Sunday, August 23, 2020

Did we want to defeat Brexit or just to feel superior?

This morning I tweeted a story from the Mail on Sunday:

When he returned home from the horrors of the First World War, a thankful Walter Brown planted an oak tree on the edge of his farm.

Standing tall more than a century later, it symbolises the longevity of his ancestors’ relationship with the land in Rutland.

The Brown family has tilled the soil in the Welland Valley for more than 300 years, but Walter’s grandson Andrew fears the new Agriculture Bill will mean he is the last.

Mr Brown, 56, says the Bill fails to protect the UK’s world-leading food and welfare standards.

And that could be the ‘final nail in the coffin’ for 40,000 family farms which would be replaced by massive US-style feedlots, where tens of thousands of cattle are crammed into pens with poor environmental standards.

Almost by return someone tweeted:

Having a low risk guess here that they're unshakeable Tory and, by definition and utterly predictable demonstration, hard Brexit supporters.

They were wrong on both counts.

Here is Andrew Brown commenting on the referendum result in 2016:

English farmer Andrew Brown says last week’s vote by the British people to leave the European Union (EU) will have long term negative implications not just for the nation’s agricultural sector, but for the country as a whole.

“Words fail me. This is an unmitigated disaster, not only for farming but for the whole country,” the farmer from Rutland in eastern England said.

Mr Brown had been an active campaigner for a ‘stay’ vote prior to the referendum, saying British farmers could not get a better trade deal with Europe than they had as members of the EU.

“People talk about unwinding regulation, but do you really think the EU nations are going to let trade partners have less compliance regulation than they do?” he asked.

“A vote to leave is like turkeys voting for Christmas.”

As to being a Conservative, Andrew Brown is an Independent member of Rutland County Council - the photo is of Lyddington, the largest village in his ward.

Around here it's not unknown for 'Independent' councillors to be members of the Conservative Party on the queit, but I have no reason to think that Andrew Brown is. His interest in conservation, for instance, is not typical of local Tories.

In fact, reading his biography I am struck by the thought that he sounds just the sort of person who should have featured prominently in the Remain campaign.

But even if Andrew Brown were a Tory and a new convert, we should still be welcoming him to our side of the debate. And I am pleased the Mail on Sunday is now campaigning in defence of our food standards.

Instead, most Remain activity on social media appears designed to make ourselves feel good and to ridicule our opponents.

But if we want to win in the end then we have to convert some of those opponents. And ridiculing people is about the last thing likely to do that.

I made much the same points back in March 2018, when I asked But could Remain win a second referendum?

I am now tempted to ask if we ever really wanted to defeat Brexit. Was it always more about feeling superior?


David Evans said...

I'm not sure whether it was feeling superior that was the prime motivation for most Remainers, but it clearly was a factor for many. Too many people tweeting and messaging to their friends, but doing nothing difficult like trying to influence anyone else. However, in the case of many Lib Dems it seems that believing that they are right is most important, even more important than being successful.

Hence in coalition, most Lib Dems were prepared to ignore the fact that the party was clearly being destroyed year after year, than accept that they had got it personally wrong in supporting Nick Clegg. Even after the final debacle in May 2014, when we lost all but one of our MEPs and seats in London were lost massively, most local parties did not hold a vote or even a debate on Nick's leadership.

Even now when some people accept that mistakes were made in coalition, and others sagely nod and agree, they still insist we now must move on as if saying 'We made a mistake' is sufficient and an end to the problem. The one thing they will never admit is that the party has never debated, discussed or agreed what went wrong and why - indeed everyone has their own personal explanation as to what went wrong, usually founded on a view that what they did was fine, it was just 'other people' who made a mess of it. Of course for some, coalition was quite simply 'the right thing to do,' even if it destroy our party. The fact that it then led to the referendum, Brexit etc is nothing to do with us - it's just the fault of those nasty Tories.

Indeed the possibility that we need to review and agree what went wrong, if only so that we learn the lessons as a party, and future generations of Lib Dems won't make the same mistakes again is just beyond their comprehension.
It is almost as if education is a good thing, but only for other people. The possibility that Liberals like them actually do need to learn because they did make a mess of things just does not compute.

nigel hunter said...

Yes education is how everybody learns.It is an ongoing process throughout life and should not be ignored.Pride does go before a fall and I can agree on a review.
Although we can feel superior!? It does not help to change peoples minds.Pointing out weaknesses of Brexit should be discussed with Brexiteers and the consequences of those decisions. One ,for example could be that Tate and Lyle sugar (American owned) lobbied for an increase in their ability to import sugar into the UK. By leaving the EU rules and regulations our sugar beet farmers could be at risk of going out of business and standards will drop. Could lead to a US monopoly on sugar.Brexiteers instead of being 'looked down upon' should be informed ,sensibly of what we will loose

David Evans said...

Can't disagree with Nigel at all - There are lot of problems, issues and difficulties to overcome, and lots of scope for disagreement on them, but in essence our strategy for 10 years has been hope it will all go away. Well the one thing that is still most likely to go away is the Lib Dem parliamentary party. Overall, I doubt if there are 50 seats across the whole country we would have a chance of winning, and more than 50% of our seats would be lost at a general election if the incumbent did not stand, so we need a phenomenally good break of luck for us to make progress, and I sadly don't see either of our leadership candidates doing more than enthusing a small number of true believers, however much cut through they may claim to have with the media.

At the end of it, 90% of any recovery will be down to the poor bloody infantry - As it always was :-(