I resigned from the Liberal Democrats just before the EU referendum because I believed the position the party adopted was a betrayal of fundamental values of liberalism and democracy. I think it was a perfectly respectable position to take to vote remain and there were questionable tactics on both sides during the campaign. However, the bitter, abusive response to the result by many people, particularly Liberal Democrats, has been quite terrible.
Ros Kayes’ behaviour has been shocking. Even worse, she has been dishonest and has tried to cover up her foolish remarks.
She published this comment on Facebook during 23rd June 2016, the day of the referendum:
I responded that this was an act of prejudice, discrimination and bigotry, totally against all Liberal Democrat values and was exactly the reason I had resigned. In return I received these responses:
I have written to Ros, politely asking her to clarify what “unsavoury posts in the last few weeks” and what “unpleasant email to a party member”? I have no idea what she is talking about and I fear she has invented these angry ripostes.
Anyway, I would have let it lie there until I received a phone call from Rachel Stretton a reporter from the Dorset Echo.
Rachel said she was calling me about a lot of complaints the newspaper had received about Ros Kayes’ Facebook posts concerning the referendum. I told her how shocked I was at what I’d seen and she told me about a post containing bad language which, at the time. I had not seen. We ended the conversation with me confirming that Ros Kayes’ behaviour had been the final straw in my resigning membership of the party.
I then discovered the very foolish, childish use of foul language that Roz Kayes had published.
I posted on Facebook about what had happened and there was quite a response. However, I thought it was probably time to let it go. A lot of people were very upset by the result of the referendum. I would have been if it had gone the other way. I think in such circumstances you do have to allow people some leeway. Many people had been up all night, most had probably been drinking as well. A few injudicious remarks are inevitable from tired, emotional and upset human beings!
But next thing I received a message from Rachel Stretton backpedalling as fast as she could about what she had asked when she called me. I was astonished at this! What had spooked the Dorset Echo? Rachel now said “We have not received any complaints about the behaviour of anyone in the run-up to the referendum. Apologies for any confusion.”
Well hang on a minute, why did she call me in the first place then? I didn’t even know about use of the ‘F’ word until she told me and she quite definitely approached me about comments related to the referendum.
Rachel then messaged me to say: “I do of course understand if you wish to change any comment you made in light of this. Again for clarification, Ros has made a statement saying her account was hacked and this, private post, was made public inadvertently.”
What?!! There’s no other way to put this, the Dorset Echo seemed to be involved in helping Ros Kayes to cover up her behaviour. And then I saw the ridiculous article published in the newspaper “Bridport mayor Ros Kayes responds to Facebook post criticism”.
This article is nothing less than insult to the readers of the Dorset Echo and it is a shameful attempt to deceive the electorate. Not only is Ros Kayes telling lies but the Dorset Echo is assisting her! This is a stitch up between a local politician and a local newspaper. There is only one word for it – corruption. In fact I think the greatest shame is on the newspaper. So much for a free, independent press. There are very grave questions to be answered by the editor and I cannot imagine that local businesses will want to be advertising in a paper that is involved in a shabby, corrupt cover-up of a politician’s misdeeds. he story about privacy settings is a story of Ros Kayes own incompetence but the story about her account being hacked is a brazen, bare-faced lie.
Nevertheless, my interest waned again. I was now beginning to learn that Ros Kayes does have an excellent reputation for good work in the community. I have myself been subject to online attack and trolling which caused me great distress and had a real effect on my mental health. There are some very cruel, very spiteful people who use social media to abuse and harass for no reason other than their own perverted self-gratification. The one comfort I had is that when I was under attack I knew it was all based on lies. In this instance, Ros Kayes was the one telling porkies, she was responsible for causing the furore and she is tee occupier of a significant public office, one that even comes with official regalia and privileges. There does have to be some accountability.
However, I really didn’t want to take it any further. This woman obviously does good work and if she’s made one bad mistake, I didn’t want to be vengeful or unkind about it.
Then Ros Kayes responded to my email about her claims of me making “unsavoury posts” and sending an “unpleasant email“. (She had by now already blocked me on Facebook and Twitter). Oh dear!
My “unsavoury post” (there was only one now apparently) was this one “Why I Am Resigning From the Liberal Democrats“. Judge for yourself whether there is anything unsavoury about it. My “unpleasant email” was an email about my change of address which I had already notified the party of, which I explained and wrote “So I don’t really know what else I could be expected to do!”. Not very unpleasant in my book.
Ros also wrote: “I certainly don’t think all Brexit voters are racist – many had perfectly sensible reasons for making the decision they did. And my post did not say that all Brexit voters were racist, simply raised fears about the ones that were.”.
So, once again I was ready to let it go. Perhaps it was one error and it could be overlooked. I was now firmly of the opinion that the more serious matter was the Dorset Echo’s corrupt involvement in a cover up.
And then today, I was provided with a copy of a letter Ros Kayes had published in the Bridport News.
“I fear this election [sic] will be won by those who revel in bigotry. I despair at the number of voters saying ‘I’m not racist but…’ then utter words from the lexicon of Adolf Hitler”
“Please don’t let our country’s future be decided by racist, liars and bigots.”
This is truly terrible. Absolutely unforgivable words from any public figure or politician, particularly one who has the audacity to call herself a ‘Liberal Democrat’.
Such ignorant generalisations from Ms Kayes are every bit as prejudiced and discriminatory as racism. She is a terrible, terrible hypocrite.
So, despite really trying very hard to pull back from this, in the end I decided that I had to publish this story in full.
I expect Ros Kayes to resign. There seems to be a valid case that perhaps she could stay on as a councillor but her position as Mayor is untenable.
As for the Dorset Echo, this is still the far more serious issue of a corrupt, underhand cover up of a politician’s dishonesty. It will almost certainly try to bury this story entirely now. Diarmuid Macdonagh, the editor, should do the honourable thing and explain himself. If he doesn’t, I shall be making a complaint to the Independent Press Standards Organisation.
As far as I can see, looking at European Referendum Act 2015 and Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, there is no provision under law as to what government must actually do about the result of any referendum.
An exception was the 2011 referendum on changing to alternative vote, where the relevant legislation obligated the government to change the law to reflect a “yes” vote had that occurred. No such provision was contained within the EU referendum legislation.
So all those who voted leave should, in my opinion, now be arguing for immediate implementation of Article 50. The government must act on the instruction of the electorate.
My very smart son, barrister-at-law Richard Reynolds, has pointed out his father’s error (as he often does these days). As soon as we invoke Article 50, control of the process reverts to the EU Commission, the unelected oligarchs from whom we have just taken back control. So the sensible option is to agree what the divorce settlement is before we submit to the decree absolute.
The final straw was my local LibDem leader, Ros Kayes, Mayor of Bridport, saying “Shameful to see the ignorance and racism in the UK population”. I have seen far too much disgusting, prejudicial, discriminatory abuse from LibDem members who have forgotten what the party stands for.
Farron’s response to the referendum result, not as direct as Ros Kayes’, implies that everyone who voted leave is ‘intolerant, closed-hearted, pessimistic and inward looking’. His strategy is a disgusting, hate-filled attempt to subvert democracy.
If the LibDems have one talent above all others it is self-destruction. This time it may well be suicide.
Tim Farron has led the Liberal Democrats in the opposite direction from liberalism and democracy. This man and many members of the party are angry, resentful and bitter. Why? This is democracy!
We are not all ‘intolerant, closed-hearted, pessimistic and inward looking’!
Many of us chose leave for fundamental principles of self-determination and democracy. These should be core Liberal Democrat values but it seems no longer. Instead the leadership wanted us to subsume to an unelected, unaccountable superstate run by a privileged oligarchy.
Farron is a huge liability to this party. We need a new leader who knows what being a Liberal Democrat means and who doesn’t sound off with abusive rants because he doesn’t get his own way.
Heavy rain is forecast for London and the South-East tomorrow. This will depress turnout in the referendum, which will be a jolly good thing.
The chitter-chattering metropolitan elite is composed mainly of remaniacs. That wonderful, wise, old man who lives on a cloud in the sky has chosen to rain on their parade. So indoors they will stay, sipping their Nespresso lattes, chewing on their organic, gluten-free bagels.
Meanwhile, the rest of us can get on with saving the country. If you haven’t already voted by post, remember to take a pen to mark your ballot paper. The pencils provided at polling stations are part of MI5’s strategy to fix the result. You don’t want to be ‘rubbed out’, do you?
Jo Cox is a martyr to British democracy. Why have we had taken from us one who was clearly so worthy when so much of Parliament is comprised of the venal and self-serving? Many MPs will not even meet their constituents if they do not like the questions they have to ask. I have too much experience of MPs refusing to meet or assist their constituents who need access to medicinal cannabis. Some are cowards who avoid controversial issues and disrespect their constituents’ views. Jo Cox was the very opposite and we must hope that some good comes from her sacrifice.
I saw my own MP, Oliver Letwin, just a couple of weeks ago and I wandered into this picturesque folly on the side of a church in Beaminster and there he was, no security, no entourage, not even a friendly bobby on the door. He saw me through the window and called me in. Is such informality, such casual access to a senior government minister, to be lost, even in deepest, rural Dorset?
We have no reliable information yet on the killer’s motivation but I see that has not stopped almost instantaneous and divisive speculation. What is certain though is that the febrile atmosphere of this referendum campaign has brought more tension and division into our society than I have seen before.
I said this to Oliver when I met him. His response was that this is democracy and the very nature of a referendum. That is true but I do believe that the tactics used on both sides of this campaign have engendered far too much hate in Britain. For many this has caused great fear and confusion, particularly for the feeble minded or those that are easily led and can have their emotions inflamed by rhetoric.
The disgusting behaviour of the stinking-rich oaf Bob Geldof, abusing hard working and courageous British fishermen who have seen their livelihood devastated by the EU. The vile UKIP poster of a queue of migrants released just a hour or so before Jo’s murder. Nigel Farage is greatly to be admired for his determined and principled work but this poster is a mistake and inflames racial tension.
Most of all though, I blame this almost hysterical upsurge in hatred on Cameron’s Project Fear. He and Osborne told people we would be alright if we left the EU and everything would be be OK, we could make our decision without fear that either choice would be a catastrophic mistake. Immediately though they have engaged in a campaign of terrorism, predicting chaos, disaster and mayhem if we vote to leave. Osborne’s scaremongering about a post-Brexit emergency budget was the nadir of Project Fear. He has stepped so far over the line that he will never command the trust of the British people again.
I have already submitted my postal vote and it is #VoteLeave. I know it is the opposite of what Jo Cox would have voted but I pay tribute to her as a politician who stood for democracy and, in my view, that is what this referendum is about. It’s not ‘…about the economy, stupid.’ Neither is it about immigration. It’s about self-determination and being governed by people we elect, not faceless, unaccountable bureaucrats.
A House of Commons full of MPs with the sincerity and good faith of Jo Cox would be my ideal. I believe that is what we should work towards, not abdicating our responsibility to some out-of-touch superstate, not led into servitude by a self-serving, elite of privileged politicians who rely on fear and scaremongering and try to intimidate us into a vote that is not freely chosen.