Coming to a seat near you…Ed Davey’s Tory Removal Service

There is nothing like a good hi-viz jacket to show that an election is on the way, but it can’t come soon enough for our Ed Davey.

He’s just been on BBC News, surrounded by a pretty massive crowd in Guildford launching his Tory Removal Service.

Nothing shows what a seasoned political nerd I am like my first reaction to the poster. Not the message, but the font. That’s a new one.

I understand from those in the know that this is just for this van and not for life.

Ed told the assembled crowd, and tv audience:

Happy New Year!

This is it…

2024.

The year voters finally get to pack up this awful, out-of-touch Conservative Government,

Throw their disastrous policies onto the skip,

Clean the sleaze stains out of the carpet,

And move the lot of them out of Number 10!

Today I’m launching Ed Davey’s Tory Removals. The Blue Wall’s premium Conservative MP unseating service.

Britain can’t wait for the change we need.

People are fed up of waiting.

Waiting hours for an ambulance. Weeks to see a GP. Months or even years for an operation.

Waiting for real action to tackle the cost of living.

Still waiting, after all this time, for the first sign of the new hospitals we were promised.

Waiting for an end to sewage being dumped into our rivers and onto our beaches.

And waiting for a General Election, to finally change things.

We shouldn’t have to wait any longer.

It shouldn’t be up to Rishi Sunak to cling on for another twelve months.

Desperately hoping for something to turn up.

Causing even more damage as he tries to keep his fractured party behind him.

He knows his time is running out. Why do you think he hasn’t called an election already?

But it shouldn’t be his choice – it should be Parliament’s.

That’s why we’re tabling a law to take the power to call a General Election out of the Prime Minister’s hands and give it back to Parliament.

And force a General Election on the second of May – when it should be.

The only reason for Rishi Sunak to reject it is because he knows he’s going to lose.

He’s seen the Liberal Democrats score four historic by-election victories.

He’s seen our incredible local election results.

He knows that we are the strongest campaigning force in British politics, and we’re ready to go.

So let’s have a General Election on the second of May, and let’s make it moving day for this Conservative Government!

In Guildford, we hope to elect the brilliant Zoe Franklin. I know her from her work with ALDC and she just exudes passion and competence. She would be a fantastic addition to our parliamentary team.

Ed Davey is also trying to force the Tories to hold a General Election in May by tabling a Bill in Parliament to reinstate the Fixed Term Parliaments Act. This piece of legislation, introduced during the coalition years by the Liberal Democrats, limits the power of the Prime Minister to call an election when they like. Although the elections in 2017 and 2019 were not planned, they had the required 2/3 majority and support from all parties in the House of Commons.

I won’t be holding my breath waiting for it to pass, given the size of the Conservative majority, but that’s not the point. It’s important to make the point.

Every poll suggests that people want an election sooner rather than later. I suspect even Brenda from Bristol wouldn’t mind that much.

Interestingly, over on Conservative Home, Paul Goodman suggested yesterday that Rishi Sunak should rule out a May election and announce that the election will be on November 14. Though even he concedes:

So the merits for the Government of a spring or the autumn poll can be argued either way, if one believes that timing will make a difference to the result, which it may not.

As I said earlier, this lot don’t give up power easily, so all we can do is be prepared whenever they do get round to it.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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34 Comments

  • Better attention than the PO story

  • Peter Watson 5th Jan '24 - 1:12am

    I can’t help but feel that the party is simply not interested in those of us who don’t live in a “blue wall” seat and is happy to give the impression that it has nothing to offer but the chance to replace this Tory government. Given that means a Labour government, why shouldn’t all of us who want the Tories out just hold our noses and vote for the equally uninspiring Starmer instead of Davey?

  • So what about the rest of us outside, those what 50 seats?

  • In 1997 we were competing in several Labour seats which came our way in 2001 and 2005. This time it seems there is nothing in the way resembling this. We need a broader vision than just knocking the Tories, otherwise the Conservative argument that a vote for the Lib Demsa is actually helping Labour to win, will knock us at the critical time..

  • Exactly the point raised by Patrick McGuire intoday’s Times. Ed Davey needs a vision beyond toppling the tories. Most of the comments are negative relating to the post office scandal. This could hurt the Libdems. Davey needs to explain himself I think. Otherwise people will assume the worst.

  • Oliver Leonard 5th Jan '24 - 2:58pm

    The biggest problem with only targeting the Tories is that many areas of the country which are solid Labour aren’t going to be worked on, London as a key example. Labour don’t support electoral reform and has questionable policies on housing targets and inheritance tax so shouldn’t be given a free hit at everywhere the Lib Dems can’t beat a Tory MP.

  • Alex Macfie 5th Jan '24 - 3:50pm

    @Russell: Ed already has explained himself. The problem anyone would have with blaming him or the Lib Dems generally for the PO scandal is that he was one of many people, of all main parties (the scandal dates back to the Blair years), who have ever been Postal Affairs Minister during that time. Also the PO is a private company, over which the government has no direct oversight.

    I can’t read the Times article as it’s behind a paywall. But I wouldn’t take comments on news articles or social media as representative of public opinion generally. And I seriously doubt that the PO scandal will affect Ed’s public standing. So far it’s all been vague insinuations, rather than concrete evidence of any wrongdoing. It’ll be like Keir Starmer supposedly failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile, a trope that’s mainly bandied around by people who wouldn’t ever support us anyway.

  • John Bicknell 5th Jan '24 - 5:13pm

    For some reason Ed Davey seems to be getting the brunt of the criticism over the P.O. scandal, on political discussion sites. Maybe it’s because he’s the only responsible person who’s a current party leader? Given the length of this scandal (which is still ongoing, as the victims still haven’t been awarded full compensation, and no executive at either Fujitsu or the P.O. has been prosecuted), blame for complacency is spread between all three main parties, over a period of more than two decades. I think this fact, plus the complexity of the issues, will reduce the chances of this becoming a damaging factor for Ed Davey in the GE – unless political reporters latch on to it as a weak point they can grill him on.

  • Alex Macfie 6th Jan '24 - 10:00am

    @John Bicknell: “unless political reporters latch on to [the PO scandal] as a weak point they can grill him on” you mean like Tim Farron was grilled on sin? I think that became Tim’s achilles’ heel because his response to the question when first put to him when he’d just been elected leader was poor. Ed seems to be addressing his bit-part role in a major scandal (is he even depicted in the ITV drama?) effectively enough to assuage any bona fide concerns.

  • Ruth Bright 6th Jan '24 - 11:17am

    Concerned at the complacency about the PO scandal, considering it involved the removal of innocent people to prison.

  • Alex Macfie 6th Jan '24 - 11:54am

    @Ruth Bright: As I noted above, Ed has already addressed the issue of his minor role at the time. Our main concern now is to counter what appears to be a concerted effort by our partisan enemies in their friendly media channels to pin the blame for the scandal specifically on him, and by extension on the whole party. This would be thoroughly dishonest, as Ed was but one of many Postal Affairs Ministers from all 3 main parties during the scandal, and it was Post Office executives not government ministers who were responsible for the perpetuation of the scandal. We can be our own worst enemies in thinking there is any substance in the talking points of media apparatchiks from opposing parties. Please can we stop it?
    Ultimately the fault lies with the Blair government under which the Horizon system was introduced.

  • I broadly agree with comments made re PO but I like the Farron sin comparison in that an uncareful response could be taken advantage of.

  • Paul Barker 6th Jan '24 - 12:32pm

    We have two things to do at the coming Election –
    get as many Libdems MPs as we can
    & make sure as few Tory MPs are elected as we can.

    That means ruthless Targeting & promoting Tactical Voting . Our Targets are almost all in Tory-held Seats, that’s not our choice its just the way things are this Year.

  • Ruth Bright 6th Jan '24 - 5:11pm

    Hi, Alex Like many many people on this site I have given countless unpaid hours to this party in many capacities. In the hallway are hundreds of FOCUSes which I will start delivering tomorrow. I am not one of “our own worst enemies”. I just believe to be a moral force in this country our leader should provide some clearer answers.

  • Alex Macfie 6th Jan '24 - 6:12pm

    Here’s our official statement. Is serves as a pre-buttal to the hatchet job on us that I gather is about to be published in The Sunday Times.
    https://www.libdems.org.uk/the-post-office-horizon-scandal
    It’s a useful reference in the (IMO unlikely) event of the issue coming up on the doorstep.
    Who so far has tried to weaponise it against us? They include Kelvin MacKenzie, disgraced former editor of The Sun; Tory dinosaur John Redwood, and some Daily Mail journalist who goes by the social media handle ToryBoy. No agenda there, guv [sarcasm].

  • Alex Macfie 6th Jan '24 - 6:14pm

    I didn’t actually know that Ed did meet Alan Bates, and was the first Postal Affairs minister to do so. Always worth checking the facts rather than buying into the narratives of people who have no regard for the truth.

  • Ed Davey was the responsible Minister for the Post Office for two years between 2010 to 2012. After his promotion to the Cabinet he was succeeded by Jo Swinson for the next three years to 2015.

    The Horizon matter was reported on in a BBC Panorama programme shortly after the end of the Coalition. That programme can still be seen on You Tube. Reference below
    “Trouble at Post Office – Panorama – 17th August 2015”.

  • Alex Macfie 6th Jan '24 - 8:59pm

    @David Raw: So were many Labour and Tory politicians. Of all the Ministers for the Post Office, only a Lib Dem (Ed) met the principal representative of those wronged by the PO. You need to ask yourself (i) why are all those trying to pin the scandal on the Lib Dems anti-Lib Dem apparatchiks? and (ii) why doesn’t the inquiry include actions of government ministers?

  • Ruth Bright 7th Jan '24 - 9:47am

    Morning Alex, off to deliver my FOCUSes now, ta for the ‘splaining about who Kelvin McKenzie and John Redwood are 👍

  • Alex Macfie 7th Jan '24 - 11:27am

    Ruth Bright: It was for emphasis: would you take lectures on moral rectitude from any of those people? I don’t suppose any of them took the slightest interest in the PO scandal until they saw it as an opportunity to put the boot into the Lib Dems. Kelvin McKenzie a justice campaigner? Pull the other one. Do let me know if the scandal comes up on the doorstep with respect to Ed (other than from haters). I honestly doubt it will.

  • John Bicknell 8th Jan '24 - 11:31am

    I fear that the campaign targeting Ed Davey is gaining momentum. Some of it is being orchestrated by Tory campaigners, but not all (there’s an article in the i this morning by Ian Birrell, demanding that Davey should step down). You mentioned, Alex, about Tim Farron’s 2017 GE campaign being hampered by questions over his views on morality. This could be far worse. The LDs will inevitably only get a limited amount of airtime to present their views, and at this rate Sir Ed will be spending most of that defending his time as PO minister. There are valid reasons why his actions should be put into context, but politics isn’t always fair, and, whilst you’re explaining, you’re losing.

  • Paul Barker 8th Jan '24 - 2:17pm

    My impression is that the Anti-Davey campaign hasn’t really taken off, its been moved down the page on The BBC website for example.
    If Davey resigned now it would look like an admission of Guilt & the Campaign could then move on to Jo Swinson who took his place as Minister.
    We could not have an Election to replace Davey for fear of Sunak calling a Snap General Election so we could be stuck with an Interim Leader for up to a Year.
    This is a case for “Wait & See”.

  • Peter Davies 8th Jan '24 - 3:06pm

    So which other arms-length bodies have the right to mark their own homework. If we can work that out and call for change, maybe we can go into the next scandal on the front foot.

  • Alex Macfie 9th Jan '24 - 8:46am

    Another take (from a Lib Dem), worth a read (and as ammunition if anyone tries to weaponise the PO scandal against us)
    https://scottish-liberal.blogspot.com/2024/01/ed-davey-and-horizon-scandal.html

  • Mick Taylor 9th Jan '24 - 1:25pm

    Alex Macfie. There’s no if about it. The Tories are desperate and will shout from the rooftops about Ed’s (very minor) role in this scandal. We have to be prepared for it and have a clear, succinct response.

  • David Allen 9th Jan '24 - 4:30pm

    John Bicknell is right. There is no “clear succinct response” that will work. Whenever Davey attacks the Tories over any subject at all, their one-line response can be something like “This hypocrite who thinks he can lecture us is the man who betrayed the innocent sub-postmasters and refused to meet Alan Bates!” Yes, it’s totally unfair, but it’s a winning line, and the Tories can just keep repeating it until it sticks.

  • Alex Macfie 9th Jan '24 - 5:20pm

    @David Allen: The same could have been said for the trope about Keir Starmer supposedly helping Jimmy Savile escape justice. But that was discredited. And this can be as well. We already have the lines that we can use to discredit it. Yes, the Tories will shout this from the rooftops, which is why we need to consider all available options for discrediting it, including legal action if necessary (the line “[Ed] refused to meet Alan Bates!” might be legally actionable, since Ed is the only Postal Affairs minister who DID meet him).

    But anecdotally, here in Kingston the attempt to associate Ed with the PO scandal isn’t cutting through. Voters aren’t associating Ed with the scandal, unless it’s to express dismay that Tories are trying to turn it into a political football. We have to be vigilant, of course, but I expect that it’ll mainly resonate with people who weren’t ever going to vote for us anyway (just like all the classic anti Lib Dem tropes). The Tories will bring up the Starmer/Savile smear as well, in as much as they can get away with it.

  • Chris Moore 9th Jan '24 - 9:01pm

    All the PO ministers made the same mistake: believing the assurances of PO executives regarding Horizon over the experiences of the postmasters/mistresses. They all went for the establishment version. You expect that from Tories, but less so from the pertinent Labour and Lib Dem ministers.

    Obviously, singling out Ed Davey is ridiculous and just shows the various media outlets still aren’t taking this grave failure of state institutions seriously.

    But then the press overall failed: after all the issue was championed by Computer Weekly, a couple of Panorama episodes with honourable mentions to Private Eye and the brilliant articles by Cyclefree at Political Betting.

    The BBC and ITV and other outfits were woeful in their failure to focus on this.

  • Chris Moore 9th Jan '24 - 9:03pm

    But for Cyclefree, I personally wouldn’t have known about the scandal until the last year or so.

  • Laurence Cox 10th Jan '24 - 11:42am

    I wish I could say that the Lib Dems are free of the sort of scurrilous attacks we have seen on Ed Davey, but even those whose memories only go back to the 2017 General Election will be familiar with “May & Co: Selling your house to fund your care”
    https://inews.co.uk/news/politics/lib-dem-campaign-stunt-backfires-69529
    Those responsible didn’t even bother to check if there was a real “May & Co” estate agents, which it turned out there was.

    We really need to campaign more positively about what we stand for instead of following the Tories and Labour into the gutter.

  • Nonconformistradical 10th Jan '24 - 2:18pm

    “We really need to campaign more positively about what we stand for instead of following the Tories and Labour into the gutter.”

    Seconded

  • I’m grateful to Laurence Cox for drawing my attention to the article in the Independent back in 2017. I agree with him about the need to “campaign more positively”.

    It’s also interesting to note in the article about ‘May & Co, Estate Agents’ that “the spoof estate was relaunched on Friday by Lib Dem election spokesperson Ed Davey as “Theresa May and Co” “.

  • Alex Macfie 10th Jan '24 - 4:25pm

    @Laurence Cox: Nothing wrong with that campaign stunt per se, the only error (but a serious one) was failing to check whether there was an organisation with that name (especially an estate agency). There was certainly a strong chance of one existing, so there is no excuse.

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