+++Breaking news – the new Leader of the Liberal Democrats is …

Congratulations to Ed Davey who has just been elected by members as Leader of the Liberal Democrats.

If you missed the announcement and speech by the new Leader, then you can catch up here.

Huge thanks must go to both Ed Davey and Layla Moran who fought a clean but impassioned fight, demonstrating what great assets they both are to our party.

Votes cast were:

Ed Davey: 42,756

Layla Moran: 24,564

Turnout: 57.6%


* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames where she is still very active with the local party.

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  • Congrats to Ed, enjoy this moment.

  • Congratulations Ed, a strong campaign and a well deserved victory. Commiserations Layla: a strong campaign with a strong message we can all learn from. Either result would have left this party better placed for the future, but now we must look outwards and reconnect with the people. The two party system won’t bring fairness and opportunity for all. We will.

  • Martin Leach 27th Aug '20 - 12:02pm

    Surprising the turnout only 57.6%, especially in the current pandemic with many furloughed etc

  • I’m afraid it was a predictable victory for the rose-tinted spectacles. Layla Moran told the Lib Dems that they had been getting it wrong for ten years. That’s not what they wanted to hear.

  • The Coalition Liberals have retained control of the party . One must hope that it does not suffer the same fate as it did in the 1920s. An opportunity to make a real change has been missed. A very poor turnout does not indicate much enthusiasm for power.

  • I think it was always going to be difficult for other candidates to break through, when Ed was actually in post, definite advantage. Turn out is surprisingly low, in other elections some might question whether Ed has a real mandate….
    I wonder if the very long period between Jo resigning and election for new leader has had an impact. There is after all a happy medium to be had between a knee jerk reaction and interminable naval gazing. Saw Layla on question time on a few occasions in my opinion she didn’t present as a future national leader.

  • David Evershed 27th Aug '20 - 12:35pm

    Ed’s first task is to gain the confidence of the 75,000 Lib Dem members who did not vote for him.

  • Congratulations Ed Davey, best wishes and power to your elbow in the task to revitalise the party.

  • Laurence Cox 27th Aug '20 - 12:50pm

    I’m disappointed that Mark Pack didn’t also announce the number of abstentions. By my calculation, the 57.6% turnout meant that 604 (+/- 48) more votes were cast than were cast for the two candidates combined. I wasn’t satisfied with either, so cast my ballot as an abstention; but what really matters now is that everyone in the Party gets behind Ed. I’m afraid that some of Layla’s supporters indulged in negative campaigning against Ed instead of positive campaigning for Layla; in my view the Party is better off without them – we don’t want to follow Labour in their internecine squabbles.

  • Shame, it feels like a missed opportunity for a real, fresh start.

  • George Kendall 27th Aug ’20 – 12:50pm…………….Ed Davey’s first task is to gain the confidence of the millions of people who used to vote for the Lib Dems, but feel we no longer speak for them……….

    Would these be the same people that were alienated by Ed’spolicies and voting record during the coalition years?

  • Paul Barker 27th Aug '20 - 1:23pm

    I voted for Layla but unlike some of the early comments I am not going to whinge about the result or set myself up to be able to gloat if our recovery doesnt pass some arbitrary test.
    Rant over. Can I urge others to respect the majority opinion, please.
    The Turnout is perfectly normal, in line with previous Leadership Elections. It tells us precisely nothing.
    Politics now is Weird & will go on being weird for several more months at least & comparing Polling now with “Normal” times is probably pointless.

  • The media do not give the LibDems proper coverage blah blah blah, but the fact that last night I had to tell my 18 year old politically engaged (even before the A-levels fiasco) daughter who the interim leader of the LibDems has been for the past nine months says what level of impact Ed has had.

    I can’t see that changing.

    Oh well, we had our chance and we blew it.

  • Why this preoccupation with the leadership: if X is leader *this* faction is in control and if Y is leader *that* faction is in control? No faction is in control of the party, and no leader can railroad the party in any direction by themself. The revival of the party is the job of every one of us. If you want a new direction for the party start one yourself.

  • David Sheppard 27th Aug '20 - 1:49pm

    I think 57% of our members voting is healthy. Congrats to the winner Ed who has a mighty lot of things to do. I say to Ed this… as Chairman of Dudley Stourbridge and Halesowen Lib Dems the money is not going to be found locally for another 4 deposits at the next GE. Please find a way of the National party funding deposits in non Liberal outlook areas (that’s a lot of seats) we simply won’t be able to fund another loss of Three out of Four deposits £1,500.00 you have been warned.

  • David Evans 27th Aug '20 - 2:10pm

    Ed won. Congratulations Ed. We all knew the real hard work had to start now whoever won, and what happened in the past cannot be undone.

    The question for each of us is not ‘Why did we miss this chance to put things right?’ (if that is what we believe it was), nor ‘Great. Let’s move on as if nothing went wrong in the last 10 years!’ (because a lot did go wrong and we need to really learn from it and put it right). The question for each of us is ‘How do we put right what we all allowed to happen?’ and Step one is accepting we all let it happen, despite all the warnings and being willing to personally change to ensure that it doesn’t happen again – Ever.

    That is the change that will define the future of our party.

  • marcstevens 27th Aug '20 - 2:17pm

    It’s a great shame I am bitterly disappointed. This is a victory for the Orange Booker wing who now assert their control and dominance of the party with their market forces mantra. Mr Davey, who supports accelerating privatisation, does not represent social liberalism, vulnerable people and those with disabilities and never will do. Layla on the other hand had a fresh approach and vision and her time will come. We now need a new Social Liberal Party and I hope in the fullness of time those of us who are committed to this direction will set one up.

  • Ed needs to spend the first few hours of each day directly reading emails, with the email address published so that people can actually contact him directly. That would be a good first step with no filters between him and the voters.

  • Paul Barker 27th Aug '20 - 2:25pm

    Can I make another appeal for comments to use Liberal Values.
    Its not just that three quarters of the comments so far are Anti-Ed, many of them use Unliberal language & some of them are frankly libelous. Perhaps if behaviour doesnt improve the LDV Team might consider blocking some of the worst examples ?
    Screaming abuse is not debate.

  • marcstevens 27th Aug '20 - 2:28pm

    Can you give an example of abuse? People are entitled to a different view and state how they feel as members. Because you don’t like the alternative you’re now using asking for those views to be censored.

  • Well done SirEd.I voted for Layla but congratulations anyway. Now the work really starts as of Tuesday. Whoever we voted for we all face the same problems, so we can all find the same solutions. I will support SirEd all the way until any hint of orange bookism appears.

  • Well. Must admit I was torn for a while.
    Lack of experience but great screen presence and the media would have loved her.
    Versus, Experience but not very engaging.
    In the end I went with the former but lets hope the later surprises me.
    Not a great speech. What’s Ed gong to do? Go up and down the country to find out what people want and then that’s what we become.
    Not for me.
    I know why I’m a LibDem.
    I know what I stand for and what I believe in.
    What we need is creativity and personality in selling those beliefs.
    Not made any easier by the fact we betrayed them in 2010. Maybe we can convince people to give us a second chance.
    The jury is out.

  • I believe our main goal should be to maximise our no. of MPs in 2024 and so increase the chances of toppling Johnson. Given our historic strength and current strong second placings (eg south and s west) this means being the clear alternative to the Conservatives. It’s too early to say for sure how covid 19 will impact our manifesto but the last thing we need is to be to the left of Labour.

  • I hope Layla will accept the role of Deputy Leader but ask to be given a proper role, so that perhaps her ambitions for the party can be met

  • @ bob sayer
    surely Moran would need to enter and win the contest for deputy leader before she can accept it?

  • It’s disappointing, I know a lot of people not already Liberal voters who were excited of the prospect of a Layla victory.

  • Denis Mollison 27th Aug '20 - 5:02pm

    @Russell – “clear alternative to the Conservatives”, “to the left of Labour”
    We shouldn’t aim to be either of those things, we should make clear that we do not see politics as a one-dimensional left-right spectrum.
    Thinking practically of those SW seats, if we want to capture them we need to appeal (as we used to) to voters who might otherwise vote for Labour / Green / abstain as well as to those who might otherwise vote Conservative.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 27th Aug '20 - 5:22pm

    I voted for Layla. I campaigned for her. I a few months ago advocated we not have a contest until well past Covid era, precisely because I thought Ed deserved some period of consolidation during what seemed to be widely regarded as an international calamity. I knew that we needed new blood. I thus, when the world attempted, too soon in my view, to get to business as usual, supported the candidate representing change.

    I feel Layla enhanced her credibility and the standing of the party. She has the right to be thought of as a real figure of genuine high quality in personal senses, she has put away doubt, in political ideas, she has put forward policies.

    Ed is a good man. He needs our support. He must listen and learn, from his mistakes , and successes. And thus must this party.

  • Matt (BRistol) 27th Aug '20 - 5:57pm

    Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

    I didn’t feel I could vote for either candidate, and have left the party.
    It seemed to me that both candidates were appealing to different mixtures of existing entrenched thinking in the party — Ed to the older, ‘one last heave and we can do the last 20 years better’ institutionalised party loyallists, and Layla to the ‘We’re radical because we say we’re radical and people will one day see we’re radical because we’re radial’ naievists.

    That said, my sympathies were marginally more with Layla because her being elected would have cut dead the narrative that the party’s identity was fundamentally bound to the 2010 Coalition.

    My feeling is, although I grudgingly believe that Ed wants to be a green leader of a moderate centre left party with a radical technocratic bent, he will try to run 2 rhetorics in tandem — that of a catch-all centrist party and that of a catch-all liberal party. There is tension between those two models of the party (because there are centrists who are not liberal and liberals who are not centrist) and everyone in the party will practise mass cognitive dissonance in ignoring that.

    Popular perception that the party is a Coalition-continuity movement, combined with the Tory lurch to the nationalist-protectionist right, and Starmer’s bid for the social democratic centre, and the idea that there is low-hanging middle-class floating-voter fruit in the suburbs, will ensure the party keeps trying to throw activists who secretly want to be trendy radicals of the centre-left, at the affluent middle classes who long for a ‘moderate’ party that is as conformist as John Major, as cuddly as the Vicar of Dibley, and reliably competent in the way Blair persuaded the country he was in 1997-2001, before Iraq and the financial crisis.

    Again, cognitive dissonance or the rhetoric of catch-all-ism (which rarely works for 3rd parties) will be employed to cover this over.

  • If we are to look forward rather than back can we find a photo of our new leader NOT on a second referendum demonstration?

  • @ crewegwyn – point taken about the photo. Will find different ones in the future.

  • Yes both MP’s are an asset to the party.

    Going forward there is no alternative to defending the coalition and pointing out the good things that were done. Ed Davey is good at defending his record in my view.

    Simply saying I’m sorry we didn’t win more battles or I wasn’t part of it wouldn’t have worked.

  • @Paul Barker, just for clarity, I believe the turn out for the 2019 leadership election a little over a year ago was around 72 percent, significantly higher than 57 percent. I wouldn’t be rushing to say the turn out is irrelevant or tells northing, a level of boredom, or perhaps something more?

  • Martin Boffey 27th Aug '20 - 9:05pm

    Turnout last year was 72% – but we had just smashed it at the Euro elections and the Locals and were riding high. In 2015 after a similar drubbing in the GE the leadership election turnout was 56% – so I’d say 57% this time is about bang on what one would expect.

  • One might expect the opposite when the future direction of the party is at stake after three poor election results to add a bit more flavour to todays results-:
    1988 Ashdown turnout 71.9 percent.
    1999 Kennedy turnout 62 percent.
    2006 Campbell turnout 72.2 percent.
    2007 Clegg turnout 64.7 percent.
    2015 Farron turnout 56 percent.
    2017 Cable unopposed.
    2019 Swindon 72 percent.
    2020 Davey 57 percent.
    Remove Cable as an exception and you can clearly see the two outliers and with respect, I would suggest they are indicative of something that may indeed speak to those that would listen.

  • 1. @ Tynan You make a telling point about turnout dropping from 72% last year to 57% this year. This may be people who joined last year in a temporary fit of anti-Brexit enthusiasm – but who now no longer regard themselves as supporters. It reflects the drop in the polls last autumn up to the election in December.

    2. @ Matt (Bristol) That’s a very telling and thoughtful commentary which needs to be heard and understood by the new Leader. How, and if, he reacts will determine his and the party’s future.

    I believe Sir Edward to be a decent man, but sadly still for many tainted with a market orientated Orange Coalition past. He will have to find a way to deal with it otherwise he and the party will finally fade into oblivion. He will have to speak up to deal with it…. just ‘Listening’ is not enough. He could start by reflecting on the Alston UN Report on Poverty and Inequality in the UK. I know he’s got a copy…. I gave it to him.

    The outcome of this election appears to echo the cautionary verses of Hilaire Belloc, (Liberal M.P. for Salford, 1906-10), who wrote of one ‘Jim’ – a boy eaten by the lion in the Zoo.

    “Always keep a-hold of nurse – For fear of finding something worse”.

  • Last two are also percentage turnout figures of course.

  • Matt (Bristol)’s penultimate paragraph sums it up for me. The activist base is somewhat more radical that the electors we need to woo, those admirers of Major/Blair/Vicar of Dibley. We tell ourselves we will win by winning over the young radicals and minorities instead but most of these will continue to vote labour. And we need to go on believing this for the alternative is unpalatable. Cognitive dissonance indeed. For me, the choice of leader was always about which candidate understood this reality.

  • Currently, the Conservatives have been forced by the virus to be Centre-Left, Labour is slowly moving into the Centre-Left territory that on a good day wins it elections, probably with a bit of screaming from the Corbynistas, a chunk of the LibDems wants to be a radical socialist party in all but name (or so it seems), whilst Sir Ed wants everyone to get real and park the tanks on the Centre ground (I guess) but has yet to evince a policy that anyone pays any attention to (early days but…). On the news, the election was the third or forth item, sometimes with a few sound bites. Compare that with the mania that would happen if Nigel Farage came out of his bunker and started a radical right wing party (probably bad timing if he did, the virus making such minimalistic govn far from people’s taste). The overall impression, even with many LibDems, is a polite covering of the mouth to obscure the yawn.

  • Matt (BRistol) 28th Aug '20 - 10:56am

    David, Chris, thanks for kind comments to a somewhat acerbic analysis.

    I think I need to be clear that I’m not sure that either candidate got this analysis, or if they did they weren’t going to be able to say so. Nick Barlow (whom I don’t always agree with) has done some good blogging on the rhetorics of unity which prevent these discussions being had overtly.

    On a selfish level, the party I wanted ideologically to be part of is / was a social-liberal / social-democratic coalition, explicitly on the centre left, ideologically democratist and devolutionist, and very ‘broad church’ on moral / social conscience / identity politics issues. I think if there ever was a chance of this being a dominant conception of the party, that is long gone.

    My preferred candidate (despite some differences) was Wera Hobhouse, because she seemed to have an individual and distinctive reading of the political scene, came across as decisive, had life and political experience, was making an explixt commitment to the centre-left side of the spectrum, and was prepared to restructure the party at a fundamental level to match an ideology of democracy and devolution.

    I’m not entirely surprised she didn’t pass the nominations stage, because to be that piercing, challenging and ideological early on in a Lib Dem contest is profoundly counter-cultural.

    I totally agree with many commentators that there is a gap in the centre to centre-right left by the demise of the Blairites, the Ken-Clarke-ish Tories and the pro-European wing of the Cameronites. But without those groups splitting from their parties and organising overtly against the May and Johnson governments there was little hope of capturing their voters. And I still think the Lib Dems would have and will have massive problems trying to capture that ground whilst towing behind them their history and their activists.

    Those voters are disenfranchised, but I don’t necessarily want to belong to that party.

  • John Marriott 28th Aug '20 - 11:05am

    Still in the bunker? As Sir Ed rather awkwardly said (or was that ‘read’?) in his acceptance speech yesterday, it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee (hopefully the Fair Trade variety).

    For those of you contemplating pushing that stone back up the hill again I would recommend that you read John Crace’s ‘Sketch’ in today’s Guardian to see what the rest of the world thinks. I might even be tempted to join you, although my contribution would be severely limited these days. However, unless the party learns the lessons of its previous Renaissance’s, then not only will that stone be hard to budge; but, unless those in charge adopt a more pragmatic approach if that stone does approach the top of the hill, then watch out!

  • Very pleased to see Sir Ed win. Now at last the party can settle into the radical centre, celebrate the coalition as a high water mark of stability and common sense, and move forward to capture votes and seats.

  • Chris Longstaff 28th Aug '20 - 11:17am

    To my mind Layla has the intelligence and personality, and now the time before the next general election, to develop her political craft, and create the kind of impact that the Lib Dems desperately need. I hope that irrespective of this result she will continue on this path. Good man though he is I see only more of the same relatively low impact and media anonymity ahead from Ed Davey.

  • Great minds…… well, true on John’s part, but, yes, I too read John Crace’s article in the Guardian……it resonates. It should be a ‘Must Read’ for all Lib Dems, especially those of an Orange hue when they ponder, how did we get here ?

    As Crace says, “For a short while Ed looked overcome with emotion…… it can’t be easy to keep your spirits up when 93% of the country haven’t got a clue who you are, your party is polling on just 6% and almost everything you do is bound to make no difference…….”

    For my part I suspect more folk will find Accrington Stanley v. Stockport County more exciting (sorry Gainsborough Trinity….. you failed to get re-elected to the Football League during the last Liberal Government in 1912).

    BUT….. Sir Edward’s anonymity could be an advantage if people can’t remember his part in austerity 2010-15…. providing he starts on a new tack to reinvent himself in more radical mode. The prescient issues (apart from Covid) are climate change and inequality. ‘The Green New Deal’ by Ann Pettifor opens opportunities for cross party discussion beyond the present Johnson state of inept confusion. If it doesn’t then England is probably facing indefinite Tory rule whilst Scotland will look after itself.

    Sir Edward could outflank the extremely competent Sir Keir by dropping the knighthood …….. before anyone protests remember the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha lot changed their name to Windsor when it suited. That said ……. ?????????????

    Finally I wish Sir Nick well in Trump’s America and Sir Daniel well in Xi Jinping’s China. Thanks and well done chaps, you deserve to be there.

  • Now that is finally over, time to concentrate our minds on the next contest!! It must not be confined to MPs, after all we may not have any soon. There are much stronger, media friendly, able personalities who are not MPs.

  • Nuala: Hear, Hear, reading most of comments on this site over the last 24 hours we may as well give up now, perhaps I will.

  • With regards to the 57% turnout, the most recent Green Party leadership election (2018) had a turnout of only 24% (just over 8k voted). Having over 70k actually vote in ours seems ok to me (not brilliant but not bad either).

  • Wow! an almost optimistic post from @john Marriott 😉 ! Things must be looking up !

    Go on John fork out the whole £12 on a membership! Treat yourself!; You know it makes sense. And like most members you don’t have to do anything.

  • jayne mansfield 30th Aug '20 - 4:43pm

    I wish him well. He is clearly a thoroughly decent human being.

    I don’t agree with some of his politics, but hey ho, that’s politics.

  • nvelope2003 31st Aug '20 - 5:20pm

    If Scotland votes to leave the UK it will be hard for the Labour Party to form a Government and the Conservatives will become entrenched in power. In areas where they have already become the dominant party the Liberals tend to become the leading opposition party so maybe Sir Ed Davey will prove to have been the right choice. I would have preferred Layla Moran but I wish him well and I shall not be leaving the party yet. Chopping and changing is not normally the answer to anything but loyalty is more likely to be beneficial.

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