Can the Lib Dems reach out to the 52%?

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On Tuesday I posted a piece of Lib Dem Voice entitled “Is there room in this party for a pro-Brexit Liberal?”.   You can read my piece here.  My thinking around the piece is that, of all the nationwide British political parties I am much more in tune with the Liberal Democrats that the current Labour party and certainly the Tories or UKIP.  My big problem however is that the set piece stance of the Lib Dems appears to be to oppose Brexit at all costs – at least this is the impression the leadership (and some of the members – read a minority of the comments to my piece) give.  I voted for BREXIT and still believe I made the right choice.  You see the conundrum.

My piece attracted a huge number of comments – mostly positive and welcoming with a small minority not so – as well as provoking a really interesting debate.  I’d been mulling over a weeks whether or not to write this piece and then submit it for publication.  I’m so glad I did it and it has given me a lot to reflect upon.

I’m open to having my views challenged.  I’m not arrogant enough to say I know I’m right – I may be wrong.  At the moment I don’t think I am wrong and the ‘evangelical rhetoric’ coming from some at the top of the Lib Dems (and from the small minority of illiberal comments to my post) is not persuading me or others like me.  The Lib Dems need to be leading the fight for a humane and Liberal Brexit.  Instead, certainly to the people in areas like mine, they come across as sore losers.  The danger with this approach is that you are leaving the whole direction of Brexit open to those on the Tory right who want us to become the low tax, low regulation Macau of Europe.

The Lib Dems are in danger of becoming a one-issue party.  This will probably work well in the heavily remain areas of the country – the University areas, the metropolitan middle class areas.  Unfortunately, long term, this will not work well in most other areas – certainly not mine.  If the Lib Dems are happy again to be the party of protest at by-elections and restrict themselves at others to small enclaves of the country and be seen as the mouthpiece of the metropolitan elite, the vehemently anti-Brexit path the leadership appears to want to continue on is the way to get there.

Personally I want the Liberal Democrats to be more open to those who maybe voted remain but did it grudgingly and in particular those, like me, who voted to leave but not because of illiberal thoughts and views.  There are a lot more of the 52% who fall into this category than the arch-remainers who brand us as racists, xenophobes and closet-UKIPers realise.  This should be fertile ground for the Lib Dems.

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Wayne Chadburn

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