Vince Cable has launched the European Parliament election manifesto for the Liberal Democrats, complete with a choice of two front pages: “Stop Brexit” or “Bollocks to Brexit”.
It’s a well-timed launch, coming on the same day as news of the party’s best poll ratings with YouGov for six years.
Alas, I’m no longer a member of the Federal Policy Committee (FPC) and so didn’t get the chance to take part in the debate about whether or not bollocks is a suitable word for the front page of a manifesto…
Or as The Guardian put it:
Vince Cable has staked the Liberal Democrats’ claim to be the leading remain party in the European elections, as he unveiled a forthright new slogan for the campaign: “Bollocks to Brexit.”
The phrase, previously plastered on stickers and T-shirts by ardent remain supporters, is now emblazoned across the Lib Dem manifesto for the 23 May poll – though more squeamish candidates will have the option of one that just says “Stop Brexit”.
Buoyed by strong results in last week’s local council elections, and unencumbered by the nuance of Labour’s position, Cable insisted the Lib Dems were the best-equipped party to challenge the message of Nigel Farage.
The key message in the Liberal Democrat European manifesto is very clear and direct. It is also, wisely, not just about stopping Brexit but also about what sort of future stopping Brexit will enable:
Every vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote to stop Brexit and stay in the European Union. We passionately believe that Britain is stronger as part of the European Union and we have led the fight to give the people the final say on the Brexit deal.
The Liberal Democrats’ vision for Britain is a country that has remained at the heart of a dynamic European Union. A country where everyone can afford somewhere to live, in a safe, clean and friendly neighbourhood. A country where high-quality health and social care, good-quality childcare, lifelong education, reliable transport and clean air are all part of a contract between government and citizens. A country with a new politics – taking on entrenched power and privilege and delivering a fair deal for everyone.
This position is in stark contrast to that of Labour whose leader, Jeremy Corbyn, today repeated his support for Brexit – emphasising that it was Labour’s official preferred outcome:
An attitude that matches, of course, Jeremy Corbyn’s own long-standing record of Euroscepticism, including often voting with right-wing Conservative Eurosceptics. Not to mention John McDonnell’s own support for Brexit.
By contrast, Vince Cable said of the Liberal Democrat manifesto:
Only as members of the EU can we take the big steps we need on climate change, protect consumers and build a strong economy. Our manifesto sets out a clear and positive vision for the UK within the EU, and we can achieve it by stopping Brexit.
The Liberal Democrats, with over 100,000 members and 2,500 councillors across the country, are the strongest Remain voice going into the European Elections. Every Liberal Democrat vote is a vote to stop Brexit.
Words to please a pro-European like myself:
Here’s the Lib Dem European manifesto in full.