Have the Liberal Democrats had it?

Shock news,  the answer I gave City AM was, ‘no’.

Here’s the longer version of my answer about what the future holds for the Liberal Democrats:

Millions of people voted for Britain to stay in the EU and still want that outcome.

Neither the Conservatives nor Labour – led by Jeremy Corbyn, a lifelong Eurosceptic who often voted with the likes of John Redwood against the EU – offer a political voice for these people.

So it’s not surprising that Liberal Democrat membership at record levels, and the party has also been steadily gaining council seats week after week (and gaining double the number of seats as Labour).

It is only dictators who say, “you had a vote once, now shut up and never have a say again”. So as the exact form of the Brexit deal is negotiated, there is a strong democratic case for giving the public, not politicians, the say on its terms.

It also means the Lib Dems have a distinctive position on the most important issue of not only today, but also tomorrow, and the days after – arguing for a UK that stays in the EU.

10 responses to “Have the Liberal Democrats had it?”

  1. You say “It is only dictators who say, “you had a vote once, now shut up and never have a say again”.”

    Then you must realise that should another referendum be called that we would then have to have another and yet another , followed by another and these will have to continue to occur with no end. This would be the result of your basis of argument and this would apply no matter what the outcome of previous referendums was.

    Now currently the country as a whole goes to the polls nationally every 5 years to elect a government, are you perhaps implying that we should also have referendums every 5 years just to see if we as a nation have changed our minds? If not then the question is ‘Why not?’. Or are you arguing that these repeat referendums should be held sooner than on this time scale (5 years)? If so then when, should it be every 2 years for example? If this is what you envisage then why can we not change our minds on who forms the Government at similar time periods?

    Or is it just that you are a Remainer (who lost the national vote whose side threatened repeatedly the British people with every kind of disaster as a consequence should the British people have the audacity to vote to leave the EU) are just after sidestepping the democratic will of the people. Now you are after another referendum, that should the nation allow such will force us into a never ending series of referendums. Did you not understand the message that was oft broadcast that the referendum of June 23rd 2016 was going to be the sole and only referendum on the subject? The people, the electorate, and especially those that cast their votes understood this was a ‘one off referendum’.

    • In that case, William, why did/do you not accept the result of the referendum in 1975 that voted overwhelmingly (unlike the June 2016 result) to remain in what was then the EEC? and please don’t reply with all that guff about ‘what we joined then was a common market, not a political union’ etc etc.

      It just shows the folly of submitting complex issues to the bluntness of a binary yes/no question.

      What next: a referendum on the UK’s membership of NATO or the UN, perhaps?

    • The Tories opened Pandora’s box with the 2016 referendum. There was a ‘once and for all’ referendum in 1975 which very clearly indicated we should stay in, and was based on the evidence of a couple of years of actual membership. (Heath took us into the EEC with just a Parliamentay mandate). The 2016 result was very marginal and predicated on promises which are proving to be false and without foundation. Given the evidence it’s sensible to consider if it is wise, and if the people still want, to continue down this road.

  2. The result was not a victory of either side. It only showed that the nation was divided roughly in half. Even if there was another referendum and remain won by the same amount if would still not be a decision. If say 67% versus 33% was the result then one side can claim victory. The Tory government chose to interpret as a green light because they have around 60 Euro-sceptic MP’s and UKIP was eating their vote base. In addition the question of in or out was too simple as implications are huge. Labour under Corbyn and his momentum group are fellow travellers with the Eurosceptics. I would like to see the lIbDems take real leadership in supporting the EU/ European project and not the rather weak voice to date. I don’t like the exit from Brexit one liner it is too weak.

  3. The fiasco of Brexit just goes to demonstrate the benefits of representative democracy, and that referendums should either be unconstitutional, as in Germany, or restricted to issues on which it is relatively easy to reverse a straightforward binary decision. The only justification for a second referendum is that the first provided a degree of legitimacy to the concept.

  4. The analysis by William Roy is entirely specious and inaccurate.

    Of course we should have trusted referenda on strategic matters such as membership of the most important trading bloc in the world, the greatest political initiative in history – more so than the Roman or British Empire because it is based on peace.

    The message you say was broadcast that the referendum was ‘one off’ was not part of the law governing referenda which can be qualifief at any time by raiding or riding votes.

    That soon was a desperate attempt by the Tories to such their fracture party together and by the Labour Eurosceptics to open a platform for retrogressive socialist policies without having to negotiate with the liberal European Movement – with Corbyn hiding behind the skirts of Hoey and Stuart !!

    The leave campaigns were fraudulent using lies, propaganda, indoctrination and techniques of hypnosis. Many people who voted leave were duped, fooled and suckered.

    The only redress to the criminal fait accompli is a public enquiry, culpability for the perpetrators and a welding referendum on the negotiations with fair campaigning rules, requirement for a supermajority and an option to remain.

  5. At one time the people of Northern Ireland were allowed to have a poll on the border issue every 10 years if it was requested under certain conditions. However, in the case of the EU any new referendum would be about the terms for leaving not the principle itself so what is the problem, apart from the likelihood that it would confirm the original vote as apparently most voters are not interested in whether they will be better off or worse off but just want to leave the EU whatever the terms and conditions would be ? This is a nation which endured a devastating war which bankrupted a once prosperous country in order to be free of foreign rule, although it was a Pyrrhic victory as we became a satellite of the US (like Poland became a satellite of the USSR) which was partially reduced when we joined the EU where at least we have a say in the policies of that body whereas when we leave we will be at the mercy of the US without any say in what they do but apparently that is OK for Messrs Fox, Davis, Johnson, Rees-Mogg etc

  6. 1. Referenda should be advisory or require a 2/3 majority.
    2. The Brexit one was not. Furthermore, it was not defined properly. Moreover we now know it was a manipulated result due to cheating.
    3. When circumstances change, MPs should be free to change and to ask for further advice, if wish.

  7. Referanda can often throw up false results. Which is why 60% is often a benchmark for any change. A protest vote against the establishment is a factor in any election but when the establishment/elite lines up for a status quo voters become suspicious and the protest vote grows (different when the establishment/elite proposes changes – voters have more confidence in them then as they are seen doing what they are meant to do, i.e. leading the people).
    The only country that has had referenda (since the end of the WWII) built into the political system is Switzerland. There, all substantial changes have to be confirmed by a referendum. It provides for a clumsy system moving at slow pace. (Women didn’t have a vote until the 70s.) But it has made the Swiss experts in polling and avoiding false results. The team at the University of Lausanne is used by governments all over the world. Preparation for a vote is everything in a democracy. How one asks a question depends on how the vote will go. There is always a bias towards YES. An opportunity to voice a protest through a vote must be reduced to a minimum possible. Etc.. etc..
    It is not what we do, but how we do what we do that makes all the difference between success and failure. The referendum was done badly and the consequences will be dire for the divided country.

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