2020 Liberal Vision

From Iain Donaldson, a Manchester Liberal Democrat Learn more

Political Perspective – The Battle for Britain

by Iain Donaldson on 13 July, 2016

On 23rd June 2016 the British People voted against the advice of:

  • Every Living Prime Minister
  • Almost every economic expert
  • Almost every scientific expert
  • Almost every historian
  • Almost every industrialist
  • Almost every financier
  • Almost every trades union
  • And almost every foreign leader who isn’t seeking the demise of the UK and Western society

The response of the “Remainers”, thus far, has been disbelief in the gullibility of the British People to follow the calls of lunatics to take our country off the world stage and into an unstable, unsafe wilderness at the edges of the political world.  We despair that our country is now in the hands of people we don’t relate to and can’t understand, which is interesting because that is exactly the complaint that the ‘Leavers’ have had for many years.

Despite every opinion poll and all the canvassing and table-top stalls feeding back that we were losing the debate, the powers that be in their ivory towers in Westminster continued to pump out the same drivel (and this is not 2020 hindsight if you read my blog) that failed to address the fundamental question being asked by the leavers: “Can we please have control of our lives back?”.

It is easy to point at the pied pipers that were Farage, Johnson and Gove and Stewart, but these people are not the authors of this tragedy, they are the players.  They represent not cure to the problem of reclaiming our democracy, but rather are a symptom of the political impotence the British people feel.  The simple truth is that with a half decent leader UKIP could have stomped to victory in a General Election right now,  it remains to be seen whether with Farage gone that leader will yet emerge.

In the meantime the three parties that have been central to our politics for Generations have completely failed to learn the lessons of these past few weeks.

The Conservative response to a cry for greater democracy and to take back our country is to impose a Prime Minister who has not faced election for that post.  Mrs May claims she wants to represent the poor and the alienated, but she will be doing so not as a representative of the people but as a patron, imposed from on high to do good deeds.  That is not what the people are calling for, they are calling for greater and more open democracy, not less.

The Labour response to a cry for greater democracy and to take back our country is to depose a Party Leader that its members have elected in their droves, on the say so of the very elite that the nation is rebelling against.  Labour is not my party, but if it were I would be furious with the Oxbridge elite that is now rallying to undermine the will of the ordinary members.   They are back to that idea that the country should be run by a munificent elite managing our nation “for the benefit of the workers”.  The people are crying out for something very different, they want government by the people for the people.

So let me turn then to the Liberal Democrats, and the big difference in how they do things.  THERE IS NONE!

There, I said it.  For nearly 30 years this party has promoted itself as being the only party in which the members make our policy.  It’s total bunkum; yes policy is determined by conference and now on the basis of One Member One Vote, but the policy we discuss is decided by committees half of which are elected by the members and the other half of which are appointed by the great and the good.

This party that believes in Regional Devolution in England is run by a London elite that is blocking any attempt for Regional Parties to establish themselves as autonomous policy making bodies.  What the Liberal Democrats practice is far from what they preach.

The Brexit vote was about much more than leaving the European Union, it was a cry to renew our democracy.  Since King John signed the Magna Carter, the Law of Precedence, the provisions of Oxford, the Supremacy of Parliament, Universal Suffrage, the right to Freedom of Association, the right of Assembly, the right to strike, time and again the changes to extend our fundamental freedoms have come not in considered reform but in rebellion.

Today that rebellion has taken the form of the Brexit vote and regardless of whether we are in the 52% or the 48% the reality is that that is the call that must now be answered.

An unelected Prime Minster, anointed by a party which secured less than 37% of the popular vote is not going to change anything, it is a continuation of the rotten system that got us here in the first place.  What is needed is radical change which must include:

  • Direct election of the Prime Minister.
  • Proportional Representation in Multi-Member seats for our MP’s.
  • A directly elected House of Lords.
  • The right to recall MP’s for wrongdoing.
  • A written Constitution.

This must be followed by an immediate Prime Ministerial election, within two years of that an Election of the new House of Lords and within two years of that the election of a new House of Commons.

I would love to be able to say that only the Liberal Democrats can deliver on this reform, but quite frankly they can and will not alone.  Every candidate must be asked if they will vote to implement these changes in the first term of a new parliament and if they fail to do so they must be held to account.