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Davey elected Liberal Democrat leader

by Daniel Grummitt
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Davey elected Liberal Democrat leader

Davey elected Liberal Democrat leader – Acting Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey has been elected as permanent leader of the party after easing to victory against Layla Moran. The protracted contest – which began formally on 24th June but actually began in earnest in December following Jo Swinson’s resignation after the party’s poor General Election performance – saw Davey gain 42,756 votes (63.5%) to Moran’s 24,564 (36.5%) on a turnout of 57.1%.  The share of the vote Davey received after the party issued the most ballot papers in its history to members is the largest in a Lib Dem leadership contest since Paddy Ashdown’s 71% in 1988.

Davey, the MP for Kingston and Surbiton for all but two years since 1997, promised to start listening to voter’s concerns and said he would embark on a tour of the country to improve the party’s single-digit poll rating. Many have questioned the point of the Liberal Democrats since the election of Sir Keir Starmer as Labour leader and the former’s drift leftwards as both seemingly now occupy a similar political space.

“We have to wake up and smell the coffee,” Davey said. “Nationally, our party has lost touch with too many voters. Yes, we are powerful advocates locally. Our campaigners listen to local people, work hard for communities and deliver results. But at the national level, we have to face the facts of three disappointing general election results.

“The truth is voters don’t believe that the Liberal Democrats want to help ordinary people get on in life. Nationally, voters have been sending us a message. But we have not been listening. As leader I am telling you: I have got that message. I am listening now. I will travel up and down our country to meet you. To hear about the things that matter most to you.”

Moran, the MP for Oxford West and Abingdon since 2017, congratulated Davey, saying on Twitter: “I look forward to working with him to campaign for a better future for Britain.” The 37-year-old was seen as the more left-wing of the two candidates and most likely to work closely with the Labour Party in order to defeat Boris Johnson’s government. She is also untainted by association with the increasingly unpopular coalition government of 2010, something that is not true of Davey and was seen as one of Swinson’s weaknesses during the 2019 General Election campaign at which she lost her seat.

Davey, 54, meanwhile, is a veteran of the party and was Energy Secretary in the 2010-15 coalition with the Conservatives. He lost his seat in 2015 but regained it two years later before losing out to Swinson in the 2019 leadership election. Knighted in 2016 for political and public service and a party member for three decades, he was seen as the safer choice and the one more likely to appear to Conservative voters in Lib Dem-Tory marginals. Analysis of the 2019 General Election results shows that there are significantly more of those than there are Lib Dem-Labour ones.

In his personal life, Davey is married to fellow Liberal Democrat Emily and speaks four languages. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a privy councillor following his time in government.

Image Source: Keith Edkins / CC BY-SA

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