PROUD TO BE A PARTY COM­MIT­TED TO EUROPE

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - OPINION - CHRIS SPRUYTENBURG For­mer Che­sham Mayor and district town coun­cil­lor

IT was right and just of the Labour Party mem­bers who signed the let­ter in last week’s Bucks Ex­am­iner, to re­fer to the ef­forts made by lo­cal Lib­eral Democrats and oth­ers in work­ing for a vic­to­ri­ous Re­main vote in Chiltern District in the ref­er­en­dum, in de­fi­ance of the ar­gu­ments put out by lo­cal MP Ch­eryl Gil­lan.

We in the Lib­eral Democrats would like to thank all who worked and voted for this re­sult, which, re­gret­tably, was not mir­rored at the UK level.

How­ever, I must re­fute the state­ment in the let­ter that lo­cal Lib­eral Democrats – and lo­cal Greens and Con­ser­va­tives – cam­paigned un­der the lead­er­ship of the lo­cal Labour Party in pro­duc­ing the vic­tory of the IN cam­paign in Chiltern District.

The re­al­ity is that the “Stronger In” cam­paign was a na­tional, non-par­ti­san cam­paign, aimed at bring­ing to­gether all who wished the United King­dom to con­tinue to play a strong and in­flu­en­tial role within the Euro­pean Union. It was not “led” by any party. In con­trast with the Labour, Con­ser­va­tive, Green and even Scot­tish Na­tion­al­ist Par­ties, the Lib­eral Democrats, un­der the lead­er­ship of Tim Far­ron MP, are united in favour of re­main­ing in the Euro­pean Union.

Tim Far­ron has com­mit­ted him­self and his party to cam­paign­ing for a re­turn to mem­ber­ship of the Euro­pean Union and its con­tin­u­ing re­form and im­prove­ment, if the ref­er­en­dum re­sult does in­deed lead to the UK leav­ing the EU.

(Like most other things in pol­i­tics to­day, noth­ing can be taken as cer­tain.)

In ad­di­tion to con­tribut­ing to the of­fi­cial Stronger In cam­paign, lo­cal Lib­eral Democrats worked hard in their own right to pro­vide a pres­ence on the streets dur­ing the cam­paign, to or­gan­ise a pub­lic meet­ing in Chiltern District in favour of the Re­main cam­paign and to de­liver leaflets to the door.

In the early post-war years, when the move to Euro­pean co­op­er­a­tion and devel­op­ment be­gan, the Lib­eral Party was the only Bri­tish party to seek ac­tive in­volve­ment by the UK in the early de­vel­op­ments to­wards what later be­came the EU, it is a legacy of which the Lib­eral Democrats are the proud stan­dard-bear­ers to­day, while al­ways ac­cept­ing that there is need for con­stant re­form and im­prove­ment of to­day’s Euro­pean Union.

As Lib­eral Democrats, we take our lead from no­body on the need for ac­tive Bri­tish in­volve­ment in the EU, but are will­ing to co­op­er­ate equally with all like-minded peo­ple, of what­ever party or none.

It is clear that na­tion­ally the Labour Party’s con­tri­bu­tion to the Re­main cam­paign was in­ef­fec­tive and weak, un­der a lead­er­ship whose com­mit­ment to the cause of re­main­ing in the EU seemed less than whole­hearted and in­hib­ited by a de­sire not to co­op­er­ate ef­fec­tively across party lines.

When not di­rectly op­posed to the In cam­paign, lo­cal Con­ser­va­tives – with the no­table ex­cep­tion of Do­minic Grieve, the Beaconsfield MP – failed to pull their weight, and any proRe­main lo­cal Con­ser­va­tive coun­cil­lors failed en­tirely to pub­li­cise their views.

It is clear that the Con­ser­va­tive Party re­mains bit­terly di­vided on the is­sue of Europe, to the ex­tent that it is dif­fi­cult to see how, con­sis­tent with be­lief and prin­ci­ple, in­stead of self-serv­ing ex­pe­di­ency, they can re­main united as a party.

We in the Lib­eral Democrats are proud to call our­selves the party of whole­hearted com­mit­ment to co­op­er­a­tion and in­volve­ment in Europe, through con­tin­u­ing part­ner­ship in a pro­gres­sively re­form­ing EU.

In this we do not take our lead from the Labour Party or any­one else.

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