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Lib Dem conference: Senior figures attack ‘potty’ eurosceptics

24 September 2012

6:08 PM

24 September 2012

6:08 PM

One of the areas Conservatives and Lib Dems are more than happy to distinguish themselves on is Europe, although the issue always gets far less attention at Lib Dem conference than it does at Conservative gatherings. A Conservative might find this odd: surely a party so wholeheartedly in favour of Britain remaining within the European Union would want to make the case for why Europe is so wonderful.

Instead, senior figures today attacked Conservatives who want Britain to leave the European Union as ‘potty’. In a fringe this lunchtime, Lord Oakeshott told the audience that a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU was not necessary as the electorate could express its view through the ballot box at general elections. He hinted that he had regretted the party’s decision to pursue a referendum on the Alternative Vote, saying they should never have gone down that route.


At the same fringe, Tim Farron accused the Conservative leadership of ‘slipperiness’ and ‘duplicity’ over the EU, saying David Cameron and William Hague had ‘created a monster that is going to consume them’.

Danny Alexander took the same line in a question-and-answer session in the main hall this afternoon. He said:

‘There are some people who argue that we should leave the European Union altogether, which is totally potty. There are other issues, though, where we have taken a tough line. The European budget, for example.’

On a possible referendum, he added:

‘I think it would be a total distraction from the problems that we are facing both as a country and as a continent.’

But for all their hard talking on how pointless a referendum would be, the one thing that these three men didn’t address was whether it was likely to take place. That fell to Lord Ashdown, who told another lunchtime fringe that ‘we are now irretrievably on the way to a European referendum’.

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Show comments
  • Stuart Eels

    This is wonderful I never thought that this great Country would wake up and see through these Canutes but they have! Cry God for England and Harry!

  • Adam Keay
  • Adam Keay

    It is not potty its the one referendum the country wants. European fishing ships are destroying Britain’s seas, they impose unfair trade barriers on developing countries while subsidising French agriculture to the detriment of Britain’s economy and the countryside. The EU is not democratic and hugely undermines national self determination. I’m not keen on any of the main parties at the moment but the liberal democrats are a nuisance prepared to support democratic principles to try and get what they want but stand opposed to them when they think they might not get their own foolish way.

  • foxoles

    Danny ******* Alexander? The only job he ever had, before being an MP and being parachuted in to ‘the quad’ to rule us all, was as a press officer for a national park. Now somehow thinks he is entitled to stamp on (or should that be out?) democracy.


    So they smother us with their unique sickly sanctimonious guff about unelected peers in the House of Lords having no democratic accountability, but are happy for us to be ruled by Barosso, Rumpuy and Ashton, a Baroness only by virtue of her never winning an election in her life, WITHOUT ASKING US!!! And not a single journalist has the wit or wisdom to haul them up on this, one among dozens, glaring hypocrisy.

  • David Lindsay

    Sir Nick Harvey, the Lib Dem newly knighted as a consolation prize for his removal from
    Ministerial office at the Ministry of Defence, had opposed a
    pre-emptive strike against Iran, even though that opposition is the
    position of Her Majesty’s Government, Iran being, if a threat to
    anywhere, then certainly not a threat to the United Kingdom. And he had
    been insufficiently deferential to Israel, again in line with formal
    Government policy. So he had to go.

    In the past, he has also voted against the “renewal” of Trident. And,
    although the present Deputy Leader, Simon Hughes, abstained, he was the
    only Lib Dem to vote against the Maastricht Treaty. In both, he was well
    and truly ahead of his time. I am not convinced that most Lib Dems are
    all that pro-EU, really. I
    have a strong suspicion that they are more like the characters in
    Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday. One by one, each of the members of an anarchist cell turns out to be an undercover policeman.

    campaigners though they undeniably are, there truly are Lib Dems,
    doubtless clear majorities of their members and voters, and probably
    even of their MPs and Peers, who believe profoundly in the election of
    pretty much everything that exercises any sort of power. In absolute
    openness and freedom of information. In the highest possible degree of
    decentralisation and localism. In the heritage of uncompromising
    opposition to political extremism everywhere from Moscow to Pretoria
    abroad, and from the Communist Party to the Monday Club at home.

    (unlike me) the tradition of anti-protectionism against everyone from
    nineteenth-century agricultural Tories to 1970s industrial trade
    unionists. In the rural Radicalism that has always stood against the
    pouring of lucre into the pockets of the landlords. And in the interests
    of the arc of Lib Dem fishing seats from Cornwall via North Norfolk,
    Berwick, and North East Fife, to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.

    to strong Eurosceptics, including a goodly number of the latter,
    probably keep quiet within the Lib Dems because they assume that they
    are a tiny minority. But I bet that they are not. In fact, I bet that
    they are not really a minority at all. And now, not only do some of them
    have to make
    legislative and executive decisions, but they also have a potential
    focal point for their activity freed from the confines of collective
    responsibility. Also a potential focal point for opposition to the
    “renewal” of Trident, for opposition to the bowing of the knee to the
    State of Israel, and for opposition to war against Iran.

    Arise, Sir Nick Harvey.

  • Boudicca_Icenii

    If calling for an IN/OUT Referendum on the EU is the sign of being potty, why did they vote against a Referendum on the Lisbon Treaty because the only Referendum we should have is an IN/OUT one?
    Why did the LibDems include a pledge to hold an In/OUT Referendum in their last Manifesto?
    And why did Clegg and the LibDems have a petitition calling for an IN?OUT Referendum on the LibDem website – until the day before Clegg whipped his MPs to vote against it last November? Fortunately, I have a screenshot
    Could it be because they are liars; charlatans and people who make pledges which they have no intention whatsoever of keeping.


    Thank god I’m potty then 🙂

  • grandpa1940

    Place me very firmly in the ‘Potty’ lobby!

  • Hexhamgeezer

    It would be nice if Oakshitts gastropods were occasionally asked to treat the plebs with a little more respect, considering how many of them vote for UKIP compared to his meeja endorsed duplicitous filth.

  • alexsandr

    why does anyone listen to a failed politician lord oakshit? He has never won an election as a limp dump, and never one one to parliament.

  • Daniel Maris

    Yes, the Norwegians and Swiss – both outside the EU – are well known for their “potty” policies aren’t they…and for being rather rich.

  • dorothy wilson

    If anyone is “potty” it is Oakshott. He is an absolute menace and a nasty one at that.. Actually, the UK may not be the first country to call a referendum on the EU. I wouldn’t bet against Finland taking that honour.

  • Chris

    He’s still butthurt that we were right all along.

  • Radford_NG

    24 Sept. c.7.00pm.BST…..We had thought UK net inpayments to the EU were £8,000 million (ie £8 billion ).It is now known the figure for 2011 is £10,780 million .The difference comes about because the lower figure is money that goes via H.M.Treasure.Other (tax) money is sent direct to EU institutions from such as the DfID (under Andrew Mitchell ).//……..//I work this out as equivalent to a Poll Tax of £3.34p. per week on every man,woman and child in the UK.//…………..//The figure of £10,780 million comes from the government’s PINK BOOK 2012 [Table 9.2, pp.152-154]…via ‘eurofacts’:The June Press.

  • Vulture

    The thing that we ‘potty’ Eurosceptics need to do now is to make sure that the EU referendum happens ( Gosh, I even seem to remember Nick Clegg calling for it at around the same time that he promised not to raise student fees)- and that it is at least as successful for the Lib Dems as the AV referendum was.
    The fact that Lib Dems need to remember is that they are a rather unpopular little party, and getting more so. For one debate, 200 delegates were counted in Brighton. In Birmingham at the w/end there were never less than 700.
    The EU will prove as toxic for the Europhile Lib Dumbs as Posh v. Plebs is for the Tories.
    They should hire a phone box at Brighton station to hold their next conference.

  • 2trueblue

    One of the reasons Cameron did not get his majority is that he was waffling on the EU issues half promising a referendum.
    Oakeshott and his ilk insult those who have a different view on the EU and refers to them as ‘head bangers’ or ‘potty’.
    Liebore promised a referendum and did not deliver. Cameron could not express what he meant and it will come back to bite him at the next election, again. It is an issue for voters and right now we live in an undemocratic country governed by an elite from the EU, commissioners that we did not elect. That is potty.
    None of the replies above from the LibDums are useful, Alexander talks around it. They think that it is not for us to decide, who better than the electorate? Why are we saddled with these autocratic people? ……. oh yes, forgot, the coalition with a minority party who are holding us to ransom like a bunch of small children.
    Cameron has really not handled it well and now it is too late. He has left it too late for people to believe he can actually do anything or thinks like a conservative. Our defense industry has been handed over/taken over by the Germans. Fantastic.

  • Douglas Carter

    Lord ‘Potty’ Oakeshott may well claim that voters have options via the ballot box, but he conveniently overlooks the plain facts.
    ‘Manifesto commitments are not subject to legitimate expectation’.
    Parties now make provision for placing preferred candidates in constituencies.
    Candidates not toeing the party line can be sidelined.
    Parties refuse to emplace clarity of policy and intent before an electorate prior to elections.
    … and if all that still fails…
    They will still lie to us anyway.
    Anyone who falls for the …’People can vote for it’… myth deserve everything they get.