Scottish LibDem conference
Swinson: ‘rebel MPs should join our fight for change’
Jo Swinson: ‘our politics is broken’
Liberal Democrat deputy Jo Swinson today urged closer ties with the newly-formed Independent Group of rebel MPs, saying her party was “excited by this change” and calling for them to fight together on shared values.
Ms Swinson told her party’s Scottish Spring Conference that LibDems shared the desires of the breakaway movement of Labour and Tory MPs to ditch the two-party model.
“People are crying out for a vision for the future of our country that is open, outward-looking, internationalist and pluralist,” she said.
“We can reach out to harness the energy of the many liberal-minded people who are suddenly alive to the need to defend and promote these shared values.
“And I say to the new Independent Group MPs: you have made a difficult, bold and important move. You are disrupting the broken political system and as liberals, we are excited by this change.
“We share your desire to shake up the status quo, to challenge those in power who are failing our country.
“We need to ditch the outdated, tribal, two-party model. We need a better way of doing politics for a modern, liberal society.”
“So let’s fight together on the liberal values we share. Let’s campaign together on the issues we care about. Let’s work together to change our country for the better.
“You’ve experienced enough petty tribalism from your own former parties. You won’t get it from us. In the Liberal Democrats, you’ll find allies. Together, we can change our country for the better.”
Ms Swinson argued that the Independent Group, formed by eight former Labour MPs and three Tories, indicated that the old system was now outdated and the time was right for new thinking.
Reflecting on how the current shifts were built on the constitutional debate, she said: “The morning after the Brexit vote, I remember feeling sick to the pit of my stomach. This was about much more than EU institutions – what kind of country had we become?
“Our politics is broken. The Conservatives and Labour are like the banks during the crash. Too big to fail, too broken to work.
“The political faultline has shifted. We’ve moved from talking about left or right, socialist or capitalist to talking about liberal or authoritarian, open or closed, internationalist or nationalist.”