OMG - we need the Liberal Democrats back!
Councillor Richard Webber, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Oxfordshire County Council, thanks everyone who has given their support to #INtogether and gives his reaction to the EU referendum result.
Summary of Campaign
First I want to thank all those Liberal Democrat members, activists, deliverers and supporters who worked so tirelessly over the many weeks of the Referendum campaign. The results map clearly shows that where we were hard at work, there was a clear majority for staying in the EU. The Labour input by comparison was half-hearted and the Tory presence almost non-existent. All the harder, then, that we lost so narrowly nationally.
Thank you and well done to everyone on behalf of all Liberal Democrat Councillors and constituency chairmen. Desperately disappointing as the national result was, we now need your support, time and (if you have any left) money more than ever to minimise some of the damage that the referendum has caused and to fight for a fairer, more positive, more inclusive Britain.
Where we are now
Stepping over the headlines of the right wing Tory press, it is difficult not to feel ashamed of being British. At least we can be proud of being Liberal Democrats and a force for fairness, reason and common sense. However, the rise of Farage, Trump, Le Pen, Wilders and the right wingers is leading to a rapid erosion of British prestige. We appear a rather silly, irrelevant and divided nation, no longer much use to the world, less worth listening to, less able to lead on anything.
The referendum results show alarming divisions between young and old, rich and poor, London and country, and we now face the likely break up of the UK for the second time within 2 years. The UK’s credit rating has been reduced, and far from a steady, controlled “divorce” from the EU, we face the distinct possibility of being positively jettisoned by the remaining 26 damaged and resentful nation states.
We have two Tory parties with the less attractive right wing in the ascendancy. We have a Labour party hopelessly out of touch with its grass roots. The sight of the Tory Leaders of South Oxford District Council and Vale of White Horse District Council on a panel arguing for Brexit in front of an audience of Primary School children spoke volumes. We now know that there were large majorities for REMAIN in both their Districts, but what was the Scientific community (many of whom are based in their Districts and whose companies and universities depend on EU Research funding) to make of it? At least the children were not persuaded and voted emphatically to ignore their advice. It seems that our local Tories are also far out of touch with those who elect them.
So where do we go from here?
What we need is a political party that is united, committed to public service rather than self-service, arguing for a strong economy with a fair society , committed to healing the enmities that the Referendum result has produced – enemies at home and enemies abroad – prepared to shout out loud that the approach of Mssrs. Trump/Farage/Le Pen/Putin and Gilders is both wrong and dangerous, a party capable of bringing together rich and poor, young and old, north and south, and the UK with the rest of the world. The Liberal Democrats are that party.
OMG we need, and the country needs, the Liberal Democrats more than ever now!
Cllr Richard Webber
Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Oxfordshire County Council
25th June 2016