Ed Davey announces new Liberal Democrat front bench team in the House of Commons

Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ed Davey, has today announced the new Lib Dem team in the House of Commons.

The new team will speak up for the millions of people who voted for the party in the recent general election and the millions more who are dismayed with the current Conservative government.

Speaking on the announcement, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

We will run positive campaigns for our fresh ideas, to show how social injustice and the climate emergency can be tackled and how Britain’s poor economic performance can be turned round.

The Liberal Democrats will continue to oppose Brexit, we will show that staying close to our European friends is best for Britain’s security and prosperity.

Parliament and the political establishment are discredited and out-of-touch, we will show that we are a party who listen and will fight for peoples concerns.

Liberal Democrats will continue to work cross-party to defend British parliamentary democracy, citizens’ freedoms and the rule of law, all now under threat from Johnson’s populist Conservatives.

Here is the full list:

* News Meerkat - keeping a look-out for Liberal Democrat news. Meerkat photo by Paul Walter

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  • Adam Oakley 6th Jan '20 - 9:05pm

    Looks like a really good team, could do with a bigger number though to take on the the country’s issues.

  • What’s “Social Justice” (Economy and Social Justice)?

  • Tobias Sedlmeier 6th Jan '20 - 10:16pm

    Layla Moran has never attended a state school – in the UK or elsewhere. She was educated exclusively at independent schools (including Roedean) and has taught at independent schools. Is she really the best person to be LibDem education spokesperson?

  • Tobias Sedlmeier – shes an ex-teacher, so yes she IS the best person to speak on “education”.

  • Presumably ‘Social Justice’ means social security, pensions etc. Basically the DWP brief? (If not, that’s quite an omission from the list).
    Our 11 MPs are all good quality individuals. I think every one of them is capable of handling their brief well. The problem is that 11 is such a small number it will be really difficult to get a hearing and develop a strong presence. But good luck to them.

  • John Marriott 7th Jan '20 - 9:32am

    I tend to agree with Tobias Sedlmeier Ms Moran. However, I can think of few exclusively state school educated Education Secretaries or their Shadows even in more recent supposedly egalitarian years. Ironically, the present Tory incumbent is, I believe.

    There’s one thing about having a ‘small’ Westminster party. People get loads of experience, although whether anyone, especially the media, takes a blind bit of notice of what they actually say is a debatable!

  • Nigel Jones 7th Jan '20 - 11:50am

    A small team that will need to prioritise their efforts, learn from experts and from their constituents, build their experience and feed this back to the party. Are we not now in a situation where we must build from the bottom up starting with the May local elections ? Our Parliamentary team should consider this also. They all need to look long-term for the building of our party.

  • nigel hunter 7th Jan '20 - 11:57am

    Yes,build up from the bottom up. The information/experience that the MPs get should be part of our leaflets to sell the party for the future.

  • Paul Barker 7th Jan '20 - 12:33pm

    A further consideration is that the next General Election is 4 to 5 Years away, we dont know what will happen then. The most likely result of the 2024/2025 Election is a Hung Parliament with a substantial Libdem group, say 50+ MPs. However a Libdem led Government is possible; in that case all 11 of our current Team would have to become Cabinet members. In fact half the Cabinet would be new MPs.
    The more seriously our Team take themselves & their roles, the better.

  • Malcolm Todd 7th Jan '20 - 12:47pm

    Paul Barker
    It must be lovely to live in your spotless world of eternal sunshine. 🙂

  • Sue Sutherland 7th Jan '20 - 2:24pm

    Layla seems dedicated to improving the education of our children and grandchildren. She has experience of both private and state education. Isn’t that exactly what is needed to raise standards across the board?

  • Peter Watson 7th Jan '20 - 3:08pm

    @Sue Sutherland “She has experience of both private and state education.”
    An interesting question is “Does that matter anyway?”. After all, in 2018 Moran was reported as saying “I think we should remove charitable status unless an independent school can concretely show it’s benefiting the entire community, like a charity might.”

    Poking a stick in another education topic, I am also heartened by her comments about grammar schools at the same time: “What I want to do – what I would like to see us do as a party – is take on the harmful, antiquated tradition of the 11-plus exams and indeed all barriers to entry in the state system. I’m especially talking about those areas where families have no choice whatsoever about taking the exam. Where creaming off the middle classes is demonstrably stifling social mobility for those worse off. In those areas, grammar schools are in effect state-sponsored segregation. It is wrong. And it needs to stop.” This suggests progress from the Lib Dem’s mealy-mouthed conservative position of disliking grammar schools but not wanting to change anything (though also manages to fall short of actually being clear and unambiguous about that!).

  • nvelope2003 7th Jan '20 - 3:16pm

    The most likely result of a 2024 election is a Conservative Government with a working majority unless some unforeseen disaster occurs. The alternative would be a Labour Government, possibly dependent on SNP support, assuming Scotland is still in the UK. There are no other likely options unless that totally unforeseen disaster occurs. Would anyone really want that ?

  • nvelope2003 7th Jan '20 - 3:23pm

    Peter Watson: The only change required in any reorganisation of the education system is the opening up of public schools and other fee paying options to all children. Grammar schools provide an option for those without rich parents to get a decent education and that is why the better off, and that includes many Liberal Democrats and Labour people, hate them so much. If it was not so shameful it would be laughable. Ask Alan Bennet what he thinks.

  • Tobias Sedlmeier 7th Jan '20 - 4:21pm

    @Peter Watson: “This suggests progress from the Lib Dem’s mealy-mouthed conservative position of disliking grammar schools but not wanting to change anything (though also manages to fall short of actually being clear and unambiguous about that!).”

    I do not have particularly strong views on whether there should be academically selective state schools at second level (e.g. the grammar/secondary modern or German system) or whether it is better to have streaming within comprehensive state schools (e.g. the French system).

    However, I note that there’s significant overlap between areas of LibDem support and areas that have retained the grammar/secondary modern split: Kingston, Sutton, Chelmsford, Torbay.

    I happen to agree with “the Lib Dem’s mealy-mouthed conservative position of disliking grammar schools but not wanting to change anything”. There are much much bigger problems with the education system in England than grammar schools, e.g. the ridiculous A-level qualification that is limited to three subjects and has many negative consequences, including that a tiny minority study foreign languages between 16 and 18 is a much bigger issue. Layla Moran is a perfect example of the loudest voices in favour of abolishing grammar schools being those who were themselves educated at expensive independent schools. I note that the share of those coming from independent schools at our leading universities has increased over the past 30 years with the abolition of the majority of grammar schools. I’m not the only person who has noted that.

  • Paul Barker 7th Jan '20 - 4:49pm

    On the question of the likely result of the next General Election, all we can do is llok at long-term trends, comparing like with like. Our last 2 Low Points were 6% (Polling Average) in July 2017 & 12% in December 2019 – thats a rise of roughly 1% every 5 Months. The next Election is almost certainly at least 52 Months off, suggesting a Libdem performance of 22%. That doesnt rule out a Majority Government but it does make it very unlikely.
    All that assumes that we cant improve any faster than we have over the last 3 Years & that The Election will see us hit another low point. Are those assumptions that wildly optimistic ?
    Of course a Libdem Led Administration implies another 10% on top which is unlikely but not impossible. If we had thought about unlikely outcomes back in The Noughties perhaps we would have considered a possible Coalition & then decided No. As it was, we had to make the decision very quickly & under pressure.

  • @ Paul Barker, “On the question of the likely result of the next General Election, all we can do is look at long-term trends, comparing like with like.”

    Well, I’ve been waiting ever since February 1962 when I first joined the Party…… so I guess I know a wee bit about long term trends, and comparing like with like.

    In that time we’ve very successfully increased the size of the parliamentary party from six M.P.’s (there was an immediate increase of 16.6% the month after I joined – the Orpington by-election, gained by Eric Lubbock) ……. to….. let me try to remember, eleven M.P.’s now. By my fuddled brain that’s just a bit over a 147% increase….. but it’s not really good enough, I’m afraid, is it ?

    So Paul, could you now please encourage everybody to get a move ? I’ve had a new hip and a new liver in recent years and I’m not completely certain that I’ll be able to wait another fifty eight years……. though I live in hope.

    Meanwhile, good luck with your slide rule and keep the tattered old flag flying above half mast.

    PS. I saw that Mr. Lloyd George in one of those quirky ghost programmes on TV recently, and he told me to apologise to you for not including PR in the Representation of the People Act of 1918 when he was PM and had the opportunity. Something to do with a Coalition, he said.

  • Peter Watson 7th Jan '20 - 5:32pm

    @Paul Barker
    I think I’ve just realised where the Prime Minister Jo Swinson strategy came from. 😉
    Sadly, instead of PM it was not even MP.
    The party needs more than an optimistic but baseless extrapolation of two arbitrary polling figures which do not reflect a long term trend. Instead, in the absence of a “Stop Brexit” boost the party needs to work out exactly how it is going to retain and attract voters in order to avoid a return to single digit polling. The only strategy I’ve seen evidence of so far is a hope that Keir Starmer will remove the fear of a Labour Government so Lib Dems can make further inroads into leafy suburbia.
    Perhaps the first step is to review the 2019 manifesto and decide which bits are most important and how they will be funded without the “Remain Bonus” (an unfortunate side-effect of which was that every attempt to talk about non-Brexit policies had to begin by talking about Brexit!).

  • Peter Watson 7th Jan '20 - 5:55pm

    @Tobias Sedlmeier “the ridiculous A-level qualification that is limited to three subjects and has many negative consequences”
    I totally agree with this sentiment.
    Unfortunately, the changes which made it harder to start 4 or more subjects (at AS level) and defer final choices of subjects and university courses until a pupil had more knowledge and maturity took place on the Lib Dems’ watch.
    I like the idea of replacing A-levels with shallower study of a broader range of subjects so that 15 year olds are not forced to make choices which restrict their future options based upon limited information and life experience. Pre-university foundation years and vocational alternatives would have to be a factor here, along with a host of other reforms in 11-18 education and beyond.
    No party seems to have a radical or reforming holistic vision for children’s education beyond tinkering with exams, school management and inspection. Although I disagree with them, at least the Tories’ plans to expand grammar school provision represent some sort of clear statement of intent.

  • It’s a bit odd focusing on Layla Moran who is probably our most capable MP and will do an excellent job on education for us. Her biggest obstacle is the pressure of being arguably our best leadership candidate despite it being too early for her.

  • John Roffey 7th Jan '20 - 6:39pm

    Any support for focusing the MPs attention on a handful of priority issues?

    I have suggested Climate Change elsewhere as the key policy. If consumerism is to be curtailed – as it must if temperatures are not going to approach a tipping point by the end of the century – major changes will be needed to the way the economy works.

  • Peter Watson 7th Jan '20 - 9:51pm

    @Tobias Sedlmeier “I note that there’s significant overlap between areas of LibDem support and areas that have retained the grammar/secondary modern split: Kingston, Sutton, Chelmsford, Torbay.”
    Which is presumably why the party’s Conference can vote to call on “the government to abandon the selection by ability and social separation of young people, into different schools” but two General Elections pass without a mention of it.
    Either grammar schools are good/indifferent in which case why oppose their expansion if that’s what parents want or they are bad in which case why not have a goal of getting rid of them.
    I may disagree with grammar schools, but I dislike the unprincipled “facing both ways” of the Lib Dem position more.

  • Tobias Sedlmeier 7th Jan '20 - 11:07pm

    @Peter Watson: The grammar schools point is a classic example of LibDem failure to have/explain a policy in a way that both wins (or at least doesn’t lose votes) and which showcases LibDem principles and approach to government.

    To me a core LibDem principle is devolving decision-making. Currently, the decision on whether or not a local authority area has (or at least retains) grammar schools is, under law, a local matter. That seems to me to accord with LibDem principles. Although I wouldn’t be in favour of introducing academic selection where it doesn’t exist now, I think that should be a possibility also. In my view the current one way approach means that voters are very reluctant to support ending grammar schools in a local authority area because they can’t test the outcome and reverse the decision if it doesn’t work out. Different systems for different areas allows for two things: (i) comparing results in different areas and thereby seeing what works better in the round (likely different systems will have different pros and cons so it’s not about what’s better, it’s about whats better in the round, which includes value judgements regarding the weighting of pros and cons) and (ii) having different systems in different areas where those systems suit those different areas, e.g. an area like north of England where education system is fundamentally broken and outcomes are grim currently might benefit from grammar schools in a way that London would not.

    It’s on issues like this that the LibDem leadership is failing, and failing badly. LibDem MPs like Layla Moran and Ed Davey who are the products of expensive elitist independent schools aren’t really best placed to talk about how state education should be ordered. A lot of LibDem councillors are in a much better position. It’s worth noting that NOT A SINGLE LibDem MP was educated a standard English state comprehensive school (Sarah Olney was educated at a comprehensive school, but a Catholic one).

  • Michael Maybridge 8th Jan '20 - 12:25am

    @Tobias Sedlmeir For the record, Tim Farron went to the comprehensive Lostock Hall High School, or so Wikipedia tells me.

  • Tobias Sedlmeier 8th Jan '20 - 12:31am

    @Michael Maymidge So Jamie Stone at Gordonstoun, Layla Moran at Roedean, Ed Davey at Nottingham High School, all independent schools, and lonely Tim Farron at a comprehensive. It’s not a great look, is it?

  • As someone who, as a Liberal Councillor, campaigned successfully for a comprehensive system in Kendal – in Tim’s constituency – I must say Tobias Sedlmeier is more than gilding the lily of truth when he has a go at Ed Davey. Ed (an orphan at the time) was a free scholarship boy at Nottingham High, a day school, and which to my knowledge has a pretty liberal outlook. It also includes former Labour Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls amongst its alumni.

  • Nonconformistradical 8th Jan '20 - 8:34am

    @Tobias Sedlmeier
    Parents have a rather greater say in determining where a child is educated than does the child. Yet you appear to be putting responsibility on the child for their education.

    “Sarah Olney was educated at a comprehensive school, but a Catholic one”
    That might be an obvious example of a child being educated in a manner in accordance with their parents’ wishes.

  • John Marriott 8th Jan '20 - 4:25pm

    Whether or not an area should ‘go comprehensive’ is debate that is largely history. Mistakes were made on the way and, as we know, before Local Management of Schools (LMS) was introduced in the late 1980s, most areas had converted, thanks to Local Education Authorities, when they actually had teeth and a modicum of control.

    Lincolnshire, where I taught for the last 23 years of my career, is an interesting example of a hybrid, with a mixture of genuine comprehensives, based largely around Greater Lincoln, where I taught, while other areas retained selection at 11 plus. As a County Councillor from 2001 until I ‘retired’ in 2017, it used to amuse me that the small Labour Group was still prepared to advocate the abolition of the remaining County grammar schools in favour of ‘comprehensives’ without thinking through the consequences of such a move.

    I say ‘amused’ because those advocating the change were largely not teachers and so had no idea of the problems that would ensue had this change happened. It would be largely a repeat of what happened in the 1970s when successive Secretaries of State, including Lady Thatcher and Shirley Williams, too hastily drove through the reforms. Some of us would argue that many schools, and the comprehensive movement as a whole, never recovered their reputation from the mistakes made at that time, which caused the pendulum to swing too far back in the other direction.

    To be able to offer a fully comprehensive curriculum requires a school to be of a minimum size, at least of around 1000 for an 11 to 18 Establishment. Most of the county’s secondary schools were and still are much smaller. As there are no funds to build new larger schools, it would be necessary to combine schools that are often many miles apart, and possibly to bus staff and students between them, which proved to be such a logistical nightmare in the 1970s.

    I’m still against selection at 11, as I am against the current dog’s breakfast in the county of ‘Academies’ masquerading as comprehensive schools, when they are really glorified secondary moderns. However, without proper funding, any ‘cure’ would probably be worse than the disease it claimed to eradicate.

  • nvelope2003 9th Jan '20 - 12:08pm

    I understand that in Germany there is no equivalent of the 11 plus although they have selective schools. Attendance at such schools is based on aptitude. The opposition to selective education comes largely from parents who send their own children to fee paying schools and resent the fact that children from less affluent families can have a good education without paying. Those who object to selection on ideological grounds are rarely deterred from sending their own children to fee paying or “public” schools if they can afford it. Opinion surveys show that grammar schools are popular but of course the Liberal Democrats would not want to adopt anything which might attract voters as we have seen from recent election results. It is time to wake up and smell the coffee.

  • John Marriott 9th Jan '20 - 12:38pm

    When I taught in a West German Gymnasium (Grammar School) back in the 1970s very few students attended ‘private’ schools. You are basically right about selection not being based directly on a specific exam; but you have failed to mention that students can be made to repeat a year (called ‘sitzenbleiben’) if their grades are poor. The French used to have a similar system, which they called ‘redoubler ‘. If a German student was in a Gymnasium, they were allowed to ‘sitzenbleiben’ twice; but not in consecutive years. On the basis of ‘two strikes and you’re out’, any student achieving this would be asked to leave the Gymnasium and to relocate to a Secondary School (Realschule). So, there was a form of selection after all, plus some classes higher up with ‘repeaters‘, where the age range of students could be as much as four years!

    You talk about Grammar Schools being popular with parents here. That’s not surprising if you can guarantee that your youngster can pass the 11 plus! But, what if they fail? What some parents in comprehensive areas of Lincolnshire do is to put their offspring down for a proper comprehensive andenter them for the 11 plus and, if they pass, give up that place and allow them to attend a grammar school elsewhere, which often requires a considerable amount of travel. Of course, if the child fails, then they can always fall back on that comprehensive school place. What doesn’t happen is that the child is made to attend what, in a selective area, would be, to all intents and purposes, a Secondary Modern School. Some would call that ‘hedging your bets’, others possibly ‘freedom of choice’. I call it hypocrisy.

  • @nvelope2003 indeed my understanding is that in Germany a pupil can opt to attend a Gymnasium, but that their continues attendance is based on performance. The primary school will advise parents whether they think their child has the capability to succeed – a parent can go against this, but ultimately it is conditional on the child attaining the level to remain in the school.

    Generally I find it fascinating that strong advocates of the ending of selective education were often themselves selectively or privately educated. Those of us who grew up in the 1980s and were denied selective education often have the opposite view.

  • Layla Moran writes: “What I want to do – what I would like to see us do as a party – is take on the harmful, antiquated tradition of the 11-plus exams and indeed all barriers to entry in the state system.”

    The biggest barrier to entry in the state system is not the 11 plus exam, it’s selection by house price. I wonder what she will be seeking to do about that?


  • nvelope2003 9th Jan '20 - 6:05pm

    John Marriott/TCO: I was aware of the workings of the German system but thought it best not to overburden your readers with too much detail but I am grateful for your help in this matter. Living in a rural area I had a long journey to school although most of my friends lived in the town. Not every child wanted to go to the grammar school because they were not interested in “book learning” and preferred practical subjects and leaving school at 15 to start work, a very common desire. My mother would have benefitted from attending the High School but my grandparents could not afford to keep her there and this was the case with other people that I knew. Friends and relatives who attended the Secondary Modern School did seem to learn the basics which does not always seem to be the case now and many of them had a successful working life doing the jobs that they wanted to do. The teachers did not have to endure the problems of dealing with children who hated the type of education foisted on some people now. I wonder if there would be such a high level of expensively trained teachers dropping out because of all the hassle of dealing with unhappy children.
    In every sphere of life there is always selection but particularly in the public sector some people remain in jobs which they are not good at when it would have been kinder to have either moved them or let them go so that they could find something they liked doing.
    What we have in Britain is selection by house price or by parental income which I find utterly shocking. Layla Moran and those who think like her have a lot to answer for. I would prefer not to say what I think of those who want to abolish grammar schools but send their offspring to them or to fee paying schools but the voters are not deceived. And they wonder why they do not trust politicians. I don’t.

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