The biggest attack on parliamentary democracy since Charles I!!

The Tories think that reproducing this picture will win them votes. Actually I think it will win votes for the Parties whose leaders came together, settled their differences and agreed to work together in a common cause.

Nothing should surprise us about the state of democracy in our Country today but yesterday’s news of the prorogation of Parliament startled all of us because it has basically reduced us to the level of a banana republic.

When Johnson and the entirely inappropriately name James Cleverly tell us that this is business as usual, they are, quite frankly lying.  There is indeed a short prorogation of Parliament between the end of one sessions business and the start of the next which is introduced by the Queen’s Speech. But that is usually a matter of days not weeks.

The revised timetable, if it is allowed to go through, will simply leave too little Parliamentary time to fully discuss the results, for good or ill, of Johnson’s discussions with EU. Remember he has famously claimed here that Angela Merkel has given him and therefore Parliament 31 days in which to make suggestions about the Withdrawal agreement and the absolutely crucial Irish Border back stop. There is no opportunity now to consider the options available as a result of these talks.

The Tory response to this has largely been muted. Lord Heseltine has robustly criticised. Ruth Davidson the Tory Leader in Scotland has resigned a former Cabinet Member George Young has resigned from the Tory whip in the Lords. Others are either waiting and seeing or doing things in private which we will ultimately hear about.

The national response from the opposition parties has been the best that I can recall ever on this or any other issue. The Leaders of the Labour, Green, Lib Dem, PC, Change and SNP MPs got together to try and hammer out a way forward.

There are clear differences of opinion between the Parties about the best way forward but they sought to find a compromise to ensure that Tory plans would be defeated. The first priority is to prevent a no-deal exit. This is not an easy task with a number of Labour MPs needing convincing.

 Other ways include a Vote of No Confidence. I think it has now dawned on Labour nationally that the only way to win a VONC would be to have a respected elder statesperson or woman was a caretaker or interim PM. There simply is not enough support for a Corbyn led caretaker government. The Tories that are needed in the camp just will not vote for him never mind the former Labour MPs who sit as Change UK or as Independents.

As you can see I turned up to a Trades Council event because I believed it is important for us to work together to defend democracy but left after speaker after speaker attacked the Lib Dems and called for a General Strike

Locally the debate is nowhere near as mature. I turned up at very short notice to a rally at St George’s Hall organised by the Wirral Trades Council. I listened respectfully to the first 4 speakers even though one called for a General Strike. I didn’t agree with everything that they said but believed that it was important to emphasise our similarities and not our differences.

When I spoke, I made clear that it was unusual for a Lib Dem to turn up at a Trades Council but I came because defending democracy was important to all of us. I said that since Magna Carta destroyed the fullness of the Kings powers 800 years ago this was the most serious attack on Parliament since Charles I. I suggested that the way to fight back involved not drinking in a Wetherspoons or buying a Dyson because it is the profits from companies such as these that is funding the Tories and the pro-Brexit movement.

Then Cllr O’Byrne spoke. What she said was ill-informed and counterproductive. She blamed the Lib Dems and Jo Swinson for the mess that Parliament is in. If only we had supported Jeremy for PM our troubles would be over! Then there were demands for this that and the other and a clamour began for a General Strike. The fact that we have he Party that opposed BREXIT from the start and in the early days formed the backbone of the opposition to it after her Leader had called for Article 50 to be invoked quickly within hours of the  referendum just didn’t occur to her.

At that point I left. The behaviour of these people will not forge the partnership needed to win either a VONC or a defeat of a no-deal Brexit. I will not support a General Strike because I believe that the people that will be most hurt by such a strike will not be the ‘Bankers and the Fat Cats’. The hurt will come most on those with the least finances to support themselves through it.

I understand that there is another event on Saturday. I haven’t been informed about it or invited to speak. I see no speakers for the European Movement or Liverpool for Europe. I see no Labour MP but I do see a ‘Stop the War’ speaker. What that has to do with prorogation is beyond me!

This event will not be about prorogation or Europe but simply an opportunity for extremists to vent their ideas about the Corbyn cult and General Strikes. These events should be organised by the people who have organised the cause for the past three years, the EM and affiliates and partners who have done such a magnificent job. Interestingly, I haven’t seen one of the speakers that I heard yesterday at one of the dozens of events held in Liverpool over the past three years. I haven’t seen one of them getting up at 5 a.m. to go to London. I doubt their commitment to the European cause and suspect that this is just about Tory bashing and not constructive ideas about a way forward to save our relationship with the EU.

I have missed very few pro-EU events over the past three years and have been pleased to speak alongside people from all Parties and none. I will, not, however join in facile and immature rallies, the aim of which is the installation of an extreme left Government which will be just as harmful for our Country as the extreme right one that we have now. I suspect that most people who I have campaigned alongside for all of those three long years will agree with me.

Let me leave you with a copy of a Facebook entry. It was sent me and I don’t know who wrote it but it summed up accurately the views of most of the none-Labour members who turned up to the protest event

I don’t know who wrote this but its spot on!

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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