So long Liberal Leave
I have done many things in politics but nothing has been better than chairing Liberal Leave. In some ways I am happy that I took over the group after the EU referendum because I was able to say what I wanted about Brexit. During the referendum we couldn’t exactly attack Vote Leave positions, although I often did so at debates. On the other hand Liberal Leave had reached it’s peak and I was there to make sure it didn’t decline. While there isn’t the referendum buzz on the Facebook and Twitter pages we still have the same number of followers/likes. I suppose what I want to tell in this post is the story of Liberal Leave and how it came to be.
Lets start off with how the group started. I joined the team while the group was being formed. We had an ex-MP called Paul Keetch, Mark Pursey an ex councillor who was on the national executive of Young Liberals, two councillors, Luis Lopez who was a “refugee from Colombia” and Anne Cremin who if I remember correctly ran our Twitter accounts.
We did a board meeting when setting up the group and I was linked in via Skype to the Vote Leave HQ in Westminster Tower (London). The first decision was whether to be affiliated with Vote Leave or to have it as a separate group. We decided to stay with a larger umbrella although this came at a cost, we couldn’t really contradict them as a wing of the organisation. The second thing was to decide who would lead the group. With an ex-MP in the wings that was an easy choice.
The launch of Liberal Leave was done as a stall with a few Liberal Leave members at the Lib Dem conference. Supposedly the party elders weren’t too pleased but there were endorsements behind bated breath. Paul Keetch our ex-MP was there and tried to get support from MP’s but that was difficult because the party was so pro-EU.
I campaigned in my own way doing a few EU debates and went out canvassing (normally in a Liberal Leave top). In truth I felt my presence was more valuable in Cambridge which was very Lib Dem so went there a lot.
On the night of the referendum I was shattered. As the results came through I started to focus on the future but sadly a lot of the team decided to leave the group. Normally people try to say they joined the Tories but to my knowledge none of them have, I think that they felt unwelcome in the Lib Dems if I am honest. That was the sad situation we are in, the Lib Dems are turning single issue and there are some who feel those who don’t agree with them that they should leave the party. That and the fact the referendum showed the other issues that need to be dealt with ended in New Liberals.
New Liberals is different. It’s neutral on the EU letting members say what they want. It is the idea that we should bring together the best of the right and left into one group. I feel that this is found in Scandinavia/the Nordic countries. A comprehensive welfare state and high taxes to pay for them please the left while the rest of the economy is more free to do what it wants with less regulation. We establish the boundary between government and the market based on which deals with the area best. Our economic model is a mix of Ordoliberalism and the Nordic model while our state is modelled on Nordic ideas. The argument I often come across is that for some reason we can’t copy this model because these countries are so different but I have to ask a question, what has that got to with it? High taxes don’t take being a Nordic country, good public services don’t take being a Nordic country, low regulation doesn't either. People will accept higher taxes is 1) they get better services as a result 2) people can find out where their taxes are being spent and 3) they understand to improve public services enough there isn’t another way of doing it, debt is not a great idea so there we are.
So there it is, the story of Liberal Leave.