Europe is no longer the key issue in politics that it was
Between September and December 12 last year, I and a dedicated group of Lib Dem canvassers knocked on every door of the four Harpenden wards, not once but twice as we pushed to unseat Bim Afolami, our careerist, lacklustre Tory MP.
Harpenden and Hitchin voted 61% in favour of remaining in the EU, so many of the residents we spoke with were Lib Dems or supported EU membership. As the weeks went by, it became obvious that the Revoke policy was exceedingly unpopular.
However, our doorstep conversations were much more nuanced than just Article 50 – activists, supporters and EU adherents of all stripes realised that Europe, as a single issue, was no longer at the heart of this country’s travails. What ailed, and ails it, is the taking over of British politics by a party that promotes an anti-immigrant, go-it-alone type of patriotism, that lies and puts loyalty to its incompetent leader above all else.
Your newspaper has highlighted recent polls suggesting that only 2% of respondents believe the European issue to be their main concern. Thus Ed Davey does speak for the majority of this country when he says that rejoining the EU should not be the central plank of Lib Dem party policy.
Please do not forsake the Liberal Democrat party. Never has it been more important than now to hold aloft the beacons of rationality and openness. All the opposition parties should be working together to remove an administration that pours scorn on our time-honoured institutions of an impartial judiciary and the rule of law and acts with no compunction about deceiving us all.
Dr Allison F Wren
Caroline Voaden (“Ed is right. This is not the time to commit to Rejoin”, TNE #210) is correct that those who supported Remain should not get into arguments publicly with each other. She is wrong however in her implication that we should leave it all to the established parties now, for they have let us down twice already.
When the 2017 general election was announced the relief amongst the parties was palpable – back to party politics as usual. That went well, didn’t it? Then in 2019 the leaders of the Labour, Lib Dems, and SNP actively conspired to give Boris Johnson the election he needed – treachery to the pro-EU cause.
No, Caroline, what pro-EU supporters must do is both join a political party of their choice and a ‘For Europe’ grouping within it, and join a single-issue organisation resolutely supporting Rejoin. We must not be let down again.
I sympathise with Tim Walker, (“The party has sold off its stock as it is about to soar”, TNE #210), who is leaving the Lib Dems following Ed Davey’s announcement that rejoining the EU would be “for the birds”. Many people, including me, joined the party because of its firm commitment to opposing the epic wrongdoing of Brexit.
Any doubt about that commitment was dispelled by their bold Revoke policy at the last election.
Although it is fashionable to criticise this now, we must be careful not to be wise with hindsight, for had the nation been sensible enough by some miracle to vote for its implementation, expressing their majority Remain convictions in a democratic election, Jo Swinson would have been a heroine.
Just think about it for a moment. At a stroke we could have cancelled three years of trauma and anguish, retaining all our opt-outs and privileges with the EU, no questions asked. Never was such a golden opportunity tossed so carelessly aside.
Davey, Starmer and others seem to have taken the failed Revoke policy too much to heart, fearing the public is too battle-weary to want to fight their way back to proper membership.
Such timidity, self-doubt and diffidence, such deference to Euroscepticism and half-hearted, apologetic support for the ideals and values of the EU, have been the Remain movement’s Achilles heel from the beginning. Those who judge Brexit harmful have a duty to continue to openly disagree with it, rather than claiming to be reconciled with it (or staying silent about it).
I hope the Lib Dems will revise their position. We need a party with the guts to say what it believes in.
I am keeping my Lib Dem membership and I urge others to do so.
Only by experiencing life outside the EU will the people realise what they have lost. We will also see the kind of electoral pact necessary to defeat the Tories.
PR will be brought in and never again will the country have to suffer an 80-seat Tory majority government led by incompetent ideologues.
You may also want to watch:
One point regarding Tim Walker’s assertion that he joined the Lib Dems “as it was the only party in England that was unequivocally opposed to Brexit.”
I think you’ll find the Green Party was unequivocally opposed to Brexit.
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