Centre interviews the Liberal Democrat leadership contenders (Part 2: Ed Davey)

In this podcast we covered a huge amount. It included academic selection at the age of 11, Academies, Brexit, electric cars, UBI and lots more. Below I have looked at some of the areas in the discussion that I found particularly of interest. You can listen to the full podcast here.

The first thing was selection at the age of 11 which has created grammar schools, secondary moderns and in some cases technical colleges. In this we debated at length about the system and its issues with the low proportion of SEN and disabled students in these schools. We also discussed how it could be fixed with Ed suggesting ideas such as grants and including this as an element of Ofsted reports. Whilst this is a step in the right direction I am very much of the opinion, as I said in the podcast, that selection should be scraped as I don’t see any way to actually get around this issue. However, I was very happy that Ed was open to reviewing the issue in the future, not least as we have a paper coming out on this issue in a few months.

The second area I found interesting in our discussion was, of course. Brexit. As I mention in the podcast, this is the second time I have debated with Ed on this issue, the other time being the Victoria Derbyshire debate between Ed and Jo. Once again Ed showed he was passionate on the issue of Brexit but had moved towards accepting of a softer Brexit for the time being. However, I was a little worried at the mentions of a “Norway +” or a “Norway +++” model, something not really possible as it would require trying to simultaneously apply EFTA and EU free trade deals. I do still have some worries that if we are to sell a coherent policy on the EU to the public, it needs to be thoroughly researched first.

The third area was academies, in which I mentioned the lack of local accountability for these schools. I have to say I really agreed with Ed in terms of the limits of business involvement in education and he certainly has a passion for schools to free to be innovative. It seems that the academy programs of today are not quite what Ed wants them to be.

Fourth, we also spoke about environmental policies such as tax-based regulation and charging points for electric cars. I was happy to hear he was open to the idea of taxing things that are harmful to the environment and using the revenue to fund environmentally friendly things. Unsurprisingly, it was a good discussion being the strongest policy area Ed has is probably the environment.

Overall, Ed showed he has passion on his side although I was a little worried about some of his answers such as the Norway + example. With both interviews over, I am now very much in the undecided category I’m afraid!

* Torrin Wilkins is a Liberal Democrat member and the Director of Centre Think Tank

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  • Lets be serious for a moment. Except for a few Liberal Democrats who either cares or even knows about this contest? We are the Wilderrness party, have been there for nearly 250 days and unlikely to find the path out in the next 10 years. It will be fascinating to see how few people actually vote.

  • Alex Macfie 23rd Jul '20 - 7:52pm

    theakes: The people who care about this contest are precisely the ones who have a vote in it.

  • I reckon the winning candidate will get significantly more votes than what Nick Clegg got when he won the leadership.

  • Antony Watts 24th Jul '20 - 8:53am

    Electric cars. This is the most important green policy we can have, and its ready to roll.

    If we make and sell those 10 million replacement BEVs by 2035 when fossil fuel car sales stop, we will not have a viable charging network across UK to deliver the GW’s of energy to keep them going. It is a vast amount of energy delivery that will be needed.

    10 million home/street 7kW chargers, 1-2 million 50-150kW charges across our road network.

    That’s at least 1 million per year to install.

    Otherwise we will not be able to stop ICE car sales, and pollution from transport will continue to be the slowest improvement in CO2 reduction as it is now.

    Yet BEIS and DfT are sitting on there b’s and doing nothing. We need a national program.

  • Alex Macfie 24th Jul '20 - 8:59am

    John Bicknell: That was in a 5-way contest.

  • Laurence Cox 24th Jul '20 - 12:10pm

    @John Bicknell

    No it was five-way. You have omitted Jackie Ballard (3,978) and David Rendel (3,428 first preferences) from your list. In fact Jackie Ballard received more support from then Parliamentarians (13) than Simon Hughes (7) did. In terms of Parliamentary support Charles Kennedy was far ahead of everyone. His 22,764 first preferences also amounted to 44.6% of the vote, so to describe it as ‘quite modest’ is demeaning.


  • If any of the 2 candidates supported EFTA, they would instantly get my vote. The mistake in the 2019 General Election wasn’t the harsh “revoke” policy but rather the lack of any compromise and the arrogance that accompanies it.

    Ed said that even under No Deal, the UK will be a rule-taker which makes sense and I agree. As he said this, it would be nice for him to actually support an EFTA Brexit

    My biggest concern is the statement is “the customs union is the biggest priority.” This is why the Lib Dems will not win under any of these 2 candidates.

    In terms of other policies, while I like the 2 candidates slightly, Centre’s policies are very intriguing

  • Paul Barker 25th Jul '20 - 5:23pm

    One of the things Small Parties cant afford is nuance. If we are going to cut through our policies need to be few & simple. The answer to most Media questions should be 4 words or less, a lot of the time the answer should be Yes or No.
    If this piece is accurate about Eds answers they sound disastrous.

  • Peter Watson 25th Jul '20 - 8:03pm

    @Paul Barker “The answer to most Media questions should be 4 words or less, a lot of the time the answer should be Yes or No.”
    One problem with the General Election campaign was that responses to any question on any topic seemed to begin with a lot of words about Brexit after which there was little time to actually answer the question! 😉

  • @paul Barker

    I agree somewhat but sometimes detailed answers are needed. Ed is a economist and I liked his 3rd and 4th response

    But our Brexit policy has been without a doubt trash. We haven’t learned from our revoke policy at all

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