Ed Davey: Country wants a General Election

“I have just publicly congratulated a lettuce.” Now there’s a sentence I never thought I would write. But after six weeks in which the Government had descended into a destructive and self-destructive parody, it seemed appropriate. The Daily Star’s “Can Liz Truss outlast a lettuce” livestream was childish, but appealed to our sense of the ridiculous as our politics became more absurd.

My plan for yesterday evening was to watch the Doctor Who Easter special. I knew it would shred my emotions, so I’d been putting it off, but the thirteenth Doctor’s tenure ends on Sunday so I’d better get on with it.  Anyway, Channel 4’s Gary Gibbon started to explain the bizarre events in the Commons voting lobbies and I ended up binging on the news channels until I fell asleep.

Of all the weird things about last night, the strangest was that the vote didn’t even matter. It was on an opposition motion, which the Government usually just ignores. What on earth possessed them to make such a big deal out of it when the Parliamentary Party was already in a highly sensitive state? Apparently making it an issue of confidence would nullify any of the rebels’ letters, but chucking them out of the parliamentary party would surely reduce the threshold and invite more letters from disgruntled MPs.

Not content with crashing the economy with the binfire budget, they turned in on themselves.

The Conservative Party is in so much pain that it is not capable of governing. It really needs to go and lie down in a darkened room for a few generations until it sorts itself out. Yet they are about to inflict their third PM in three years on to us.

I am not convinced that the 1922 Committee has thought through its high nomination requirement, which has presumably been set to keep out Boris Johnson. There is every possibility that you have one person with the backing of 100 MPs, and two others just short of that. They will be just as split as ever and we have seen how they behave when they all hate each other.

The country shouldn’t have to deal with this. Every household in the country on low and middle incomes will be paying more for borrowing, energy, basic costs of living because of Liz Truss’s folly. And the folly of MPs who allowed her to go forward to the members.

Ed Davey, Daisy Cooper and Christine Jardine have been commenting on various aspects of the Conservative chaos

Ed  has been doing the media rounds this afternoon making the case for a general election so that the country can finally get some decent government. Here he is on the BBC, Sky and ITV:

https://twitter.com/BBCNews/status/1583108631368810498?s=20&t=V54HESrTmomEjyg7HjHisw

Ed said:

Boris Johnson failed our country and Liz Truss trashed our economy. The Conservatives have proven time and time again they are not fit to lead our great country.

We do not need another Conservative Prime Minister lurching from crisis to crisis, we need a general election, we need the Conservatives out of power and we need real change.

It is time for Conservative MPs to do their patriotic duty, put the country first and give the people a say.

Deputy Leader Daisy said that Conservative MPs must block Boris Johnson’s return:

The fact that Conservative MPs are even considering putting Boris Johnson back in Number 10 shows how out of touch they really are. They think there’s one rule for them and another for everyone else.
Boris Johnson was forced to resign in disgrace after countless lies, scandals and failures. He shattered public trust in the government and plunged the UK into a political crisis. He must never be allowed near Downing Street again.
The future of our country should be in the hands of voters, not the Conservative MPs who have caused all this chaos.
And Christine, spokesperson for the Cabinet Office said that Truss must not get the usual £115k per annum given to former Prime Ministers to run their office:

Liz Truss will forever be known as the fifty-day Prime Minister. There is no way that she should be permitted to access the same £115k a year for life fund as her recent predecessors – all of whom served for well over two years.

To make matters worse, Truss’s legacy is an economic disaster – for which the Conservatives are making taxpayers foot the bill. For Truss to walk off into the sunset with a potential six figure dividend, while leaving the British public to suffer, would be unconscionable.

This huge potential payout will leave a bitter taste in the mouth of the millions of people struggling with spiralling bills and eye-watering mortgage rate rises thanks to the Conservatives’ economic mismanagement.

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

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10 Comments

  • Paul Barker 20th Oct '22 - 8:53pm

    I have already signed 3 petitions calling for an election – one on the Official Parliament site, now on 700,000, one promoted by The Independent, on 200,000 & the last started by The Mirror today, on 40,000. The Mirror one is likely to end up as the biggest.

    With Johnson reported by some to be leading in MPs nominations the Tory Government could simply collapse, we need to be ready.

  • In this surreal Alice in Wonderland situation, when the Tory Party is splintering all over the place, what happens if none of the candidates succeed in getting 100 MPs to propose them ?

  • George Thomas 20th Oct '22 - 11:29pm

    My only concern about this is that Tory leadership race delayed cost-of-living crisis response by 10 weeks or so and an election now would risk another vacuum during a winter which is expected to be really hard.

    Can we afford not to have an election? I don’t think so, but there is risk and ideally, we should have had an election instead of extended process to i) get Truss as Prime Minister and ii) further delay caused by self-inflicted pause of politics shutting off for Queen dying.

  • Graham Jeffs 21st Oct '22 - 10:09am

    Maybe it’s selfish, but I am concerned as to how prepared we are for an election. There is no point in naively thinking that the electorate are going to regard us as an option if, in many constituencies, we have wasted years not focusing on getting good local PPCs in place to provide a spearhead and visible presence for local campaign development. This is partly because we are bogging ourselves down in demotivating bureaucracy. Fine if you have lots of people to start with, but weak areas – and there are many – must find things quite debilitating.

    We have had great by-election successes but I am not convinced we have in any way capitalised on them. The party needs to be much better at setting out policy priorities rather than uttering pious hopes and implying that the removal of this or that party leader is an objective in itself. The electorate see the results of what is happening in politics but I suspect that many do not know why. The true nature of the modern Conservative Party is not widely understood – it’s hiding behind personalities.

  • @Graham, I know what you mean. In many ways we’d be on the back foot should a general election be declared in the next few weeks, but I don’t think it’s likely to happen. Most Tories, who get to decide, will be in one of two camps.

    Either they expect to lose the next election, so might as well cling on for as long as possible, and stuff the consequences. There might be a faint hope they’ll be forgiven by then.

    Or they hope that they’ll get a poll bounce from a new leader and bite the bullet and go for an election some-time in the Spring. They might realise they’d still lose, but some will think it looks more honourable, and why not let the Labour party deal with the mess?

    But it’s right we need to get prepared. A short national campaign won’t suit us, and with so much going on, our voice is being squeezed out.

  • Malcolm Wild 21st Oct '22 - 1:04pm

    Boris Johnson now even money to be the next Tory leader/PM.

  • Two by elections coming up in Labour seats each majority and not under threat, West Lancs and Chester.
    If we put ourselves out we can come second in both, what a boost that will be.

  • Paul Barker 21st Oct '22 - 6:32pm

    As of now it looks likely that Mordaunt won’t get the 100 MPs needed & possible that Johnson won’t either – its about 50/50 on the present numbers.

    The Tories have started falling in the Polls again after a few weeks of stability. Ignoring the obvious outlier, Polls in the past week suggest they are between 20% & 21% – down from 24% up to then.

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