Lib dems

Watch: Ed Davey confronted by word cloud

The Lib Dem conference is well underway and the party has a spring in its step. After four by-election gains in this parliament, there’s much excited talk in the conference bars about the party doubling their MPs next year. So what’s behind the orange surge? Clearly, er, not their less-than-charismatic leader. Sir Ed Davey was wheeled out on the BBC this morning for his annual hit interview. And Victoria Derbyshire opted to use the occasion to show the Kingston MP just what voters think of him. Davey was confronted by a striking ‘word cloud’ of the words most associated with him. They are, in descending order, ‘Don’t know’, ‘no idea’

Why the Lib Dems want Boris back

Suddenly, out of the blue, comes a saviour. The Lib Dems have failed to capitalise on the downfall of Liz Truss. As the Tories’ polling hits record lows, all of the gains are going to Labour. This weekend, Ed Davey and his colleagues will be praying for the return of Boris Johnson. Boris was gold dust for the Lib Dems. In Ed Davey’s coveted Blue Wall seats across southern England, Boris was their greatest asset near the end of his premiership. These seats are traditionally Tory but lean Remain and socially liberal. They are also filled with the type of voters who would respond most warmly to Rishi Sunak’s ‘sensible’

The joy of Boris’s bungled by-election

By any reasonable standard the result in the North Shropshire by-election must be reckoned the funniest in years. Perhaps even decades. All governments need checking from time to time and desserts are always served justly. So this is a welcome result and not just because it is, viewed objectively, hilarious. Nevertheless, it is quite an achievement to lose a seat held by the Conservatives, in one shape of another, for 120 years. To do so just two years after winning more than 60 per cent of the vote and a majority of almost 23,000 votes is quite something. To do so to the Liberal Democrats, who took just ten per

Has the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ time finally come?

I announced my candidacy for the leadership of the Scottish Liberal Democrats this week and am under no illusions of the task ahead of me should I take the helm. In the aftermath of the coalition there was a real risk that the Liberal flame could flicker out. But with hard work, my colleagues and I have succeeded in turning our constituencies into fortresses. We have Willie Rennie to thank for that in large part. In his decade in charge of our party, Willie has gained a personal affection among the public with his colourful photo opportunities and the most recognisable smile in Scottish politics. When I think of Willie’s

Who can make the Scottish Lib Dems great again?

Willie Rennie’s resignation — announced, as only he could, via a self-shot video while climbing Benarty Hill in western Fife — means there’s now a vacancy at the top of the Scottish Liberal Democrats. Given the party holds just four seats at Holyrood and four at Westminster, the summit of Benarty enjoys a more elevated position than the Lib Dem leadership. But can Rennie’s replacement have any more luck in reviving the party’s fortunes? The party was in government at Holyrood from 1999 to 2007 as Scottish Labour’s junior partner but Nick Clegg’s coalition with David Cameron, the rise of the SNP and the political realignment brought about by the

Why I was so wrong about the Lib Dems

Right, I got that one spectacularly wrong. On Monday, I made a prediction that the Lib Dems were going to get thumped by the Tories in the Chesham and Amersham by-election. In fact, the Lib Dems pulled off a stunning victory, overturning a 16,000 majority in a seat that has always voted Conservative. But while the result surprised me, even as a lifelong Lib Dem, I won’t be celebrating.  This week, for the first time in my political life, I made a faulty prediction of the Lib Dems’ electoral chances because I wanted them to lose. This clouded my judgement as much, if not more, than my previous desire for them to win.

Labour is in last chance saloon

If they have any sense – a proposition I will test later – officials from Labour, the Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru will be beginning meetings to work out a pact for the 2023/24 election. If they do not agree to a joint programme, there’s a good chance that Conservatives will be in power until a sizeable portion of this article’s readership is dead. The next redrawing of constituency boundaries in 2023 is almost certain to favour the Conservatives, adding ten seats to the already unhittable target of 123 constituencies Labour needs to win to govern on its own. There’s a possibility that Scotland could be independent by the end

Why are the Lib Dems siding with France in the Jersey crisis?

The situation in Jersey is rapidly spiralling out of control and dominating the headlines. But once again, the Lib Dems have surpassed themselves in responding terribly to a crisis that offered them a chance to win over voters. After a predictable post-Brexit mix-up on fishing rights in the Channel, France’s maritime minister Annick Girardin hit back. Girardin threatened to pull the plug on Jersey’s energy supply – a worrying threat given the island gets 95 per cent of its power from the continent. This was a ridiculous, over-the-top response to what has been happening as the new fishing regime takes effect. Brexit was a situation that was always going to require a measure of diplomacy

Why the Lib Dems could soon cause trouble for Boris

Much of the focus when it comes to ‘Super Thursday’ centres on whether or not the Tories can pull off an electoral coup by snatching Hartlepool from Labour.  But the Lib Dems’ role in the drama has largely gone unnoticed – and a good result for Ed Davey’s party could spell the start of trouble for Boris Johnson. Labour needs to hold onto Hartlepool. It’s really that simple. To lose the seat, particularly to a Conservative party that has been in power for eleven years, would be devastating. Starmer is also under pressure in the local elections. To put this into perspective, Labour lost around 400 seats in the areas being contested

The sad state of Scottish Labour is bad news for Boris

Nicola Sturgeon has laid down the gauntlet to Boris Johnson over Scottish independence: if the SNP wins, as it inevitably will, in May’s Scottish parliamentary elections, a ‘legal referendum’ should be held. How should the PM respond to the First Minister? The uncomfortable truth for Boris and the Tories is that there may be no good way out of this situation. Douglas Ross, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, has so far offered his riposte: the Scottish Tories will boycott the whole thing. As counterattacks go, it’s not without its strategic merits. However, one thing looks set to completely undermine this plan: the weakness of Scottish Labour and the other opposition parties

Ed Davey is leading the Lib Dems to extinction

Ed Davey became leader of the Liberal Democrats almost five months ago. Since then, his party has achieved nothing. The Lib Dems currently poll at around five per cent, meaning that a party that only six years ago was in government now enjoys less support than the Greens. If this is embarrassing, it isn’t surprising: the Lib Dems have had little to say for a very long time and certainly not since Davey took the reins.  Davey fought hard to become Lib Dem leader. But it seems that his ambition stopped there. So why did he ever want to become leader in the first place? Don’t get me wrong: I have

Why are Ed Davey’s Lib Dems keeping such a low profile?

Paddy Ashdown once joked that he was the only leader of a major party to have presided over an opinion poll rating represented by an asterisk, denoting that no discernible support could be found anywhere in the land. While he was granting himself poetic licence in the telling of that anecdote – it was an occasional foible of one polling company only to list the Tory and Labour scores on the front page of its survey results – it was indeed the case that Lib Dem poll ratings of five per cent or less peppered the early stages of his leadership. This week an opinion poll by Savanta ComRes recorded that

Labour’s path to victory lies in destroying the Lib Dems

It has become a truism that there are not enough liberal voters to get Labour a majority at the next general election. That Labour need to recapture some of the socially conservative vote to win. That they need the ‘red wall’ seats back to give them even the slimmest chance of victory. But for a period last year, however brief, the Lib Dems were as high as 24 per cent in the national polls. If Starmer can tap into this potential electorate I believe he can win, and Labour can become the biggest party in England and Wales – which would probably allow the party to govern. It looks like