference. Ed Davey should have confirmed that as the Leader. You don’t have to fully support every policy to continue to support a party but you need to believe in its values and support more than any other party offers in my personal view. I want to see nuclear disarmament for example and would have liked to have seen Beveridge 2.0 become policy or even debated at conference. I do believe in a lot of what the LibDem offer and will continue to vote accordingly.

  • Amanda Holden 19th Jan '21 - 12:13am

    Sadly, despite hard campaigning, Brexit is done. Now we need to support the Liberal Democrats to show the electorate how damaging Brexit is, to hold the conservatives to account, to campaign for proportional representation and to work towards defeating the conservatives while trying to stay close to the EU. Once the damage of Brexit becomes fully evident, the time might be right for the Liberal Democrats to actively campaign to rejoin the EU.

  • John Marriott 19th Jan '21 - 8:43am

    As Galen and Sean have written, there IS more to life than the EU – and beating yourself up on tuition fees for that matter!

    Just as Brexit offers a challenge to us all, so does political life in Brexit Britain offer a challenge to a party like the Lib Dems, many of whose activists seem to want to change it into a ‘one trick pony’. Instead of kicking the tough issues into the long grass or hiding behind a desire for political purity, some of you could have done with a stint in local government to make you realise that getting your hands dirty, metaphorically speaking, is part and parcel of governance at all levels. I did it for thirty years and I’ve got the T shirt!

    It may seem a bit like ‘Mission Impossible’ to some. If you remember the old TV series (as opposed to the Tom Cruise blockbusters) starring James (Gunsmoke) Arness’s little brother, Peter Graves, in the rôle of Agent Jim Phelps, you may remember that, at the start of each episode, a disembodied voice on a self destroying tape used to give Jim his latest ‘orders’, which he could either accept or turn down. Jim always accepted the challenge. So, how about having a go at the following?
    * Return all academies to light touch LEA control
    * Announce a Royal Commission into state education with a view to vocational education gaining parity academic education
    * Restructure and reform local government and local government finance in England.
    * Work towards a Federal U.K.
    That would do for starters!

  • A ‘rejoin’ stance would have been largely symbolic given the likelihood that it will be many years before there is a realistic prospect of it happening. However, it would have been an important symbol.

    One of the defining features of the political landscape in the next couple of years will be the ongoing economic and social damage wrought by Brexit. We can, and should, continue to highlight this and make sure the blame lands where it belongs – on the government’s door step. And while we should acknowledge the damage that ‘Revoke’ did to our electoral chances in 2019, as the Brexit fall-out continues to worsen, we can say that at least our Remain stance was clear and unambiguous.

    A ‘rejoin’ commitment would underpin the legitimacy of our relentless focus on the damage Brexit has done. So that rather than just being seen as taking potshots at the Tories from the safety of opposition, we could point to ‘rejoin’ as a continuation of our anti-Brexit stance. This would give us a clear identity at a time when I’m struggling to identify anything else in our policy armoury that can rescue us from looming electoral irrelevance.

  • Toby Keynes 19th Jan '21 - 9:10am

    Just in case anyone hasn’t seen the interview, it starts at minute 33 of https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000rhf2/the-andrew-marr-show-17012021.

  • Little Jackie Paper 19th Jan '21 - 9:33am

    Colin – but it’s not symbolic. REJOIN means the euro, likely higher payments, Schengen and the rest. What REJOIN means is a hard remain. That is now what you are campaigning for.

    You can’t seriously say that is symbolic and if you think it is then you have gravely misunderstood the EU.

  • Doug Chisholm 19th Jan '21 - 10:00am

    Although I think he has made a mistake my understanding is that most of the one issue members have already left.

  • Antony Watts 19th Jan '21 - 10:00am

    Me, very much, too. I do want UK tobe part of the EU, for all the usual reasons economic, social, global.

    This is what Ed must promote.

  • For all the controversy caused by Ed Daveys appearance on The Andrew Marr show, have Lib Dem members forgotten who should be on the receiving end of their anger ie the present government and it’s policies?? When will opposition parties seek common sense consensus to really bring some democracy to our country, some hope of that I suppose!

  • I think Ed has made the right call, and his comments on freedom of movement showed that Brexit or not we will look to forge closer relationships with the EU. I suspect that most Marr viewers will have been relieved to hear that the Lib Dem’s are taking a more pragmatic stance, whatever party activists might think. Fighting lost battles is not a good look, best to work longer term to create a position where rejoin looks more attractive to the wider electorate.

  • suzanne fletcher 19th Jan '21 - 10:34am

    I thought that some members were taking whatever Ed said out of context and unfairly quoting him. But I see that not one comment has come from Ed or his team setting the record straight. That leaves me quite dismayed.
    We do have party policy, and of course the situation has changed, but our principles and values should not have done. Like many in here ( and good to hear from our former candidate @Drew Durning) it isn’t about getting a new referendum, it isn’t about making it our main policy plank. But it should be about starting off with campaigning to get a number of loose ends that are around sorted, and taking every opportunity to not just edge back into a closer and better relationship, but keep ourselves committed to the principles and values of the EU .

  • Agree with Michael Meadowcroft…… who happens to be a proper Liberal…. and ought to be enrolled as tutor/adviser to Sir Edward in both Liberalism and campaigning.

    I’d only add that tickling a porcupine in a Fife Zoo has caused much hilarity in Scotland.

  • I agree – although officially we actually have a Rejoin position. It is just that our leader chooses to ignore it and develop his own policy. No wonder members feel disillusioned and disenfranchised.

  • Once again we have a leader who choses to do just what he or she likes and unilaterally change the party’s stance on key issues, without a moment’s real thought or analysis. Quite simply Ed is out of control – Nick Clegg showed how easily it could be done while in coalition (Secret Courts). Jo did the same (dump the people’s vote, though she did push it through conference based on a wave of naive euphoria) and now Ed has reverted to the Nick Clegg approach.

    Sorry Ed, you might want to think you are a Liberal, but you’re certainly no democrat.

  • Peter Martin 19th Jan '21 - 11:16am

    “Why not just keep your options open and see how it goes?”

    I asked the same question on another thread but no-one was forthcoming with an answer.

    Admittedly our record, on the Pandemic, hasn’t been great but it does look like we’ve finally got our act together on vaccine distribution. It’s quite likely that the EU will face much greater problems getting back to normal than we will and when they do there will be disputes between the “frugal 4” and the rest on who will pick up the tab. That could create a huge euro crisis 2.0 There won’t be many votes for rejoin if that happens.

    I don’t normally quote Prof Hans-Werner Sinn (he is an economic austerian) but he’s quite right on the mess the EU has got itself into with its vaccine procurement policy.

    The EU commission has proven itself to be quite incompetent. Not that some of the penny pinching EU national governments have been much better. They’ve fussed about the price of buying in supplies from outside the EU. They seem to be more interested in not spending a few more euros than necessary on the cost of each vaccine than the cost of the lost production and damage to their economies.


  • suzanne fletcher 19th Jan '21 - 11:25am

    mixing up the story, sexes and ages but:
    Daddy bear said “this porridge policy is so hot I am going to make sure we do nothing else and just talk about hot porridge.
    Mummy bear said “my porridge has gone too cold so we won’t have it any more”
    baby bears said of their parents “our porridge is just right – not make porridge the be all and end all, but at the end of the day we all like and need porridge, it is our core, so we will work out how and not give up, and get on with all the hunting we have to do against our opponents”
    “don’t throw baby out with bathwater”.

  • Helen Dudden 19th Jan '21 - 11:49am

    I write on disabled issue’s with a world wide charity. One of my contacts is with the EUROPEAN commission. We are talking Public Transport. I believe in working together, that’s one thing my disability has taught me. Being a bit less agile tends to make it necessary to ask and get help when needed.

  • This internal debate is an inevitable consequence of Leaving the EU and the essential strategic recalibration now required because ‘ we are not a member of the EU’. Fact. (Sadly)

    The global context of this debate is pertinent: to ignore it is perilous. ‘Liberal Values’ are threatened. The rise of right-wing authoritarianism in the form of natavism is gaining ground globally, in Europe and in Britain. Trump leaves office tomorrow but Trumpism remains a strong politcal force in the States. Brexit was a successful natavist project in Britain and the current Government’s pronouncements are normalising this natavism: ‘British’ vaccines; British world-beating…whatever; happy English fish swimming in our soverieign waters.

    Never have our Party’s liberal values been more important. Never has it been so necessary to promote them. We are internationalist and we are supporters of structures that promote internationalism and the values of liberal, social democracy.

    Therefore we must continue to support the best structure available to defeat the rise of right-wing populism in Europe: currently the EU. In doing so we can better contribute to the defeat of this noxious ideology globally. We do this now from ‘outside’.

    1. Engage closely with those parties that share our values in the EU and more widely.
    2. Contribute to the discussions about the future of Europe and the development of the EU itself.
    3. Campaign to join ( the prefix ‘re..’ not to be used ) the Single Market and Customs Union because it is good for British Business and British Workers.
    4. Then the next step, and another, yet more….
    5. Our country demonstrating positive, constructive support without compromising either values or essential interests.
    6. And one day we will deserve the trust of members of the EU: we might be welcome as full members
    7. Then we can campaign to join ( no ‘re’ ) the European Union

  • Peter Martin 19th Jan '21 - 12:03pm

    @ John Marriott,

    “As I have written before, the way things are going, there might not be an EU to rejoin in a few years time!”

    I don’t remember you saying that before! But you’re quite right. The risks of disintegration are high. The real problems will start when the crisis is ending and the disputes over who will bear the cost will start.


  • John Marriott 19th Jan '21 - 12:37pm

    @Peter Martin
    You obviously have a short or indeed selective memory. That’s always been my position. Now, how about answering my question regarding your assertion a while back that inflation in the UK was lower before 1970 than afterwards? You seemed to blame by inference our joining the EEC. I would prefer to blame Heath’s ‘Dash for Growth’ and the quadrupling of oil prices following the Yom Kippur War. And let’s not forget useless management and militant unions.

    I’m still waiting.

  • Ian Cornwell 19th Jan '21 - 12:55pm

    Keir Stamer knows, just as Ed Davey knows, that rejoin is electoral poison for the next two cycles at least. Look at the polls. 5% nationally!

    Doubling down on “rejoin” will lead to you being wiped out. You are effectively arguing for the CAP, the CFP, the ERM, the Euro and Schengen. You would be arguing to tear up the work so far towards CPTPP membership. You are saying to the 4.8 million vaccinated people, that we would be better off allowing the EMA to approve vaccines, and the EU (except Germany) to purchase them with our own money.

    It is an utterly hopeless argument at the moment. Grass roots Lib Dems need to either realise that, or start up the “Euro” Party.

  • Peter Martin 19th Jan '21 - 12:55pm

    @ John Marriott,

    I haven’t seen you produce any figures for inflation.

    I can’t remember exactly what I said now, but I think it was something like that our economic performance in terms of growth and inflation etc was better in the 20 years before we joined the EEC than it was in the 20 years afterwards.

    Also I think it was in response to someone saying that Brexiteers had to be able to prove that leaving would produce tangible rewards. I was making the point that it didn’t work the other way around when pro-Europeans failed to provide the same evidence after joining.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 19th Jan '21 - 2:13pm

    Ian Cornwall, superb!

    I tried saying it , as did John, Peter, but who listens.

    Labour under Starmer are, if they defeat the few who are grotesque in their party, on a course to real politics and either this party gets on that route or it is not worth it at all.

    Political minority fun, is no fun if you need and really do, a change of policies

  • Lorenzo Cherin 19th Jan '21 - 2:21pm

    The Liberal Democrats without a doubt need to realise an extra thing, a silly attitude is too keep saying things and not thinking things through.

    The menu for rejoin is not for now if ever, in near future, on offer. The menu to rebuild in our own situation, now onward, is.

    There is a pandemic and this party talks of pubs!

    There is an r rate this party seems to think means rejoin!

    Get real, if Johnson thinks he is Churchill, Starmer is Attlee, we know where that leads, to real government!

  • Barry Lofty 19th Jan '21 - 2:40pm

    [email protected] While Starmer is a marked improvement on the former leader of the Labour party he did blot his copy book in my eyes when he supported Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal which was and is a dreadful deal for the UK, although only a token, the Lib Dems did the correct thing and voted against it, Starmer still has lot to prove??

  • Without a ‘join the Single Market / Customs Union, then join the EU’ party, there will not be a United Kingdom to do so, just England and, possibly, Wales.

  • John Marriott 19th Jan '21 - 2:47pm

    @Peter Martin
    As I wrote back then. I don’t know how old you are. I’m 77 and I lived through those years. When my wife and I returned to the U.K. after four years abroad, Britain had just had the three day week, the stock market was at rock bottom and by 1975 inflation was nudging 25%. We bought our first house in 1974. In 1970 a modern semi would have set us back about £2000. The semi we bought in Halifax cost us over £9000! My 1974 teacher’s salary, compared with what I was earning four years previously was hardly that much better. It took Lord Houghton’s review of our pay that year to start to redress the balance.

    The country was in a mess. Two things saved us, firstly our joining the EEC and secondly North Sea Oil revenues. Perhaps we should add the IMF as well.

  • Peter Watson 19th Jan '21 - 2:48pm

    @Peter Martin “Why not just keep your options open and see how it goes?”
    Essentially that is what the Lib Dem conference rejected, but given that the actual policy that passed was (after calling for the “closest possible alignment”, etc. ), “to support a longer term objective of UK membership of the EU at an appropriate future date to be determined by political circumstances, subject to public assent, market and trade conditions and acceptable negotiated terms“, it’s not the strongest commitment to rejoining, hedged as it is with provisos.

    From the outside, the policy looks like a sensible compromise: still the party of remain/rejoin, but not now and not at all costs.

    Ed Davey’s statement, “we’re not a rejoin party but we are a very pro-European party”, comes across as a deliberate and blunt rejection of that, and I have to wonder if “pro-European” instead of “pro-EU” was also an intentional choice.

  • Peter Hirst 19th Jan '21 - 3:21pm

    Seems like a well argued position, Paul. My heart is to re-join when feasible and meanwhile create as close a relationship as possible and do whatever else will make it easier. As the realities of Brexit become more apparent more people will surely join us. We must not fall for the Labour position of sitting on fences as long as possible.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 19th Jan '21 - 4:56pm


    My view , we both parties ought to have abstained.

    You are correct re Starmer, he is an improvement, though too flat, we need more thrust.

    You ought not leave politics Barry , you talk sense a lot

  • Peter Martin 19th Jan '21 - 5:56pm

    @ John Marriott,

    I suppose I could say we joined the EEC on 1973. So it all started going wrong big time afterwards! 🙂

    However, you can’t have a sensible inflation index based on the price of a semi in Halifax. There weren’t that many 25 to 30 year olds, a typical first time buyer age, around in 1970. That would have started to change after that. There was also a Barber boom too if I remember rightly. I might not do as I was more interested in the price of beer, rather than houses, at the time!

  • Barry Lofty 19th Jan '21 - 6:10pm

    Thanks Lorenzo, much appreciated and the same applies to you.

  • Ed Davey was very clear on Marr about being as close as possible to the EU, including reconsidering free movement. That’s more pro-European than anything you’ve seen from Labour.

    Some people don’t seem to accept that we LOST the EU argument. Shouldn’t have done, but did.

    ED also said:-
    “making the positive case for Europe to win people over to our longer goal of EU membership”

    We need to accept where we are, not where we would like to be. We are out of the EU with an ideological Govt that can do whatever it likes for next three or so years. The ONLY way to get the EU back on the agenda is for the largest possible number of Lib Dems to replace Tories at the next GE.

    That is all that matters now.

    We are pro European because we are Liberals. Not the other way round.

  • John Marriott 19th Jan '21 - 6:37pm

    @Peter Martin
    No, it all started to go wrong back in the 1950s when we missed the boat and failed to modernise, because we assumed that we could carry on as we had prewar. Suez was surely a warning of things to come.

    As for there not being many 25 to 35 year olds around in 1970 wishing to get into the property market, I can assure you that most of my contemporaries were thinking that way and had the wherewithal to provide that relatively low deposit.

    In some ways, had we not joined the EEC and, possibly more importantly, had we not profited from oil in the North Sea, we would really have had to roll up our sleeves. No, membership of the old EEC and North Sea revenues threw us a massive lifeline. That we allowed this to be squandered is an absolute tragedy.

  • Jonathan Greenhow 19th Jan '21 - 6:47pm

    Although we are very different from Labour I mainly agree with Paul Young. We should be looking to rejoin eventually so that all voters know what our long term desire is.
    I’d Ed meant that and sticks to it I may have to turn Green. ( member well,over 20 years ).

  • Lorenzo Cherin 19th Jan '21 - 6:53pm

    Thank you Barry.

    We need independent, liberal voices.

  • Little Jackie Paper 19th Jan '21 - 6:54pm

    I find it odd that 64 posts in there’s no mention of the EEA.

  • James Moore 19th Jan '21 - 6:56pm

    Rejoining is about restoring the rights of British people to live, work and retire in the 27 other countries. It is about promoting free trade across the continent and cutting costs and red tape for British business. It is also about promoting a Liberal vision of Europe, with countries working together for the common good.

    The major players in the EU want us back, not least for financial reasons – the idea they would hold us to ransom or force us to accept the Euro is an utterly ridiculous suggestion and one that no serious political analyst would take seriously.

    Adopting a ‘wait and see’ policy would open the party up to utter ridicule – once again we would be the party that could not decide, the party of nice people with no policies.

    Frankly, if that happens, pro-Europeans would be better to join other parties and try to influence them, rather than waste time on a small party with no convictions and no foreseeable electoral prospects.

  • Peter Martin 19th Jan '21 - 7:47pm

    @ John Marriott,

    I can’t quite follow your argument. 1970 was before we went into the EU! You’re saying it became worse later after we joined the EU but would have been even worse still, had we stayed out!

    I’ll try to remember that one in case everything does go pear shaped now we’ve come out. So I’ll be able to say something along the lines of ‘You think this is bad, just imagine how much worse it would be if we were still in the EU!’

  • I’m just about to write to Ed about this, expressing my concerns (it will basically be a version of my post above).
    I would suggest others who share my views do the same.
    [email protected]

  • Nonconformistradical 19th Jan '21 - 7:58pm

    @Stephen Robinson
    “Some people don’t seem to accept that we LOST the EU argument.”
    So winning a referendum while telling the voters a pack of lies is OK?

  • John Marriott 19th Jan '21 - 8:36pm

    @Peter Martin
    Precisely. Our economy was on the skids before we joined the EEC. Your comments on the thread to which I have referred several times made it clear that, in your view, most of our ills began when we joined. The real argument I had was with your view that inflation was far worse in the decades before. It clearly wasn’t, for reasons I attempted to explain.

    We joined the EEC in 1973 and, by then, the damage had already been done. We saw the writing on the wall by the late 1950s and De Gaulle at that time vetoed our attempt to join ‘The Common Market’. We joined rather late to influence the direction in which the EEC was moving. Indeed, it could be argued that, by the time we joined, the good times were already in decline. However, thank goodness we did join and how lucky that, with the quadrupling of oil prices in 1973, we had a ready supply of the black stuff to exploit.

  • @Nonconformistradical
    Errh, no. How does that follow?

    But not only did we lose the referendum, we are STILL losing the argument.

    Although voters regret Brexit they don’t want to reverse it:-

  • Peter Martin 19th Jan '21 - 8:54pm

    @ John Marriott,

    Didn’t they teach you anything at Cambridge? If you are saying inflation was higher in the 60’s, growth was less, and employment was higher etc etc why don’t you show me the graphical evidence? Like this on inflation. I’m not sure exactly how it was measured but the selling price of your former semi in Halifax probably wouldn’t have been a big factor.

    Except it shows what you don’t want it to. The only time we had an inflation problem in the 20th century was during wartime and just after we’d joined the EEC.

    Now you could argue that correlation doesn’t equal causation. The climate change denier argument. And you might have a point. It could be that it was just coincidence that we had an inflation problem during wartime and/or just after we’d joined the EU!


  • nvelope2003 19th Jan '21 - 9:09pm

    We lost many of the seats in the West of England partly because of the EU and in the end it brought in few voters and had largely not attracted many supporters . Although I have been a supporter of the European project since I was a teenager and a Liberal too, I will not be leaving even though I have got a date for my Covid vaccination. Ed Davey was being realistic but he could have expressed it better.

  • @ Peter Martin I’m very sorry, but the first line of your response to my young friend John Marriott does you no credit either in terms of personal courtesy, or on fact.

    According to ONS, inflation rose sharply as a result of the Middle East oil price shock to peak in 1975 at 22.6% (when a referendum voted 2 – 1 to stay in the EEC) and steadily dropped to 7.6% in 1978. ‘Changes in the economy since the 1970s’, ONS, Sep 2019.

    I remember it well, given the mighty HTAFC dropped from Division One to Division Four to the grief of both Harold Wilson and myself, my three eldest kids were born, I was a Liberal Councillor in Westmorland, and I got my first Headship. Where were you ?

  • John Marriott 19th Jan '21 - 10:02pm

    @Peter Martin
    I studied Modern Languages at Cambridge, not economics. You continue to miss the points I have been trying to make. If you can go back to your comments to ‘Martin’ on 29 December you will see what I mean. Instead of making snide remarks, just make an attempt to read what I actually wrote and not what you might have wanted me to write.

    Your point back then and one you would seem continually to be making is that our joining the EEC had something to do with the levels of inflation we experienced in the 1970s. I disagree. The fact that house prices quadrupled in the first half of that decade, due largely to the relaxation of credit arrangements and supply and demand, was hardly irrelevant to many young aspiring homeowners and led from then on to the assumption that ownership was a licence to print money. However, if you had had to do a weekly shop in, say, 1974, you would have seen just how much the prices of staples were increasing. I don’t need ‘graphical evidence’; I lived it in my everyday life, while you were apparently more worried about the price of beer!

  • Joseph Bourke 19th Jan '21 - 11:36pm

    John Marriott,

    Leslie Kramer is an English literature graduate and has a Master of Fine Arts in theater from Yale School of Drama, but pursued a career as a financial journalist.
    This is her piece on the inflation of the 1970s from a US perspective https://www.investopedia.com/articles/economics/09/1970s-great-inflation.asp

    The Washington Post and Pulitzer Prize journalist Robert Samuelson wrote a well regarded book in 2008 “The Great Inflation and its Aftermath: The past and future of American Influence. According to Samuelson, the oil theory is a myth.
    “It’s … true that oil aggravated inflation, but the real reason for oil’s outsized role in the inflation story is that it scarred the American psyche…. From September 1973 to January 1974, the office price of Saudi Arabian oil went from $2.59 to $11.65 a barrel.
    Americans could not get a grip on the enormous increase in cost of a basic commodity.
    Comparing the total CPI to the index with energy costs excluded, it’s clear that oil made inflation worse, but most certainly wasn’t its sole cause: the inflation of the 1970s resulted when the U.S. government tried too hard to eliminate the business cycle with monetary and fiscal policy.
    The UK experience was virtually identical to the US starting with the Barber boom just as the US was beginning to export inflation around the world following the ending of the Bretton Woods agreement that had supported post-war economic recovery around the world.

  • William Francis 20th Jan '21 - 12:33am

    I’m very sorry you feel that way.

    I have been a party member for over four years now and I have being increasingly jaded with the leadership’s unimaginative centrism.

    But being a Liberal in this country has been a matter of accepting disappointmenting results for almost a century now, and always pushing on despite the odds.

    Don’t give in and let establishment have its way. A near conference revolt got them to give a lot of ground on brexit. Those of us who prefer Liberalism to Whigish centrism must continued pushing towards the sound of gunfire to achieve this goal.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 20th Jan '21 - 1:46am

    The members who are dismayed by Sir Ed, need to think about this. Liberalism is not about one man or woman, a leader, or one institution, the EU.

    Ed has good qualities but is not the person to make the impact that being a minority pursuit of a party, requires.

    The EU needs to change, modernise, become liberal, flexible, nimble. It is no good having that Clegg, fine as it is approach.

    The party never made a case for the EU enough, because the EU never did in the UK.

    We need leaders, not only one leader, and institutions, not only one institution, to work for people, to speak for the isolated, left out, disconnected.

    Too often this and every party reflect elites and not the sense of isolation, that top down decision making at the top of govt brings.

    Ed ought not be slave to the members.

    But he ought not be master either.

  • John Marriott 20th Jan '21 - 7:57am

    @Joseph Bourke
    Welcome back! As I wrote earlier, some of us were wondering if you were OK. Can I take your timely intervention here to be more or less supporting my view in my ‘debate’ with our resident ‘agent provocateur’ that inflation in the U.K. was not caused by our joining the EEC?

    Your mentioning of Bretton Woods is apposite. As we emerge from our own generation’s equivalent of WW2, perhaps it’s about time for a Bretton Woods Mk 2. Be prepared for a response from a certain quarter. Given your natural gravitas, he might take you a bit more seriously. I have nothing more left in this particular locker. Stay safe!

  • Peter Martin 20th Jan '21 - 11:05am

    @ John @ David,

    I’m a scientist/engineer and I do have what might seem to be an annoying habit of wanting to check the data. Sorry about that.

    There was no sudden favourable burst in growth in 1973-5 when we first joined ‘Europe’, and no sudden surge in 1993-5 when the EU formed the single market. Nor is there any sign throughout this period of any improvement in our economic performance.

    Our time in the Common market and in the single market coincided with falls in our growth and the loss of our industrial base. These were the years of big decline in everything from fishing to steel and from market gardening to shipbuilding.

    The 20 years from 1953 to 1972 prior to our entry into the EEC saw the UK grow by 95%. That was a growth rate of 3.4%.

    The next twenty years in the EEC, 1973-92, saw our growth fall to 42%, under half the previous 20 year period. An annual rate of 1.76%

    But we’re fighting old battles that have already been decided. The simple fact is that if we’d done even nearly as well as we were promised we would do there would never have been a vote to Leave the EU in 2016.

  • @ Peter Martin

    John Marriott did address part of your point when he said that the oil crisis was responsible for the inflation of the 70’s.

    The key words in your analysis are “coincided with”. There is no causation proved.

    The UK lost most of its industrial and manufacturing base due to the policies enacted by the Thatcher government which were supported by right wing Eurosceptics.

    Whilst de-industrialisation may have been inevitable in the long run, other EU states such as Germany and France managed to slow down this process and protect their industry and their social model. EU membership did not prevent them from doing this.

  • @ Stephen Robinson

    I accept we lost the argument although I don’t see why people shouldn’t have the right to give their verdict on Brexit after seeing what it is actually like in practice.

    Furthermore restoring free movement would attract accusations of Brexit in name only as would single market membership. Surely better just to advocate rejoin openly rather than be accused of doing it in a mealy mouthed way?

    Some people voted leave because of free movement but might have otherwise voted remain. To those people free movement without rejoin might seem like the worst of both worlds.

  • David Garlick 20th Jan '21 - 1:44pm


    It makes no sense to be defined by REJOIN at this rime.

    We will campaign for it as and when the time is right to do so.

    We will always be the Party of Europe.


  • neil James sandison 20th Jan '21 - 2:16pm

    Paul .You should stay it was Ed Davey that got the policy wrong which Mark Pack effectively rebutted by publishing the motion adopted by conference in full . Another blunder by ” Steady Eddie ” who should have stayed in the back room .

  • Mario Caves 20th Jan '21 - 2:51pm

    “Our Leader does not decide Policy, unlike Labour & the Tories we decide our Policy at Conference.”

    Exactly. Who was Ed Davey speaking to?
    He wasn’t speaking to us, the members, he was speaking to the general public, those who didn’t vote LibDem last time, and who he wants to in the future.

    Ten days ago, on the previous Andrew Marr program, Starmer handed the Remainer/Rejoiner vote to us on a plate. He told the country that Labour would go along with Brexit, try to make it work, and would not be looking at rejoining.
    That made me hopeful that the LibDems would be able to capture all those who were angry with Brexit, who wanted our commercial and trading situation returned to “normal”.

    That that hope only lasted a week.
    Last Sunday Davey instead of anticipating the backlash that Brexit will create, just capitulated and resigned himself to a world I did not recognise.
    This week, just three weeks after Brexit took effect, one industry mounted a nationwide sourced protest with more that 20 trucks converging on Parliament Square. These protests will only increase, but rather than position us to receive those people angry about the government’s implementation of Brexit, he aligned himself so close to the Labour party as to make us completely unelectable.

    Our latest manifesto says “Every vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote to stop Brexit and stay in the EU.”
    The EU have said they will be more than willing to accept an application by the UK, or it’s constituent nations independently, to rejoin the EU.
    The EU have also said, we cannot have just the cherries from the cake.

    Why then did Davey offer the UK voters the unobtainable cherry of FoM, when he could have offered them the full cake of EU Membership?

    It may be that we’re not actively campaigning to rejoin just yet, but he should not, NOT have said that “we are not a rejoin party”. It makes me angry that he’s giving out completely the wrong message.

    Which party should people who want to rejoin the EU now turn to?
    His public statement says that we don’t.

    He’s just positioned us to lose support from both sides, from both the pro-EU membership people (including myself) who want us to rejoin, and the disgruntled and angry with Brexit people who want our trade relationship with the EU restored.

    If we don’t have a solid policy to rejoin as soon as possible, and standing by it, I won’t be renewing when my membership expires.

  • Joseph Bourke 20th Jan '21 - 4:35pm

    John Marriott,

    there were multiple factors that contributed to the inflation of the 1970s that were experienced by countries around the world but joining the common market was not one of those factors.
    All the normal Keynesian rules applied during the seventies–higher interest rates meant less inflation and more unemployment, lower rates meant less unemployment and more inflation. The only difference was that the baseline for inflation was much higher–the choice was between insane inflation and high inflation, not between high inflation and some kind of normal or acceptable level. Ultimately in both the mid-seventies case and the early eighties case, inflation only comes down permanently from its high baseline when the economy has adjusted to the higher oil price as a new normal and/or when the oil price itself comes down.

    The issue was never one of needing to switch from stimulus spending to tax cuts for the rich, or of needing to care exclusively about inflation and ignore unemployment. There won’t be hyperinflation or stagflation as a consequence of a Keynesian stimulus as long as there is no giant spike in any ubiquitous, necessary thing like oil.
    Thatcher dropped the interest rate and increased state spending https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2013/04/how-public-spending-rose-under-thatcher, and that, in tandem with falling oil prices, is what brought about economic recovery. Those are Keynesian tactics; there’s no paradigm shift here. Thatchers treasury followed Keynesian orthodoxy and had the good fortune to see global oil prices fall and North sea oil revenues come on stream during her tenure.

  • Peter Martin 20th Jan '21 - 4:36pm

    @ Marco,

    I’d already said that causation cannot be proven but that doesn’t alter the fact that whole industries cannot be allowed to wither away with nothing else put in their place. Popular discontent will arise as a consequence.

    In England it has been the rise of the Leave the EU movement. In Scotland it is the Leave the UK movement. It’s the same process at work. All parties have ignored the problem. The Lib Dems as much as anyone else. The argument in favour of Remaining was the rather feeble one that it would all be even worse if we left. There was no positive case made for the EU because either there was no positive case, or Remainders couldn’t think of one or maybe were too embarrassed to even try.

    Until the pro EU lobby can come up with something convincing there isn’t going to be any significant popular movement in favour of Rejoin.

  • nvelope2003 20th Jan '21 - 4:55pm

    There were other candidates when Ed Davey was elected leader. That says something about the party and its membership. We lost the referendum and we can see from today’s events in Washington DC what people think of poor losers, although to do him credit Trump did wish the new administration well before leaving for Florida. Perhaps we should just wait and see or even better hope for the best and wish good fortune to the new dispensation although I note that some of those who became Brexiteers when they thought it would be to their personal advantage now seem to be rowing back when they hear of the problems that are arising.

    The European project it not just about economics but about trying to put an end to the seemingly never ending wars that marred the lives of so many people and for democracy to prevail in a world where so many Governments seem determined to destroy it.

  • Peter Martin 20th Jan '21 - 5:15pm

    @ Joe Bourke,

    “Thatcher dropped the interest rate and increased state spending. Thatcher’s treasury followed Keynesian orthodoxy”

    No. An over reliance on interest rate adjustments is not “Keynesian Orthodoxy”. Whether the Thatcher government actually increased state spending is a matter of some debate. Are we talking in £ terms, inflation adjusted or as a percentage of GDP?

    Thatcher’s priority was getting inflation under control so to that extent she had a better justification for the imposition of economic austerity than did the later Tory Lib Dem coalition. That succeeded in the 80s to a large extent but at the cost of slow growth and high levels of unemployment. When that happens the automatic stabilisers come into play, there is greater need for Government spending, it was unavoidable but that certainly wasn’t what was intended.

    The Lawson boom in the late 80s was curious. The govt managed to have inflation in double figures again at the end of the decade at the same time as running an almost balanced budget. This is only explicable if they genuinely thought that only Govt spending contributed to inflation and that somehow running a balanced budget would mean, by necessity, low inflation. If they had genuinely been following Keynes’ advice they would have avoided this mistake, and so avoided the subsequent debacle that led to Black Wednesday too.

    The Tories never really recovered from that.

  • David Allen 20th Jan '21 - 5:58pm

    Ed Davey said a few months ago that the idea of rejoining the EU was “for the birds”.

    Now, I could understand a Lib Dem leader arguing that now is too early to be thinking about rejoining. I could understand a leader arguing that we should wait and see how Brexit turns out and whether the British people think it is worth going through all the hard work it would take to put right a grievous mistake. But “For the birds”?

    Not my leader!

  • Alex Macfie 20th Jan '21 - 7:04pm


    “We lost the referendum and we can see from today’s events in Washington DC what people think of poor losers”

    Actually (sadly) a substantial minority of Americans seem to have supported Trump’s baseless claims of fraud and rioting on Capitol Hill, Anyway there is a massive difference between campaigning democratically to reverse a policy that had previously had a democratic mandate (since discharged, as the Brexit mandate has been) and fomenting civil unrest to try to reverse a democratic election result. No anti-Bresit campaigner ever advocated armed insurrection as a means to stop Brexit.

  • Leekliberal 20th Jan '21 - 7:28pm

    The route back to EU membership is clear if the timetable is not. Rejoining the single market and the customs union would remove almost all the throttling beurocracy and reenable services, 70 percent of our economy. This is a case for us to put forward now. Next we argue to join the EEU and finally as the demographic overwhelmingly opposed to EU membership ,the old of which l am one, disappear from the electorate, we campaign to rejoin lts the vision thing and we need Sir Ed to articulate it if we are to move forward electorally,

  • Latest You Gov poll has the Lib Dems on 5% in line with other recent polls.

    They give a breakdown of remain and leave voters which has LD support as 7% of the remain vote and 3% of the leave vote.

    In 2019 I believe the Lib Dem’s got 21% of the remain vote and 3% of the leave vote?

    That would mean since then the swing is -14% among remain voters and 0% change among leave voters. Most of the remain voters are saying they will vote Labour and some Green/SNP.

    Of 2019 LD voters, 10% say they would vote Conservative.

    To rebuild the 2019 coalition then take it forward a rejoin/pro-EU stance would help although clear liberal policies on other issues are also needed.

  • nvelope2003 21st Jan '21 - 4:28pm

    Alex Macfie: But a 7 million majority of the US voters rejected Donald Trump. I guess if you are a racist, which clearly many Americans are, and/or want to pay less taxes or see coal mining subsidised etc who else was there to vote for ? The Liberal Democrats will only revive if they have a charismatic leader and whatever his virtues the present leader is not. The Labour Party now has the support of many of the sort of Centre Left voters who might have supported the Liberal Democrat Party so it needs to look elsewhere if it wishes to survive. Abandoning its most distinctive policy of supporting membership of the EU might be realistic at the moment but not for all time.

  • John B Dick 21st Jan '21 - 8:59pm

    Professor Sir John Curtice has observes a steady and enduring flow for the whole of last year from No-Remain toYES-Join which is set to deliver an increasing majority for Indyref2 YES. A refusal followed by litigation (whatever the outcome), and the elapsed time that this will take can only sustain this flow with every bit of Brexit bad news, and in attition to generation change which in 2014 was reckoned – by itself – to flip the majority in 2022.

    Does Scotland need independence, or is it just the branch offices of the three parties of Westminster government?

    The Highland losses sacrificed for the coalition, with the insoucience of WW1 generals had nothing of substance to show for it.

    It should have been part of the coalition agreement that it would be acknowlaged on both sides that ONLY the refusal of the minority party to co-operate stopped privatisation of the NHS, slaughter of the first-born, tuition fees etc.

  • Paul Fisher 21st Jan '21 - 9:28pm

    This article is seminal even for the nearly 100 comments. I founded LibDems in France Local Party in 2017 and Chaired it until December 2020. I resigned from the LibDems and joined RENEW UK. The existential crisis in the Party is profoundly worrying. My analysis is that the Party has slipped in an illiberal and undemocratic more where a cabal of over comfortable committee stalwarts have too much influence.

  • John Marriott 22nd Jan '21 - 7:53am

    @Paul Fisher
    Here’s #98 for you (unless someone beats me to it.

    I agree with your analysis. Funny how things look different when you don’t live permanently in the U.K. My Damascene conversion occurred between 1970 and 1974, after which I returned home determined to change things. Guess I failed in that respect.

    Might I add to your final sentence “as well as overly idealistic conference junkies”?

  • Peter Martin 22nd Jan '21 - 12:18pm

    How about campaigning for an alternative Europe which would be a much looser confederation of democratic states than the more centralised and authoritarian EU? In other words a winding back to what worked reasonably well in the early days of the EEC.

    There would be no requirement for a common currency. No requirement for sending members to a European Parliament. That simply sets up a clash between the power of National Governments and a potential European authority/government.

    We’d naturally be the first members and we could invite others like Italy and Greece to join us. We would be trading freely but at the same time wouldn’t be living in each others’ pockets. If they wanted to run a budget deficit of whatever they consider appropriate then that would be entirely their own choice. We would not interfere in their decision making and they would not interfere in ours.

  • As author of this article I can now say I am feeling more reassured by the email from Tim Farron. “Dear Paul
    Thank you very much for your recent email with regard to Ed Davey’s interview and the party’s EU policy. We are proud to be a pro-European party and believe strongly in international cooperation, especially with our closest allies. I can assure you that the Liberal Democrats will be campaigning to rejoin the EU at the next election and a rejoin policy will be in our next manifesto. There is a question about how we go about campaigning to rejoin without being dragged into a culture war by the Tories but that doesn’t change the fact that we remain, and Ed remains, utterly committed to seeing the UK rejoin the EU at the soonest possible opportunity. It was one interview and Ed is clear that he was seeking to move Marr on to other issues and so he was perhaps a bit too dismissive of that question.
    With best wishes
    Yours sincerely

  • Peter Martin 22nd Jan '21 - 8:08pm

    @ James Moore,

    “The major players in the EU want us back…….”

    Have you asked them about that? They might tell a different story!

    “…. the idea they would hold us to ransom or force us to accept the Euro is an utterly ridiculous suggestion and one that no serious political analyst would take seriously.”

    Is it? It’s not so much the euro per se which is the problem but the rules that go with it and which the EU insist should be applied to everyone. Even the UK, as a non euro using country, wasn’t totally isolated from EU pressure.

    “The UK is to be reprimanded after breaching the European Union’s (EU) stability pact, under which budget deficits should not exceed 3% of GDP.”


  • Teresa Wilson 23rd Jan '21 - 8:20pm

    My political sympathies lie more with the Liberal Democrats than any other party, so I don’t see myself leaving. I do however feel the same kind of frustration with Ed Davey that some of my Labour friends felt about Jeremy Corbyn over the past years. And that is saying something. We had to fight to get a very mild rejoin (eventually) policy through conference only to have it apparently ignored by the party leader.

  • Richard Elliott 23rd Jan '21 - 10:55pm

    Tim Farrons comments (@paul young above) are interesting, his position is that we are a rejoin party, albeit not right now and that Ed’s messaging was therefore wrong. It is disappointing that our recently elected leader cant be more skilled in communications at one of his few opportunities to get noticed on national tv. Symbols matter to members and his “we are not a rejoin party” is a ridiculous comment – incorrect and tactically inept. However I would urge pro-EU members not to resign but to ensure that the position expressed at conference is adhered to. Cant see any benefit in resigning – it not as if Labour have a better position. British politics still in deep darkest winter (unlike the heartening news from the US) but no point in giving up

  • Martin Waddington 25th Jan '21 - 1:00am

    Bad move from Ed Davey (and I feel let down having twice voted for him as LibDem leader!)
    I joined the party particularly for its opposition to Brexit, and since the transition period ended it has become only too clear what an economic and social disaster it is. Abandoned by the only party (leaving aside the SNP) to offer apparent support for rejoining, many of us in England now feel betrayed and politically disenfranchised.
    I have now given up altogether the fight in which I have been active these last five years. I now watch, despairingly, at the UK from the relative safety of the Netherlands.
    That it should have come to this.

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