Make no mistake: Layla Moran's Lib Dem leadership platform is terrible. She wants to scrap Ofsted, stop publishing league tables of schools and call time on SATs for primary school kids. These policies are so bad that as a parent of three I would have to seriously think about leaving the country if Layla was ever put in charge of our education system. These policies slide in well with the rest of the platform, which is a blancmange of green-flavoured leftist material. Layla herself summarises it beautifully in one sentence: 'We need an economy that puts the environment and people's well-being first'. Moran's politics is totally disconnected from the concerns of parents and many ordinary people.
Having said all that, I am still rooting for her to beat Ed Davey and become the next leader of the Lib Dems. Why? Given my connection to the Orange Book tradition within the Lib Dems, this may come as a surprise to some. But I believe my reasoning here to be sound: I want Layla to win so that I can finally write off the Lib Dems and move on with my life. If Layla becomes the Lib Dem leader, I will be able to completely turn my back on the party, which will come as a relief.
If Ed Davey gets the job instead, I will still be stuck in a sort of Lib Dem purgatory. I agree with Ed on a lot more than I do Layla; I know part of me will find it difficult not to cheer him on a little if he became leader. Yet I also know two things. One, Ed isn’t good enough to make the Lib Dems nationally relevant again. I’m sorry to say this, but it’s true.
And two, given the evolution of his platform over the course of this torturously elongated leadership contest, Ed has shown how scared he is of the left of the party. He has given in to the whole 'we need to form a progressive alliance with Labour' thing, fearing that’s where the membership is at right now.
If Layla becomes leader, it will simply be a matter of time before the Lib Dems and the Greens formally merge. And when I say merge, I mean the Greens get the Lib Dem machinery while the Lib Dems get to shed their tarnished brand; basically, the Lib Dems melt into the Greens, offering an intense focus on the environment, coupled with a zero-growth economic outlook and UBI.
In a way this would make sense. After all, what are the differences between the Lib Dems and the Greens anymore? Answer: the Lib Dems have a right wing in their party while the Greens do not. Shed that and a merger of the parties only makes sense to both. Of course, that new and improved Green party will only get in the way of a Labour majority, as ever, but who knows, perhaps making some sort of electoral pact with the Greens will be easier for Labour members to swallow than one with the hated yellows.
For those of us who have continued to hope that the Lib Dems could become a pro-business, pro-personal freedom party, one that could flourish in an age in which both main parties are economically statist and free speech is in a pickle, the demise of the party would be sad. Yet I’d rather at this point say that if it is going to die, the Lib Dems do so in the fastest, easiest way possible. Ed Davey as leader would simply prolong the mortality process, making it much more slow and painful. Better to get Layla in now and confirm the worst fears of Lib Dems like me. Keep it up Layla Moran. Some of us in unexpected quarters are cheering you on to victory.