Jo swinson

The Liberal Democrats’ costly mistake

Oh dear. Failure comes in many forms but it usually stings a little more when it also involves large sums of money. That’s the situation the Liberal Democrats are in following their disappointing election result in which they failed to make overall gains – and then party leader Jo Swinson lost her seat. This morning the Electoral Commission has released new figures of donations received by the main parties during the final quarter of 2019. The Conservatives led in donations with a total of £37.7m. When it comes to the other parties, the Liberal Democrats actually overtook Labour – accepting £13.6m in donations to Labour’s £10.6m. Given that the party

The Lib Dems’s survival now rests with Labour

A truly dire night for the Lib Dems. A net loss of one seat and a net loss of one leader. That was not the hoped-for outcome when Jo Swinson took the gamble of agreeing to Boris Johnson’s pre-Christmas election. So what went wrong? First, this wasn’t so much the Brexit election as ‘The Brexit Deal election’. If Boris Johnson had gone for his Plan A – a snap election in September threatening no-deal – I think the result would have been very different. Plenty of suburban Remain-leaning Conservative seats would have seriously been in play for the Lib Dems. But the double act of Hilary Benn and Dominic Grieve

Katy Balls

Jo Swinson’s election nightmare

The Liberal Democrats have capped off a bad campaign with a disastrous results night. The party is on course for a mere 11 seats. To put that into perspective they won 12 seats in 2017. Jo Swinson started the campaign suggesting she could be prime minister. Instead, she has lost her seat. The Lib Dem leader lost her seat of East Dunbartonshire to the SNP. Meanwhile, high profile defectors from the two main parties failed to win their seats, with Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger and Sam Gymiah all missing out. Long-standing Lib Dems have also suffered. Tom Brake lost his seat of Carshalton and Wallington to the Tories. He has

Andrew Neil interview: Jo Swinson sticks to her guns

Jo Swinson had a terrible session on Question Time earlier in the election campaign, but tonight in her interview with Andrew Neil, she showed that it is possible for a leader who believes what they are saying to survive a very tough grilling with their dignity intact. She faced difficult questions on her party’s Brexit position, on her voting record in the Coalition government, and on what she would do if her party lost seats at this election, but managed to stick to her guns in a way that showed up Jeremy Corbyn for not doing so in his interview – and Boris Johnson for not having the guts to

I’ve found the country’s last Lib Dem voter

In Gerrards Cross, in the rain, dusk falling, attempting to gauge the political mood of the town through the pristine fatuity of ‘vox pops’. You scour the street in desperate search of anyone who is aware an election is taking place and try to avoid the drongos. I approach one chap — besuited, late-middle-aged — and strike lucky. He is aware that we are in the midst of a general election campaign. He explains to me: ‘I am absolutely pig sick of the lot of them. It’s an absolute disgrace! We voted to leave the EU three years ago and it still hasn’t been done. They’ve let us all down.

Watch: Jo Swinson berated by frustrated Remain voter

The Liberal Democrat leader had an awful time on Friday night’s Question Time special. The audience was, at best, uninterested in her pitch. A notable moment was when a Remain voter criticised the Lib Dems for their policy of revoking Article 50, calling it ‘undemocratic’. You can watch the clip below:

What on earth are the Lib Dems up to?

Jo Swinson is right. Most of the gains that it’s worth her party aiming for would be made at the expense of the Conservatives. There are three reasons. First, glance at the 29 seats where the Liberal Democrats came second in 2017. Some 22 produced a ‘close’ result. Sixteen of these are held by the Tories, and only four by Labour. As my Times colleague Oliver Wright explains: ‘Even quite a dramatic swing from any of the other parties towards the Lib Dems could still reap very little reward.’ Secondly, Conservative and Lib Dem ideologies are not diametrically opposed. Anyone who’d even consider voting Tory would be fiercely resistant to

James Forsyth

Remain’s last stand: the collapse of the anti-Brexit campaign

Ever since the referendum, the two strongest political forces in Britain have been Leave and Remain. Loyalty to political parties has faded, but feelings about the referendum result are almost stronger now than they were on 23 June 2016. For Remainers, these are tense times: for years, there has been the hope of a second referendum and stopping Brexit. But if the Tories win a majority next month, then the UK will leave the European Union on 31 January and our future relationship with the EU will be negotiated by the man who led the Leave campaign. By the time of the next general election, Brexit will be a settled

Robert Peston

Might the Lib Dems back Boris if they find themselves kingmakers?

It had not occurred to me that the Lib Dems would ‘allow’ Boris Johnson to remain PM if he were to fail to win a majority but the Tories nonetheless were to emerge from the election with more MPs than any other party. I assumed Jo Swinson’s and her Lib Dem MPs’ savage criticism of Johnson and the Tories would lead the Lib Dem leader to swallow her pride at the last and eat the vitriol she has thrown at Corbyn. I have been taking it for granted she would find a way to agree some kind of arrangement with Remain parties and MPs, with Labour and the SNP, that

Whatever happened to the Lib Dems’ smart approach to tax?

I have already decided how I am going to vote in the general election: for whichever party produces a manifesto with the fewest uses of the phrase ‘green jobs’. Was there ever such a numb-skulled phrase? It has become the fallback for any politician who hasn’t the faintest idea of how we are going to meet these self-imposed targets to eliminate all carbon emissions by 2050, 2030, 2025, next Tuesday or whatever. Are you worried that we might end up with no heavy industry, that you won’t be able to fly or drive anywhere, that the gas grid will be turned off and your house left freezing? Never mind, we’re

Isabel Hardman

What’s going wrong for the Lib Dems?

The Liberal Democrats may have brought confetti canons to their manifesto launch, but they have still struggled to get as much attention today as they hoped, given Boris Johnson’s loose lips on the National Insurance threshold cut. They are also – by leader Jo Swinson’s own admission – suffering a squeeze in the polls. The latest YouGov poll has the party on 15 per cent, trailing Labour which is on 30 per cent and the Tories on 42 per cent. Perhaps more worryingly, given the focus on Swinson herself, voters don’t seem to warm to her the more they find out about her. What’s going wrong? One of the main

Jo Swinson denies firing stones at squirrels

Jo Swinson has branded accusations she fired stones at squirrels as ‘very fake news’. Screenshots of what appeared to be a Daily Mirror story have been widely circulated online. The article alleges that a private video of the Lib Dem leader has surfaced on Facebook, showing her pelting the furry mammals with pebbles using a slingshot. The Remain campaigner told LBC‘s Iain Dale she was becoming increasingly concerned about such viral stories: ‘They’re quite sophisticated in that people can believe them. I do think its worrying because it has echoes of what we’ve seen in other elections and particularly when you think about fake news and the technological possibility for deep fakes, where

I’ll vote Lib Dem – but I can’t join them

I don’t believe that before last week I’ve ever quit any organisation on an issue of principle. I tend to find people tiresome who make a song and dance about doing so. I never thought that one day I’d be ‘making an exhibition of myself’ (as my father used to say) and certainly not so late in my life. But in my Times column on Saturday that’s what I did. And it’s futile to deny I was attention-seeking. Of course I was. A columnist earns his bread by drawing attention to himself and his opinions. Quitting the party you joined 50 years ago is just a rather theatrical way of

Jo Swinson’s Corbyn problem

The Liberal Democrat election campaign launch was beset by technical difficulties which meant that Jo Swinson was at times hard to make out. However, the anti-Brexit message was loud and clear. The enthusiastic Liberal Democrat leader said she was ‘excited’ to stand as the Liberal Democrat candidate for Prime Minister. Swinson said there was a very real chance she could be the next inhabitant of 10 Downing Street as it was not about ‘the red team or the blue team anymore’. Swinson was clear that only her party could be trusted to stop Brexit. She pitched the Liberal Democrats as the party of the centre ground – stuck between two extremes

‘Remain or Leave?’ is no longer the key Brexit question

In an astonishing interview on the Today programme this morning, Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson tried to explain why she was tabling an amendment which would force a referendum on any deal the government presents to the House of Commons on the grounds that we should ‘let the people decide’. She then asserted that the country had changed its mind since the 2016 referendum and now wanted to remain. It had to be pointed out to her that her party has, in fact, just adopted a policy of reversing Article 50 without a referendum – so much for letting the people decide. The truth is that like so many Remain

Eight reasons why I know I’m a Conservative

‘Why don’t you just join the Liberal Democrats?’ If I’ve heard that once in the past couple of years I’ve heard it a hundred times. In online posts beneath my Times column, in public debates or private conversations, the question is sometimes a genuinely puzzled enquiry but more often an implied: ‘What the hell are you doing posing as a Tory?’ It’s all about Brexit, of course: the questioner’s assumption being that, strip from a Conservative the ambition that Britain should leave the European Union, and there remains nothing important to distinguish him or her from a Liberal Democrat. The assumption is part of the poisonous modern heresy that leaving

The Lib Dems have revealed the extreme side of modern liberalism

A friend’s seven-year-old daughter was asked by her school to write something about the NHS. Her only experience of it had been sitting for four hours in A&E while her father, in some pain, waited to be treated for a cricket injury. So she wrote about that. Her teacher deemed it ‘inappropriate’ and told her to write it again and make it ‘more positive’. I assume this authoritarian hag wanted something along the lines of: ‘The NHS is the only good thing about the UK and would be even better were it not for the Vicious Tory Cuts. It is staffed by thousands of brilliant people who have swum here

Jo Swinson is enjoying herself. But how long will it last?

Jo Swinson is quite obviously the only party leader enjoying what’s going on right now. This is, of course, partly because what’s going on for her is that she is regularly welcoming MPs from other parties into the Liberal Democrats. As she said in her speech to the party’s conference this afternoon, ‘I can’t be the only one losing count of our many newly-elected representatives’.  There are plenty of questions about some of those new MPs. Are they really Lib Dems, or are they just seeking refuge in the party because they have nowhere else to go and need funding in order to survive the next general election? Has the

Jo Swinson: why we must block Brexit

Jo Swinson has just delivered her first conference speech as Liberal Democrat leader. Here is her speech below. 21 years on from my first Liberal Democrat conference, I am thrilled to stand before you today as your leader. I’m delighted to see so many old friends who have kept the torch of liberalism burning bright through troubled times. And I’m excited to welcome thousands of new members to our cause, flocking to the Liberal Democrats as the clear rallying point for a movement to create an open, fair, inclusive society. Over the summer, we showed the others how it’s done. We had an energetic and positive leadership contest where many

Watch: Jo Swinson’s Brexit referendum muddle

Jo Swinson has said she will never forgive David Cameron for calling the EU referendum in 2016. ‘I think so many of the problems that we are facing right now stem from David Cameron’s shocking misjudgement in putting the interests of the Conservative party ahead of the national interest,’ the Lib Dem leader told her party’s conference in Bournemouth. But Mr S. notes that Swinson hasn’t always thought that way about a referendum. Back in 2008, Swinson told the Commons that she backed “a referendum on the major issue of in or out. It’s on the issue of in or out of Europe”. Swinson also took Brussels to task, saying that ‘the