Sunday, 19 June 2016

We need Britiah liberalism now more than ever

On 8 May 2015 Nick Clegg made a powerful speech resigning his leadership of the Liberal Democrats.  He spoke of how we need British liberalism now more than ever.  I believe the events of the last days of this EU referendum campaign show that to be true.  I'm speaking of a liberalism that goes across several parties and across people of none, but the Liberal Democrats, of which I am a member, are a key part of bringing that to the fore.  A key passage of that speech was particularly relevant.  I thought I would paraphrase the argument in the context of today.

Liberalism is not faring well against the politics of fear.  Years of hardship after the recession and insecurities in the face of globalisation have led to people reaching out for new certainties.  The politics of identity, of nationalism, of us versus them are on the rise.  It is to be hoped that our leaders realise that this brings us to a point where grievance and fear threaten to combine to drive different communities apart. We must be aware of the potentially disastrous consequences to our way of life and the threat to the integrity of our United Kingdom, if we continue to appeal to grievance rather than generosity and fear rather than hope. It's no exaggeration to say that in the absence of strong and statesmanlike leadership, Britain's place in Europe and the world, and the continued existence of our United Kingdom itself is in jeopardy. And the cruelest irony is that it is exactly at this time that British liberalism, that noble tradition that believes we are stronger together and weaker apart, is more needed now than ever before. There is no path to a fairer, greener, freer Britain  without British liberalism showing the way.

You can view the full speech here:

EU - let's remember the good things too

Over the last few of days I have spoken to a couple of people who, while previously sitting on the fence, have decided to vote for Britain to remain in the EU.  In each case they have expressed a general cynicism about Europe but have decided on balance it is better for Britain to be In rather than Out, principally because of the economic case.

I think we can do better than that.  I think it's important to remember the good things about the EU too.

I think it's important to remember good things like: being a key part of the permanent structure of peace post WW2; cross border cooperation on crime and climate change; scientific and cultural exchange; and technological and business openess - in addition to the single market.

There is an important place for a close knit supra-national community of nations - particularly in Europe with our history.