Layla Moran, cutting through the media

Lib Dem Voice invites each candidate for the leadership to submit one post in support of their campaign per week. This is the post from Layla Moran’s team for this week.  

While we’re all caught up in the policy nuances of our summer leadership debate there is something to me that seems to have been overlooked – a leader’s ability to make the Liberal Democrats part of the national conversation in the media. This for me is one of the main reasons I’m backing Layla to be our next leader.

Layla has the media nouse to make the Liberal Democrat’s voice heard in the national conversation. Throughout this campaign, she has secured front-page stories across the spectrum, from traditionally Labour-supporting newspapers like the Mirror to staunch Tory backing papers like the Telegraph where she helped expose historic slavery links to some of the UK’s top firms leading to them donating to BAME community groups and charities.

She even led a campaign with the Daily Express on an incredible (and in the end successful) campaign to force the Government to introduce a Coronavirus Compensation Scheme for bereaved families. This shows how working with the media isn’t just about raising the party’s visibility, it can change policy and change lives.

Since I joined this party in 2015, I’ve never seen a Liberal Democrat MP so good at making us a relevant part of the national conversation. Layla is a refreshing voice in the media, in many cases providing the only clear opposition to this shambolic Tory Government. Just in the past few weeks, she made the front page of The i newspaper on opposing the Conservative’s heartless choice to reinstate car parking charges for NHS staff.

Layla has been on more front pages during the early stages of this campaign than any other Liberal Democrat MP in recent years. And this is all before she’s even become leader. It’s exactly the kind of media-savvy we need from a leader in years ahead when Liberal Democrat voices risk being few and far between.

She also has a natural charisma and energy during TV and radio interviews that is crucial to winning people over. Layla is both on top of the policy detail, but can also put across in a way that makes audiences warm to her. We saw that on Good Morning Britain this week where Layla flew the flag for the new cross-party inquiry she’s launched into the government’s handling of coronavirus. As we’ve seen in past elections, being an effective performer in the media and debates is often central to our success as a party.

One of the biggest risks facing the Lib Dems in the years ahead is that we will slowly fade from public view. If Lib Dems want to influence the national debate and secure change, we need to be effective at working the media. Layla has that much-needed talent and charisma in spades.



* Jack Haines joined the Liberal Democrats in 2015 at the age of 16 and was elected as a Liberal Democrat Councillor in Hull in 2019. He is a campaigner for Lib Dems for Basic Income @LDforBI.

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This entry was posted in Leadership Election.


  • I really am unsure at this stage still who to vote for. To me its either Layla saying something we regret or Sir Ed not saying anything. We certainly cannot continue as we are , or as you say we will just fade away.

  • Marc Stevens 17th Jul '20 - 8:20pm

    Ed Davey was questioned about his failure to stop fracking on radio yesterday as well as an unsuitable donation and – he seemed to evade the questions. I am looking for a far more refreshing honest approach from Layla who gets my full support.

  • tim rogers

    “To me its either Layla saying something we regret or Sir Ed not saying anything”

    Absolutely spot on. It’s very hard to see either attracting new supporters, much more likely to lose those they already have. What the answer is I don’t know, but in many parts of the country you would have to walk a long way to find anyone that even knows you are having a leadership election.

  • Alex Macfie 18th Jul '20 - 7:37am

    Why would Layla “say something we regret “?

  • Last year I supported Jo unquestioningly. What a mistake that was! So this time I am going to take plenty of time to listen watch and read closely all that is said and written {while still having an outside life.} Layla does seem to have run to date a good campaign with no slips. She does appear fresh and energetic. I am a little disappointed with SirEd who has made slips and struggles to defend the coalition record.

  • Alex, perhaps because Layla has previous in this. The “I see someone in their soul” statement was an own goal in terms of widening our party’s appeal beyond its dangerously narrow base of true believers, as are her use of stereotypical new progressive memes like “End of” to prevent debate.

    Lynne, I realise that you want to believe the media love Layla, but there is really no evidence of that whatsoever. Studied indifference is the most positive spin anyone can put on media interest in our potential leaders, and I don’t see either showing any inkling of what to do about it.

  • @David Evans

    I take it your quote comes from this exchange? Is there really anything wrong with the words of Layla?

    If we just shut up about what we believe in out of fear that our words may be taken out of context by social conservatives we have no reason to exist.

  • Barry Lofty 18th Jul '20 - 1:50pm

    After so many false dawn’s in recent years it is hardly surprising that so many of us are feeling rather sceptical about our two candidates, I hope we all get some clarity soon?

  • David Evans 18th Jul '20 - 2:22pm

    Andrew T – Let’s imagine we had a leader who was a Christian and said something like that – He/She would be justifiably ridiculed for it. Quite simply a comment like that is an absolute joke – pretentious, self aggrandising and totally out of touch – and Conservatives are very, very good at exploiting that sort of thing. The point she was trying to make did not need such overstatement and so was weakened by it.

    If an aspiring leader couldn’t see an obvious bear trap like that before she stepped into it, it really does make me wonder if she will do it again.

  • Sue Sutherland 18th Jul '20 - 2:41pm

    When I’ve heard Layla speak about Liberalism I’ve found her inspirational and I’m an ex SDP member. As members of the Lib Dems we have to think about how members of the public will see our leader, if they see them at all. It’s likely to be a minute on the TV at most. People are going to need hope as the pandemic carries on and the economy dives and I think Layla can offer this.

  • Paul Barker 18th Jul '20 - 3:16pm

    The tone of some of the comments on this thread that seem a bit depressed, for obvious reasons. Its worth reminding ourselves why we are & that it is temporary.

    First & foremost is Covid 19. Its clear that there are a group pf Voters who still feel the need to “Rally round The Flag/Number 10. That isnt going to last 4 Years. Normality will return & The Tories will go down while we & Labour go up.

    Second is the fallout from The Coalition, again Recovery will take time.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 18th Jul '20 - 3:21pm

    I can’t help looking back with nostalgia to the 2015 leadership contest. Although the party only had eight MPs, there were two strong candidates, each of whom would clearly make a perfectly good leader, in their different ways.
    Now, I’m afraid it seems like a matter of deciding which candidate would do the least harm to the party – of considering, with dismay, the “baggage” associated with each, and deciding which set of baggage is least unacceptable.

  • It’s odd, but last time I would have backed Layla for leadership without a second thought. Certainly in preference to Jo, whose character flaws as a potential national political leader were already evidenced, for those members who looked beyond the ‘it must be a woman’ zeitgeist.

    Yet now Layla exemplifies much of how the party has gone wrong, following Labour up the cul-de-sac of identity politics and obsessive over fringe issues at just the time when the country is crying out for far-sighted Grimond-style leadership on the big issues of the day, as we claw our way toward a post-virus world.

    Ed deserves credit for at least trying to face up to the big questions that will matter in coming years.

  • John Littler 18th Jul '20 - 7:39pm

    We need a radical edge or we risk falling into an indistinct centrist/ centre right mush, eclipsed by the Tories on the right and outbid by Labour and the Greens

  • John Littler 18th Jul '20 - 8:04pm

    The Guardian published this key, critical and not totally unsupportive piece on the pressures against Liberalism and the LibDems in the UK.

    Extensive Guardian reader comments offer a snapshot of what wider progressive opinion out there views of us and it is at least 90% negative, with much tribal blunderings but some fair criticisms too.
    It will take a new broom, a new face, new (briefer) policies, success running more councils, the collapse of the Tories or others and a good headwind over time, to get back to where the LibDems were in more benign times. It is not hopeless but it would be easy to throw it all away again in future, by giving any hint of propping up Britain’s most successful winning party in the world, again

  • Agree with Paul Barker & disagree with David Raw and Catherine JC on this leadership race. I’ve taken our party president Mack Pack’s cue and watched the 90min ‘job interviews’ and found them both good. I accept the interview doesn’t attack them personally to see if they get ’emotional’, so some might conclude the interviews have been a doddle for any politician who wants to be taken seriously.
    @ David Raw, Yes, there are votes that some of our MPs made in coalition as part of the govt that really aren’t appealing, like the Bedroom tax. Some weren’t in the govt and had a freer hand to vote down most things not libdem (like Kennedy & Farron), others unhappy & left govt- Sarah Teather (a sad loss to uk politics)- because of it. It’s a mixed bag legacy of being in Coalition… but are other parties being in uk govt less sullied, and weren’t most of those troubling coalition votes what those MPs were burdened from a bad coalition set-up with the Tories?
    @Catherine JC- from reading what you’ve written very persistently on this site, it’s clear that Layla cannot get your vote as you’re more interested in removing what she already has, so seems down to whether you’d vote for Ed or not at all.

    I think they are both positive candidates for leader in a political climate ultimately beyond the party- Brexit and Starmar- neither should make a tangle like likeable Tim sadly got into with Cathy Newman, or bore me to sleep like worthy but dull Norman has done. For me, the interviews reinforce my sense that Ed comes across as being structured and taking a gradualist approach to change, and gives good examples to ‘cut through’, working hard to do so. (I voted for him last time after originally thinking I’d vote for Jo, but found him eventually more inspiring ), and Layla has a seemingly effortless engaging pitch (though am sure it involves as much work as Ed). Both are aware of the need to stretch beyond well-educated & moderately well-off voters by communicating policies with a stronger emotional narrative appeal to counter and win against populist nationalism.

  • Katharine Pindar 18th Jul '20 - 8:52pm

    John Littler, if you want a radical and distinctive voice for our party, I suggest you don’t look for ‘a new broom’ or ‘a new voice’ either, but for the support of the members for a proposal which will give our party a focus , a vision and a purpose quite different from that of the Labour party. Please read and comment on the thread following this current article, How the Social Contract idea can serve both our party and the country, which appeared on Wednesday July 15.

  • Layla v Ed is an example of what Freud described as the narcissism of small differences. Only slight differences of emphasis amongst committed Lib Dem loyalists will determine the outcome. The party is currently on just 6% in national polls so who is going to appeal to the other 94 % in the years up to the next election in 2024?

  • Alex Macfie 19th Jul '20 - 9:37am

    Barry Lofty: The error wasn’t participating in the Coalition government (which was the right thing to do) it was how our leadership conducted the Coalition. Clegg & co portrayed it as a love-in, when it should have been treated as a business arrangement. Anyway whether you think it’s fair or not, any Lib Dem leader with previous involvement in the Coalition is going to be attacked over it, and electing someone who wasn’t even an MP at that time will be the most effective way of shutting off that line of attack. This is not making any value judgement at all on the Coalition, and I’m not interested in electing another former Coalition minister as leader in order to make a point about it.

  • richard underhill 19th Jul '20 - 10:35am

    David Raw 18th Jul ’20 – 12:23pm
    Do you remember Paddy Ashdown’s leadership election?
    Both candidates stuck closely to existing policy in hustings, after which Liberator said that they did not know who the Liberal was and the winner was promptly overturned for his view on the name of the merged party, expressed in the Liberal Democrat News.
    It is better to stick to conference policy, democratically decided in our party, rather than headline grabbing such as Paddy’s view that “If blood is free, why should water be charged for?” which , as a blood donor, I found surprising, and intellectually patronising.
    And, what has Layla said about he 2014 referendum?
    Do you agree with her?
    If not what will you do about it?

  • richard underhill 19th Jul '20 - 10:43am

    Mike Jay 18th Jul ’20 – 10:38pm
    We need an agreement BEFORE the voters cast their decisions on a sufficiently large scale to overturn the current illiberal, undemocratic and incompetent administration, whose failures on the virus will probably not be the most prominent issue at the time.

  • richard underhill. Y 19th Jul '20 - 10:58am

    19th Jul ’20 – 9:37am
    “The error wasn’t participating in the Coalition government (which was the right thing to do”.
    Yes, trying to work with Gordon Brown would have been almost impossible, as many Labour people found.
    Staying in opposition at a time of economic crisis would have been seen as declining to accept any responsibility for what to do next.
    Being outvoted by the larger party is a consequence of the undemocratic electoral system, which Labour did nothing to change at the time.

  • James Fowler 23rd Jul '20 - 9:49am

    @ Jack. It think is really quite optimistic. Both Ed and Layla will have enormous problems cutting through. I think that as the issue on the table is re-building after lockdown (probably for most of the parliament) they will mostly both be ignored as they have no government money to spend – or any prospect of it.

    Having said that, there are niches and aspects of the media they will play to. In the print media, my sense is that Layla will resonate strongly in the Guardian and the Indy. But she will have very little effect anywhere else – probably dismissed (not entirely unfairly) as a sort of soft filter Jeremy Corbyn. Ed won’t be as strong in these areas because of his involvement in the coalition, but for the same reason he’ll get a hearing in a lot of places that she definitely won’t. The choice is ours.

  • Alex Macfie 24th Jul '20 - 7:29am

    @James Fowler: Layla has none of Corbyn’s political baggage. You’d never catch her sharing antisemitic tropes, laying wreaths for terrorists or calling them her “friends”, appearing on Russian or Iranian state-sponsored TV channels, or defending left-wing dictatorships. As this Marxist baggage is integral to Corbynism, the media will have a hard time comparing Layla to Corbyn. She is not a “soft filter Jeremy Corbyn”, she is from a different political species.

    And actually, Layla worked with the Daily Express (of all papers) to campaign successfully for a Coronavirus Compensation Scheme for the NHS and care workers. She’s also worked with the Daily Mail on obesity. What’s noteworthy about Layla is that she can get cut-through in media outlets that are notoriously difficult for our party.

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