How Liberal Democrat Voice will deal with the leadership election

After Vince formally kicked off the leadership contest yesterday, announcing that we’d have a new leader by July 23rd. The likely candidates are Jo Swinson and Ed Davey, although neither has, at the time of writing, announced.

They will have to get on with it as the first hustings take place on Friday 31st May in London. In total the candidates will be attending at least ten meetings organised by the party. You can see a full list here.

I’m looking forward to an interesting and friendly leadership campaign which will be about how to consolidate our excellent results in the local elections and to build on the profile we had during the European elections.

This will all be very different from the really tough contest between Tim Farron and Norman Lamb in 2015. During that contest, we were still going through all the stages of grief after the disaster of the General Election and it was at times a bit fractious and horrible. Now, we have a much more optimistic outlook and we have to work out who will best help us make the most of it.

As individuals, the LDV team will be backing the candidate of their choice, publicly or otherwise away from the site. However, the site itself will be, as always in these things, resolutely neutral. We’ll want to question the candidates and allow them space to each explain their ideas. If you have any thoughts about how you would like to see us do that, please put them in the comments.

We want to do our bit to contribute to a debate about the future of the party and look at each candidate’s proposals for how we continue our climb up the mountain.


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

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This entry was posted in News.


  • Why can’t we we have Leader and Deputy Leader.

  • It’s a shame that the Western Counties and South Central hustings are on the same day. I know that’s easier for the candidates, but when I saw that the Western Counties one in Bath was on a date I can’t do (Sat 1st June) I looked at the Winchester one which is next nearest, only to find it’s the same day!

  • “it was at times a bit fractious and horrible.”

    Was it? I don’t really recall much of this so it feels a bit of a historical revisioning. There was the push polling issue but that seemed to be a bit of freelancing by some people with a reputation for ill-considered actions.

    Had there been more challenging by Norman of Tim on gay rights and abortion then maybe some of the problems in the 2017 campaign would have been avoided.

    Both Jo and Ed (assuming these are the candidates which seems likely) have weaknesses and it will produce stronger and better leaders if they are challenged in the contest. It will also give some indication as to the political skills of both of them if they are able to make effective attacks on their opponent. That is a skill they will need as leader and need to be able to demonstrate.

    Otherwise you have a cosy consensual love in that doesn’t reveal anything.

  • David Evans 25th May '19 - 1:25pm

    I think attendance at the hustings will be much greater this time, given our massive membership boost and three hours will be over very quickly without offering the time for any in depth exploration of candidates views and possibly past actions on key issues. When Tim and Norman stood our membership was only a third of what it is now.

    As a result, many attendees will not be able to ask their question but instead will find it will have to be homogenised by the chair into a rather bland “What do the candidates think about …” Three hours is also a long session for candidates and attendees (especially the older ones).

    My view is that more smaller hustings would be much better at making the process more open and participative.

    As for two hustings on the same day – that would be very disadvantageous to say a woman candidate with baby caring responsibilities, and to say a man accused of benefiting from that situation.

    Surely we should deliver better than this.

  • David Becket 25th May '19 - 1:46pm

    You ask how could you manage questions to the candidates.
    I will be unlikely to attend hustings this time, but have questions.

    I suggest you ask LDV readers to submit questions, max 40 words (not essays) and sort these out sending a summary to each candidate.

    Here are my questions:
    To all candidates
    Will support the UN Rapporteur Philip Alston’s devastating Report on poverty and deprivation in Britain, and pledge to promote our party’s policies to end the wrongs identified?

    Will you admit that the Coalition went over the top on austerity, and went too far causing some of our current problems?

    Will you ensure that the party concentrates on the six most important issues, Brexit, Inequality, Housing, Education, Climate Change, Health?

    In the event of a coalition will you ensure that we do not get too close to other parties?

    How will you direct the party in the event of a No Deal Brexit?

    For Jo

    Will you stop your continued support of minor issues and back the six above?

    For Ed

    How will you react to the charge that you were a key member of the coalition cabinet, and have some responsibility for the current mess?

  • I don’t remember the Tim/Norm contest being at all fractious and horrible. Certainly not like Chris/Nick in 2007, with the unbelievably stupid ‘Calamity Clegg’ leaflet. I would hope the candidates this time – and their supporters – would have more sense than to make personal attacks. Just as we are climbing out of the abyss of the last few years, we need an upbeat, positive campaign. Tough, testing questions yes, but in a spirit of fraternity.
    Incidentally, I was very undecided in the Huhne/Clegg contest. Bluntly I wasn’t enthused by either of them, and was looking for a reason to choose over the other. The Calamity Clegg thing was what made my mind up: I voted for Nick. Those who would campaign negatively against a fellow LibDem take note.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 25th May '19 - 2:04pm

    A very sensible piece, the approach a good fair coverage on here as we expect.

    I do see that we had some issues in previous contests, Clegg vs Hune was more fractious that Farron vs Lamb, though.

    I am for Jo Swinson as leader with Ed Davey as subsequently chosen deputy. If there is some emerging failure during the contest to change my very open mind, fine, otherwise, my view is that, although we look forward to hustings, in person, online.

  • david webberley 25th May '19 - 3:35pm

    I know that the hustings have to fit around parliamentary diaries, other commitments as well as venue availability, But like Jill says above, there isn’t much flexibility.
    I’m curious as to why there is no hustings either in South or North Wales, let alone one which is relatively close-by.
    I can see the Bristol membership, Bath membership, South Gloucs, Somerset and much of South Wales members either swamping the Bath event or not going all together for fear of not being able to gain entry due to overcrowding.

  • Paul Barker 25th May '19 - 3:46pm

    While our next Leader does need to be able to attack they need to stay Liberals while they do it, to disagree without putting the other down.
    For me, one defining issue will be how we deal with The Greens & Change. At the very least we need some arrangement to stop us all getting in each others way but I would prefer something more ambitious, a full blown Alliance.

  • Greg Foster 25th May '19 - 3:59pm

    We haven’t yet published all of the hustings folks, there are more to come.

  • The best way for us to know the candidates’ ideas and thoughts would be for each candidate to write an article and then answer questions in the comment section and have to engage in the debate there for the whole campaign period.

    As I think this is unlikely to happen then hopefully LDV will ask the candidates questions on our behalf and ask us to suggest questions. I suppose there has to be a limit. 100 questions for each candidate seems about the right limit.

    My questions would be:

    Do you accept that austerity was the wrong economic policy in 2010?

    Should the government attempt to increase economic growth if below 3% with fiscal measures? What should the constraints be on such a policy?

    How do you think our policy making system can be reformed to involve more members and to ensure more radical policies are submitted to conference?

    How long should party policy state it will take us to remove everyone in the UK living in relative poverty out of that situation?

  • Robin Bennett 26th May '19 - 11:59am

    LDV would do a service by publishing responses to questions from readers who are disinclined to travel to a hustings. And where numerous readers raise the same subject, LDV should avoid the temptation to “edit” everything into some anodyne representative question. Examples already posed above would do nicely, including challenges to a particular candidate’s past record.

  • David Franks 26th May '19 - 3:43pm

    absolutely agree with Michael BG and his question: Do you accept that austerity was the wrong economic policy in 2010? I thought most of us generally supported Keynesian economic management – in times of recession and low interest rates = invest.

  • John Paterson 26th May '19 - 7:47pm

    It would be worth amending the article so that the reference to hustings deletes the words “a full list can be found here” and inserts instead the words “more hustings may be arranged but a current list of hustings so far arranged can be found here.” I am sure that many of us will have looked at that list and assumed it was indeed a full and final list.

  • Alison Clish-Green 27th May '19 - 11:17am

    Devon & Cornwall hustings: “Saturday 21st” The 21st is Friday!
    Is the hustings on Friday or Saturday?

  • Stefan Petszaft 1st Jun '19 - 12:14pm

    Is there any intention to stream any of the hustings on a libdem website so that those who can’t travel can view the proceedings?

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