Ed Davey on Peston: Braverman, carer support and getting elected

Sir Ed Davey appeared on ITV’s Peston last night.

Peston suggested that since Rishi Sunak had arrived in No 10, the Lib Dems had been in reverse in the polls. Rejecting that and talking about the three by-election wins in Chesham and Amersham, Tiverton and Honiton and North Shropshire, Ed said:

A lot of people said we won because people were turning away from Boris Johnson… I knocked on doors. I talked to people. What we found that they were rejecting the Conservative Party. They were doing it because of health matters, like ambulances, huge delays in getting access to GPs or NHS dentists. They felt the Conservatives had taken them for granted and were just out of touch… We found lifelong Conservatives rejecting the Conservative Party. Whether its Sunak or Johnson it doesn’t really matter.

Ed Davey also said he would be holding Jeremy Hunt to account on the criticisms he made of the government’s care policies before he returned to the cabinet.

On Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary should be investigated by the Intelligence and Security Committee over concerns of national security breaches.


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  • The truth is that we have been falling in the polls. With the conservatives in retreat the Labour party have been very energetic while our leadership have been left blindsided. We must decide on our CORE message and plug it.We used to be distinctive on constitutional reform. We had a well known position on Brexit but we never mention it now. But more important than anything else we need a greater media presence.

  • Jason Connor 3rd Nov '22 - 8:45pm

    I would agree with Tim Rogers. This party is not benefitting from the government’s troubles and I still think the Conservatives will recover and re-take some Lib Dem seats were a general election called. I think that’s why some on here seem to want a GE perhaps because they want a majority Labour government. I don’t. The only way the Lib Dems can stop this is to come up with some clear messages and credible policies which will resonate with the public and promote them using the media. That’s what Charles Kennedy did with the penny on income tax to spend on the NHS. It’s time for Ed Davey to learn from history and rise above the parapet whether it’s on ambulances, hospital waiting times, energy costs etc. There is a whole host of issues he should be addressing.

  • Jason Connor makes an interesting point ….. “The only way the Lib Dems can stop this is to come up with some clear messages and credible policies which will resonate with the public and promote them using the media. That’s what Charles Kennedy did with the penny on income tax to spend on the NHS”.

    Yes, indeed, Jason, but consistency helps. I remember in the Glenrothes byelection in November, 2008 – not that long after Charles’ penny on campaign being given leaflets extolling the virtues of cutting a penny OFF income tax. Result ? Lib Dem vote dropped like a stone to 2.6%.

    Consistent positive relevant messages people understand instead of the always negative knocking of opponents would be a refreshing change. People don’t need to be told how awful the Tories are… they already know. What they don’t know is what Lib Dems stand for.

  • I agree with Tim Rogers, couldn’t have put ut better. It seems that in the absence of clear and distinctive positions the party is relying heavily on targeting seats and tactical voting. This is risky and the past success of targeting may be overstated.

    I am reminded of 2015 we were told that despite national vote share collapsing, the “incumbency factor” would save key seats. Look how that turned out.

  • John Bicknell 4th Nov '22 - 8:29am

    The graphs shown on Peston were alarming for the Lib Dems – there is disillusionment with the Conservatives, but that anger is directing votes towards Labour, even in areas where the LDs are the strongest local opposition. Of course, most people don’t spend much time thinking about politics – so if they’re fed up with the Tories, their natural response is to say ‘I’ll vote Labour – they’re the main alternative’, regardless of who might be best placed in their local seat. The LDs can only counter that by local campaigning (the much maligned bar charts), to emphasise the local situation. As Tim and Marco have said, though, it’s an uphill battle, with no guarantee of success.

  • Alex Macfie 4th Nov '22 - 11:07am

    Our party has ALWAYS relied heavily on targeting seats and tactical voting for electoral success. When we didn’t target we got few seats even with respectable vote shares (Liberals in 1974, Alliance in the 1980s). And it is always during the election campaign when voters remember who is the local challenger, because we relentlessly remind them.

    2015 is a totally different issue based on an unprecedented vote collapse. The idea that our sitting MPs would be shored up may have been based on of the 1979 result, when most of our MPs did hold on despite a significant fall in vote share. But 1979 wasn’t anywhere near as big a collapse as 2015. We lost 3 seats in 1979: two due to the Thorpe factor (the seats of Thorpe himself and his ally John Pardoe) and the other (Montgomeryshire) due to specific local circumstances (the local party was too busy planning its centenary to do any campaigning). It wasn’t an anti-Liberal vote the way 2015 was an anti-Lib Dem vote, and in 2015 we naturally suffered the same fate as the Tories in 1997, with our vote falling harder where it had further to fall.

    The next GE result is likely to be similar to 1997 for the Tories, with our performance depending on our ground campaign. The Tories will recover from their current levels, but not enough to snatch a victory. In particular, it is most unlikely that the Tories will pick up any seats from us (unless any of our MPs does a Lembit).

  • Peter Davies 4th Nov '22 - 12:17pm

    The party has always relied on strong local campaigns in winnable seats but that is not the same thing as national targeting. By the time they are strong enough to qualify as national targets they are already in a position to run the long campaign from their own resources and benefit little from central attempts to help them. Obviously, they can use outside helpers in the short campaign but those are in short supply as our membership outside the target seats has been allowed to wither.

  • Alex Macfie – My scepticism about targeting in 1997 was the lack of a clear difference between many targeted and non-targeted seats. For example in Kingston – not a target seat – there was a 13% Con – Lib swing compared to about 8.5% in targeted Twickenham.

    In the next GE in target seats such as Wimbledon it might be hard to get tactical votes as Labour were on 23% last time and could come from 3rd to win.

  • Alex Macfie 6th Nov '22 - 9:21am

    @Marco: Swings in individual seats are often influenced by local factors. Kingston already had a strong local Lib Dem party by 1997; it had become a Lib Dem run Council for the first time in 1994, and has since then alternated between Lib Dems and Tories. As a “starred seat” (one step below target status in Lib Dem terminology) the local party in Kingston & Surbiton wouldn’t have got much help from Federal HQ, but had a lot of local activist strength to draw upon.
    Other factors the larger fall in the Tory vote compared to neighbouring target seats may be a manifestation of the phenomenon I mentioned earlier, of the collapsing Tory vote falling hardest in the safest Tory seats. And as a new constituency, it’s possible that the notional 1992 result was inaccurate.

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