Ed Davey MP writes…My leadership would be about liberalism, climate change and stopping Brexit

Climate change. Liberalism. Winning. That’s been my political story – and I want it to be the Liberal Democrats’ story.  And with the magnificent victories in this month’s local and European elections, the Liberal Democrats are getting back in the game. I want to thank Vince, a giant of liberalism, for his role in getting us here and his contribution to fighting Brexit.

Under my leadership, the Liberal Democrats would continue to lead the fight to Stop Brexit. I am writing to Speaker Bercow to ensure a No Deal Brexit cannot happen without a vote in Parliament. But I also want to make the positive case for Britain’s membership of the European Union. I’m an economist by training, and for me the economic case to stop Brexit is overwhelming. But for too long the British argument over Europe has only been made by reference to economics. Europe has also been a hugely successful vehicle for peace, and Britain must stay in the front seat.

I also want us to reach out to Leave communities and Leave voters –they are our neighbours, our friends, our work colleagues, our brothers and sisters. These divisions in our country have distressed me more than anything I’ve seen in my political career. I want to build a future politics where people – particularly outside of London – don’t feel frozen out or ignored and feel included in our great British family.

As Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, I worked for three years to get renewable power investment. We nearly quadrupled Britain’s green energy, making Britain a world leader in offshore wind power. By pushing hard for manufacturing investment, we created jobs and revived places like Hull, Grimsby and Lowestoft.  This is the sort of hope and investment in coastal towns and cities that can prove to Leave communities that Liberal Democrats care.

To create more jobs and more prosperity in the regions and nations left behind by our current capitalist model, we need systemic change. The key fight ahead is to decarbonise capitalism. We need to become the Green Finance Capital of the world – changing our whole financial system and our economy, to the clean, cheap energy economy now possible.

But to do this, first we need to win. May has been historic month for the Liberal Democrats, with record gains of new councillors and new MEPs. But what happens when we’ve stopped Brexit? If Liberal Democrats are to stay back in the game, people need to know, instinctively, what we stand for.  I cut my teeth in politics working for our late great friend Paddy Ashdown, as his economics adviser. Under Paddy, the Liberal Democrats became well-known as being the strongest party on education and the party of the environment. And under me, we will be that party again.

Back in 1995, I became the Liberal Democrat candidate for Kingston and Surbiton. We weren’t a target seat, we weren’t supposed to win, but we did. We had a clear message: ED for education.  And we behaved just like we were a target seat. And we won, because we campaigned with confidence and self-belief. That’s how the Liberal Democrats will campaign under my leadership – and we will win.  For Liberalism, against Climate Change, and to stop Brexit.

* Ed Davey is the MP for Kingston & Surbiton and Leader of the Liberal Democrats

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Paul Barker 30th May '19 - 6:06pm

    Thats all great but lets define what we mean by “Winning”.
    If we are going to able to implement any of these great ideas then we need to be, at the least, the Dominant Party in a Coalition with a majority. Putting it simply we need 200 MPs on board. Can we do that, on our own, in an Election which could come in the Autumn ?
    I dont think we can do it, on our own but I think an Alliance of Libdems, The Greens & Change could do that. Its not just a matter of putting our 3 Votes together, there are a lot more Voters out there who could be won over by the sight of Parties working together like grown-ups.
    The BBC (PM today on Radio 4) seem to think that Ed Davey has warmed towards the idea of a Green/Libdem pact & I hope they are right.

  • Richard Underhill 30th May '19 - 6:22pm

    At a fringe meeting at federal conference I asked about North African Solar. The Greenpeace rep struggled, but Ed Davey had an answer, which was, of course, about inter-connectors. We would need co-operation from the French.
    Linking in to Scandinavian hydro through more interconnectors is also a good idea.
    As it happens my local MP is the responsible cabinet minister. I asked about hydro-power in Northern Ireland between the sea and a large inland lake. Tidal force, twice daily. He said he would get back to me, but I am still waiting.

  • Richard Underhill 30th May '19 - 6:36pm

    We have seen on tv that Israel has a pipeline 6 miles out into the Med., bringing in water which is so cheap that they can afford to waste it. How they process it was not explained.
    I wonder, osmosis perhaps? Distillation using sunlight in a modern greenhouse works, but scale?

  • Lorenzo Cherin 30th May '19 - 6:45pm

    Excellent start to this contest between colleagues, it is about impact more than pacts, both candidates can make something of both, impact first, pacts, next, From Ed, a good article.

  • A brilliant article, having been there this morning when Ed set out his vision for our party, I was sold.
    He has ambitions to make us a party of government, I think we can deliver that with him

  • The problem with climate change is that much of the threat is based on flawed computer models that do not replicate reality.

  • “I also want us to reach out to Leave communities and Leave voters” agreed, but I don’t think this is possible with a full-on stop Brexit. We need to listen and act. I would like to see has give this side a win in a people’s vote even if the vote’s remain. To me, what this would entail is committing to stopping ever-deeper union in the EU. People don’t feel the connection with the EU, it’s not well understood and election turnout’s terrible, reflecting this. It also has clear democratic deficits and issues with accountability. The EU has not earned ever-deeper union, it needs to build support and accountability then do this. It’s in the EU’s interests to build a stable political settlement and would give the Leave side a win that shows they’ve clearly been listened to either way.

  • If there is any truth in the rumoured new poll by you gov we had better start taking this leadership election very carefully!!

  • I wonder if Ed will post any replies to comments here!

    I hope that Ed’s constituency in 1997 was not not on the target list, even if it was not on the main list of target seats. I recall there were levels. I hope his seat was in the second level which while not being able to ask for support outside their constituency were not expected themselves to move out of their constituency. It would be a bad move for the leader of our party to have ignored our targeting policies. Our leader needs to be a team player.

    Ed claims to be economist and wants to reach out to Leave voters but he has said nothing about what policies we should have to end poverty in the UK within 10 years.

  • Joseph Bourke 31st May '19 - 12:37am

    “To create more jobs and more prosperity in the regions and nations left behind by our current capitalist model, we need systemic change. The key fight ahead is to decarbonise capitalism. We need to become the Green Finance Capital of the world – changing our whole financial system and our economy, to the clean, cheap energy economy now possible.”

    I think Investment versus tax cuts will be a key battlegroud in the coming months as we approach the 2019 spending review. Many of the Tory leadership hopefuls will be endording the vision expressed on Onward’s report: Firing on all Cylinders https://www.ukonward.com/firingonallcylinders/
    It adopts a fiscal rule very similar to that laid out by Vince Cable for Libdem econmic policy that calls for keeping debt to GDP falling gently in normal years when there is no recession.
    The additional fiscal space provided allows for increased investment in public services and a broad range of tax cuts. The report argues for the return of school funding to its 2015 record level of real spending per pupil; providing for sustained recruitment into the police budget to enable growth in officer numbers, and increased investment in prisons.
    On Britain’s competitiveness – it proposes aligning our Corporation Tax with Irelands 12.5% corporation tax rate as well as more generous capital allowances across the country to help re-balance the economy. The report argues for a re-balancing of the Government’s own growth-enhancing spending in innovation, transport, housing and culture to lift the performance of poorer areas.
    On personal tax it proposes increasing both the National Insurance threshold and personal tax allowance to £13,000.
    For poorer families, it agues for substantially increasing work allowances and creating a separate work allowance for second earners to raise the incomes of poorer working households and increase work incentives and employment.
    It is a well researched report in parts and there are elements like increasing the NI threshold and substantial increases in Universal credit work allowances that could be usefully adopted by Libdems to the extent that they have not already been catered for in our tax and welfare policies.

  • @Michael BG 

    My understanding at the 1997 there were three categories of seats – key seats (held and targets), starred seats (the next level) and development seats. As you say starred seats had no help from outside but weren’t asked to move to targets.

    My understanding is that the only two starred seats to win were Kingston and Surbiton and Winchester (and possibly also Richmond Park). Certainly in Winchester we had no money (bar may be a few pounds) from outside or help etc but weren’t asked to go to other targets. I assume the same was the case was the same with Kingston and Surbiton (and rather like K&S, Winchester had a lot of targets close by).

    So yes – Ed’s claim is true – he and his team won it on their own as a non-target and yes, he obeyed the national “targeting” instructions. So K&S was a very good win as well as him winning it back in 2017. K&S was a new seat in 1997 and I don’t know what the notional result was for ’92. But we 25% behind in the former Kingston seat and 27% behind in Surbiton – the two seats it was formed out of. So it does look like an exceptionally good win by Ed in 1997.

    I also think a problem with Nick Clegg was that he never had to really work hard with local campaigning. He got in as an MEP in the East Midlands as top of the list and then somewhat parachuted into already held Sheffield Hallam. I don’t have that fear with Ed who I believe understands Lib Dem campaigning and the fragility of our electoral position. He also built up his vote to a very healthy 61% in 2001.

    As an aside I hope that Ed and Jo or their campaign teams will respond to comments here. I appreciate some of the issues and dangers.

    But It really p**ses me off that MPs or other grandees will write articles for LDV and hand down their tablets of wisdom but don’t have the good manners to deign to lower themselves to respond to the comments. It is bad manners and is really not tenable in this modern day and age.

  • Might be good for Ed to drop references to his time in the coalition government. There are many who have not forgiven us for ‘allowing the Tories austerity programme’ and for tuition fees. I know these things can be defended, but it would be better not to have to do it, and focus on the future not the past.

  • Nigel Jones 31st May '19 - 5:09pm

    @peter: to play down environmental issues is to quibble over details while the planet declines and opportunities are missed. Statistics can always be questioned but there is enough to show it’s a huge issue. Not only that, as Lord Stern said a long time ago, it’s good for business and the economy in the long term. I would say it is not so much about climate change, that is the serious consequence that tells us we must change our ways. It is about using planet Earth in a more sustainable efficient and less polluting way; that means business, incentivised and helped by government has to change its ways. Ed knows more than many how to do that.

  • Philip Moss 3rd Jun '19 - 12:24pm

    What I would like to see is the background of the two contenders. Where do they stand on claims for MP’s expenses? I am assuming that they will require more public spending, how do we finance this? Increase in corporate taxation and personal tax?
    What is the fairest way? What about dealing with the vanishing High Stree, rates too high, what about increasing rates on internet shopping companies, what about preventing these companies avoiding tax on their Uk profits by using companies in low cost company tax havens? Have they any dirty laundry they wish to wash now rather then have it plastered everywhere by our opponents.What about apologising for staying too long in the Tory Govn, we are still toxic we must try to cleanse ourselves properly.

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