Wrexham and the rubble of the Red Wall

The article by the American BBC journalist,  Anthony Zurcher,  “Does UK hold clues to Trump’s Fortunes?referred to by John Leaver yesterday, compares Wrexham,  recently much in the limelight, with the rust belt in Trump’s America.

I   have lived in Wrexham all my life and fought the seat five times as a Liberal candidate. Due to the defection of Tom Ellis from Labour to SDP in 1982 and his choosing to fight the neighbouring South Clwyd seat, 1983 produced the closest three way result in the UK, with less than 2000 votes separating the parties. I was third. By the 1990s, Labour had lost control of the Council, and for a time,  Aled Roberts led an effective Lib Dem administration. Currently, it is led by independents.

In my youth, there were still 12 collieries in the Wrexham area, not least the ill fated Gresford. There was a steel works at Brymbo producing the highest quality steel for Rolls Royce aero engines. There were numerous  brickworks, two breweries and a leather works and, on the former wartime ordnance factory on the outskirts of the town, the Wrexham Industrial Estate was developing.

The heavy industry disappeared. In 1980, ten miles down the road at Shotton, nationalised British Steel axed 6,500 jobs, the largest redundancy in a single day in Western Europe. Brymbo closed in 1990 with a loss of 1,100 highly skilled steelworkers.   The last colliery at Bersham closed in 1989. The breweries and leather works were long gone. Were these closures due to malign Thatcherism, or international economic pressures and influences?  Labour holds fast to the former explanation.

But Wrexham is not today derelict rust belt country, as in Trump’s America. Deindustrialisation ended over thirty years ago. Consistently, since the early 2000s, as a result of vigorous investment, unemployment in Wrexham has, according to the ONS, been a full percentage point below the GB average. These are not zero hours jobs either. In Broughton, twelve miles into Flintshire, more than 6,500 highly skilled workers build Airbus wings to be flown down weekly to Toulouse for assembly. In September,  a record number of 155 apprenticeships were on offer. Many thousands of other sub- contract jobs are created to supply the main activity. The Wrexham Industrial Estate thrives and good transport links to the Wirral and Chester industrial complex, causes an outward flow, cross border, of 30,000 workers and an inward flow of 16,000 each day.

As for facilities, the hospital provides excellent care – once you get in.  The football club which Mr Zurcher  visited, has had a torrid time. Yet last month the Welsh FA opened its multi million pound new national training  ground and facilities on the site of Gresford colliery just up the road from my home. North Wales has always embraced the round ball.

Why then with comparative prosperity and international manufacturing links, does Wrexham turn its back on the EU and, for the first time since the formation of the constituency in 1918, turn Tory blue? Oxford University research has concluded that the Welsh vote to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum was misleading — it was caused by retired English people who had moved across the border.  for its lower property prices. 650,000 ‘Welsh’ voters were English, of whom 150,000 were better-off pensioners — an age group that tended to support Brexit. As the Welsh majority in favour of Brexit was only 82,000, English migrants tipped the balance. No doubt they contributed to the destruction of the Red Wall in this election

But there are simpler explanations than English immigration – quality of life. Wrexham suffers the hollowing out of its town centre. The freezing of benefits and Universal Credit maladministration force people to look for cheaper deals in the peripheral ring of cut price supermarkets. Food banks flourish. County lines and the presence of the new prison, second largest in Europe, fuel a shocking and visible daylight drugs problem. The police are under pressure. By day the traditional Highp Street and its tributaries are a depressing row of empty shops: by night a no go area, unless youth and aggression are on your side. Like many others, I resent the decline and look for change.

But Labour did not offer progressive change.  Union leaders exercise power within the Labour Party based on structures which have disappeared. The solidarity of miners, steel workers, shipbuilders across the whole Uk once  underpinned the Labour movement, but it has gone. Every region is in competition for inward investment from India, China, Japan, the US or anywhere to prop up individual enterprises. Labour’s offer this time under a weak and fossilised leader, was to return to the 70s state directed economy which spawned Thatcherism. Nothing addressed the deficit in the way we live.

The Blues win by proselytising Brexit as change. They identify a different problem – domination by Brussels.  In so doing, they risk in Wrexham the disruption of Broughton, the international, essentially European, foundation of local prosperity and the destruction of the internationally competitive car industry at Ellesmere Port and the Wirral. We shall see what trade deals will be done to mitigate the potential damage but don’t hold your breath.

What Wrexham needs is, first of all, effective administration, planning and management both at local and national levels of government. The High Street needs to be rescued from drugs and decline by dynamic strategies. The basis of the future economy is staring us in the face: developing the technology and the industry to tackle climate change. Ironically, the Japanese company  Sharps centred its European production of solar panels in Wrexham in 2004. When in 2013 Cameron reduced the feed-in tariff in the his “green crap” mode, Sharps withdrew production with the immediate loss of 615 jobs.

This is not rust belt country. It has great potential if its links to Europe are strongly maintained. Let us see what the novelty of a Tory MP brings.

* Martin Thomas is a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords and the party's Shadow Attorney General

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84 Comments

  • Lee_Thacker 23rd Dec '19 - 5:14pm

    Martin,

    That is an interesting story. I always wondered why Tom Ellis fought Clwyd South rather than Wrexham. Presumably he thought he had a better chance of winning there? How well do you think he would have performed had he stood in Wrexham? Were you and the Liberals particularly keen on “keeping” the seat? I understand some of the seat negotiations between the Liberals and the SDP in the 1980s were rather tense.

    Lee

  • John David Leaver 23rd Dec '19 - 5:30pm

    Excellent stuff, Martin a fascinating read. Proof that American-style slash-and-burn capitalism is a choice not an inexorable reflection of market forces and globalization. I’m originally from Burnley and recognize your description of urban blight resulting from wrong headed priorities. I also celebrate local initiatives designed to address that blight. Keep up the essential work. Decentralization is a liberal principle, because it gives representatives of local people such as yourself opportunities to address local concerns. As a Burnley fan Brian Flynn was one of my boyhood heroes. I agree entirely about Trade Unionism, too. My father was a member of NGA, working in Manchester, and demonstrating at Wapping. I saw somewhere that Len Mccluskey, my sister is in Unite, got in as general secretary with 16% of the vote. We Lib Dems should help defend worker rights and help reform hollowed out trade unionism. As a teacher in a ‘right to work’ state, Georgia, USA, I can tell you all our professional assoc. can offer is legal aid in the event of a dispute. There are very many workers in both our countries who don’t enjoy even that opportunity. No unions is worse in my experience than poor unions, because the former excuses bad management. Enjoyed your perspective again.

  • Martin Thomas 23rd Dec '19 - 6:20pm

    Lee,

    Tom was born and living in the very Welsh mining community of Rhosllanerchrugog: he was a former mining engineer and colliery manager. Indeed, he followed my father-in-law in that post. The community was central to the new constituency that had just been created, and he naturally chose it . I had formally stood down for Wrexham at the Liberal Assembly in Llandudno in Tom’s favour. I was born on the Acton Council Estate in the heart of Wrexham. There was no conflict in the all Wales negotiations on constituencies which we held in Cardiff. I led for the Libs and Tom for the SDP. We were the first region/nation to agree and I typed out the list on legal “Goatskin Parchment Paper” which we signed in front of the cameras. The subsequent rumour in the two parties that we had signed in blood on real Welsh goatskin was economical with the truth.

  • Tobias Sedlmeier 23rd Dec '19 - 6:34pm

    Some of the issues which this excellent piece highlights are not peculiar to Wrexham but reflect the general decline in societal values in England and Wales in general, and in certain areas and communities more than others.

    A high level of family breakdown – or, indeed, children starting off with no more than one parent ever present in their lives – is blighting society across England and Wales which has a higher percentage of children being raised without a father than any other country in the EU. The UK has a very low level of unemployment – both in historic terms and by comparison with other EU countries – yet still there are so many people needing benefits. Many mothers and children are receiving benefits to support themselves from the taxpayer while the father of those children fails to do so.

    A high level of drug use – higher than most other EU countries – and a high level of associated negative outcomes. I would be interested in the author’s view on the LibDems’ legalise cannabis policy.

    The author says he’s looking for change. I suggest that in places like Wrexham, Doncaster, Hull and Sunderland people need to starting thinking about changing themselves, how they live their lives and make their life choices, rather than blaming others (those in London, EU immigrants, etc.) for their problems.

  • Nom de Plume 23rd Dec '19 - 8:03pm

    @Martin Thomas
    Clearly written, personal and coherent article. Many thanks.

    @Tony Venezia
    Labour’s position on EU membership was somewhat vague.

  • Alex B 23rd Dec ’19 – 5:30pm:
    Hope that Airbus stays.

    Aircraft wings are a high added value product. The fall in the pound against the euro makes UK production even more cost-effective. There are no tariffs on civil aircraft parts regardless of how we leave…

    ‘Agreement on Trade in Civil Aircraft’:
    https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/civair_e/civair_e.htm

    The Agreement on Trade in Civil Aircraft is one of two plurilateral agreements (with the Agreement on Government Procurement being the second) signed by a smaller number of WTO members. It eliminates import duties on all aircraft, other than military aircraft, as well as on all other products covered by the agreement — civil aircraft engines and their parts and components, all components and sub-assemblies of civil aircraft, and flight simulators and their parts and components.

  • Hostage to fortune there Jeff, care to do the same for the Vauxhall site or have you wrote that site off?

  • Nom de Plume 23rd Dec '19 - 11:13pm

    @Jeff

    The EU could impose non-tariff barriers or put some other bureaucratic obstacles in the way if they choose to do so. The Government has chosen to renegotiate all trade arrangements with everyone. We will have to wait and see how successful they are at it.

  • Non Dr plume
    Tis Christmas leave poor Jeff with some hope, it will eveporate fast enough in the new year of that I have no doubt.

  • David Evershed 24th Dec '19 - 2:54am

    As a management consultant in the early 1970s I recommended Firestone Tire and Rubber close its tyre factory in West London and expand in Wrexham.

    In my survey of alternative manufacturing sites around the UK, Wrexham came out highest on the criteria which I set, including availability of a good workforce. Note that I have still never been to Wrexham.

    I see that a prison has recently been built on what used to be the large Firestone site in Wrexham. A sign of the times.

  • The Government’s proposal to cut business rates by 50% for small retail traders is a good start in stemming the decline of the High Street (not sure what the small print is though, and promises of infrastructure projects to help newly Tory parts of the country will probably shore up that support for the next general election. But ultimately we live in a free market economy and new companies that offer good quality employment will locate to places where there is an educated and motivated workforce, and that probably won’t be Hartlepool or Grimsby (no offence intended to the residents of those places).

  • As the LibDems are keen to get rid of the vagrancy act not sure how that will help clean up town centres full of drugged and violent youths… a job for the police I would have thought.

  • “I see that a prison has recently been built on what used to be the large Firestone site in Wrexham. A sign of the times.”

    So all those young people who might have been tiring themselves out working for a living now have nothing to do except drink and drugs and end up in prison on the same site?

  • Martin Thomas 24th Dec '19 - 9:46am

    On the prison, please see my post of October last in the link to my archive on this page at the foot of the article.

  • John Marriott 24th Dec '19 - 9:51am

    Now, if I were a businessman, whose business was in export, and seeking to relocate, I reckon I might seriously consider moving to North Ireland. “Is he mad?” I hear you ask. “Sectarianism, no functioning government etc.” But wait a minute. If, or rather, when Brexit goes through, straddling two markets as the province seems likely to do, with one foot in each camp, it could surely prove to be the ideal place from which to trade. Am I being widely optimistic or just plain wrong? Who knows in this crazy world in which we appear currently to be trapped?

  • One factor in the close Welsh Vote for Leave was the substantial UKIP (now Brexit) group on The Welsh Parliament. They had the good luck that one of UKIPs peaks coincided with The Sennedd Election & being held under a Proportional system their Votes translated into Seats.
    The UKIP/Brexit group get a lot of Media coverage in Wales.

  • Nom de Plume 23rd Dec ’19 – 11:13pm:
    The EU could impose non-tariff barriers or put some other bureaucratic obstacles in the way if they choose to do so.

    All EU member states and the EU itself are full members of the WTO. We’re all signatories to the WTO agreements including the most recent Trade Facilitation Agreement. These agreements continue unchanged however we leave the EU (one reason why the pejorative term ‘no deal’ is misleading).

    ‘Trade facilitation’:
    https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tradfa_e/tradfa_e.htm

    Bureaucratic delays and “red tape” pose a burden for moving goods across borders for traders. Trade facilitation — the simplification, modernization and harmonization of export and import processes — has therefore emerged as an important issue for the world trading system.

    WTO members concluded negotiations at the 2013 Bali Ministerial Conference on the landmark Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), which entered into force on 22 February 2017 following its ratification by two-thirds of the WTO membership. The TFA contains provisions for expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including goods in transit.

    In any case, why would the EU want to sabotage one of Europe’s largest export manufacturers? Airbus already source a large proportion of their components from outside the EU…

    ‘Be an Airbus supplier’:
    https://www.airbus.com/be-an-airbus-supplier.html

    Around 80% of Airbus’ activity is sourced. The company works with more than 12,000 suppliers worldwide that provide products and services for flying and non-flying parts.

    Airbus continuously develops its supplier base, with an overall sourcing volume across the company valued at approximately €49.6 billion. Airbus has identified global sourcing as one of its long-term objectives and aims to source 40% outside Western Europe and the U.S. by 2020. Airbus’ external procurement is equivalent to over two-thirds of the company’s revenues.

    It’s baffling why people with such a low-opinion of the EU’s integrity advocate continued membership of such an organisation.

  • Nom de Plume 24th Dec '19 - 11:46am

    @Jeff

    The EU has its own, internal, political priorities. The reason I suggest it will be more complicated than simply following WTO rules is that I follow what is happening in Switzerland. It has a comprehensive FTA with the EU, and is still regularly in conflict with the EU. Every trading block, and in the case of the EU, also a political entity, will act so as to protect the interests of its members.

  • Nom de Plume 24th Dec '19 - 12:39pm

    There is also a purely political reason I support EU membership: Europe has a history of particulary fractious relationships between its states. Part of the EU project is to put an end to this. Although I consider wars of the type we have had in the past to be unlikely, an economic one is possible. In this case, Britain vs the EU.

  • Poor Jeff you do know the WTO is at deaths door don’t you, apparently not

    UK’s post-Brexit trade at risk as WTO’s top court shuts down
    Shutdown of court will leave UK at mercy of EU in its trading relationship after transition period

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/dec/11/uk-post-brexit-trade-at-risk-as-wto-top-court-shuts-down

    Internationalists have always dreamed of a court with jurisdiction over all the countries of the world. In 1995, the World Trade Organization was created — allowing the world’s countries to press claims against one another for the first time.

    The state of play: That era lasted just 25 years. As of Tuesday, the Trump administration has, to all intents and purposes, brought it to an end.

    https://www.axios.com/trump-vs-wto-blocked-appointments-d6eb10e6-f0a9-4c46-b801-71d9836c4c5a.html

    So blather on about WTO saving us, it’s dead Jeff tis a Norwegian Blue of a trade agreement. Tis sad but true.

    As to why the EU would sabotage Airbus they wouldn’t Jeff, they will just move the factory to a new cheaper EU based site.

  • Martin Thomas 24th Dec '19 - 3:23pm

    John Marriott.

    Please forgive me for quoting myself from the 19th January debate of Lord Lisvane on the effect of Brexit on the stability of the U.K.:

    “I wish the Bill of the noble Lord, Lord Lisvane, whom I congratulate on getting this debate, well. I will certainly study it and I promise to respect it in the morning. However, if Brexit happens, I am with the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, in believing that the movement for separation will grow. I hesitate to talk about Northern Ireland since I once asked the noble Lord, Lord Rogan, what was wrong with a united Ireland, and he told me to wash my mouth out. However, a special relationship between Northern Ireland and the EU through the Republic of Ireland could have a very positive benefits for the people and economy of that Province. The special economic zone of Shenzhen, founded in 1982 on the borders of Hong Kong, has caused a market town of 30,000 to grow into a metropolis of nearly 13 million people. We talked on Tuesday in this Chamber about the flood of expensive English lawyers who have already joined the Irish legal profession in Dublin to protect their existing businesses in Europe. Belfast could attract them and other leading service industries for the same reason. A referendum on the border is only a generation away. There may be much attraction then for a prosperous Northern Ireland seeking at least a confederation with the south.

    Thirteen of the 27 countries of the EU have smaller populations and economies than Scotland, and five are smaller than Wales. If Brexit happens, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility to envisage a successful confederation of Celtic states as part of the single European market and in a customs union. There was a time when the United Kingdom was more united and devolution seemed just as far away. Perhaps the noble ​Lord, Lord Wigley, and I should resume our talks, adjourned in 1967, for the formation of an alliance of Welsh radicals.”

    Northern Ireland may well become an attractive place to invest, facing into both markets. John, you’re right!

  • William Francis 24th Dec ’19 – 1:39pm…………….You mean through a mass nationalisation programme with compensation decided by the cabinet ( or expropriation in other words), and nationalisation by stealth ( via a worker-ownership scheme where most of the profits end up in the treasury)…………

    Straight from CCHQ.

    Isn’t the ‘Treasury’ where all the ‘money’ for infrastructure projects, affordable homes, flood defence, the NHS. etc. comes from? More money there would seem advantageous.

    As public ownership seems very popular with the electorate (77% Rail/Energy, 84% water, etc,) why not?

    BTW…. when Royal Mail, Northern Rock, etc. were sold off at a fraction of their worth where was your objection?

  • All the comments that WTO or similar post Brexit agreements won’t affect Airbus aren’t backed up by what I’m hearing from Broughton, a few miles from here.
    I understand that flap production is to be transferred to Germany, as a reduction in the exposure to risk for Airbus in Brexit.
    A full on no deal this time next year would only accelerate Airbus’s desire to reduce their UK risk further.

  • Thank you for the information Andy. I suspect the drift of work to the EU is ongoing and with the work will go the workers ( or at least those with an EU passport). When the wealth creaters leave the tax take will drop, the economy will tank and those that are economically inactive will suffer, ironically those that voted for Brexit and those that voted Tory will be among the worst affected; hoisted by their own petard.

  • Rodney Watts 24th Dec '19 - 7:52pm

    I am glad to see that possibly my experience of the Hospital (Ysbyty Maelor) was not usual. An elderly cousin was admitted with angina about twelve years ago, and would have starved had my wife (a trained care worker) not intervened to countermand a ‘nil by mouth’ instruction.
    Otherwise I join with other commentators in commending this post, which in so many ways reflects the observations and sad experiences of those who live in what were mining and industrial communities. (We now live in County Durham.)

  • William Wallace 24th Dec '19 - 9:49pm

    Martin:

    We’ve missed you in the Lords; I hope the NHS has treated you well. It’s good to see you are writing and reflecting as well as ever. Come back soon!

  • Alex B 24th Dec ’19 – 7:29pm:
    Jeff, you seem to disagree fundamentally with the Chief Executive of Airbus. He said the biggest hassle was documentation.

    Airbus buys large quantities of components from the US (amongst many other non-EU countries). Why would UK documentation be more of a “hassle” than US documentation?

    Airbus Americas, Inc.:
    https://cis.ua.edu/2018/01/31/airbus-americas-inc/

    Since 1990, Airbus has spent some $200 billion dollars with hundreds of U.S. suppliers – $48 billion in the last three years alone. That spending helps support 275,000 American jobs. That business also makes Airbus the largest export company for the U.S. aerospace industry.

    I didn’t agree with the former CEO, Tom Enders, who allowed himself to be used as a stooge in the previous government’s ‘Project Fear’ campaign of disinformation. At the time, Airbus’s Head of Political Affairs was Katherine Bennett who previously worked for LibDem peer Tom McNally and as recently as 2013 shared a pro-EU platform with former LibDem MEP Graham Watson. Her colleague Mike Collins, Publicly Manager for Airbus UK, was also a former LibDem councillor. Bennett is now Senior Vice-President Airbus in the UK.

    I do agree with the current CEO, Guillaume Faury, when he says…

    ‘Airbus will stick by ‘competitive’ UK even after no-deal Brexit’ [November 2019]:
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2019/11/15/airbus-will-stick-competitive-uk-says-new-chief/

    “We have a very strong base in the UK and we are very happy with this industrial base. We have no reason to move production out of the UK. It would be difficult anyway, these are huge industrial systems – you can’t just move them.”

    …have you ever thought of sending them your CV?

    My engineering degree would seem to be an impediment to becoming an Airbus hi-flyer. Enders has a degree in economics, politics and history and a doctorate in political science and Bennett a degree in history. Although the new CEO, Faury, does remarkably have a degree in aerospace engineering.

  • Nom de Plume 25th Dec '19 - 3:47pm

    @Jeff

    The US is bigger and the US has Boeing, and will have some trade agreement. The UK Government is going to be renegotiating everything from a position of relative weakness. We will have to wait and see what they are planning to do. Not long to wait now.

    Various manufacturers have invested in the UK on the basis being part of the Single Market. They have a lot to lose. The language will be cautious. Any new investment will go to the EU.

  • I think the key word there is ” competitive ” I’m not sure Brexit gives you that, still we will see and I’m sure if I’m right you’ll apologised to the newly impovrished, just stand behind Peter he will be doing a heap full of apologising in Sunderland.

  • Yeovil Yokel 26th Dec '19 - 9:36am

    Jeff – the Telegraph quoted Faury selectively; that so-called newspaper supports Brexit but doesn’t support the Franco-German dominated Airbus, so you can draw your own conclusions.
    Alex B – it’s the Germans who have been angling for Airbus wing production for many years, not the French. I believe that the Germans have greater capacity in their aviation factories, including at their Bremen plant, to where wings are flown from Broughton for final completion, including the fitting of Spanish-made control surfaces, before onward transportation to the final assembly lines at Hamburg, Toulouse, Mobile (Alabama) and Tianjin (China).
    If Airbus were ever to withdraw wing production from the UK, there might still be a role for the wing and landing gear design and testing facilities at Filton in Bristol, where there is little need to transfer physical components to/from plants in the EU.

  • Sopwith Morley 26th Dec '19 - 10:09am

    “Nom de Plume 24th Dec ’19 – 12:39pm
    ” Although I consider wars of the type we have had in the past to be unlikely, ”

    I imagine that was the view of the EU as well, as it sat on its collective backside as the Balkans went into meltdown and genocide reared its ugly head. ( I now they weren’t in the EEC/EU then, but what exactly was the difference between what happened there between 1941 and 1945, and what happened there in the 80’s and 90’s. The one consistency is that most of Europe in both cases stood by and allowed it to happen, including the EEC/EU which was a complete and utter waste of space, and who many might argue was complicit in causing it to happen in the first place with its mission to expand across the continent, in exactly the same way its interfering rattled Russias cage, effectively pouring petrol onto its disputes with Ukraine.

    I also seem to remember the same view was also held by all the disarm happy Westminster parties when they said we no longer needed a blue water navy, that was until the Falklands. I was in HMS Jufair (Bahrain) in the Joint Communications Centre when it was closed, and we pulled out of the Persian Gulf and more generally east of Suez in the early 1970’s, and now we have just opened a naval base called HMS Jufair( Bahrain), and our naval presence and the threats are now exponentially greater than they were then.

    “Although I consider wars of the type we have had in the past to be unlikely,”

    The perpetual cry of the naive, who are always proved wrong, and their midjudgements always end up being paid for with the blood of the young.

    The one certainty in human history, is that war, conquest and political human brutality are never of the past, the veneer of our civilisation barely survives localised natural disasters, never mind worldwide events.

  • Innocent Bystander 26th Dec '19 - 11:01am

    I have to side with frankie. I have been, a director, managing director and chairman at various stages in my career and company boards hate uncertainty. I don’t think it would be fear of paperwork that would be a concern of the Airbus board but the UK must have looked ungovernable and in chaos from their perspective.
    Brexit is not over, it just begins. The UK will have to make lots of concessions and that will start another flame war in the media with BoJo’s honeymoon period well and truly over. Then there will be the breakup of the UK and a sudden rise in nasty English nationalism and anti Scot sentiment with very strong calls to exclude the Scots from England and English life.
    All this in 2020 and if I were on the Airbus board I would call for a serious, costed plan to move out of the UK.

  • I would add to Innocent Bystanders quote of
    “Then there will be the breakup of the UK and a sudden rise in nasty English nationalism and anti Scot sentiment with very strong calls to exclude the Scots from England and English life.”

    That you could delete Scots and replace EU nationals and be equally if not more correct. This anti EU rhetoric is likely to make life difficult for EU national’s many of whom will leave but it will also make life misrable for the like of Stopwith and little Jackie ( long fled from these parts) as the consequences of their actions become clear. I fear many of them will be making their own teas in the new year as the significant others work out who caused the mess.

  • Sopwith Morley 26th Dec '19 - 12:01pm

    @ Frankie 24th Dec ’19 – 5:57pm
    “Thank you for the information Andy. I suspect the drift of work to the EU is ongoing and with the work will go the workers ( or at least those with an EU passport). When the wealth creaters leave the tax take will drop, the economy will tank and those that are economically inactive will suffer, ironically those that voted for Brexit and those that voted Tory will be among the worst affected; hoisted by their own petard.”

    Hate to burst your bubble pet, I know how much you like to prance around with your ‘fact of the day’ metaphorical sandwich boards, but Andy is wrong. The high lift systems (flaps) for all Airbus aircraft are made in Bremen.

    https://www.airbus.com/aircraft/how-is-an-aircraft-built/production.html

    They say never let the truth get in the way of a good LibDem Bar chart. I hope you haven’t wasted too much of your Christmas present crayons producing one.

  • expats: in view of the recent Royal Mail share price the sale price was excessive. Not many people post letters and there are plenty of other parcel carrriers.
    A form of transport used by only 6% of those travelling to work, mostly to and from the London area, does not merit nationalisation and the recent chaos on the South Western Railway caused by Government interference shows how harmful this would be. We must stop living in the past, especially one viewed through rose tinted spectacles and find new ways of dealing with problems.

  • Sopwith Morley 26th Dec '19 - 12:52pm

    @ Tobias Sedlmeier

    “A high level of family breakdown – or, indeed, children starting off with no more than one parent ever present in their lives – is blighting society across England and Wales which has a higher percentage of children being raised without a father than any other country in the EU. ”

    Another LIbDem Bar chart statement I see, not even remotely accurate.

    Is it necessary to be a habitual Walter Mitty, or simply a compulsive fiddler of facts to be a LibDem because it increasingly appears to be the case.

    https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/People_in_the_EU_-_statistics_on_household_and_family_structures#Families

    The wider electorate, are far too switched on, and now simply discount anything LibDems say as probably fabrication or a distortion of data, however the way the gullible Frankie’s of this world enthusiastically embrace anything true or false as long as it supports their prejudice must be very worrying for the future of open and honest debate in this party.

    Lib Dem Bar Chart started off as a joke, I fancy going forward it is going to be used extensively by political opponents if you persist on wax lyrical on your pet issues without even a nod at the facts. You might be right on some issues, but they will be swamped in the morass of your usual tissue of lies.

  • Bless Stopwith has doubt entered your world, are the sunlit uplands looking damp and drery. Certainly your lashing out appears to give the impression doubt has got hold. What will you do if things go wrong, blaming the EU and the Lib Dems won’t pay your pension, bring back the jobs or the relatives that have fled to greener pastures. It may not happen you cry, it may not Stopwith but like many a brave Brexiteer you are facing the reality you have no way to steer events but if bad things happen you have no defence. Guliblie indeed my dear Stopwith and desperatly praying nothing will change for with change comes responsiblity and having to explain to Mrs Stopwith why her dear boy and his beloved wife have left is probably going to be one of the worst days of your life. It might not happen you cry, true but if it does well you know who is responsible he is looking at you in the mirror.

  • Peter Martin 26th Dec '19 - 1:27pm

    True, the Labour Party has the problem of the loss of many of its former “Red Wall” seats. That can only be solved by having a meaningful dialogue with the voters there to find out what needs to be done next time.

    The Lib Dems need to focus more on their own problems. Wasn’t there a “Yellow Wall” in the west country at one time? Is there even any “rubble” left? How about doing the same thing and finding out just how you need to change too?

  • Never mind Peter you can console yourself that when you have rebuilt the Red wall ( you helped destroy however unwittingly) you can have your Lexit. Until then we will all have to put up with the hard right Brexit you enabled. I sugguest you spend some time coming up with excuses why the deverstation of the North East is nothing to do with you, either that or start writing your apology letters. Perhaps the most misrable of all are the Lexiteers, the willing handmaidens of a hard right Brexit.

  • Sopwith Morley 26th Dec '19 - 2:26pm

    @ Frankie

    ” Bless Stopwith has doubt entered your world, are the sunlit uplands looking damp and drery. Certainly your lashing out appears to give the impression doubt has got hold. What will you do if things go wrong, blaming the EU and the Lib Dems won’t pay your pension, bring back the jobs or the relatives that have fled to greener pastures. It may not happen you cry, it may not Stopwith but like many a brave Brexiteer you are facing the reality you have no way to steer events but if bad things happen you have no defence. Guliblie indeed my dear Stopwith and desperatly praying nothing will change for with change comes responsiblity and having to explain to Mrs Stopwith why her dear boy and his beloved wife have left is probably going to be one of the worst days of your life. It might not happen you cry, true but if it does well you know who is responsible he is looking at you in the mirror.”

    Wow Frankie you really do have issues…

    https://outofthefog.website/top-100-trait-blog/2015/11/4/name-calling

  • Sopwith Morley 26th Dec '19 - 5:16pm

    @ Martin

    Whose gloating?

    All I am seeing is Europhiles still bleating on that they are right, wishing misery and disaster on the country as if the general election hadn’t confirmed the result of the 2016 referendum.

    What on earth are you going to do if all your predictions of doom don’t manifest themselves.

    There seems to be a lot of people staking their credibility and passionately hoping that everything will fall apart, yet the one example we have where the same identical predictions were made if we didn’t join the Euro, turned out to be the harbinger of a sustained period of growth for the British economy.

    What on earth is your party going to do if by 2024 the economy is thriving, I would , imagine you will do what you did after the Euro, which for a long period of time your party avoided discussing it like the plague, and you will struggle to find anyone other than the most EU zealots in the LibDems advocating that we should now join it.

  • Whose gloating, why you are Stopwith, why else would you be haunting this website, it is hardly a natural habit for someone of your beliefs. When however the likely consequences of your actions are pointed out, well you go all snowflake and try to deflect by well name calling and trying to point out the very faults you exhibit. Problem is Morley when bad things happen you’ll need to justify them to your kith and kin, but if they are not here Stopwith you will be talking to the mirror and making your own tea. A sad old age awaits you I fear and I don’t get the impression you cope well on your own.

    I’d look at Peter for your likely fate, all brave Lexiteer he was, now faced with the prospect of hard right Brexit he exhorts us to build the Yellow wall. For without a Yellow wall there is nothing but the horror of the hard right Brexit streaching on for decades, which isn’t in any way the fantasy Lexit he worked for. Poor Peter can you imagine Stopwith being faced with a hard right Brexit he so didn’t want but inadvertently worked so hard for, truely a man to be pitied. I suspect when jobs go, pensions suffer and EU immigrants leave you’ll be facing a Brexit you didn’t want either and you’ll shuffle into the ” too be pitied” queue.

  • Sopwith Morley
    The insults aren’t the only big clue. It’s the repetitive use of ye olde worlde “tis”, the fact that virtually every response starts with “bless” and the bizarre scenarios where he/she imagines a future where she/he has special insights into the lives of complete strangers encountered on the internet.

  • nvelope2003 26th Dec ’19 – 12:18pm……………..expats: in view of the recent Royal Mail share price the sale price was excessive. Not many people post letters and there are plenty of other parcel carrriers.
    A form of transport used by only 6% of those travelling to work, mostly to and from the London area, does not merit nationalisation and the recent chaos on the South Western Railway caused by Government interference shows how harmful this would be. We must stop living in the past, especially one viewed through rose tinted spectacles and find new ways of dealing with problems…………………………..

    One has to marvel at your convoluted logic…Within hours of the Royal Mail sell off the share price had risen by almost 40% and over the following few months rose to a peak of amost 90% above the issue price (profits largely reaped by large investors e,g. the hedge funds that had been given preferential treatment in the sell off)..The 2014 enquiry concluded, in reslpect of monies raised, that “On the basis of the performance of the share price to date, it appears that the taxpayer has missed out on significant value”. You also ignore the fat that prior to the sale the (coalition) Government took over the liabilities of the Royal Mail pension scheme, relieving buyers of its huge pensions deficit.

    As for your second paragraph????? Try the private NW trains or Eastern Rail for REALLY knowing how to ‘cock-up’ a railway service. You conveniently ignore the success of East Coast Rail (three franchises needing to be terminated early for financial reason) as a public company.

  • Sopwith Morley 27th Dec '19 - 12:48pm

    @Glenn 26th Dec ’19 – 10:19pm
    Sopwith Morley
    “The insults aren’t the only big clue. It’s the repetitive use of ye olde worlde “tis”, the fact that virtually every response starts with “bless” and the bizarre scenarios where he/she imagines a future where she/he has special insights into the lives of complete strangers encountered on the internet.”

    Merry Christmas Glenn

    I am too old and too ugly to care what he thinks or say’s, I only usually respond to him to correct one of his badly researched or clairvoyant ‘ facts’. Over the years I have been politically insulted by more accomplished people than him.

    We all occasionally have a pop at people in the spirit of banter, but I have always been intrigued at those who repeatedly corrupt somebodies name into some meaningless form that only they seem to understand. Having it confirmed that they are a sandwich short of a picnic explains everything, though perhaps we shouldn’t be too churlish, after all ’tis the season to be merry. 🙂

  • Sopwith Morley
    I stopped even attempting to engage with that person some time ago.

  • Roger Roberts 27th Dec '19 - 6:05pm

    First of all I’m so delighted to read Martin Thomas’ contribution as eloquently and well thought through as ever. Croeso’n ol Martin.
    The future of the UK is in the balance. Wales will hardly be happy as a tiny part of an England – Wales partnership – is that nearly 50 million England to 3 million Wales ? This could well be one result of Brexit.
    The short-sighted Tories want to take back control. My own major concern in Parliament has been the status of refugees. Working with the other E.U. countries made a huge if not always successful effort to tackle this refugee crisis but now will this government tell me how they intend, acting independently, to take back control of those millions displaced in Africa because of the consequences of climate change or those in Syria and neighbouring countries who suffer because of continued warfare.?

  • I am in agreement with David Starkey’s recent assessment that the current UK union has become unviable.

    My solution would be a federal structure based on the UK regions, as (formerly) used for EU parliament elections; The nine English regions, plus the other ‘home nations’.

    To be honest, I think it too late to retain Scotland, given the support for the SNP’s grievance against all things English. And although this will leave the UK smaller and weaker, it’s probably for the best: The frustration of the Scots at being governed ‘against their will’ by a population 20 times their size would be no more than the annoyance of the 5.5 million population of Yorkshire being overruled by 5.4 million in Scotland, as seems to be their ostensible demand (their real objective is for Ms Sturgeon to play a ‘Mini Merkel’ role, part-funded by residual UK payments for Oil, fishing and submarine bases).

    The UK wide parliament would only be for laws not devolved to a sub-region, and only those UK MP’s whose region did not control that devolved aspect would vote on the legislation, much as Scottish MP’s are limited now.

  • Yousuf Farah 28th Dec '19 - 2:33am

    @Antony_H
    It’s best to just let them go, all they do ( no matter what happens) is whinge and moan. Their success lies in their ability to fuel Scottish people’s innate Anglophobia, so we might as well dump them out of the UK, since we can’t stop them from voting for the SNP.

  • Sopwith Morley 28th Dec '19 - 8:08am

    @ Antony_H

    There are not 9 UK regions that is a fabrication of the EU.

    There are four countries including England. If you and the celtic whingers can’t grasp that simple fact then you should work towards Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland going their own.

    There is no future for your party beibng complicit with those who have oppressed the English political identity that 85% of the UK population are increasingly identifying as in preference to British.

    Once again like the EU the LibDem party is on the wrong bus, and going in the wrong direction as the English population, the population you need to elect your MP’s.

    Making one mistake by going against the flow of events is excusable, making repetitive mistakes by going against the flow of events is careless to the pioint of being dangerous for the future of your party.

    You are all demanding you come up with a USP for the party going forward, well why don’t you try the ‘Party of England’ and mean it. (Sorry I couldn’t resist make such a ridiculous joke, as if the party would ever be interested in what the English want)

  • Peter Martin 28th Dec '19 - 9:52am

    “we might as well dump them out of the UK, since we can’t stop them from voting for the SNP”

    If the Scottish people really want to go then they should be allowed to do so. But there is no question of wanting to “dump them out”. They can vote for whoever they like while they are in the UK – just as we all can.

    As always the question of independence, and the question of the choice of currency will be inseparable. Ireland wasted the first 60 years or so of its independence by still hanging on to the £ sterling. Or pegging its own currency to it. Big mistake! It briefly got it right by having its own floating currency, the punt, only to throw it all away again when it started to use someone else’s currency again. ie the euro.

    It sounds to me like the Scottish people want to make exactly the same big mistakes. Firstly by wanting to keep the pound. Secondly by adopting the euro! So they are wanting to swap the harsh monetarism of the UK government which allows them to run something like an 8% GDP budget deficit for the tender embrace of the German ordoliberals who will insist on less than half of that? They should ask the Greeks and Italians how that is working out for them.

    The Scottish government benefits from the Barnet formula. It may not be perfect as a way of ensuring a degree of fiscal equalisation, but it’s much better than anything the EU has.

    The choices for Scotland are to stay in the UK, join the EU, (neither option being for true independence) or to be a truly independent country with their own issued currency. There are plenty of countries, smaller than Scotland, which do perfectly well. Iceland pop 300k is the obvious example. New Zealand is another. The Kiwis have their own dollar. They don’t use the Aussie dollar or the US dollar. That’s because they want their own independence. And there’s nothing wrong with that!

  • If anyone is interested in what a Scot has to say, I’d point out that “the Scots” are not the SNP, and vice versa. The SNP had a very good result two weeks ago, but even then they did not win a majority of the vote here – and they never have. Yes they make a lot of noise, and I wish we were half as effective as they are at getting their message across, but the fact is that the majority of Scottish people consistently vote against them and against independence. They get a distorted number of seats because of the stupid electoral system, but in terms of public support they are a minority and always have been.
    It’s frustrating, to say the least, to read people on a LibDem site pushing SNP propaganda.

  • I don’t think Scottish nationalism is driven by resentment of England. It’s driven by love of Scotland being bolstered by devolved power. Why on earth would Scots who have there own sense of identity and a functioning parliament not conclude that being governed from Westminster was pointless? Rather too many people of a liberal persuasion seem to believe the idea of the nation state is so innately bad that people can’t possibly be attracted to it for positive reasons. So they underestimate the levels of pride, shared sense of history and solidarity driving national movements to gain self determination. I think similar thing is what really happened with the EU. The remain side kept doubling down on the idea that their opponents were bitter and oppressed and ignored the possibility that people actually quite like the country they live in and are not seething with primitive parochial resentment in hovels somewhere out in the sticks. They couldn’t create a strong EU identity, so ended up trying to chip away at the national one with endless moaning about little Englanders, populism, alleged exceptionalism and multiple enquiries to try to find a pathology for Leavers. Because of course, they can’t just not like the idea of the EU and not think nationalistic policies are beyond the pale.

  • Sopwith Morley 28th Dec '19 - 10:56am

    @ Peter Martin

    “But there is no question of wanting to “dump them out”. They can vote for whoever they like while they are in the UK – just as we all can.”

    Only partially true, when did England have the chance to vote on whether to stay or leave the UK, or even to be governed by it own people. We have had governace by

    If we want to be democratic about this we should have a referendum for all four countries to decide whether they should stay or go. If England decides to go it alone , then the other three will by definition will get the freedom from England they seemingly crave. Then with a hop and a skip they can prostrate themselves at Brussels door begging to be let in before the last votes are counted. Everybody is then happy, that is apart from the England haters.

  • “The Blues win by proselytising Brexit as change.” – That is the lie that needs to be exposed.

    If the Lib Dems don’t think of Brexit as a change one wonders why they spent so much effort trying to overthrow the decision.

  • Brexit means bring back control… to UK politicians, that is, and removing various safeguards individuals have against the State and big companies. Scotland can go independent but can it join the EU with that large open land border with England? Seems unlikely. The Greeks et al are never going to vote to leave the Euro because they know the replacement currency will be ruined in short order by their own politicians. Ironically, if the UK was in the Euro people would be more willing to vote for Labour or even the LibDems because they would know Euro rules stop them going on a spending spree.

  • Peter Martin 28th Dec '19 - 1:43pm

    @ Sopwith,

    I would say the onus is always on the smaller political unit to decide whether to stay. The UK was in that position relative to a much larger EU.

    So, for example, in an American context, it wouldn’t be justified for the USA to decide it didn’t want Alaska any longer. But it would be justified for Alaskans to vote to leave the USA if they wanted to.

    I personally don’t like the upsurge of English Nationalism in its present form. If England is playing Scotland or Wales at football and rugby then I’m happy to support England. But that’s as far as it goes. The Scottish, Welsh and many Irish people have always been our allies when it really matters. It would be a pity to end that relationship.

  • @Sopwith Morley
    “There are not 9 UK regions that is a fabrication of the EU.” Well, according to wikipedia, the UK regions for EU voting were set up by the UK, generally following the regions that had been created in the 1940s for statistical purposes, and had some limited administrative powers even prior to the 1970s.

    Anyway, they seem to arrange the country by some pretty natural groupings, with issues of course – I believe that Devon and Cornwall may have problems being lumped together. Some sub-division of England is an absolute necessity though; a federation that involves an ‘All England’ bloc would simply retain the exact same problems that the UK parliament has, even without Scotland. I dont like everything focussed on London any more than the Scots do.

    Also, I cant see why Wales… a region of only three-million odd population which has NEVER had an existence as an independent country (a series of tiny petty kingdoms warring between themselves as often as any ‘English invaders’) should have more significance politically than my own region, Yorkshire, with nearly twice it’s population.

    As for Northern Ireland. I feel no attachment to it… personally, I think if Scotland leaves they should be forced to take Northern Ireland with them, being responsible for two thirds of the “English” settlers there that are still so resented by the ‘real Irish’ even after 400-odd years (There’s a reason that the local dialect is called “Ulster Scots”).

  • Sopwith Morley 28th Dec '19 - 2:43pm

    @Antony_H

    “There are not 9 UK regions that is a fabrication of the EU.” Well, according to wikipedia, the UK regions for EU voting were set up by the UK, generally following the regions that had been created in the 1940s for statistical purposes, and had some limited administrative powers even prior to the 1970s.”

    “the UK regions for EU voting were set up by the UK,” For the purposes of EU administration for which we were never asked if we agreed with.

    “Anyway, they seem to arrange the country by some pretty natural groupings, with issues of course”

    It all depends which point in time you wish to start your clock. Perhaps we should go back to the Heptarchy where Northumbria ( North of the Humber) extended all points north (east and west of the Pennines) upto the industrial belt in Scotland in the east including Edinburgh, which might be considered a pretty natural grouping, as it existed for 300 years. There were also the other more credible natural groupings of the communities of the East Saxons, Kent, West Saxons, Mercia and the East Angles. Or perhaps we could just take a lesson from the eventual consolidation of the Heptarchy after hundreds of years into a single political entity of peoples with a similar outlook, and call it England.

  • The main use for for the most recent division of England into regions does not invalidate the appropriateness of them as parts of the country of England currently having a ‘shared identity’ and interests. Nor the need for the, purely administrative, break-up of England, for any feasible federal UK to work. You might see some kind of ‘common outlook’ for the whole of England. I don’t, for a LOT of issues.

    The divisions are based on current identities, however far back these might stem from. Although, if we are going to allow deep history… I quite like the country of ‘Elmet’ (basically just West Yorkshire), independent between the 5th century and Early 7th. Which is a 150 years or so longer than Wales has ever been…

  • Peter Martin 28th Dec '19 - 5:03pm

    “The heavy industry disappeared. In 1980, ten miles down the road at Shotton, nationalised British Steel axed 6,500 jobs, the largest redundancy in a single day in Western Europe. Brymbo closed in 1990 …..”

    OK but this all happened when we were well ensconced in the EU with no real suggestion we should leave. If it was happening now you’d blame it all on Brexit. There are similar stories in all the “red wall” constituencies.

    I was expecting that the Tories would get their Brexit through and we’d have maybe 2 years of Boris Johnson with no majority to do much real damage – then we’d have another election. We’d have had a good chance of winning that with Brexit off the agenda. But thanks to a supreme level of incompetence by the Remainers in Parliament, – I’d put Hilary Benn top of my stupid list, with Jo Swinson a close second – we are now faced with 5 years of BJ with as big a majority as he needs to do as he likes. And all for a 6 month delay in Brexit!

    Was it really worth it? I for one do not think so. Sometimes you have to accept that things don’t go your way and cut your losses. Otherwise you end up, as we’ve just seen, with even bigger losses!

  • Innocent Bystander 28th Dec '19 - 5:09pm

    All this is academic. The English will never allow their country to be broken up any more than the Scots would break up theirs. There will never be a Federal Britain. Superficial thinkers propose it again and again but all fails the first test.
    “Will the south east be expected to send the money they earn to bale out Yorkshire and Merseyside in some sort of English Barnett after aforementioned have boasted they can stand proud and independent?”
    Not a chance in hell.

  • Peter Martin 29th Dec '19 - 10:08am

    @ Innocent Bystander,

    “Will the south east be expected to send the money….Not a chance in hell.”

    I don’t know about that! It’s what happens already via the normal workings of the central government. Naturally it gets most revenue from the richer areas and it needs to spend more in the less affluent areas. It’s not socialism. I happens in the USA too. It happens in any common currency zone to an extent. Except in the eurozone, the extent is nowhere near what is required.

  • Innocent Bystander 29th Dec '19 - 10:40am

    The English bitterly resent the Barnett formula already. Any English region which proudly declares independence will be given it, by the South, and told to stand on their own two feet.
    Nationalism is an infectious disease. Human beings are very quick to revert to tribalism.

  • Sopwith Morley 29th Dec '19 - 10:49am

    “You might see some kind of ‘common outlook’ for the whole of England. I don’t, for a LOT of issues.”

    Obviously not, you are a LIbDem, you don’t believe in the concept of an England or English identity.

    Of course what you think personally is irrelevant, as there is an English identity , and through the undemocratic machinations of your party and the Lab/Con parties in imposing assymetric and unfair devolution, you have not just poked the sleeping English identity with a stick, you have shoved a stick of dynamite up its backside and lit the blue touch paper, although seemingly you haven’t as a party had the common sense to retire, preferring to hold the back up dynamite whilst standing next to the burning fuse.

    Without knowing what your LOT of issues are, I can probably hazard a guess that the issues you see as insurmountable, because England is too big against the other three countries to function as part of a federal system, don’t apply in the EU where the countries with the dominant economies and populations of the EU, namely France and Germany dominate all the decision making in the EU, and now more importantly for them the Eurozone. Germany ground Greece into the dirt with austerity because it could, and because the rest were impotent.

    How do you square that circle?

    I know!
    You want the EU with a passion, so it is acceptable for a large country with a large population to dominate.
    You hate the concept of England with a passion, so it is unacceptable for a large country with a large population to dominate.

    How do you square that outright hypocrisy, or do you just answer it by getting another stick of dynamite ready.?

  • @Sopwith Morley: ““You might see some kind of ‘common outlook’ for the whole of England. I don’t, for a LOT of issues.”

    Obviously not, you are a LIbDem, you don’t believe in the concept of an England or English identity.”

    Umm… not a libdem since 2011, sorry. It was the ‘Health and social care act’ that did it for me. That and coming onto this site and realizing how far the party had changed since the days of (90s) Ashdown and Kennedy. I’m pro UK independent nuclear deterrent, anti unrestricted immigration and think multiculturalism is just another name for factionalism. This December, for the first time ever, I went to the polling station and purposefully spoiled my ballot, because nobody was acceptable for me.

  • Don’t blame the Scots for the ‘…In 2015 Cameron’s political slogan wsas that a vote for Labour would allow the country to be governed by Scotland; the same message was to the fore in 2019..If you treat the Scots as, somehow, not ‘British’ then that’s how they’ll feel and act.
    This party has nothing to be proud of in this matter,,,Demanding another vote on Brexit “because the electorate were misled over what was promised’ whilst refusing to accept another vote from a nation who were told ‘they could only remain in the EU by refusing independence’ makes no sense.

  • William Fowler 29th Dec '19 - 12:52pm

    If Wales left the UK and joined the EU I would be very happy… being born Welsh but living in England would have the best of both worlds – English and Welsh (EU access) passports… alas there is no chance of Wales going “independent” – just being forced to speak Welsh would turn off ninety percent of the populace (and it would be necessary if the independents got control as they have already forced it into the system).

    Ireland and NI becoming one country is the most likely outcome and, again, ninety percent of the UK populace would not give a damn, not even if violence broke out again as would no longer be our problem.

    There are a lot of politicians and their minions who are going to be unemployed post Brexit and will be desperate to set up new structures in the UK so they have something to do and more tax payer’s dosh to loot…

  • Sopwith Morley 29th Dec '19 - 12:55pm

    @expats

    Why doesn’t Scotland make a Universal Declaration of Independence, as it is entitled to do under the International Court of Justice advisory opinion in 2010, which declared that unilateral declarations of independence were not illegal under international law.

    The United States did it, the Republic of Ireland did it, Rhodesia did it, what is stopping Scotland doing it, why does it need a Westminster approved referendum, if it thinks it has public support, and can thrive economically then go for it. Does anybody really think the government would send the army in to crush the rebellion and send Wee Krankie and the annoying leader of the SNP in the commons to Barlinnie for a stretch.

    Nothing stopping them, all they have to do is grow a pair, and be prepared to be political martyrs. Job Done!!

  • Sopwith Morley 29th Dec ’19 – 12:55pm….

    Oh, dear!

  • Richard Underhill 29th Dec '19 - 2:34pm

    expats 29th Dec ’19 – 12:35pm
    Salmond confirmed their worst fears in 2015 to the amusement of SNP members.
    A version of this Tory fear was used in 2019 by the outgoing MP in Tunbridge Wells (and probably others) that a vote for any other party would help put Jeremy Corbyn into Downing Street. That makes some sense for the Labour candidate, but they always lose and the opinion polls showed no likelihood that he would or could win.
    There was no SNP candidate in Tunbridge Wells, so what their leader was saying was irrelevant.
    There were two Independent candidates, both leavers, both lost their deposits.
    The Lib Dem candidate came second, but the Lib Dem leader had said there would be no deal with Jeremy Corbyn or Boris Johnson (both toxic) so either the Tory candidate was suggesting that she was telling the electorate an untruth, or he does not fully understand how the First Past the Post election system works. I am reluctant to use anatomical descriptions on LDV, but hopefully most readers will get the drift.
    He has, so far, withstood what the local Tory party can do to him, but there must be doubts about how generous Johnson-Cummings will be at the next reshuffle.
    Tory party members might be tempted to look for someone younger, next time “they have their methods”.

  • Expats
    It’s disingenuous to leave out the fact that Cameron was talking about giving power in Britain to the Scottish Nationalist Party, an organisation which is actively seeking break up the union and thus does not see itself as British in the first place. It wasn’t anti Scottish, but anti SNP.

  • Richard Underhill

    It was never really a credible statement that the Lib Dems would never agree C&S with either Labour or Conservative, though. The only situation in which that stance would have mattered is one where neither Con+DUP nor Lab+SNP+Misc was a majority, and therefore the Lib Dems were required for a successful confidence vote to at least abstain. Obviously we didn’t come close to that parliamentary outcome … but let’s say that we had, and the Lib Dem stance on coalitions/C&S was therefore relevant.

    The outcome of sticking to this stance – assuming, as was likely, that neither Johnson nor Corbyn would resign to please the whims of 10-20 MPs – would have been a new election held under the terms of the FTPA in early February, just after the UK had crashed out in a no-deal Brexit.

    You seem to be claiming that the Lib Dem MPs [1] would definitely have stuck to their pre-election promise to not work with anyone else, even at the cost of “no deal” Brexit. You might even be right. But I think most people – left or right – would have expected, in that specific situation, the Lib Dems to go “Ah. Okay. Corbyn it is, then.”

    [1] I’m aware that the Lib Dem constitution claims to make that a decision requiring a 2/3 conference majority. And the scrambling to arrange an emergency conference while the 14-day FTPA clock was ticking would have been an interesting end to the year. But those clauses have enough loopholes to get around it.

  • Peter Martin 30th Dec '19 - 11:21am

    @ Tobias Sedlmaier,

    “I suggest that in places like Wrexham, Doncaster, Hull and Sunderland people need to starting thinking about changing themselves…….”

    In a way they, or at least some of them, already have. They’ve changed from being socialists to Tories! It’s not a change I would particularly welcome though.

    But what are you trying to say? That the problems of Sunderland etc are due to the type of people living there? They just aren’t the right sort? Whereas the more prosperous areas of the country are inhabited by a much better class of people who have already “changed themselves”? If the people of Sunderland, Doncaster, Hull etc were more like the good people of Bath, Oxford, St Albans, Kingston or Twickenham then they’d mostly have the good sense to vote Lib Dem?

    Incidentally, do you notice anything about your English constituencies? I’d say they’d all be in the top 20% in terms of income and wealth. They hold large concentrations of AB social class voters. They are the new LibDem “heartlands”.

    I would suggest you’d need to come up with something different at the next election to change this. Telling people to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps isn’t going to win you their support.

  • Peter Martin 30th Dec '19 - 11:56am

    Just following on from my previous comment I would say that those who make these type of comments should take a serious look at themselves. Years ago when the North was struggling but there seemed to be easy money made elsewhere, Southern football supporters would often wave wads of notes at their Northern rivals and sing “We’ve got loads of money! A theme popularised, if you remember, by Harry Enfield.

    Even now Chelsea supporters will sing “Do they know it’s Christmas in Merseyside? …Feed the Scousers”. All good banter, for the most part, I’m sure. But underneath the humour lurks a serious problem.

    It’s a problem which was largely overlooked by the Lib Dems and Labour to their electoral cost. It shouldn’t be allowed to keep happening.

  • Airbus CEO, Guillaume Faury, has made another statement on their UK future…

    ‘Airbus ‘committed’ to UK despite earlier dire warnings over Brexit’ [January 2020]:
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2020/01/09/airbus-committed-uk-despite-earlier-dire-warnings-brexit/

    Airbus remains committed to its UK operations despite previous warnings over Brexit and could expand operations in the country, its chief executive has said.

    Guillaume Faury, who took the controls of pan-European plane-maker in April, said an annual address to industry figures and politicians that the business sees itself as a champion of national and regional prosperity in the UK.

    Airbus has 13,500 staff in country and supports 100,000 British jobs through supply chains, Mr Faury said.

    He added: “Airbus is committed to UK and committed to working with the new government to be a key partner to an ambitious industrial strategy, a strategy which supports an innovative and robust UK industrial base underpinned by R&D.

    “I’m convinced the UK will remain committed to Airbus.

    “We see great potential to improve and expand our operations in the UK this year.”

    Mr Faury’s words represent the latest step in a retreat by Airbus, which makes wings for all of its airliners in the UK and previously raised major concerns about Brexit.

  • Innocent Bystander 10th Jan '20 - 6:18pm

    Best take no notice of what CEOs say. They are not accountable to you but their shareholders.
    They would have no embarrassment, and you no redress, if they announced the opposite next week.

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