Layla: I’m thinking of standing for leader..

We know that there is going to be a leadership election at some point in the not too distant future. Vince said as much last year when he launched his plans for a supporters scheme.

He said:

Once Brexit is resolved or stopped, that will be the time to conduct a leadership election under the new rules.

Those new rules will be voted upon by the York Conference next month.

We’re not going to get a leadership election imminently and of course nobody has yet announced their candidacy. But we can make an educated guess about likely front-runners.

In 2017, both Ed Davey and Jo Swinson decided against standing.  It’s interesting that they have joint billing with Vince at the Conference rally in York. Or maybe that’s down to Federal Conference Committee’s diplomatic skills.

Layla has also been mentioned as a candidate and she gave a refreshingly straight answer when Iain Dale asked her about it the other night on LBC. 

I’m only 36, I hope to have a long and prosperous career and when someone says might you want to one day run for leader of the Liberal Democrats the answer is honestly, I don’t know.

She went on to say that she didn’t know whether she was up for the disruption to her private life:

I think the bit of it that worries me the most is how do you juggle everything else in your life, and I love being a real person who does things with friends and has a family.

I do worry about how anyone in those kinds of positions balances all of that.

Time will tell…

This was the start of a 45 minute interview which you can watch here.

It was like a proper conversation rather than a political interview. She talked about her Palestinian heritage, about how she was horrified by anti-semitism and about how moving around the world in her early life shaped her.

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  • Let us hope she can be convinced. She’s intelligent, sincere and represents a new and vibrant youthful party. We need a new leader for the post brexit era, one untainted by the coalition, one capable of winning back the youth and student vote we so carelessly threw away. We need Layla Moran.

  • I’m also intrigued by her comment that “I hope to have a long and prosperous career…”. Prosperous seems an odd choice of adjective here – so, assuming that this wasn’t a mere slip of the tongue, I wonder what exactly she has in mind.

  • Iain Donaldson 15th Feb '19 - 11:21am

    Sean Hughes, the word prosper has more than one meaning, though the most common usage in the materialistic world in which we live is indeed the materialistic meaning.

    1 Succeed in material terms; be financially successful.
    ‘his business prospered’
    ‘the state hopes to prosper from free trade with the United States’

    1.1 Flourish physically; grow strong and healthy.
    ‘areas where grey squirrels cannot prosper’

    1.2 archaic with object Make successful.
    ‘God has wonderfully prospered this nation’

  • Amazed to see anyone backing Britain adopting the euro at some point, even if making clear that for reasons of political selling it’s not something they’d prioritise.

    I thought we were supposed to be the evidence-based party 🙁

  • John Marriott 15th Feb '19 - 2:04pm

    For some reason, it reminds me of the story that former US President, Jimmy Carter, once told about his ambitions. Back in the 1970s, when he was still a humble peanut farmer, he told his mother that he was thinking of “running for President”. “President of what?” the old lady asked him.

    Ms Moran certainly does not lack for enthusiasm. However, I think that the words “one day” are important in this context.

  • Yeovil Yokel 15th Feb '19 - 2:29pm

    I agree with your second paragraph, John Marriott: Layla Moran might make a good leader after she’s had few more years in Parliament, but for now I think she’s too frothy & ‘Head Girl’, like a junior Amber Rudd. Generally, I prefer more mature leaders who have had some real world experience, and amongst the 2017 intake I would prefer Christine Jardine – I like her style, a combination of human warmth and political toughness.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 15th Feb '19 - 2:35pm

    Colleagues are correct, the headline is crass, the LBC headline better, the LBC interview, excellent.

    The pointlessness is in thinking she isn’t thinking about it, she would be daft and lack ambition if that was the case.

    Iain Dale is both a good man and a good interviewer.

    Layla Moran is an absolutely delightful interviewee.

    The best line ” I a a centrist.”

    The next best ” we need to be radical.”

    It was this lovely woman, who said , in response to the new reforms and comments of our leader, are we moderate, yes, “rational, moderate!”

    We can be and most of us, both in the centre ground, radical, and moderate.

    Layla is particularly rational. And completely delightful.

    If Cliff Richard and Joanna Lumley had a child, she would be Layla.

  • I like Layla a lot, but I think she needs a bit more experience under her belt before going for the top job. Also, her majority in OxWAb is not exactly safe. That’s a pressure we don’t need in a General Election!
    That said, I do believe our next leader should be someone who was not part of the coalition, and that rules out both Ed and Jo. This may not be fair (hey, sometimes life isn’t!) but our priority must be to distance ourselves from the coalition narrative as much as we can. It has been truly toxic for us, and we need to accept that.
    So this does limit our options somewhat, and I can see why some people are talking about Christine Jardine.

  • Iain Dale has written about his interview with Layla Moran on the Conservative Home website.

    He said:

    “Another polling mystery is why the Liberal Democrats still can’t get much more than ten. They are the only party with a distinctive Brexit message, and they ought to be cleaning up the Remain vote, given Jeremy Corbyn’s clear determination to avoid a second referendum. But they’re not.

    Is it down to Vince Cable’s less than charismatic leadership? Is it the fact that their part in the coalition busted their support on the Left? Is it the hangover from the tuition fees debacle? A combination of all three, probably. I expect Cable to stand down in the summer. The leadership contest is likely to be between Jo Swinson, Layla Moran and Ed Davey.

    I interviewed Moran for an hour on my show on Tuesday evening, and was hugely impressed. She may be inexperienced, but she comes across incredibly well and has the kind of charisma that a third party requires. She didn’t avoid answering some tough questions very directly. She’s certainly not an Orange Booker, but she is the sort of LibDem who might well appeal to people on the left of the Conservative Party. The Tories would do well not to underestimate her.”

  • Martin Land 15th Feb '19 - 4:02pm

    Calls for leaders to be experienced always puzzled me. I prefer Lib Dem leaders to be untainted, radical and outgoing. We may be, according to many, in the centre. But we must be a hard centre, not a soft one.

  • @Lorenzo – “If Cliff Richard and Joanna Lumley had a child, she would be Layla”

    Cliff Richard? Really???

    Joanna Lumley maybe, remembering her robust campaigning for the Gurkhas. Remember how she left Phil Woolas looking like a naughty schoolboy a few years ago –

  • John Marriott 15th Feb '19 - 4:20pm

    @Lorenzo Cherin
    You certainly have a way with words. Layla Moran ‘delightful’, hey? Hardly an adjective I would choose to describe a future leader of anything, and, dare I say it, a tad patronising.

    And then there’s Sir Cliff and Lady Lumley getting together – a kind of ‘Bachelor Boy’ meets the ‘New Avenger’ in the foothills of the Himalayas, perhaps? I wonder whether Ms Moran’s reputation could ever survive such blandishments.

  • Layla would be a breath of fresh air. She has such striking presence and genuine sincerity. The sooner the better… we need an outsider…

  • Lorenzo Cherin 15th Feb '19 - 4:35pm

    Nick, the Cliff part is a reposte to the oft heard, head girl comment, her bouncy personality is very Cliff, and Joanna, it is a compliment, they are both, delightful

    John, what a sad reflection that to call a woman lovely, she is, or even, delightful, she is, is …patronising.

    I compliment people when I feel I like something about them.

    I like nearly all I see in her, even though she is more Europhile than me by a factor of a few, we are both centre ground , radical, and yes, rational,moderates.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 15th Feb '19 - 5:16pm

    I subscribe to the view, Churchill was a warts and all man, we know his actions, often, attitudes, sometimes, a[pproach, ongoing, was deeply , worrisome, personally, professionally, politically, but we like and love and laud him for his uniqueness in an hour of greatest need and eventual triumph over evil.

    That having been expressed, just as the history and comments of MC the knife, the Labour version, are dubiuos, too crass, so , David is correct on two things here

    the troops won the war.

    I like Layla a lot!

  • I am not denigrating the communication skills of the Member for Oxford West and Abingdon at all, but were she to be elected she would be getting a number of positive messages across even before opening her mouth.

  • Christine Jardine isn’t “tainted” by Coalition and is, to my mind, a more forceful and cogent speaker than Layla. She’d be a less risky choice.

  • Steve Comer 16th Feb '19 - 1:01pm

    I agree Chris, but the Liberal Party/Lib Dems tend to go for less risky choices don’t they? (Thorpe rather than Lubbuck, Steel rather than Pardoe, Clegg rather than Huhne etc. )

    Yet remember the one time that didn’t happen, ie, when Paddy Ashdown beat Alan Beith? The party soon had a small revival, survived 1992, and then grew steadily over the following decade. I doubt that would have happened if the members had taken the ‘safe’ option in 1988.

    Christine Jardine is competent but she is too closely associated with Unionism, as is Jo Swinson. Layla Moran would appeal to a wider range of voters than either of them, IF (a big if) she decided to run. But as with Hillary Clinton in 2004, she might deem it better to sit this one out…..

  • Thank you for returning us to the original subject, Mr Moore! Christine Jardine vs Layla Moran vs Jo Swinson (in no particular order of preference) would certainly make for an interesting, and potentially illuminating, three-way leadership election. They all offer distinctive and complementary personal qualities and, to varying degrees, the prospect of a “fresh start”.

    However, if the party’s electoral fortunes are ever to properly recover, it will clearly be necessary for the Lib Dems to restore trust in our “brand” and to unshackle ourselves from the (at best) decidedly mixed political legacy of the Coalition Govt. – before we can move forward to a more positive future. That means honestly acknowledging our failures, as well as any successes, and showing what and how we’ve actually learned from the Coalition experience … which Vince has clearly found difficult, as would probably any other leader (e.g. Jo or Ed) who previously served as a Govt minister.

  • Katerina Porter – I think if we are talking about the coalition – in any way at all – we are losing. We need to stop doing that and focus on the future. It’s nearly 4 years now since we left the coalition. We need a leader who wasn’t part of it, and we need to stop focusing on it. Learn lessons, yes. Publicly talk about it, no.
    Steve Comer – I don’t think Christine and Jo’s ‘unionism’ is a problem at all. It’s only an issue in Scotland, and even here it’s only seen as a negative by a minority of the voters (who wouldn’t vote for us anyway). Plus, we are a unionist party. That has been decided clearly by conference. I’m glad our MPs are robust in communicating that. It did us no harm at all up here at the last GE, where we gained 3 seats (very nearly 4) from the SNP.

  • chris moore 17th Feb '19 - 4:04pm

    @ Katerina Porter. Hi Katerina, I agree with Tony H. There’s already been enough renting of garments about the Coalition. Time to move on; the electorate is not as obsessed with the past of the Lib Dems as some Lib Dem members seem to be. (And well over 50% of current membership has joined since 2015.)

    @ Hi Steve, Lubbuck v Thorpe was before my time. And I’d have thought Steel did a pretty good job!

    Lalya Moran is younger, more telegenic – perhaps, after all, the more conventional choice? She comes over a little as being a member of the liberal “metropolitan elite”. I’m not sure she’d be able to appeal, for example, to all the poorer West Country support we’ve lost through our very Pro-Remain stance.

    Christine seems to have a talent for articulating complex political issues in a pithy and popular way. I’ve been really impressed with her, though she’s less well-known. She seems to have the common touch.

    Either could prove to be good (or not).

  • chris moore: I don’t think Layla is at all “elite”. Most people who go on about the so-called “liberal metropolitan elite” are the ILLIBERAL metropolitan elite. Most metropolitan liberals are not elite. Our loss of support in the West Country is more to do with the Coalition than Brexit, on which people there are beginning to change their minds.

  • Richard Underhill 19th Feb '19 - 10:52am

    I regret missing the political slot on Channel 4 yesterday, I was watching a football game.
    United Man Ole is only a caretaker at the moment, whose supporters sing to the losing manager “You’re getting sacked in the morning”: such nice, unsentimental people. Leaks that can only have come from board/ownership levels discuss compensation fees for other managers: such nice, unsentimental people, a seat once described by one manager as “the electric chair”.
    It is premature to discuss Lib Dem leadership elections. Layla Moran has enough experience of the press and media to be clear that she is not starting a leadership election now. The next Lib Dem leader must be an MP, but maybe has not yet been elected to the Commons.
    Abingdon means cars with a strong brand name in a factory which had never been on strike in a company with remote management and closure of small parts of the business.
    Any leadership hopeful should consider how a mass circulation newspaper could misrepresent something in the past. Take advice from “Boy David” Steel. At a time of rising popularity he needed to spend all his time fighting a lawsuit designed to distract him from his current campaigning priorities. He won the lawsuit but missed out politically and the opportunity did not recur.
    Consider also that seven newly independent MPs weaken the Labour Party and thereby tempt an opportunist PM to dream and push for a general election, despite her promises to her party, despite the Fixed Term Parliament Act, despite the unreliability of opinion polls before a long campaign.

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