Snoke Theory No. 2187

Supreme Leader Snoke. The antagonist of the Sequel Trilogy. The antithesis to Luke Skywalker. The Emperor’s replacement. What do we know about him? Very little. What could we piece together to form a theory? Absolutely anything apparently. From reincarnations of Palpatine, to being a “Sith No One Knew Existed”, to being the continued essence of a long since departed Darth Plagueis.  There are so many theories out there now, from both before and after the release of The Force Awakes, that it is highly unlikely that the true identity of the Supreme Leader hasn’t actually been discovered somewhere in the deepest recesses of Reddit.

With that being said, I figure with D23 looming on the horizon and a new trailer for The Last Jedi no doubt being in tow, that now would be the perfect time to finally throw my hat into the ring on the identity of this generation’s big bad.

So strap yourselves in, because this will be a long one.

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The further back you go in time you go the wilder the Snoke theories tend to be. Prior to the release of The Force Awakens, and even after it there were a plethora or pretty outlandish theories making their way around the internet. But the one that took hold the most was that Snoke was in fact Palpatine’s old master, Darth Plagueis. On the surface it makes a lot of sense. Snoke was this anonymous figure who had knowledge of the Empire’s rise and fall, combining this with his obvious connection to the Dark Side of the Force and the fact that the music which plays during his introductory scene in the Force Awakens is incredibly similar to that of the Opera scene in Revenge of the Sith, where Plagueis is first mentioned and the dots began to add up. Bringing in an already established character would help connect the prequel trilogy to the sequel trilogy (Something that has yet to be done), but it would maintain the mystery and fog that comes with a character reveal.

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However, in the weeks and months following the release of The Force Awakens cracks began to appear in the Plagueis armour. In interviews with Entertainment Weekly and Empire magazine, Director JJ Abrams made it very clear that 1.) There were no Sith in The Force Awakens and that 2.) Snoke is a new character who is yet to be introduced to the Star Wars universe, and that he’s on the Dark side of the force.  Whilst this doesn’t give us much in the way of exactly who Snoke is, it does tell an awful lot about who he isn’t.

So the cogs of the internet started turning once again and all eyes were suddenly being cast on unfamiliar territory, the new expanded universe. Following the purchase of LucasFilm and the announcement that all new comics, novels, games etc. would be canon, many fans of the franchise began to look for clues to Snoke’s identity in mediums other than films. Unsurprisingly, the expanded universe was willing to help them out.

In the first post-Return of the Jedi canon novel, Star Wars: Aftermath, we are given hints towards a character called “The Operator”. A character very much in the background of the first novel who works for the would-be First Order, the successor branch to The Empire, which at this point is on its last legs. Although some fans clung (and still do) to the idea that Snoke was Plagueis, many more now turned their heads towards The Operator. A hope that once again turned out to be dud.

In the subsequent Aftermath novels we find out that the Operator is in fact a character called Gallius Rax. A character whose storyline is very much tied together in the Aftermath trilogy and one who likely won’t be appearing on the big screen anytime soon.

So who exactly is Snoke and where did he come from? Well, I think that the new canon novels do actually provide us with our most convincing clues. But before we look at those clues we need to first understand the direction that LucasFilm are taking the Star Wars franchise and the obsession with areas of grey.

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Since the adoption of a new canon, novels, TV shows and even films set in the Star War universe have begun to adopt a multi-layered approach to good and bad. Rather than there being just the two absolutes of the Sith and the Jedi, we are now being introduced to the concept that a being can be one with the Force, and yet not take any particular side. The Bendu in Star Wars Rebels claims to be the “one in the middle”, sitting in the middle of the Force, whilst the Jedi and Sith occupy the light and dark. Ahsoka from Clone Wars/Rebels/Novel famously left the Jedi Order and now also occupies that space in the middle. And then you have the sub-factions; the Church of the Force, the Knights of Wren, the Guardians of the Whills. All of whom are neither Sith nor Jedi, all of whom occupy a space of their own along the spectrum of the Force, so to speak.

This area of the grey shades of the Force is one that we can surmise is going to be continued in Episode 8 as Luke potentially tries to move away from the concept of the Jedi that we are so used to. But what does all this mean for Snoke, and how can it be connected to his reveal in Episodes 8 or 9? I think the answer can be found in a few plot points from recently released novels and the minor details we already know about the Supreme Leader himself.

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The strong push from LucasFilm to emphasize the existence of sub-sections of groups who are strong with, or believe in, the Force leads me to believe that this must play an important role in the upcoming Saga Episodes. So to start with I believe we can deduce that JJ Abrams was not lying when he said that Snoke is not a Sith, instead I would argue that he is someone who knows the history of the Force and of the Galaxy. Much like the Bendu he has a deep knowledge of the Universe around him and is likely much older than he appears to be. As a consequence I would argue that it is highly likely that he views the Jedi and Sith as being below him. Single-minded religions that were too regimented in their ways to be anything more than puppets in his game. Which leads me into my second point, in the Aftermath trilogy we find out that Emperor Palpatine was in communication with someone or something in the Unknown Regions, and that he was concocting a plan to venture there and find the source. It’s also important to note that it was the source of these communications who reached out to Palpatine, not the other way around. I think it’s a safe assumption to make that whoever it was on the other end of those discussions was maybe even more powerful in the Force than Palpatine was, due to his ability to search and reach out that far into the Galaxy. I also think that it’s safe to assume that person is Snoke and that much like the Bendu, Snoke is a creature of immense connection to the Force. From what we learn in Aftermath and the setting in which we find ourselves in The Force Awakens, the fleet of ships that Palpatine sent into the unknown regions are likely the ones who came across Snoke. Whether he was trapped or for some other reason lacked the ability to relocate himself will remain unknown. But it’s likely that he demonstrated enough power and knowledge (Perhaps killing the other contenders for leadership, including Rey Sloane?) that the now-First Order adopted him as their leader.

Having used the Sith as his tool and not the Jedi it’s likely that whatever creature Snoke is, he strayed further into the Dark side of the Force than the light over the unknown amount of time he spent in the Unknown Regions of space. With that being said, I don’t think he was completely undiscovered before he reached out to Palpatine. In the Thrawn novel, Grand Admiral Thrawn, the Chiss from the Unknown Regions of space, warns Palpatine of dangers in the Galaxy that would one day threaten the Empire. I believe that Thrawn spoke of Snoke, not having met him before, but likely as a figure whom the Chiss had learned to fear and avoid (Whether they were the ones to lock him away in the first place – if he even was locked away somehow – is up for debate, I would lean on the side of this not being the case).

One final piece of evidence I would like to examine comes from some very tiny spoilers for the Last Jedi. In a visual description of Supreme Leader Snoke we learn that unlike the Sith or Jedi he is clothed in ornate clothing, including gold shoes and wearing a large black crystal on his finger. Combining this with his reported Red Royal Soldiers (Akin to the Emperor) and it I believe that the dots finally fall into place.

Supreme Leader Snoke is/was…

  • A creature who has an unprecedented connection to The Force, in a similar manner to the Bendu
  • Neither a Sith nor a Jedi, instead he views himself as above such single-minded ideologies
  • Portrays his superiority-complex (A result of being thousands of years old and likely having more knowledge of the Universe than anyone besides perhaps Maz Kanata) through his Royal clothing and throne etc.
  • Locked away or trapped for potentially hundreds or thousands of years
  • Swayed to the Dark Side of the Force over the thousands of years he spent watching the events of the Galaxy unfold
  • Known by the Chiss Ascendancy and potentially feared and avoided
  • In communication with Palpatine before his death and likely using him to be freed (Something which Palpatine ensured with his post-death plans for The Empire)

 

 

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The Curious Case Of Dean Ambrose

There’s been a lot of discussion around the name Dean Ambrose over the past few months, dating back to a comment made by The Miz on an episode of Raw where he called Ambrose complacent and lazy. A comment which many associated to big names in the back sending the former member of The Shield a message. So what exactly happened to the man who many once lauded as the potential break out star of The Shield? Well, hopefully, I can tell you.

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Let’s start by going all the way back to the break-up of the aforementioned Shield. The program itself could have been handled much better than it was, but for the most part each of the 3 members came out of the gates looking strong and each one their own man (We can ignore the fact that Reigns continued to use the music and attire). Fast forward and it was Dean Ambrose who truly “earned his stripes” by working his way up the card, in much the same way as many wanted Jinder to be built. Hot feuds with Seth Rollins and Bray Wyatt, as well as a 351-day reign as the United States Champion, the third longest reign in history, solidified his dominance over the mid to upper-mid card and it was time to start looking up. Ambrose was put into a program with “The Beast Incarnate” Brock Lesnar, going into Wrestlemania 32. A true step up for the “Lunatic Fringe”, and a worthy opponent for someone who WWE at the time saw as one of the top guys. Ambrose, however, went on to be very vocal about how he found Lesnar hard to work with (An issue we’ll touch on again), and their match on the grandest stage of them all was less than inspiring.

Following Wrestlemania, Ambrose went into a feud with Chris Jericho. The feud was over well enough, but for all the wrong reasons. Ambrose was suddenly being treated as more of a joke character than before, with WWE going full-board on the lunatic side of his character. Although Ambrose wasn’t quite at the levels of comic-relief, the feud’s reliance on a plant called Mitch (Good name btw) wasn’t the best of routes to take for such a hot prospect. Another dud pay-off with the Ambrose Asylum match and the warning signs were there. The WWE didn’t see it this way though and great things were still to come.

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The trigger was finally pulled at the 2016 Money In The Bank PPV, where Ambrose climbed the ladder, retrieved the briefcase and went on to cash it in later that night against the man who broke up The Shield, Seth Rollins. In what would be a historic night due to the entirety of The Shield holding the WWE Title at some point on the same night, it would also be the beginning of a decent run as Champion for the lunatic fringe.

After successfully defending the Championship against Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns in a long desired Triple Threat match, Dean Ambrose was the 1st Draft Pick for Smackdown, going over to the Blue Brand, title in tow. Then things started to go down hill.

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It’s hard to pinpoint where the blame exactly lies for what happens next, but there a number of reasons we can look at for why Ambrose just didn’t work on Smackdown. A kick-starter feud with Dolph Ziggler, who had been a solidified mid-carder for years at this point, was the first miss-step made. The feud wasn’t over with the crowd and Ambrose was losing steam quickly. His very next title defence came against the hottest act in the WWE, AJ Styles, who he dropped the title to first time around. That was it for Ambrose as Champion, his reign was over and his only notable feud had come in the form of Shield triple threat that people had wanted to see for years. One James Ellsworth feud later and Dean Ambrose was fast on his way to the mid-card as a borderline comedy act.

It’s my own personal opinion that the WWE blames Dean Ambrose for his own downfall, citing the disappointments of his feuds with Lesnar and Jericho as examples of him not taking the ball and running with it. They likely also noted that his feud with Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns was always going to be massively over, regardless of the effort put in by the 3 men. I think, however, that the answer is more evenly balanced between Ambrose, who I think became very apathetic once his character became less serious and more comedy-reliant, and the WWE writing staff who booked him into that corner.

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Ambrose certainly didn’t help his cause by outwardly criticising Brock Lesnar and by delivering a famously flat performance on the Steve Austin network interview. Being put down by Austin and getting on the wrong side of Lesnar was probably one of the final nails in the Ambrose coffin, and whilst many will blame WWE for that, you have to take into consideration that the WWE gave Ambrose plenty of opportunity to succeed. They made a big deal out of Ambrose, but it didn’t work, these things happen. Ambrose isn’t finished in the company, and he certainly isn’t entirely to blame, so let’s see if things can be rekindled. Only time will tell.

But that’s just one Mark’s opinion. Let me know what you think by finding me on Twitter @Mitchadams2013

 

 

Why I’m Going To Watch Slammiversary XV After 4 Years Away From Impact

It’s been 4 years since I last watched Impact Wrestling (Then known as TNA). In fact, it’s nearly 4 years to the day, as the last Impact PPV I can remember watching is Slammiversary from June 2nd 2013, main-evented by Bully Ray facing off against “The Icon” Sting.

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However, I have now decided to go back to the product and watch the upcoming PPV, Slammiversary XV. Now I know, enjoying Impact Wrestling isn’t the most popular opinion in the IWC right now, but having no prior experience of what the product has been/has become over the past 4 years and having no prior expectations of what the show can provide. I feel as though now is the time to go back to the product. Also, I’m not afraid to admit it, but I used to enjoy watching TNA. Sure it wasn;t the best thing on the planet, but neither was WWE, particularly around the 2009/10 era when I first found myself getting into TNA (Even going as far as to go back and watch TNA PPV’s from years gone).

So why have I decided to go back to Impact Wrestling after so long, and why do I think you should too? Well, the bottom line of my thinking comes down to the fact that I think that competition can only be a good thing for WWE. You’d be foolish to deny that WWE is going through somewhat of a slump at the moment, sure they seem to have picked things up again in the last couple of weeks, but the long-term picture of the WWE scene right now is that they only pick up the writing around the time of the Big Four PPVs. A severe lack of competition has led to the WWE becoming complacent when a Big Four PPV isn’t around the corner. To the extent that every PPV which isn’t a Big Four is almost treated as though they are network specials, with often very little effort put into them to make them special.

The issues in WWE spread further than the PPVs though, the TV ratings are suffering and WWE seem more concerned with short term fixes (see giving away a MITB match for free) rather than taking a step back, re-evaluating their product and making the drastic changes that are needed to make them feel fresh again.

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I admit that from what I hear Impact Wrestling is currently not much more than a “WWE-lite”, but that’s why I think it’s so important to come back to the product at this PPV. Having listened to two fantastic interviews conducted by Simon Miller, one with Impact wrestler Moose and one with the main man himself Jeff Jarrett, it seems as though everyone involved with the company are truly treating this as the reset button. It may be the final chance we grant Impact Wrestling to change their product enough to differentiate themselves from the WWE, because God knows they’ve had enough chances to do it already, but I believe that we need to give them that chance.

Coming in at this stage I must admit is partially selfish, as I have only heard bad things about the Borash/Matthews feud and I’m hoping that the feud is one of the things that are tied up and finished with this PPV. Similarly, I’m hoping that Impact takes this chance to end the GFW side of things and move forward as one consistent and singular brand.

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Lastly, I think the card is strong enough to warrant a return to the product. Bobby Lashley vs. Alberto El Patron has the star power and ability to be a strong main event, with the winner being a worthy face of the company going forward into the new branding (I personally want this to be Bobby Lashley). EC3 and James Storm are both fantastic performers from what I have seen (Or heard in regards to EC3), so the strap match between the two should be fun. The Full Metal Mayhem match has the potential to be a show-stealer if done correctly, and then perhaps the match I most excited about, my return to the X-Division a 2 out of 3 falls match between Sonjay Dutt and Low Ki for the X-Division Championship. It’s rare that you see such a strong card on one PPV, particulalry in WWE where you rarely see a card like this, even at one of the Big Four PPVs.

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So does this mean I’m going to start watching Impact Wrestling exclusively? Not at all. Does it even mean that I will carry on watching Impact beyond Slammiversary? Not if they don’t do enough to win me over, no. I’ve simply decided to give the company one final shot in the hopes that they can see a return to form, and even if it’s in the smallest of ways, push the WWE to be better. Wrestling will benefit from a reborn Impact Wrestling, but we as the fans are the only ones who can make that happen.

Fingers crossed Impact take advantage of this PPV.

But that’s just one Mark’s opinion. Let me know what you think by finding me on social media @MitchKAdams

How To Build An Alternative To WWE?

Going off this week’s very excellent edition of The Squash podcast (27/06/2017) hosted by Ben Spindler and Gavin Duenas, I decided it would be a fun blog to try and tackle the same subject that they expertly handled, if you were given free reign to create an alternative to the wrestling conglomerate that is the WWE, how would you do it?

Some of what I say in this blog will be echoes of what Ben and Gavin covered in their podcast, so I highly recommend giving that a listen first and then coming back here after. However, I feel as though I have some key differences to the way I would build up this alternative to the way they would do it.

For the sake of arguing I’m going to roll with the assumption that this company we’re building from the ground up has the pulling power and production value of around the Impact Wrestling level (Sans financial problems).

So let’s get cracking by taking a look at the general structure of my alternative to WWE.

Part 1

Firstly, I think it’s very important to note that the WWE is for the large part focused upon the “Entertainment” side of pro-wrestling, rather than the faux-sport side. As such, my new company would lean heavily in the other direction, taking the sport aspect in its stride and treating everything with a serious sense of realism. This would feature in a range of aspects of the company, including press conferences before each PPV (Which would be every 2 months) where fighters would build a large amount of the pre-match hype. To compensate for there only being a PPV every 2 months the company would have bi-weekly shows instead of weekly, with the show time clocking in at 2 hours.

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Feuds would be based around the idea of two wrestlers wanting to prove they are the best in the world/working towards a title shot/fighting over a championship. This way when personal feuds do come along (Again, they would be realistic feuds, no fighting over custody of children) they feel all the more important and real blood feuds can be crafted.
Wrestlers would be rotated so that the major stars aren’t appearing every other week, keeping their larger than life aura in tact and preventing acts from getting stale. With perhaps the larger stars who are currently involved in feuds only appearing in sit-down interviews, or promo packages to keep hype and interest going, then re-appearing live on TV at the following show.
Instead of having one style of wrestling on the show, e.g. the WWE Style which results in Cruiserweight matches feeling exactly the same as heavyweight ones, I would instead split the roster up into true weight-classes as is done in MMA and Boxing (From which the vast inspiration of this company shall be drawn). Each weight class would then be given a unique style and feel to it, whilst at the same time allowing the unique aspects of individual wrestlers to shine through in order to help get over their own character/style. Also, I wouldn’t limit the wrestlers to only ever having to fight others from their own weight class. If the story is good enough then someone who has been booked to look like a star in their own weight class can make the jump up or down to challenge a champion from another class if they are able to prove themselves against other members of that new weight class first.

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Finally in terms of structure would be the aesthetic of the product itself. I wouldn’t want to feel anything like WWE, so we can do away with the ramp and large set that WWE have, and instead we would focus on a more intimate setting. For our entrance I want to think of the Madison Square Garden entrance, where wrestlers walk down a tiny pathway, with fans on either side. And it terms of entrance music/presentation I want to copy what the WWE (Ironically) has done with Sonya Deville in NXT. Give wrestlers an entrance that makes them feel like a badass, attire and all. Once you have got them over enough that their entrance alone makes them feel like a badass, then the wrestlers can do all the hard work in the ring to complete your in-ring product.

Part 2

As for personnel and who I would bring in, I would want to avoid any potential “WWE rejects” so as to feel completely isolated from that brand of wrestling. Only bring in stars who were legit top guys in the WWE, should they be released (e.g. Del Rio, Jeff Hardy, Bobby Lashley etc.) but don’t strap a rocket to their back right away. Make it seem like they struggle once they get to your company, that way you can begin to paint the picture to your audience that the competition is tougher here than in the WWE.

Beyond the WWE former stars I would focus entirely on the best workers in the world in terms of in-ring performance. Remember, this promotion wouldn’t be reliant upon promo work, as is the case in boxing a lot of that would be done through video packages and pre-taped interviews (Where you have all the time in the world to get the right take), so the people you bring in can be pushed to the moon so long as they can get their wrestling ability over.

Top Indy-scene stars should be your projects, the guys who you do strap a rocket to and see if they can take off. If you can mould these Indy-stars into world renowned wrestlers, who carry your company on your shoulders, then you’re doing a lot right (Think TNA’s best years where it was being carried by AJ Styles, Kaz, Daniels, Storm, Roode, Abyss and Joe).

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The final piece of the puzzle would be your authority figure. Instead of having a GM or Commissioner, as is the way in WWE, I would have an owner/promoter (Think Dana White in UFC). Someone who can do the talking for wrestlers if needs be, and who can book impartially because they just want to make the company the best it can be without having a personal agenda.

Combine all this together and I think you have a pretty damn solid recipe for an alternative pro-wrestling platform that moves away from the WWE mould.

But that’s just one Mark’s opinion. Let me know what you think on social media by finding me @MitchKAdams.

Why Roman Reigns doesn’t deserve the hate

My first wrestling piece for this new blog and I’m already bracing for the hate. But having being on the side of fans who despise Roman Reigns with a passion, I began to question why it was continuing and I’ve now convinced myself that Roman Reigns is a worthy John Cena Jr.

Why? *Borrows (Steals) catchphrase from Simon Miller* Here’s why!

At the time of me writing this Roman Reigns, the person we all fell in love with during his time in the Shield, is currently received worse by the majority of WWE live crowds (Not to mention on the internet) than the jobber who was sky-rocketed to the top, Jinder Mahal. It was this fact that made me finally turn a corner and begin to question exactly why we were all booing the Samoan Cena.

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When Reigns debuted in the Shield, as the bunch of Indy-loving, heel supporters that we are, we immediately took the group to heart (Reigns included, despite his lack of Indy scene experience). For the entire run of the Shield, all 3 members were massively over with the crowd. Whether they were being booed as heels, or cheered as faces, they were over in a good way. Then Seth broke off on his own and everything started to go downhill for Reigns.

I have no doubt that the ludicrous scripts the WWE gave him whilst pushing him to the moon did him no favours, but we know that Reigns is better than that and we never pin bad scripts on other wrestlers, we pin the blame where it belongs, creative. Furthermore, whilst Reigns was delivering  ridiculous promos, we were calling for Reigns to be turned into his badass version, for him to come out, say little and just kick ass. So what did WWE do? They did exactly that. But the heat never stopped coming, no one stopped to say “Hey, they actually did what we asked, why are still booing him?”. What’s more important than that MASSIVE fact though, is the fact that Reigns is always putting on great matches. Yes, it takes two to tango as they say, but Reigns has shown he can have a great match with nearly anyone and as of right now his programs have by and large been the best things about Raw for quite some time. So why was Roman proving the exception to the rule?

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The answer is pretty simple, he was being pushed at the wrong time. He was being pushed at the time when Daniel Bryan was hitting fever pitch levels of support.

Had Roman Reigns been pushed the following year, had he been allowed to step aside for 12 months to give Daniel Bryan his Rumble win and subsequent win at Mania then I truly believe that by now Reigns would be the solidified top-guy in the company (Because as much as we would have wanted Bryan to maintain that run, no one would place the blame on Reigns for what happened to Bryan’s health).

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So just take a step back the next time you’re about to boo Roman Reigns. He may not have spent 6 years travelling the Indy scene before arriving in the WWE, but he paid more dues during his time in the Shield than many other wrestlers have paid before hitting the top (Looking at you Jinder).

But that’s just one Mark’s opinion. Let me know what you think via social media @MitchKAdams and be sure to stick around as I write up the many blog ideas I have backlogged.

 

 

Liberal Democrats Memorandum

The centre ground has vanished and it is we, the Liberal Democrats who surrendered it. Despite the warning signs, we chased the ideological vision of a second referendum on Brexit, hoping that anti-Tory and anti-Hard Brexit sentiments would see us commit a “smash and grab” of Remain votes. Instead our resulting campaign saw us focus on an issue that was becoming secondary, even to those who voted against it less than one year ago.

Our reasoning was sound, the Labour party were falling apart from within and our unity and strong online presence gave us the opportunity to make a name for ourselves during a snap election as the real opposition. However, the execution of this plan was poor and we became a single-issue party who held no legitimate claim to the Centre-ground of the UK political spectrum. With Jeremy Corbyn pulling Labour, not only apart from within, but also to a hard-left doctrine and Theresa May pulling the country towards a hard-Brexit it was on the centre-ground that we should have staged our campaign.

Relying on a “Remainer” bounce in our vote by promising a second referendum on the terms we left the EU, was a mistake that I described as potentially “catastrophic” for our party when I wrote to Tim Farron 7 months before the election. I am happy to write today saying that the decision was not as catastrophic as I first predicted, but it certainly held us back. A party does not establish itself as the “real opposition” simply by opposing one policy that the two biggest parties in our country were either directly or indirectly supporting. All this did was establish that we were the anti-Brexit party, a group of people who were aiming for votes from the 49% of people who voted leave and who were willing to alienate the other 51% in order to do it. Compiling this with the fact that it was evident very early on that the general public were becoming tired of referendums and elections (And politics in general), and it is easy to see why our campaign began to fall apart.

This, however, is history as they say. It is time for the Liberal Democrats to commit to a restructure and devise a new way of thinking, and this memorandum is how I believe we should go about doing just that.

Our Direction

The direction this country is taking is clear, we will leave the European Union and a large part of our society and links to the wider world, for want of a better phrase, will be hitting the reset button. I am firmly of the opinion that as a party we have squandered the opportunity to stake a claim as the “real opposition”, and now our focus must now be redirected.

Since the Coalition our party has suffered dramatically in local and national elections. Despite a highly welcome increase to our party membership this has not been reflected in real-term votes. This is where our focus needs to begin, with setting our sights on rebuilding from the ground up. All of our efforts need to be focussed on ourselves, rather than trying to bring down the Labour party. It is all very well and good making the claim to be the real opposition, but with only a handful of MPs it is nearly impossible to back up or to be taken seriously.

I suggest a renewed focus on the centre ground and a national rebranding. An issue such as our exit from the European Union is no longer the “luxury” single-ticket item that we have the chance to oppose. Therefore a complete revamp of our policies so as to firmly realign ourselves in the political centre and an effective national branding campaign to accompany this, is now a necessity.

It is now required of the Liberal Democrats to show that in a world where our country is being torn between two extremes that we are “strong and stable” centre upon whom the population can rely. This is what our campaign should have been focussed on during GE2017, presenting ourselves as the party under whom Brexit would have been the easiest transition, rather than the party who would attempt to prevent it altogether, yet disguise it under a second referendum.

We should not be scared to adopt policies from the left or right wings of politics, it is foolish of any party to outright deny that feasible and efficient ideas can be born from ideologically opposing sides. One example I present to you here today is on Defence policy. Many assume that there are very few votes to be won on Defence issues, and whilst this is not something I agree with, I also propose that it doesn’t matter. And yes, the Liberal Democrat 2017 manifesto did have some very good policies on defence, but it could have gone further. The policy of a “Golden Handshake” to STEM graduates who go into armed forces engineering is only a Step 1 policy, the starter blocks, if you will. Furthermore, I would maintain the position we held on reducing Trident to 3 submarines, but I would go one step further and ring-fence the money saved on this policy so that it has to go back into our defence expenditure. The Ministry of Defence is severely underfunded and for all the rhetoric the Conservative party produce about putting £178 billion into defence equipment funding, this still isn’t enough. It leaves room for a centre ground party who have a strong policy stance on Defence and a liberal attitude towards Britain’s role on the world stage to really take the reins on this area of policy and lock it down as one of their own.

Our position in the world will be changing drastically over the coming years and I believe that it will be wrong to turn the idea of Nationalism into one that comes with negative connotations. As such the Liberal Democrats can begin to represent the level-headed approach to Britain’s role in the world after Brexit. We can still be the party that we should have been presenting ourselves as before the election.

What Steps Need To Be Taken?

Much like peeling off a plaster the way we are going to achieve our end goals of reaffirming our place in Westminster and regaining our lost influence, is through the short but sharp pain that comes with restructuring our party. I do not write this memorandum with the belief that I will convince everyone in our party that this is the path which we need to take, no do I believe that I will even convince most. But regardless, it is here where I make my bolder claims about where we as a party need to go and it is likely here where I lose those disregard the need for any drastic change.

Our current party structure is failing us. I have already highlighted how our attitude towards policy needs to be shifted, but I believe that our internal workings also need a revamp. In the general election only 29.1% of our candidates were female, for a party that champions liberal attitudes and equality that simply isn’t good enough.  If necessary I would have our party adopt all-women short lists and create a new list of candidates, so that these people can begin in earnest to become champions of the local area in preparation for future elections (Which are not too far away, I feel we can all agree on that).

Secondly, we are restricting ourselves when choosing our Shadow Cabinet. I do not believe that we should be relying so heavily on our colleagues in the House of Lords to fill out roles that we otherwise would not have enough MPs to fill. Instead I would challenge our Leader to name younger members of our party, those from less traditional roles such as councillors, who may have fresh and innovative ideas on how to move our party forward. We should be lucky and grateful that our role in Parliament was enlarged during the General Election and playing our cards safe was fine for steadying the ship after 2015, but now is the time to take risks, now is the time to start rebuilding the ship.

Lastly, I call on Tim Farron to step down as leader of the Liberal Democrats. I want to be very clear that I have great respect for Tim Farron and I believe that he did an admirable job considering the uphill battle he found himself adopting when he took charge. However, I do not see a successful future under Tim Farron for the Liberal Democrats. I would ask that our party instead looks towards the future and supports the application of Jo Swinson as our new leader. Having previously being a Spokesperson for our party in the areas of foreign affairs, equality and Scotland, as well as being a Minister for Business and for Women and Equalities, Jo is perfectly placed to lead our party in what are rocky times. I firmly believe that with our full support Jo Swinson could be the ideal candidate to move our party forward.

Positives and Negatives

No plan is without flaw however and I am confident enough to recognise the faults in mine. Quick and thorough restructuring can sometimes do more harm than good, however the time will never be more opportune than now, with the Conservatives on the back-foot having suffered a disastrous General Election campaign and Labour having restructured around the left of the political spectrum.

The worst case scenario coming out from this restructure would be that we have until the next general election to redefine it and figure out what is and isn’t working for us. But if we are all honest with each other, our situation can’t realistically get much worse.

The best case scenario however far outweighs this. We are being afforded the chance to start over and if we take it then we can rise anew from the ashes that we left behind in 2015. We can maintain our liberal stance on society, whilst at the same time being strong enough to show that we have what it takes to not only oppose the Government, but to do so without compromising our ideals in order to win votes.

Conclusion

I recognise that I have proposed drastic change to our internal party structure, and somewhat lesser of a drastic change to our outlook on policy, but I am of the belief that this is what our party needs. We would be fools to coast for the next Parliament, and the sooner that we make changes the greater our chance is of being able to make a difference the next time we are afforded the opportunity.

As a party we were handed a once in a lifetime opportunity to hit a home-run during this general election, and we failed to take it, as such we are today facing the consequences of that. But if we work together, as we always have, and execute our plan effectively, then there is no real opposition standing in our way of resurgence.

How we react to the events of the past 7 years will define our future as a party. We can either show our strength and recognise that we are in need of change, make that change and then push on, taking our future by our own hands and not allowing it to be dictated by anyone else.  Or, we can flounder over the coming years as we allow indecision and split opinions to disrupt where we stand going into a period of time when we need to be as united as possible.

Our country needs a party to lead it through Brexit and beyond, our country needs a party that embodies the essence of liberalism in a divided world, but one that recognises the economic and nationalist context of the time. Our country needs a strong centre ground party, our country needs us to be the party we should have been during this election campaign.

We can still be that party.