Ed’s first Q and A as leader

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Ed did his first Leader’s Q and A yesterday afternoon. Under normal circumstances, he would be wandering around the stage, addressing a packed hall. He was at the podium in LDHQ taking questions from menbers in a way that you don’t often find from  other party leaders. We allow supplementaries to pre-submitted questions which mean that he can be faced with just about anything, from the random to the policy to the personal.

You can watch it here from around 5 hours in.

Here are some of the highlights:


If we don’t improve diversity we don’t deserve to succeed says Ed as he praises Jo for her work on improving gender balance. He commits to implementing the Alderdice Review and working on BAME diversity. We need to stop writing reports and start doing, he added.

He wanted to assure every AO and SAO that he was committed to campaigning on diversity and particularly working for people with disabilities.

An ideal team member

Who would you want to join your parliamentary team?

Paddy, his first employer in the party whom he misses very much. He said he would be a great adviser as he had raised us from a an asterisk to having 46 MPs

Cross party working

Before we talk about alliances, I want us to be strong. We have to get more LIb Dem MPs and Councillors. My focus will be on building up our party. I’m not against working with other parties and we are naturally the sort of people who  do that. But I want us to be strong first.

He reiterated that his priority was his Listening Tour which had already taken him to  Fife, Wales, Stockport. We need, he said,  to make our messages relevant to people’s aspirations, hopes and fears so that we can get Tories out of Government

That would work for those left behind towns where people are struggling economically.


How do we push for proportional representation?

I am seeing signs in other parties that they may move.

He encourages us to talk to friends in other parties and convince them of the case for electoral reform.

Health and social care – three messages for the doorstep

  • Only Lib Dems argue for extra penny on income tax for health and social care.
  • Talk about mental health
  • Local health campaign – like his in Chessington to create a new health centre.

How do we prepare for future pandemics?

Have a proper public enquiry to learn the lessons from Coronavirus

How should we deal with restrictions on civil liberties in Coronavirus Act?

No agreement to any precedent being set about infringements of civil liberties.

We need laws to help us through the pandemic but they should be for the shortest possible period.

We need to be true to our values in the way we debate these issues.

Particularly concerned about easements in social care obligations

How would your friends describe you in 3 words?

Tiggerish, earnest, approachable

And your enemies?

Cockroaches, determined – people needn’t think they have got rid of us. We are coming back!

How can we help young people?

Young people have suffered the most – gone through exam disaster. They were so alarmed and stressed at the government’s mishandling. Young people often not able to work from home but they can’t socialise. How do we help them? By making sure that we think about them in all our policies and approaches.

We need to listen to the young people in the party.

We need to make sure that there is a flexible approach to home working.

This Government hasn’t supported schools and students in the way they should have done.

How will he engage Young Liberals?

He wants invited to their events and to make sure he is speaking about their issues.

He talked about councils and developers working together to turn office accommodation into housing for young people. A later question touched on planning and sustainability. He said he thought that the Conservatives’ planning reforms were disgraceful, anti-democratic and a developers’ charter. We have to make this a big thing across England.

How can we justify keeping student fees at such high levels?

Didn’t really answer that one but talked about advantages of UBI

Media reform

Worried about abuse on social media where we have seen dark money interfering with free and fair elections. There has to be regulation on that. Daisy Cooper has come up with some great ideas and he wants to take them forward.

How do we improve party’s image in the media?

He talked about listening to people and getting to a place where they think we have their backs.

What book would he recommend and why?

Dogs don’t do ballet by Anna Kemp if you want a bit of fun. Getting out of the serious space we inhabit can relax you and reading to my children is the best way to relax

Climate emergency

Where do we stand on defining people like Extinction Rebellion as crime groups?

Shouldn’t be dividing people when we need to fight together.

We are winning the argument and we need to campaign on the environment locally and nationally. Let’s bring people together with some really popular messages and get action on climbing.


We are the pro-European party and need the closest possible relationship with Europe. We ned to be very critical of a hard deal or no deal. Whether it is on climate or security or the pandemic, we need to make the arguments for co-operation with other countries

Making politics interesting

How do you make politics more interesting?

Make it more relevant to people – show that you care about what they care about.

LGBT+ rights

We have a long and proud record of campaigning on these issues of equality. He remembers moving the amendment to abolish Section 28.

As an internationalist party we need to think about this across the world.

No mention of trans rights, though.

How do we get rid of our twee middle class image?

We need to get out in all communities and show that we are so committed to social justice, housing and issues that really matter to people.

Message to campaigners

Get your candidates in place, get your fundraising done for the huge elections next year.

If we address people’s concerns, we can win big.


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

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  • How do we cope with people Like C harles Moore and Paul Dacre rabid right wing Brexiteers Johnson supporters being put forward to be involved with the BBC.
    One tenet of fascism is to take control of the media

  • That is Dacre ,Moore being involved in the BBC

  • Sue Sutherland 27th Sep '20 - 1:20pm

    I didn’t vote for Ed and was disappointed that Layla didn’t become deputy Leader. However, I thought Ed came across really well at this session which I enjoyed very much and I hope he carries on going to help at fish & chip shops. Really good PR for us I think.
    I also realise from the previous post that Layla has a unique personal experience of living abroad that she can use to give her insight in her new role.

  • “Tiggerish, earnest, approachable”. Actually I’ve known Ed for 25 years and that is pretty accurate.

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