Ed Davey MP writes….My reflections from the Campaign Trail

This map may resemble the route of one of Ian Botham’s never-ending charity walks or the British leg of the Tour de France where the organiser forgets to place a finishing line. But it’s actually a record of my campaigning odyssey over the past year, through our fantastic local and European elections onto my campaign to become leader of our party.

I’ve loved every minute – from Aberdeen to Penzance. Like my hero Paddy Ashdown and indeed most Liberal Democrats, I’m happiest out of Westminster meeting people – or, when with our brilliant Brecon candidate, Jane Dodds, meeting the odd sheep while clambering barbed wire fences. (Have you been to B&R yet?!)

I’ve been gate-crashed in Nottingham by Steve Bray, the amazing Stop Brexit campaigner – so we performed a great Stop Brexit duet; I’ve climbed a wind turbine in North Cornwall whilst campaigning to decarbonise capitalism; and I’ve endured the vagaries of the rail network – as I’m calling for rail improvements to discourage internal flights, my campaign is flight-free, to the occasional frustration of my diary manager.

On Sunday, after a head-to-head with Andrew Marr, I sacrificed all prospect of watching the Cricket and Wimbledon to go and speak to members in Oxford – and was welcomed by a healthy crowd, despite the competition!

My main takeaway of the campaign is whoever wins this contest will be incredibly privileged to lead this party’s 107,000 members. I hope it’s me, of course, so I can deliver my long-term vision for the future of our party – on stopping Brexit, and beyond. But the next Leader will enjoy a vibrant party fizzing with ideas and energy.

Politics needs causes – alone among Britain’s political parties we are united by our determination to stop Brexit. Hustings have shown me we all share the belief that stopping Brexit is much bigger than party politics, and so many of you have responded warmly to my call for a temporary Government of National Unity, to deliver a People’s Vote.

But you have also responded to my ideas about our purpose after we’ve stopped Brexit – on healing the divisions and inequality that caused Brexit, on becoming THE party of the environment, ready to tackle the climate crisis, and on giving the country hope again, with new opportunities for our young people through huge investment in education and training.

A leadership candidate willing and ready to be our first Liberal Democrat Prime Minister must set out their priorities for a programme for Government, and as I’ve toured the country, I hope you feel I’ve done that.

From my plan to Stop Brexit, to my agenda of a “Remain dividend” aimed at ushering in a green revolution to transform the infrastructure of “left-behind” communities. From my focus on a new council house building programme and revitalising local government, to my mission to make the UK the best educated and trained country in the world, within a decade.

We can have the platform to attract both lifelong Conservative and Labour voters – and win.

And wherever I’ve been, my message has been met with enthusiasm and support. So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

* Ed Davey is the MP for Kingston and Surbiton and Lib Dem Home Affairs spokesperson.

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10 Comments

  • I don’t want to sound defeatist but the past 3 or 4 Weeks have seen a big shift in Polling, we & The Brexit Party have fallen & The Tories & Labour have risen.
    Looking at the last 10 Polls I estimate that “Brexit” & Libdems are both around 18% while Labour & Tories are around 24%. The gap between top & bottom has doubled in a few Weeks.
    The Temporary boost that we got from The Local & European Elections is fading & while we may well get more boosts from a New Leader & victory in Brecon that just buys us more time, those boosts will also fade.
    The only way we can prepare for a possible General Election is to build a New Alliance of Progressive Parties & Ed Davey seems to have rejected that idea in advance.
    A Davey Leadership would not make a New Alliance impossible but it would make it much harder to achieve.

  • Paul – Don’t forget we spent most of the last 9 years polling consistently in the very low teens and single digits. I remember nearly doing GBH to my laptop one day at the end of last year when yet another poll came out with us on 7%! So, personally, I’ll take 18%. For now anyway. We ‘only’ got 20% in the Euros after all, so it’s not bad.
    I think our leadership election has probably run on a bit too long and that has made it hard for us to get the sort of media coverage we’d like, but this time next week we will have a brilliant new leader and hopefully lots of new energy. So everyone keep doing the work locally and please lets all get to Brecon if we can. No complacency of course, but no need to be downhearted either. 🙂

  • Sorry, Paul, I think you are either reacting to a previous inaccurate account of Ed’s views on cross-party cooperation, or have not read his latest very firm positive statement?

  • Actually not really the case @Paul Barker.

    The key is to look at polls conducted by the same company. They are almost equally divided between showing us up a point or down a point in their latest poll compared to their previous poll. 1% certainly, 2% and indeed up to 6% is statistically the same in a sample as regards the underlying population. Pull 2,000 differently coloured socks out of drawers that contain millions (!) and you’d be pretty amazed to get within 1% of the correct underlying population – yet the maths does show you’d get within 3% 19 out of 20 times.

    The only issue is yougov which had us on the famed 24% and in the lead a few days after the Euros. Whether that was because it was yougov, statistical noise or because it was immediately after the Euros is mpossible to tell – probably all 3. But I think it fair to say that we were probably a few points more than now up *immediately* after the euros. But it’s unfair to say that we haven’t had a significant and consistent (without really any fading) boost from both the locals and euros. Indeed 18% is higher than we have averaged before most general election campaigns and of course we have the advantage that our rivals are much closer to us than then!

    I think you can safely say that the polls may well be a bit erratic after the leadership elections and the by-election. It will be interesting both where they reach and how they settle down.

    I am not sure Ed has rejected the idea of working with other parties. But with hindsight it is fair to say that if we’d done a deal with change Uk for the Euros and they’d got say 9% and several MEPs and as a result were still polling 9% it’d be a major pain for us! The first task is to unite remain (and progressive) voters in one party as sadly under FPTP to do otherwise means such voters winning very little representation in Parliament. Now in essence that does matter whether it is us, the greens, or Change UK. Clearly I prefer if it’s us and we are now the biggest and by far the best supported. We should be clear and I hope that whoever our leader is, is clear that this is our first task. Clearly we should also work with other parties on campaigns such as a people’s vote, climate change etc. and consider local arrangements where appropriate.

  • @Paul Barker

    What is a “progressive” party? Indeed what does it mean to be “progressive”?

  • Gordon Lishman 17th Jul '19 - 9:09am

    Paul Barker: “I don’t want to sound defeatist but”. That statement sounds a but unlikely, considering the tone of your usual contributions.

  • I failed to get a comment published about the Cardiff by election, simply saying being a Con/Lib Dem marginal it would be interesting. Was a mystery to me why it never appeared.
    Well we won by 30%!. Very good omen perhaps for another Welsh area, namely Brecon.
    .

  • On Polling.
    For long-term comparisons the ideal would be to compare each Company only with its own earlier Polls. The problem is that most of them only publish once a Month, that’s no use for spotting short-term changes. That will get worse in August when most Companies dont publish any Polls at all.
    If our Poll boost has begun to fade its only in the last 2 or 3 Weeks & most Polling Companies won’t have had time to register it yet.

  • @paul Barker.

    You normally talk very good sense on opinion polls. I do think your first paragraphs of your original comment were a little too pessimistic on us. Unless it’s very dramatic it is sadly very difficult to differentiate short term real change from statistical “noise”.

    I’d guess that the papers may well commission some additional polls after the leadership elections.

    I believe holiday months – August and December have a reputation as being somewhat unreliable for polling. September and October will obv be the run up to a possible brexit date and in addition parties normally get a boost during and just after their party conferences. So I think we may well see very erratic but nonetheless interesting polls in the autumn!!!!!

  • Richard Underhill 20th Jul '19 - 8:49am

    Both candidates were on BBC2 and the News Channel (200) on 19/7/19.
    Ed Davey, aged 52 years, has a disabled son and said passionately that
    “it is personal for me” that the disabled should be included in care for the elderly.
    Jo Swinson did not demur.
    Their togetherness is a pleasant contrast from the Tory leadership contest.

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