Scottish LibDem conference
Cable says Lib Dems can heal Britain’s ‘broken politics’
Liberal Democrat Leader Sir Vince Cable today said that his party has another opportunity to break Britain’s “broken politics” and was holding out “the hand of friendship” to the Independent Group of MPs.
He echoed comments by his deputy Jo Swinson and Scottish leader Willie Rennie in calling on those MPs who have this week resigned from the Labour and Tory parties to join the Liberal Democrats to build a new movement.
“The principle must be one of co-operation and partnership,” he told the party’s Scottish Spring Conference.
“But we should not be under any illusions. This group is not a party. Not yet. We do not know what they stand for and it will take time to establish that.”
However, he said it was very clear that British politics is changing.
“The way things are today are not the way they have to be. People deserve better, and the Liberal Democrats demand better.
Vince Cable: ‘Our party is growing’ (pic: Terry Murden)
“Politics can be better, and Liberal Democrats are right in the heart of it of it; standing up for our communities, taking on power and privilege and restoring fairness and opportunity for all.”
He said the priority for now is stopping Brexit “and this No Deal nonsense”. The party would continue to campaign to stay in the EU and for another vote.
“If we keep fighting I think we will get it,” he said.
Earlier, Scottish leader Willie Rennie stressed that the political “stalemate” on Brexit won’t be over on the 29 March even if the government does agree a deal. He warned of years of stalemate, infighting and indecision ahead.
“The negotiations over a proposed free trade agreement will cripple our country for month after month, year after year,” he said.
On stage at the Hamilton Town House (pic: Terry Murden)
“But there is a way to make this torture stop. We can break out of this stalemate by letting the people decide. That would be what democracy is actually for.
History has its eyes on us. We need a people’s vote, the country needs a people’s vote.”
Reflecting on the divisions in the Labour and the Conservative parties, he said they are “no longer broad churches but narrow sects” and appealed to the disaffected to “come and talk with me. “
He said: “Let’s work together. We have a responsibility to make it happen. Look at the challenge that we face. We know Britain isn’t working as it should.”
He added: “Two forms of nationalism are gripping our country. With their easy slogans. Their lazy facts. Their divisive rhetoric. Their false patriotism.
“There are striking parallels between the claims of the brexiteers and those who argue for independence.
“And it annoys them both when you point them out. But even their own side has woken up to the similarity.
“The Brexiteers predicted Brexit would be easy, the opportunity would be great, ‘the easiest negotiations in history’.
“The Nationalists predict independence will be easy, the opportunity will be great, the easiest negotiation in history. Yet the Nats tell us breaking up a 40-year-old partnership with Europe is devastating, I agree.
Then they tell us that breaking up a 300-year-old partnership with the UK will be simple. That does not make sense. It’s not remotely credible. They are fooling no-one but themselves.”