Honda Job Losses

Feb. 20th, 2019 07:30 am
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Posted by Tahir Maher

It is not easy to contemplate the loss of jobs and hardship to families from that or enormous outflow of capital because of an ideological stance by one party about leaving the EU. I was listening to the radio today and Terry Christian was saying that if bosses have to sack people after Brexit then they should start with Leavers

The manufacturer of Honda cars at Swindon is equivalent to 10% of all cars manufactured/assembled in the UK. In 2018 the UK made 1.5 million cars (down from 2016 when they produced 1.7 million). Similarly, investment in the car industry in 2013 was at £5.83 billion, and in 2018 it was £590 million.  Unfortunately, it is also estimated that another 3000 to 4000 jobs will also be lost through the supply chain.  Nissan is not going to make its electric model in Sunderland, 4,500 jobs are at risk with Land Rover, Ford has put hundreds of jobs at risk as has BMW.

The University of Sussex has estimated that a no deal Brexit will lead to an estimated 750,000 jobs and the areas that will be hit the hardest is London with 150,000 positions lost.

What is happening in other industrial areas. EY (Chartered Accountants) has been monitoring 222 companies, and 75 of them have stated there are looking to move their operations from the UK to Europe. The EY report stated that at least £800 billion ($1 Trillion) worth of assets is relocating out of the UK to Europe. Nomura (once it was said of them, that they are so big they can buy BT from petty cash) and Daiwa are looking to move to Germany. Lloyds of London confirmed that in May they had received regulatory approval to establish an insurance company in Brussels. Panasonic is moving its HQ to the Netherlands. Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that trade with Europe are looking to set up European outposts.

Depressingly, to name a few more companies looking to establish their operations in Europe: EasyJet,  Diageo (owners of Smirnoff, Guinness and Baileys), Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, Microsoft and Barclay’s (the bank is expanding operations in Ireland). In food retail, they are more concerned with logistics and exchange rates.

There is a widespread concern with access to Labour that will impact for example NHS, hospitability and construction industries. However, companies like Rio Tinto and BP will not be affected as their activities take place outside of the UK.

Is Terry Christian right?

The answer must be no. We have a divided country at the moment, and the last thing we want is more fuel to the fire. Whatever happens, we must come together – we have the Tories who seem to be looking at this through rose tinted glasses and the Labour party that is unable to persuade its MPs let alone the nation. The real fear going forward is not only job losses but the poor national political leadership from the Tories and Labour.

* Tahir Maher is the Wednesday editor and a member of the LDV editorial team

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Posted by TSE

Let us now praise obscure women. With the launch of the Independent Group, much attention has been given to the more visible members of the seven MPs. Chuka Umunna briefly stood to be leader of the Labour party. Chris Leslie was shadow Chancellor. Luciana Berger has had the most public of battles with anti-Semitic opponents. I suggest, however, that the most significant of the defecting MPs is the least commented-upon: Ann Coffey.

I hope that Ms Coffey will not be upset if I suggest that she is not particularly well-known. She has been in Parliament for over quarter of a century, rising no higher than Parliamentary Private Secretary in all that time. I expect that she will look back at her extensive efforts made towards the protection of children as her political work that she is proudest of.

What she is not, however, is a rentagob. Media outlets have not found it difficult to find Labour MPs who have been willing to say exactly what they think of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. Ms Coffey is not one of those. With Margaret Hodge, she jointly tabled the motion of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn in the wake of the original Brexit vote in 2016. Otherwise, she has largely kept her own counsel.

Until Monday, when she jumped ship.  Ms Coffey is 72. She will no doubt be standing down at the next election. She could easily have served out her time quietly, slipping away without fuss. She chose not to. Yes, in a sense it was cost-free. In another sense, however, in a party which still regards Ramsay MacDonald as its greatest villain, the price was enormous.

    She explained her decision to the Manchester Evening News in simple clear words. Of course antisemitism is an issue, of course the leadership is an issue and the line on Brexit. We are seeing a party that used to be a broad church in which there was a possibility to have discussions turned into a party in which any criticism of the leader or any different voice is responded to by being called a traitor. There comes a time when I have got to do something about it.

These words should terrify the Labour leadership. Instinctively paranoid, they will now be wondering how many other MPs are quietly weighing similar calculations. Some, such as Ian Murray, have not been quiet on the subject.

So far, however, the tone of the inner circle has been woefully misjudged. Jeremy Corbyn’s response, given above, was not far off “don’t let the door hit your arse on the way out”. His outriders on social media have been predictably less restrained, demanding loyalty pledges from those perceived to be unreliable, branding the group the Blair Rich Project and posting the lyrics from the Red Flag about cowards flinching and traitors sneering. The pièce de resistance was the news emerging the same day that Derek Hatton had been readmitted to the Labour party. Quite how any of this is supposed to reassure the doubters is wholly unclear.

The move has demonstrated the depth of the party divide. Tom Watson, the deputy leader, was notably much more sympathetic to those leaving, setting out his views in a soul-searching video. Yvette Cooper approvingly quoted his message in a tweet.

In a sense, it does not matter now whether other MPs also head for the exit. Whether dissident MPs remain onboard or jump into a lifeboat, they have to decide whether they can back Jeremy Corbyn as next Prime Minister. There now seems to be ample evidence that considerably more than these seven feel that they cannot.

This has two consequences, one for this Parliament and one for the next.  The consequence for this Parliament is that it looks extraordinarily hard for Jeremy Corbyn to become Prime Minister in any circumstances without a general election. Even if the DUP were to abandon the Conservatives for Labour, these new independents would presumably not back him in a vote of confidence (and it must now be very doubtful whether all of the MPs who remain in the Labour party would do so if it came to the crunch). And that assumes that the Lib Dems, the SNP, Plaid Cymru etc could all be corralled into supporting him: given that they have already said that they will not support another vote of no confidence in the government, that looks a brave assumption.

Theresa May has already indicated that she intends to step down before the next election. So his chances of becoming the next Prime Minister look slim.

Let’s assume, however, that somehow the next general election is fought between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn again. Stranger things have happened. Nothing in the polling currently suggests that Labour are going to get an overall majority. The single best chance Labour have at present to take power is in a hung Parliament.

With Labour’s leader so widely distrusted, he is going to struggle to put together a minority government with himself as Prime Minister, especially when he can place no reliance on his own Parliamentary party’s support of him. The price of Labour taking power might well be someone different as leader, just as the Lib Dems’ price for talking about a coalition with Labour in 2010 was Gordon Brown’s head. Many Labour MPs would be privately delighted.

All this points one way. It is much much harder than currently appreciated for Jeremy Corbyn to become next Prime Minister. Yet you can still lay him on Betfair at 7. (This looks like a clearcut bet to me if your market position is such that placing this bet would not be tying up money, and given Theresa May’s job security is arguably a clearcut bet anyway.) These seven MPs may well crash and burn as independents, but they may well have put the nail in the coffin of the ambitions that Jeremy Corbyn has to be Prime Minister.

Alastair Meeks


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Posted by Mark Valladares

  • Wales Woefully Unprepared for No-Deal Brexit
  • Corbyn turns his back on manufacturing sector
  • Honda decision symbolic of Brexit Britain
  • Lib Dems: Begum should face justice for her crimes in the UK

Wales Woefully Unprepared for No-Deal Brexit

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have criticised no-deal preparations in Wales as “woeful” following a report from the Wales Audit Office, which critcised the lack of preparations made in case Britain leaves the European Union without a deal or transition period.

The Wales Audit Office report stated, ‘Wales needs to do more to prepare for possible no-deal Brexit.’ despite the Welsh Government having begun “intensifying” their no-deal preparations as far back as December 2018.

Jane Dodds, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said:

Today’s report from the Welsh Auditor General highlights the lack of real preparations that have been undertaken in case we crash out of the EU with no deal. Whatever the UK and Welsh Governments say they’re doing to prepare for a no deal Brexit, it’s clearly not enough.

It is irresponsible of the UK Government to keep claiming that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ when that is clearly not the case. If we leave the EU with no deal it will be catastrophic for the Welsh economy, and for the UK. No-deal is simply too dangerous to be a valid option.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats are clear. The best deal is the one we already have with the EU. We will continue to fight to ensure no-deal is taken off the table and to give the people the final say, with the option to choose an Exit from Brexit and put an end to this mess.

Corbyn turns his back on manufacturing sector

Responding to the speech by Jeremy Corbyn to the MAKE UK conference Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran said:

In the last 48 hours, 7 of his MPs have left the party and 3500 more people look set to lose their jobs, at least in part down to Corbyn’s handling of Brexit.

If now is not the time for Corbyn to back his own party conference policy to back a People’s Vote on Brexit – then we should give up hope that he ever will.

Brexit is causing unbearable damage to our manufacturing sector and the communities that Jeremy Corbyn says he represents; it is time for him to stand with us and millions of others in calling for a People’s Vote with an option to stay in the EU.

Honda decision symbolic of Brexit Britain

Today in the House of Commons Liberal Democrat Chief Whip, Alistair Carmichael, questioned Greg Clark on the failure of his Industrial Strategy in relation to Honda’s decision to close its Swindon car plant.

In the chamber Mr Carmichael asked the Secretary of State:

This is not a one-off incident, it comes off the back of similar decisions from Nissan and Jaguar Land Rover.

This is the precisely the sort of thing the Secretary of State’s Industrial strategy was designed to address. Why is it he thinks that at the moment it isn’t working?

Following the exchange, Mr Carmichael said:

Honda’s decision to leave the UK is just the latest in a long line of businesses which are abandoning the UK because of Brexit. The Prime Minister sought personal assurances that Honda would keep producing cars in the UK, making this incredibly humiliating for the Prime Minister.

Honda’s decision casts doubt on the long term future of the automobile industry in the UK, blowing a massive hole in the middle of the Government’s flagship Industrial Strategy.

Lib Dems: Begum should face justice for her crimes in the UK

Responding to the reports from Shamima Begum’s family lawyer that she will lose her UK citizenship, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:

Membership of a terrorist group is a serious crime, as is encouraging or supporting terrorism. But Shamima Begum should face justice for those crimes in the UK.

It is not only hard to see Ms Begum and her baby as constituting a serious threat to national security, but it also seems a huge wasted opportunity. We can learn lessons as to why a young girl went to Syria in the first place; lessons which could improve Britain’s security by helping us prevent this happening again.

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Posted by Mark Pack

Umbrellas CC0 Public Domain

Writing for The Independent Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable set out a new model for how the Liberal Democrats, the Independent Group and indeed others might end up working together:

There is no question of a “new centrist party” or of the rebels being swallowed up in my party or the Lib Dems being swallowed up by them. I see the way forward as a collaborative arrangement, a confederation of groups who have a lot in common but wish to maintain their identity.

The concept of a political party is deeply embedded in the way in which politics is regulated in Britain.

It’s a default assumption of how political finance transparency works. So much so that despite not being a party the Independent Group has voluntarily signed up to follow similar rules as shown by its donation policy. Being a party makes things like access to the electoral register for fighting elections more straightforward, especially outside of immediate election time.

It also is central to how Parliament works. Or rather, people who agree to group together are, as that’s how the allocation of speaking slots in debates, time for Parliamentary motions, slots at PMQs and even access to offices and state funding all work.

As with local councils, however, there is some scope for flex. Just as the council group for party X sometimes includes a councillor who isn’t a member of that party, and so that larger group then gets to bank various organisational benefits, so in Parliament a grouping could include MPs of various parties and none and bank benefits from that.

Which makes for two key organisational points, touched on by Vince Cable’s comments.

First, being the third largest ‘party’ in the House of Commons brings significant benefits. That is currently the SNP, with its 35 MPs. The magic number, therefore, is 36 .

A combination therefore of 11 Lib Dem MPs, one currently whipless Lib Dem and 8 Independent Group MPs needs another 16 in some form. Or another way to think of it – there are major gains that come from a grouping which has two or more non-Lib Dem MPs in it for each Lib Dem. That is a good reason, perhaps, for Lib Dems to welcome the idea of some sort of relationship that is a little more distant than ‘hey, just join us’ as to get to 36 would result in the existing Lib Dem MPs being rather swamped in our own party. A very high wire act.

The second organisational point is ballot papers. They are more important than you might think.

As I highlighted when I wrote The easiest way to set up a new pro-European centrist political party:

The Liberal Democrats … bring many strengths that a new party would struggle to match. A still large local government base – much smaller than in the past yet still big enough to dwarf the Greens, for example. A large membership – once again, well ahead of the Greens. A decent fundraising machine, raising more money from private donors most quarters than Labour for several years now (it is trade union funding which propels Labour to its greater riches). And an established organisational framework, including campaign software, big data analysis and local volunteer teams across much of the country.

But the choice isn’t just new party or join the Lib Dems. For there is another route too:

There is, however, a solution that those looking to create a new party which sidesteps many of these issues. It’s to make use of a detail in election law created to help the Co-operative Party.

This allows a candidate to stand as the joint candidate of two different political parties, with the news that they are a joint candidate reproduced on the ballot paper.

That ballot paper point is crucial because it means that right at the point of voting, people know exactly which candidates have the backing of parties. No messing around with hoping people will look up preferred candidates on a tactical voting website. Instead you get the message right in front of every single voter at the point at which they vote.

Yet by backing candidates of existing parties you also get the benefits of their existing organisations and voter loyalty.

So, you create a new pro-European political party, but rather than try to make it in a fully functioning traditional party, you instead make it an umbrella coalition. Offer any candidate of any party the chance to get an official endorsement from the new party if they agree to a certain number of basic principles (European policy most obviously). If a candidate signs up, give them the right to use the logo and name on the ballot paper.

This idea of group acting as minor political party in order to win coverage on the ballot paper and hence increase its electoral leverage – both to get candidates to agree to its policies and then to win votes for those candidates who do – is something aficionados of American politics may recognise. It is what US political parties such as the Working Families Party do, with a few wrinkles due to the different electoral law their but the same underlying purpose and method.

There are, as I set out, some detailed wrinkles to get right.

The key point, however, is simply this: election law provides a powerful way for candidates to cooperate at election time without having all to be in the same political party .

An umbrella of the like-minded is a very plausible route to take.

(Though I’d still like far more of those like-minded to join the Lib Dems, pretty please, and for the party to create a registered support scheme to help welcome in even more.)

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Posted by Mike Smithson

But how seriously should we view his campaign?

I must admit that I cannot see either 76 year old Joe Biden or 77 Bernie winning the nomination in eighteen months time. The former has yet to decide while Bernie, who ran Hillary close at WH2016, announced today that he’s going for it.

He joins an increasingly crowded field of aspiring nominees and the race will be so unlike last time when it was really just down to two.

What he has got going for him is a substantial supporter base as well as the experience of fighting a prolonged and hard primary campaign. The question is whether he has the appeal of 2016 or has the party moved on?

This is how the New York Times assesses his chances:

“A sensation in 2016, Mr. Sanders is facing a far different electoral landscape this time around. Unlike his last bid for the White House, when he was the only liberal challenger to an establishment-backed front-runner, he will be contending with a crowded and diverse field of candidates, including popular Democrats like Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts who have adopted his populist mantle.

Victories in the 2018 midterm election by women, minorities and first-time candidates also suggest that many Democrats may prefer fresh energy, something that skeptics believe Mr. Sanders could struggle to deliver. A 77-year-old whose left-wing message has remained largely unchanged in his decades-long career, Mr. Sanders will also need to improve his support from black voters and quell the unease about his campaign’s treatment of women that has been disclosed in recent news accounts, and that has prompted two public apologies.”

The thing that all prospective nominees have to do is demonstrate that they can beat Trump who will fight a fierce and rough campaign against them. I’m not sure he fits the bill.

Current Betfair betting – Harris 25%, Biden 14%, Sanders 11%, O’Rourke 10%, Brown 7%, Klobuchar 7%, Warren 6%.

Mike Smithson


Elsewhere

Feb. 19th, 2019 04:51 pm
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Posted by Tim Worstall

There are, nevertheless, times when there is legitimate cause to restrict price discovery. I’m certainly overjoyed about one form of the Libor price fixing. Libor is a measure of what banks will lend to each other at. Back in the dark days of 2008 banks would not lend to each other. Libor was thus rather high, if it existed at all, but the banks continued to report numbers which were little out of line with the mundane and ordinary. A bit naughty perhaps, but surely preferable to the world’s reference interest rate being quoted as infinite.

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Posted by Patrick Maxwell

The news yesterday morning that there is to be a new breakaway group inside the House of Commons, the ‘Independent Group,’ is an historic moment. That may seem hyperbolic, but the anger and resentment displayed by those seven who have left the Labour Party was as damning as it was dramatic. It showed once again why Jeremy Corbyn is, and always has been, the wrong person to lead the Labour Party, let alone be Prime Minister. 

Talks of electoral alliances have of course led to discussions about how the UK’s main centrist party reacts. Echoes of the days of the SDP seem a bit early as the movement has not yet morphed into a political party yet, but if more join the group it could become both a serious challenge for Corbyn to overcome and also a friendly group for the Lib Dems to cooperate with in the Commons, with similar positions on Brexit. 

So far, there seem to be few plans to create another alliance. I think this may well be sensible. The new group define themselves as heavily on the social democratic wing of the spectrum, potentially in opposition to many of the more centrist-leaning principles of the Lib Dems. There is of course the danger that an alliance could damage the independence of our party, as going further to the the left would alienate many potential voters looking for a centrist alternative. It may well be a risk to hard to take for many inside the party, and the failure of the SDP to really change the political landscape still hangs in the mind. 

Vince Cable tweeted yesterday that he was ‘open’ to working with the new group and announcing that there will be discussion between the two sides over how to stop Brexit, which both the Lib Dems and the Independents see as a national disaster. We should welcome discussion over Parliamentary cooperation, but whether there is a public appetite from members and the wider electorate to see a merge remains to be seen. But any moves should definitely be treated with caution at this stage, I think.

The new Independent Group claims that it will offer a new way forward for British politics. That idea has always been represented by the Liberal Democrats from their inception and the ideas of an economically free-market and socially liberal base have been central to British politics for decades. The new group speak of wanting to appeal to the politically homeless. We must form a place inside our own party for such voters, around a centrist agenda.  Any talks of an alliance must not let our values be diluted for political gain, and progressive mergers should always be only agreed if there is enough support.

* Patrick Maxwell is a Liberal Democrat member and political blogger at www.gerrymander.blog and a commentator at bbench.co.uk.

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Posted by Mike Smithson


Betdata.io chart of movement on the Betfair exchange

Betting that it won’t happen this yet might now be value

We all remember the dramatic Commons no confidence motion last month that TMay won but only with the help of the DUP. Without their 10 votes her government would have gone down and we would now be coming to the end of a general election campaign. At the time Mr. Corbyn warned that they make other attempts.

Well since the departure of 7 of his MPs yesterday the LAB leader is in a less powerful position. This is from the Indy’s John Rentoul:

“..one consequence of today’s defections is that it makes an election unlikely even if the DUP abandons Theresa May over Brexit. Umunna and Chris Leslie were emphatic at the news conference that they would not contemplate helping to make Corbyn prime minister. That means that in a future vote of no confidence in May’s government, they would refuse to force an election – and remember that in last month’s confidence vote May would have lost by one if the DUP had voted against her..”

If Corbyn cannot force an early election on a confidence vote then the only way it can happen is if TMay uses the provision of the Fixed Term Parliament Act that allows an election to be called if two thirds of MPs vote for it. My view is that after getting her fingers burned badly at GE2017 she’ll be even more cautious about going early.

Mike Smithson


Well done Spuddo

Feb. 19th, 2019 01:49 pm
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Posted by Tim Worstall

13
The Brexit job losses are beginning to hit

I have a one word comment this morning.

Honda.

I could add I, and just about every other serious economist, was right. But the evidence will still be ignored.

And everyone at Honda is absolutely insistent that the decision has absolutely nothing at all to do with Brexit.

But then Spuddo does know more than anyone who actually has to take decisions, obviously.

The irrelevant Independent Group

Feb. 19th, 2019 01:34 pm
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Posted by chris

The Independent Group claims to value an “open, tolerant and respectful democratic society” and to oppose Brexit. It wills the ends, but not the means. It fails to see that Brexit and intolerance are the product of economic conditions, and is silent on what to do about those conditions. It looks therefore like a bunch of narcissists complaining that people are not like them whilst offering no real solutions.

As I’ve said many times, the key to understanding politics today is Ben Friedman’s book, The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth, published in 2005. He shows that economic growth begets liberal attitudes and that stagnation breeds intolerance. Subsequent events vindicate him perfectly. As Thiemo Fetzer has shown, pro-Brexit attitudes are “strongly and causally associated with an individual’s or an area’s exposure to austerity.” In a separate vein, Nick Crafts has blamed Brexit upon the banking crisis. 0_Labour-party-MPs-announcement

In this sense, economic stagnation is the cause of Brexit and of the turn away from the liberal values the IG claims to espouse. And this stagnation is still with us. Only today the ONS reported that productivity fell last year: this means it has risen only 0.2% a year since 2007 compared to 2.3% per year in the thirty years before then. Because of this, real wages are still below their pre-crisis peak.

The IG, however, is silent about this. Its statement (pdf) makes no mention of austerity or stagnation. In fact, pretty much its only substantive reference to the economy is to government’s “responsibility to ensure the sound stewardship of taxpayer’s money”, which doesn’t inspire hope of a firm rejection of austerity.

It claims that our politics is “broken”, but is blind to the fact that capitalism is broken too, and that this is a major cause – perhaps the major cause – of our broken politics. Phil says the IG has “learned nothing, nothing since 2015.” I’d question only the year here: it seems it has learned nothing since 2008.

Now, you might reply that it’s unreasonable to expect a new political grouping to have detailed policies. True enough. The problem with the IG, though, isn’t that it doesn’t have solutions: it’s that it doesn’t even see a problem. There’s a good debate to be had about how far capitalist stagnation can be fixed by fiscal and monetary policy alone, and how far it needs institutional change too. The IG shows no sign of entering this debate, though.

At least one of its members has form here. Last year Chris Leslie wrote a paper, Centre Ground (pdf), which also largely ignored the financial crisis. I criticized him then for failing to see that the crisis necessitated a rethinking of the relationship between the state and the private sector. He shows no sign of learning this lesson: his claim to believe in “evidence-based” policy-making is a sign of astounding lack of self-awareness.

Herein, for me, lies the great virtue of Corbyn (perhaps his only virtue). He at least sees the problem, that the economy is broken and that the Left needs new policies for new times – just as Blair saw this a generation ago. The IG, by contrast, is stuck in a 1990s timewarp, unaware that the world has changed.

Granted, Corbyn might be right in the same way that a stopped clock is sometimes right. For me, this is unimportant. What matters is that we have something like the right policy ideas for our changed economic times. I can’t say how much the IG will affect politics. But I do know that whilst they have no awareness of our economic problem, they will be an intellectual irrelevance.

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Posted by Mark Pack

As evidenced by this week’s news, there are some remarkably consistent things which happen when people switch party, regardless of who, where and when.

#1  The rule of principle

a. If an elected politician leaves your party, it’s a cynical move driven by fears over their future

b. If an elected politician joins your party, it’s a principled move, driven by fears over the future of our country

#2  The rule of vocabulary

a. If an elected politician leaves your party, it’s a defection

b. If an elected politician joins your party, it’s a switch

#3 The rule of seniority

a. If an elected politician leaves your party, they are no-one of importance any more

b. If an elected politician joins your party, they are a senior person

#4 The rule of by-elections

a. If an elected politician leaves your party, demand a by-election, claiming this is a principled view

b. If an elected politician joins your party, rebuff calls for a by-election, claiming this is a principled view

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Posted by David Gray

If recent news reports are to be believed, a consensus on how best to achieve a second referendum is coming together. Vote through Theresa May’s deal on the proviso that it is put to the people first, with Remain an option on the ballot paper. There are many hurdles to jump over before then, not least convincing a reluctant Labour leadership to whip its MPs into voting for it. In preparation for the possibility, those campaigning on the Remain side should be gearing up for it, and we must learnt the lessons of the 2016 vote.

Firstly, it is vital to accept that a lot of people are going to be very angry about this. That is understandable. Their right to protest peacefully about a second referendum must be respected, upheld and admired.

Secondly, remainers should be careful about the way in which they speak about their opponents, and I refer here to both the politicians and the electorate as a whole. No patronising, no tarring leavers with the same brush as Nigel Farage and no condescension. It doesn’t help; it doesn’t address the valid concerns that people have about the EU; more importantly, it is a guaranteed vote-winner for the leave campaign.

Thirdly, it can’t be a negative campaign based on the horrors of the outcome of a leave vote. Facts and forecasts are important and should play a role, but there is a positive emotional case to be made and it must be heard. I want to hear more from the nurses from other EU countries, without whom the NHS wouldn’t function. I want to see more about UK citizens who have gone to live in other countries and made a success of it. I want to hear about small businesses that have made enduring partnerships with other businesses on the European mainland. I want to hear stories of friendships and relationships that have come about as a result of our ability to travel the EU with no restrictions. Positive stories that extol the virtues of freedom of movement and of free trade with our neighbours are going to have a far wider impact than graphs that predict economic doom if we were to leave. However accurate these may be, they should be used as evidence to back up the emotional arguments, rather than the main thrust of the campaign. If you’ve been trapped in low paid work (or indeed no work at all) for many years and you feel that the economic odds are stacked against you, then being told by someone who is clearly very well-off that you shouldn’t vote to leave the EU because it will damage the economy is not going to ring true. If a healthy economy is seen as only benefitting those at the top, then a campaign based on scare tactics will not work with the vast majority of the electorate.

It is also vital to address the idea of cultural identity and sovereignty. My hunch is that if you were to ask a group of people from all walks of life about their idea of British culture, most would find it difficult to define. This is a problem. During the 2016 referendum, the line of reclaiming sovereignty was a powerful one that spoke to a lot of people. If we can successfully articulate a vision of how Britain (I suppose I am probably talking more specifically about England here) can retain a unique and individual identity whilst remaining a part of the EU, this would go a long way towards assuaging these fears. It needn’t be exclusive to others and it needn’t be placed in direct opposition to anyone else’s culture. Scottish identity thrives within the UK; Cornish identity thrives within England – there is no reason at all why English and British identity cannot thrive within the EU, while welcoming a whole array of other cultures into our communities. I am English, British, European and an adopted Brummie – there is no reason why I can’t celebrate all of these identities or why they can’t co-exist, but for whatever reason the progressive left is frequently rather squeamish on the issue.

If a second referendum is given the green light by Parliament, the Leave campaign writes itself. Politicians betrayed you; the elite are ignoring the will of the people – it will be a powerful and seductive argument. The Remain campaign will need to up its game.

* David Gray is a musician, actor and writer based in Birmingham

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Posted by Adrian Slade

In 1981 and 1982 the Alliance between the two parties, under the leadership of Roy Jenkins and David Steel, was seen to be the perfect answer to Mrs Thatcher’s highly controversial first government, then two years old. Polls suggested that the Alliance could win power ‘if there was an election tomorrow’ as the polls liked to say, but, as many will remember, there wasn’t an election tomorrow. Instead there was the Falklands War, which Mrs Thatcher led us all into and won, thereby turning round many public perceptions of her. The Tories won the 1983 election comfortably, in the process reducing the number of seats held by MPs who had switched to the SDP from 35 to 8.

There had been some leadership and policy difficulties in the Alliance during that first Thatcher term but until the Falklands war began parliamentary by-elections and council seats had continued to be won.

Leadership and policy differences became notably more acute, particularly on defence, after David Owen became leader of the SDP and these differences could not always be disguised. Although Labour under Neil Kinnock still did not perform particularly well in the 1987 election once again the Tories very comfortably won the election and the Alliance actually lost one of its 23 seats, despite taking 22.6% of the vote (down from 25.6% vote in 1983). It is worth noting that in both 1983 and 1987 the electoral system worked heavily against the third party achieving more seats, as it would again today in any similar circumstance.

In the weeks that followed, three important announcements were made by the Alliance parties;

  1. In the autumn both Alliance parties would be entering talks with a view to the possible merger of the Liberal and Social Democratic parties in a new party (name to be decided!)
  2. David Owen would not be joining those talks but would be leading a continuing Social Democrat breakaway (soon known by Liberals as ‘The Rump)’. He would be joined by two other SDP MPs, Tom Cartwright and Rosie Barnes (who had won the Greenwich by-election during the last Parliament with a mass of Liberal help.
  3. David Steel announced that he would not be standing in the election for leadership of the new party, which would be held after, and if, the merger talks were agreed.

In September 1987, following a year as President Elect and Liberal/SDP Alliance candidate in Wimbledon I became what was to turn out to be the last President of the Liberal Party and I was thrown immediately into the negotiations.

Those negotiations were never easy for either side. With David Owen and his rump taking their futile steps into an independent SDP world outside, only Bob Maclennan and Charles Kennedy remained as MPs of the original party founded by Roy Jenkins, Shirley Williams, Bill Rodgers and the reluctant David Owen. The SDP was by now even more heavily out-numbered in parliamentary and council seats by the Liberal Party.

Inevitably there was a different approach to internal party structure and policy-making and particularly strong feelings about the name. ‘Democrat’ was not a problem word but the addition of Social was as sacred to Bob Maclennan as ‘Liberal’ was to the Liberal Party. To achieve agreement a cumbersome compromise was reached (‘The Social and Liberal Democrats’ – abbreviated to ‘The Democrats’), thankfully to be ditched by the ‘new party’ within a year.

In those early months of the new party it was running at 6% in the opinion polls. Only after the Eastbourne by-election win in 1990 did politics begin to change again for the better.

Much of this re-cap will be very familiar to older Liberal Democrats, but possibly much less so to the current generation of parliamentary and constituency activists in the Labour, Green and Liberal Democrat parties, and even in sections of the Tory party today. where the claim to see ‘centrism’, ‘realignment’ or ‘parties working together’ is too easily seen as the ready route to better politics. Soggy centrism has never worked and the process of arriving at a realignment that actually achieves something is very far from easy, particularly without reform of the electoral system. Radical Liberalism should be seen as a combination of open mind a strong streak of social and racial tolerance and internationalism, firmly based on a serious commitment to a fairer social structure and better health and education for all, in a world in which the environment is of real benefit to all rather than a threat to our future.

That is what I believe the Liberal Democrats stand for, or should if they don’t, but, before the party even contemplates rushing into any new political arrangements, as result of Brexit or any other event, it would be as well to remember the difficulties of cross party negotiation, the thanks we never gave or got for all that hard work put in by Lib Dem MPs during the Coalition.

And to remember equally that it took nearly 10 years under the leadership of Paddy Ashdown before the party or the country saw any substantial increase in Liberal Democrat representation in Parliament as a result of merger.

An open party door to the right kind of new members is one thing but without electoral reform, restructuring of small groups into larger groups could be a depressing waste of time.

* Adrian Slade was President of the Liberal Party at the time of the merger with the SDP in 1988.

[syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

Posted by Charlie Murphy

It’s no secret that this year is going to be big for us Liberal Democrats, and the Young Liberals are no exception.

Last year, we provided thousands to young candidates across the country. We contributed to getting some fantastic young councillors elected, now serving their community.

In 2019 we’re doing the same with more support to elect young councillors. The aim is to give young people the community voice which they deserve and need.

This support can range from grants for literature to subsidised action days and more.

In 2018, we supported almost every candidate that applied. In almost every case, young candidates we supported saw increase in vote share. Many were successful in their bids, some came within less than 10 votes of taking their ward.

It’s clear to me that we need more young voices in local government. It’s clear that we can make that happen, and it’s imperative that we do.

Know a young candidate? Encourage them to apply to Young Liberals’ Young & Winning program and get in touch here.

We want to make this fund even bigger and support as many young candidates as possible. If you can help us support more young candidates and expand Young & Winning, you can donate here.

* Charlie Murphy is Campaigns Officer of the Young Liberals

We need another number here

Feb. 19th, 2019 10:05 am
[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

At half of England’s universities, fewer than 5% of students are classified as being from disadvantaged white backgrounds, according to a new report from the National Education Opportunities Network (Neon). This fact is bluntly stated as being a problem in the introduction of the report rather than the conclusion, but it is worth looking beyond these headline figures. What do reports like this really tell us?

Actually, the number tells us nothing at all without one more such number. What’s the portion of the age cohort that is disadvantaged white?

Guess what’s the one number we’re not told?

Tee Hee

Feb. 19th, 2019 09:34 am
[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

In response, a backlash against palm oil has developed: last April, the supermarket Iceland pledged that it would cut palm oil from all its own-brand foods by the end of 2018. In December, Norway banned imports for biofuel production.

But by the time awareness of palm oil’s impact had spread, it was so deeply embedded in the consumer economy that it now may be too late to remove it. (Tellingly, Iceland found it impossible to fulfill its 2018 pledge. Instead, the company ended up removing its branding from foods containing palm oil rather than removing palm oil from all of its branded foods.)

What lovely virtue signalling.

Well, so they should

Feb. 19th, 2019 09:15 am
[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

NatWest worker told mother all vegans should ‘be punched in the face’

And if you cant reveal your intimate concerns to your own mother than who can you?

NatWest has apologised after a mother was denied a loan during a phone call and after revealing she was a vegan told that they should all “be punched in the face”.

The bank said it had suspended a male call handler, who has worked at one of its southern call centres for between five and six years.

It has admitted the outburst took place and was “wholly inappropriate”.

The mother, who was applying for a loan of £400 for a nutrition course, said she was left shocked and upset when the man went on a rant about vegans during her loan application on January 23.

Ah, That is different. Assume it’s because his bird has stopped giving him steak…..

What fun

Feb. 19th, 2019 09:10 am
[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

Ashford University course work:

ECO 204 Week 5 Discussion 2 Public Choice and Rent Seeking (Ashford University)
Public Choice and Rent Seeking [WLOs: 4, 5] [CLOs: 1, 4, 6, 7]. 1st Post Due by Day 3. Prior to beginning work on this discussion, read Tim Worstall’s article, One Benefit of Nancy MacLean’s Democracy in Chains – Public Choice and Rent Seeking Popularised.
Based on the article’s information and Chapter 14 in your textbook, especially Sections 14.1 and 14.2, respond to the following:
• What is the public choice idea or theory?
• Explain what rent seeking is.
• How can you combine the ideas of public choice and rent seeking?

OK, Ashford, but still.

Being used in a syllabus I’ve not assigned myself….

matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)

British Liberal, house husband, school play leader and stepdad. Campaigner, atheistic feminist, amateur baker. Male.

Known to post items of interest on occasions. More likely to link to interesting stuff. Sometimes talks about stuff he's done. Occasionally posts recipes for good food. Planning to get married, at some point. Enjoying life in Yorkshire.

Likes comments. Especially likes links. Loves to know where people came from and what they were looking for. Mostly posts everything publicly. Sometimes doesn't. Hi.

Mat Bowles

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