William Wallace writes…A way to bring our national community together

I am a man of the people. You are part of the metropolitan liberal elite. They are enemies of the people, citizens of nowhere.

That’s the populist self-characterization that more and more right-wing politicians are now making. It’s an easy appeal to the ‘ordinary’ person against the sophisticated, over-educated and privileged. It works very well even when wielded by old Etonian Oxbridge graduates like Boris Johnson, or former city traders like Nigel Farage. The terms ‘elite’ and ‘establishment’ are elided, and blended with ‘liberal’, into a hostile image of people who claim superiority because of their expertise and knowledge, against those who prefer instinct and ‘common sense’.

There was a wonderful example of the genre in the Daily Telegraph of November 23rd, a letter under the headline “This ‘No Brexit deal’ by the political elite treats the majority who voted Leave with disdain” – signed by 15 Conservative peers, eight of them hereditary, three of them with peerages dating from the 17th century or earlier. If these are men of the people, I’m the king of Scotland. There was another in the Sun on Sunday, on November 25th, from Lord Digby Jones, one of the most self-important members of the House of Lords: ‘the British people – as if they needed further confirmation after what has gone on over the past few months – have been let down by the political class and the establishment elite.’ We should ridicule such claims whenever we see them.

But how do we respond to the populist appeal that’s swept across Britain and many other democratic countries – given that the disillusion with ‘conventional’ politics that is linked to populism makes voters less willing to listen to the reasoned arguments we would prefer to make? I suggest that we have to engage with issues of values, identity and citizenship, and we have to respond to their justified grievances – in order to allay some of the unjustified grievances that populist leaders have encouraged them to focus on.

There’s a rapidly-growing pile of studies on ‘the white working class’ and their sense of displacement by economic and technological change, social disruption, and – of course – immigration. The towns that voted most strongly for Brexit in Britain range from seaside resorts that have been displaced by foreign holidays to mill towns and mining villages where ‘the dignity of labour’ has given way to the indignities of casual work and shrinking benefits. There are real grievances here. Economic and regional inequality in Britain is wider than in any other European country (yes, the USA is worse). Public spending, on infrastructure, schools, housing, is lower in England’s north than its more prosperous south. The most recent figures show that Yorkshire and the North-East have suffered most from cuts in central support for local authorities. New OECD figures show that the UK and US spend less than 10% of what Denmark and Norway spend per head on training; FE colleges and apprenticeship schemes are struggling to keep going.

Any progressive party should therefore be setting out a long-term programme of public investment: in schools, in further education and training, in local regeneration, and in social housing. And we should be explicitly committed to reducing inequality, through progressive taxation and changes in corporate governance. And, as we fight to get ourselves heard above the cacophony of voices on Brexit, we should argue that it’s impossible to narrow the divisions that Brexit has exposed without spending more money to hold our national community together.

Popular confusion about whether referendums or parliamentary elections are a surer guide for good government reflects the failure of political education over several generations. The decline of local democracy has sharpened public perceptions that politics is a distant occupation played out in Westminster, rather than an activity in which citizens should share. We must make the case for education in citizenship, in all schools, and for devolution of power to local authorities to relate democratic decisions to voters’ concerns.

British history, and national identity, has been dominated since Margaret Thatcher and the Falklands war by a right-wing narrative of Anglo-Saxon exceptionalism, of England as naturally free and continental Europe as naturally authoritarian. This is a subject for a lengthier article, and an intellectual campaign to combat the ‘Historians for Britain’ who were part of the Brexit campaign – but we can’t avoid tackling the gut issues of British identity, our place in the world, and our imperial legacy, if we are to remake the case for a liberal Britain.

Unless we are content to confine ourselves to winning the minority of seats that have high concentrations of university-educated professionals, we have to present well-articulated alternatives to voters in these areas that can persuade them that we deserve their support.

* William Wallace has fought five parliamentary elections in Manchester and West Yorkshire. He is a former president of the Yorkshire regional Liberal Democrats.

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  • David Warren 30th Nov '18 - 10:44am

    An excellent article Lord William Wallace.

    Radical policies are indeed needed to speak to those people who have been left behind in our society in recent years.

    Unfortunately having been in coalition with the Tories until fairly recently hampers us somewhat.

    That said a new fresh set of policies can be developed.

    In fact we are seeing it on LDV where just recently the debate around Universal Credit has thrown up some really strong proposals for change in that system.

    That is in contrast to our parliamentary colleagues who are far to conservative in many areas at the present time.

    I know I have said this before but something like Lloyd George’s Yellow Book is urgently required.

    A radical programme to reform health, housing etc.

    Brexit or no Brexit Britain is in crisis.

    Only a Liberal plan will save it.

  • As usual a superb analysis from William Wallace.

    I would particularly pick up on his final sentence. Our Party is in danger of doing the total opposite.

    The Core Vote strategy postulates that we should concentrate our policies on the issues supported by urban, educated middle classes. To be fair that is -on those of ‘our’ policy interests that coincide with support from within that group who are the people most likely to share ‘our’ values. It also postulates that we should concentrate our campaigning effort and resources into areas where such a group is found in concentrations. Mark Pack, original co author of the Strategy Paper in 2015 and it’s update in 2016 has also written about adopting a Pivoting Strategy. That is ‘taking advantage’ of the fact that we lost so many MP’s in 2015, to start with a clean slate and so switch Campaign resources and efforts into seats we ‘ought’ to be winning according to the Core Vote strategy instead of into seats we ‘merely’ happened to win in the past with the ‘wrong votes’ in the ‘wrong sort’ of constituency.

    Pursue this strategy and we end up with what William Wallace describes in his last paragraph.

  • Nigel Jones 30th Nov '18 - 1:44pm

    Glad to see William Wallace mention FE colleges and the decline of local democracy. These are two areas where we need to work with those people who do not aspire to go to university and those who are not actively involved in issues of local governance.
    On education I am pleased to see that the life-long learning commission (which Vince set up) is planning to continue its work beyond the issue of learning accounts to the wider issues. We must put more national resources into life-long learning opportunities for those people who are normally deemed as ‘less academic’. The organising of this needs to be local, joined to the communities where people live and work. The FE sector links closely with the kinds of people William Wallace says we must reach.
    It is often forgotten however, that other local services (or the lack of), family background and lack of community cohesion have a major impact on what people can achieve in Education; that means restoring local government and third sector resources, with local accountability and democratic influence. Middle classes are often able to avail themselves of opportunities in ways which others cannot; this implies the need for more local support for the latter, merely saying we provide a national system of opportunities is not enough.
    I add these points not as a criticism, but to give further emphasis to an excellent article.
    Just one further point; he refers to ‘white working class’. Maybe just ‘working class’ would be better here; issues emerging from the working group on Racial Equality Policy suggests that some ethnic minority groups are doing well but others are not. My impression is that working class people of all ethnic origins should be the main concern.

  • Staying in the EU is the best starting point for creating a radically different Britain. I’d like to think that this was not too difficult a message to put across and the field is wide open for Lib Dems to campaign on it. Labour cannot say it. If they end up being responsible for us leaving they will pay a high price in due course.

  • Sue Sutherland 30th Nov '18 - 2:03pm

    Thank you William Wallace once again for your article. I agree that the country hasn’t been polarised by Brexit but that Brexit was an expression of the polarity caused by successive governments. The problem is : what are we as a party going to do about it?
    I’m afraid our political stance on anything but Brexit is unclear to many people including members of the party. For me, the kind of public investment that you describe is essential to reunite the country and should appear as our basic policy alongside our Remain campaign. I’d like to see a movement from members to declare austerity hasn’t worked and to reverse the causes of poverty found by the UN inspector. How can we get started on this?

  • We joined the common market under the Heath led Conservative government, the ground work for the EU was laid under the Conservative government of Thatcher and we joined the EU under the conservative government of Major. The EU is only superficially progressive in the way that a football federation or a soft drink claiming to teach the world to sing are progressive. It is a set of legal agreements designed to aid business, to cap the power of national electorates ability to get in the way of business and to promote more EU business. Democracy and welfare states are the products of organised members of the public within Nation States. Rights are not granted by wise leaders. They are won when power is ceded.

  • William Wallace 1st Dec '18 - 11:41am

    The EU is a social market economy, with a network of regulations to set a framework for the market. Margaret Thatcher turned against the EU, after leading the drive to create the Single Market, when she realised that Jacques Delors was determined to balance market opening with social protections. Rights of women in the workplace were promoted by EC court rulings well before we had started to enact similar measures in the UK. The libertarian right hates the EU precisely because it is not a ‘free market’ in their terms. If you know of a better way to counter the power of multinational companies, do tell me.

  • William Wallace 1st Dec '18 - 11:50am

    Nigel Jones: I use the term ‘white working class’ because that element of our population feel most displaced and pushed aside by technological change, immigrants, changing social values, etc. (as they do in the USA and elsewhere). The aggrieved sense that their families used to be ‘the backbone of the country’, that their parents and grandparents fought for this country in 2 world wars and have now been cast aside by over-educated metropolitans playing around with high finance and global networks is there to be exploited by rich populists. So we have to find a way to address their grievances from a liberal perspective if we are to dissuade them from falling for the allure of populism.

  • Nigel Jones 1st Dec '18 - 12:42pm

    William: I agree that the White Working Class have not been engaged and need particular consideration at this time. However, the working class of other ethnic groups also need attention, but as your point stresses, the party’s forthcoming policy on racial equality must be explicitly placed in the context of the working class generally, including the white.
    The connections between white and other working class groups do occur. For example, I learned 20years ago how young men from Muslim families in a West Midlands city had joined with white young men in anti-social behaviour; together they were causing trouble as rebellion against the local establishment and against their own families.

  • Paul Holmes 1st Dec '18 - 1:17pm

    @Nigel Jones/William Wallace. Also worth remembering in this context that the group who do worst in terms of educational outcomes are white working class boys followed by white working class girls. This leads on to them being the group who do worst economically -and voted most heavily for Leave.

    A Lib Dem Core Vote strategy that concentrates on the ‘Professional, urban, middle class ‘ offers absolutely nothing to this part of society and is out of tune with the Party of Lloyd George to Charles Kennedy (or even with the Radical/Whig coalition who during the Decade of Reform in the 1830’s introduced the first Factory Acts and the first restrictions on Child Labour).

  • William
    I never said anything about free markets! My point was that linking Britain to the various manifestations of the European project was driven mostly by Conservative governments (demonstrably true) and that, IMO, it is about as progressive as FIFA or Cola. My other argument is that democracy and welfare are the products of nation states, not internationalism.

  • Mick Taylor 1st Dec '18 - 8:06pm

    @Glenn. If your argument is true how come the UK is one of the less democratic countries in the EU. We have an electoral system that isn’t democratic, a parliament that isn’t representative, a second chamber that is unelected and power, in England at least, is totally concentrated in the centre. We have no guaranteed rights and no written constitution that leaves the UK open to the removal of protections and rights by any government with a majority.
    That most certainly isn’t true of the EU.

  • Glenn
    In addition to Mick Taylor’s comment, which I endorse, I also feel you are either pretty blinkered and / or out of date in your contention about democracy and welfare being products of nation states “not internationalism”. If by democracy you mean the idea of collective decision making and voting to make community decisions, that originated long before the invention of nation states, in much smaller communities. Surely limitation on that is down to the technology available, and the size / diversity of community needing to take various decisions? I think the whole idea of “the European project”, and the EU, adopting pan European voting for topics needing decisions across borders is very positive. Surely collective decision making is much preferable to ministers or others going off in a huddle without any popular view being taken? Its success can be used as a template for world democracy, which will be needed as our global problems become critical. Again preferable to the typical way of solving difficult problems, ie war, and this time a war that will destroy everything in its path. As for welfare, giving and redistribution of resources across borders has been very prevalent over the years.
    Please, Glenn, get real!

  • Mick and Tim
    I don’t agree. I think the EU is plainly designed to lesson the impact of national electorates on business agreements because it’s based on the idealised view of trade bringing nations together (still to an extent the coal and steel community) and fear that too much power in the hands of voters will lead to mob rule. Understandable, if you believe that the world wars were caused by the man in the street rather than by militarism, technocratic dehumanisation and expansionist ambitions. Some people believe the former, I tend to suspect the latter is more probable. I’m a small Islander, a little Englander . If other countries want to be part of a big project, good look to them. I bare the EU no hostility, I just don’t find it appealing.

  • Nonconformistradical 2nd Dec '18 - 9:14am

    “I’m a small Islander, a little Englander”

    Why? What’s so attractive about it?

  • Arnold Kiel 2nd Dec '18 - 9:17am

    The only solution is finally becoming truly European:

    1. reverse the Brexit decision to recover at least part of the approx. GBP 30 Billion GDP p.a. already lost since the referendum, to avoid the loss of at least another GBP 50 Billion during the coming years with even less clarity about the wisdom of UK investment, and to avoid a permanently lower growth trajectory because of lost trade- and research-relationships, less investment, less specialisation, and less scale.

    2. Bring the national quota (government spending as % of GDP) to normal European levels, from around 40 to 45%.

    At the current national quota, a vote to remain would have delivered over GBP 30 Billion in additional tax take by 2023 or 2024. Increasing the national quota by 5%-points represents more than GBP 100 Billion p.a.

    A total of GBP 130 Billion every year buys you a lot of health care, defence, social security, housing, justice, education, and, eventually, civilty.

  • Gents,
    Glen wants to live in his little village, were nothing changes and the most exotic thing is someone with a little furrin blood. Harsh I know but unfortunately a fair reflection of his views. He is a paid up member of the “Stop the world I want to get off” party. Now how you engage with this not insubstantial group of society is a puzzle to me. Brexit will badly affect them because we can’t stop the world and the leaders of Brexit have no intention of even trying. The Brexiteer leadership look forward to a dog eat dog society in which “My little village” will be the first to suffer. Brexit will be a lesson to the Glen’s of this world and many Glen’s are unlikely to survive it. The one upside of Brexit is the death of English exceptinalism as reality rolls over us.

  • Frank
    I’ve told you this time and time again. It’s nothing to do with “stop the world I want to get off”. It’s more to do with thinking Britain should be more like New Zealand or Norway. I think you can have a perfectly viable country and probably a better one without the pretentions of world power. I also think the real inflated sense of destiny comes the the pro-European camp and the collapse of idea that history stopped in the early 1990s.

  • Noncomformistradical.
    I like the idea of a smaller more voter lead society.

  • Nonconformistradical 2nd Dec '18 - 11:29am

    “It’s more to do with thinking Britain should be more like New Zealand or Norway. I think you can have a perfectly viable country and probably a better one without the pretentions of world power.”

    Ah yes – Norway – that country which abides by lots of EU regulations without having a say in them…

    I’m more inclined to support your attitiude on world power – the UK should drop its imperialist delusions ASAP

  • You want to return to the past Glen. You really don’t know what New Zealand or Norway are like, but you bleat in about them as if they are a magic land to which we should aspire too become. The fact is you voted for Brexit, past that point what ever you fantasies about is irrelevant it isn’t on offer, you get the Brexit you are given and that is the one you will have to justify. So justify the two plus years of political paralysis and the bile and confusion you voted for and leave the fantasy out.

  • Nom de Plume 2nd Dec '18 - 1:41pm


    To become truly European would require a cultural change. It is not an economic issue. Britain is largely monolingual. This is not the case in the rest of Europe (you are good example). Even where this is not the the case, geography plays a role. The EU (ex-UK) is made up of small and medium size states where travel by road to a different country is easy and common. The point about the cosmopolitan, metropolitan “elite” is valid, in the sense that there are two distinct communities in UK. Of course not everyone who is cosmopolitan and metropolitan is “elite”. I would find it interesting to know the the correlation between the likelihood of voting Remain or Leave and the distance from an international airport.

    It is also worth noting that the debate about the EU/UK relationship in the UK is largely about economic issues, not cultural ones. Except from people like Glenn who don’t like or feel threatened by internationalsim. It is a very conservative view. Easy to parody, but the unease is real. I cann’t think of any short term solution. Perhaps there is something to learn from Ireland.

  • Arnold Kiel 2nd Dec '18 - 1:42pm

    Norway and NZ have less than a tenth of the UK population, rich natural resources, and no less land mass.

    In the UK, 40 Million people must competitively create value based in their time, energy, and skills. In doing so, they are highly dependent on a continued inflow of foreign capital.

  • Arnold Kiel 2nd Dec '18 - 1:54pm

    @ Nom de Plume

    Interesting thought. But isn’t it true that the UK elite (say the top 1 million by e.g. education, income, power) are more international than the corresponding group in Italy of France, maybe also Germany? I would also hypothesise that the bottom 50% of these countries (by the same yardstick) do not differ much in terms of their provinciality.

    A quote from a source I forgot: “Europe consists of two kinds of countries: small ones, and the ones who don’t know yet that they are small.”

  • Nom de Plume 2nd Dec '18 - 2:12pm

    I am aware of the economic arguments. A hard Brexit would be madness. Any Brexit is bad.

  • Peter Martin 2nd Dec '18 - 2:24pm

    @ Glenn,

    I’m not sure if it will help your argument but I agree with you! We’ve moved on from our Empire days and we should be more like NZ, Australia, Canada and Norway. Possibly we’ll end up being more like Canada to Europa’s USA but we’ll have to see how it works out. The other countries on the list do have more natural resources but there’s plenty of countries who do well without. Like Singapore, for example. It doesn’t mean that we have exactly the same economic model as them – we’ll develop our own in a more democratic fashion.

    @ Arnold Kiel,

    “In doing so, they (ie us -PM) are highly dependent on a continued inflow of foreign capital.”

    No, we aren’t. The way things work is that some countries run an export surplus which means (nearly always!) that they have a surplus in their current account. The capital account is just the inverse of the current account. The two have to sum to zero. So Germany will have deficit in its capital account and we have a surplus.

    In other words, there is, as you say a “continued inflow of foreign capital” into the UK.

    We in the UK should say “thank you very much”. But we aren’t “highly dependent” on it. It could well be that, in future years the big exporters now (ie Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, China etc) will have had enough of supplying the ROW with real goods and services in exchange for our paper or electronic IOUs and will become net importers themselves.

    In which case they’ll be spending those IOUs and ourselves and the USA will have to do the exporting.

    Will it do us any harm? I can’t see why it should if there’s an orderly transition.

  • David Evans 2nd Dec '18 - 2:49pm

    I am sad to see that although things have been so bad for so long, some senior figures are only now coming to the conclusion that I and many other activists came to years ago, when Nick was making a total mess of coalition.

    The fact is that throughout that nightmare, Lib Dems split into two groupings. The first, those who were so elated that we were at last in power, simply celebrated that fact as a good thing, assigning an almost totemic status on the good parts like equal marriage, that totally trumped the bad parts, austerity, the hostile environment etc. The second group were dismayed at the unequal way the burden of recovery was being spread, with the costs falling almost entirely on the poor and other people ‘not like us’ – which totally undermined our integrity as a party of equality.

    Those five years led from us being the new kids on the block, broadly liked and trusted as a sensible alternative to the extremes of the other two parties, as evidenced by our record in local government, inspiring people by promising a new way of doing politics and an end to broken promises, to becoming the most disliked and untrusted party since Peel and the Corn Laws. Those who totally supported coalition rationalised it with statements like – It was inevitable once we chose to go into coalition; We sacrificed ourselves for our country; and History will look kindly … However those who were aware of its deep dark side, knew that it was not choosing to go into coalition, but what our leaders did once they were in coalition; we didn’t sacrifice ourselves, we sacrificed our party’s future; and that what History will probably say is “The Liberal Democrats once *were* a political party …

    The end result, was a meltdown of electoral support and loss of key ‘boots on the ground activists’ in most of the country, many leaving in dismay at our party’s behaviour in government.

    The consequence of this loss of activists was that there were not enough of us to get it over to our MPs that they had to change things. Hence nothing was done by MPs prior to 2015, nor Tim nor Vince since. Our party is now almost totally ignored by the media and of no significance as far as voters are concerned.

    So what is the answer? Well ultimately we have to want to change, to stop being simply a party the comfortably well off with a social conscience and the electoral inconsequentiality that comes with it.

    Do we have the courage to do it? I’m not sure.

  • Peter Martin 2nd Dec '18 - 3:11pm

    @ William Wallace,

    “Jacques Delors was determined to balance market opening with social protections.”

    Possibly, but Jacques Delors has long been retired! Considering the state of the French Socialist party, and the decrepit state of the European centre left generally, it will be a long time before anyone else like him achieves such high office in the EU.

    “Rights of women in the workplace were promoted by EC court rulings well before we had started to enact similar measures in the UK.”

    You’ve never heard of Barbara Castle’s 1970 Equal Pay Act?

    “If you know of a better way to counter the power of multinational companies, do tell me.”

    A nation state has all the power it needs to counter the power of the multinationals. If Iceland (pop ~300k) can do it then so can the UK.


  • Peter Martin
    Thank you for that. I’m used to these spats. It’s like being attacked by a toddler with a balloon. It’s annoying, but you can’t loose your temper and you have to be patient.
    The thing is we are leaving the EU. The only real argument is about how Britain departs. All the carrying on is not going to make a jot of difference.

  • nvelope2003 2nd Dec '18 - 3:18pm

    David Evans: Spot on. Life is full of surprises but it will take some time to recover when not even the biggest political issue for decades can induce the voters to support the main national party which is totally opposed to leaving the EU, although to be fair the Greens have not benefited from their opposition either and in fact seem to have lost support. There is clearly more to it than whether we leave the EU – it seems to be how we identify ourselves as people and little to do with party politics.

  • Two thoughts on why headway is so difficult to make.
    Politics have polarised, it seems people are more concerned about preventing the politician’s they hate getting in than the difficencies of the party they must vote for to prevent this.
    The coalition shredded the Lib Dem reputation and deverstated the council and parliamentary base, making it difficult to be heard.

    As David said some people were so overcome with finally gaining the semblance of power that no price and no compromise was too high. This group have now split into three, those that still proclaim it was worth it, those that have departed for greener pastures and those that can now look in the mirror and say ” I have been taken for a fool”. Of the three groups only the third have anything to offer going forward. As time goes by I expect the first group will become increasingly silent, as will the second who will have found more important things to do.

  • Nonconformistradical 2nd Dec '18 - 10:07pm

    @Peter Martin

    “We’ve moved on from our Empire days and we should be more like NZ, Australia, Canada and Norway.”
    Some of us might have but I doubt if the extreme Brexiteers have…

    “The other countries on the list do have more natural resources but there’s plenty of countries who do well without. Like Singapore, for example.”
    Singapore’s population is under 1/10 that of the UK and crammed into a tiny fraction of the UK’s area. The 2 countries are hardly comparable.

  • William Wallace identifies the “’white working class’ and their sense of displacement by economic and technological change, social disruption, and – of course – immigration” leading to “where ‘the dignity of labour’ has given way to the indignities of casual work and shrinking benefits” as the justifiable grievances.

    One of the economic changes driving these justifiable grievances is the removal of full employment as the main aim of economic policy as it was in the 1950s, 60s and some of the 1970s. Plus the acceptance of the Non-Accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment as being the means to control inflation by always have a large enough pool of unemployed people to stop wage inflation. As the party of Keynes and Beverage we need to reclaim this economic policy and make full employment our main economic aim and provide a guaranteed job or training place to anyone unemployed for three months or more which either keeps their job skills up to date or trains them in an area of labour shortage.

    The issue of benefits is simple for us to solve. We should make a promise like our 2010 promise on Income Tax Personal Allowances. To increase the Income Tax Personal Allowance from £6475 to £10,600 cost £24.6 billion. Therefore we should promise that over a five year Parliament we will spend £25 billion on increasing the basic levels of benefits on top of our existing promises. If allocated evenly to claimants and not people that would increase a single persons benefit to £142.02 a week and a couples to £183.91.

    We could assist the regions not only by allocating billions for investing in the poorest regions but also by embracing the idea of having regional living wages set at 70% of the medium earnings of that region. This should slow down the move of the population to London and South East England and encourage new businesses to set up in the regions where the wages are lowest.

    We need also to encourage young people living in the UK to train as doctors and nurses and to be care workers. This will mean increasing salaries and providing a career structure for care workers. It might be time to consider if a university degree is really needed to be a nurse. We should be thinking about providing billions for local councils to run their own care homes and employ care workers for work in people’s homes directly.

  • Peter Hirst 3rd Dec '18 - 12:37pm

    In addition to your excellent suggestions, William we also need a new constitutional settlement with the people in the form of a written constitution drawn up by a citizens’ assembly and guarded by an independent constitutional court.

  • “but we can’t avoid tackling the gut issues of British identity, our place in the world, and our imperial legacy, if we are to remake the case for a liberal Britain.”

    Actually you can. Until you accept British (in many cases English) identity as it is and not as you’d like it to be you don’t have a chance of reaching people on the other important issues, the vast majority of which have nothing to do with identity politics.

  • John McHugo 4th Dec '18 - 3:12pm

    What we have to do is frame our arguments in a patriotic format, and take the Brexiter nationalists on at their own game. Consider the following letter published in the Evening Standard last 7 February:

    “Brexit is not worth the candle and there is nothing patriotic about it. It is leading to a massive loss of British influence and self-respect, and making us steadily weaker as a player on the world stage.

    It will not give this country greater control of its destiny, greater freedom to write our own laws or greater sovereignty. On the contrary, our relative weakness will make us less able to achieve our objectives, whatever they may be.

    If Brexit severs us from Europe, it risks reducing us to President Trump’s Airstrip One. What a sorry climbdown that would be for a nation that once aspired to lead in Europe. And while we turn in on ourselves, the world is not standing still and will not forgive us.

    Our preoccupation with Brexit reduces our effectiveness when working with our European partners on important issues such as Syria, Iran and the Middle East peace process. These are issues on which the world needs the EU to pull together.”

  • David Hopps 10th Dec '18 - 8:43am

    Once again immense sense from William Wallace. Not for the first time, he points the way towards a Lib Dem revival in the north. We need to listen.

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