Layla Moran MP writes: Where I stand on the leadership contest

My, it feels a long time ago since June 9th.

My first few days in Parliament have been hectic, exhilarating and at times utterly magical. The first time you sit on the Green Benches and you pinch yourself to check you’re not dreaming. Accidentally on purpose getting lost in the warren of passages and have policemen refer to you as ma’am (being in my early 30s I find this very odd indeed). Your first engagement as the MP in the constituency and random people stopping you with huge smiles to say how happy they are that ‘we did it!’. Having a quick nap and waking up to find the Leader who got us there has decided to step down. Thud.

Like many of you, the changing of this particular guard was not something I remotely expected, nor indeed desired.

I was hoping for a period of stability. Not least for me and my fellow new MPs to have time to settle in and tackle such mundane tasks as: work out how the internet works (very well actually), where the ladies’ loos are (clearly an afterthought in some areas) and where all the post has gone (in the hidden Post Office off Central Lobby, 3 bags worth).

I have a very sage member in my constituency who has a mantra: “the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing”.

This is the approach that got OxWAb to the narrow win we achieved.  It is what will drive us to hold on to it.

So, yes you guessed it, with all the turmoil and the change, the ‘main thing’ for me right now is keeping my promises to the voters of Oxford West and Abingdon.

With a majority of 816 and a snap election on the cards at any time, it is not a task to be sniffed at.

Now, who leads us as Party is undoubtedly important to this ‘main thing’, I utterly agree. So I will not be making up my mind about it just yet. It is too important to make any rash decision about and I see many positives in all candidates who have and may yet declare.

However, I do know one thing.

I am clear there must be a contest and that the membership should in the end have the final say.

In order to stand, an MP needs 10% of the Parliamentary Party to do so. This means 1.2 MPs, which needs to be rounded up to 2 lest it becomes even more painful than it already is. So, if any of my fellow MPs need me to ensure a race is had, I will be willing to nominate them. However, only once I have heard more arguments will I decide who I back, and, if it is of interest, I will let you know when I decide and why.

But for now, my plan is to keep the main thing the main thing.

I intend to use every lever at my disposal to make the case for why Brexit is damaging to our economy and our values, why more education funding is critical to ensure every child gets the best start in life, and why we need the southern slips at the A34 Lodge Hill Junction in Abingdon among other local issues.

For the voters of Oxford West and Abingdon, who put their faith in me a mere two weeks ago, these are the main things right now. So, I do hope you will forgive me in taking some time to consider everything else.

* Layla Moran is the Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon

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  • John Barrett 23rd Jun '17 - 10:53am

    Congratulations on your election.

    You are absolutely right to concentrate on what you have said.

    If you get distracted by the delights of Westminster, party machinations, the leadership campaign etc. and do not work your socks off on behalf of your constituency, you will find it much harder to win a second term.

    When I was first elected to Westminster, one newly elected MP said that of the 2001 intake he was best placed to become a future leader.

    Unfortunately for him and his plans, he did not get re-elected in 2005!

  • The correct position to take – I think most people are just hoping for a good contest at this point. 🙂

  • Digging oneself in pretty well sums up the overall state we are in, judging from yesterdays batch of local by-election results.(The Green result in Sheffield especially worrying). We are almost at the nadir of our fortunes with Labour marching onwards. It is difficult to see a way foward. Is anyone bothering to listen to us? We can endlessly debate this and that but at the moment the country seems to have little or no interest in us.

  • One of the enjoyable things about post-election periods is getting to know our newly elected MPs. I know Jamie Stone already, and Christine Jardine to a lesser extent (both very good). Wera and Layla I know nothing about – but this article had me nodding and smiling a few times. You’re priorities are absolutely right Layla, and I really like the way you express them. I’m looking forward to more of the same over the years.

  • Rafiq Mohammed 23rd Jun '17 - 12:42pm

    I have to say a Swinson/Moran ticket would have been ideal as far as I’m concerned.

  • @Theakes
    we have seen 3 Local Contests so far, with another 2 later today. They might mean something or not, I want to see at least 15 contests before I comment about the implications.

  • “I am clear there must be a contest and that the membership should in the end have the final say.”

    Agreed, and thank you for saying so.

  • Richard Underhill 23rd Jun '17 - 1:20pm

    Thank you for inviting me to two victory parties (+1 disallowed). I did go to parliamentary by-elections in Witney and in Richmond Park, so maybe your team used their lists. You sparkled at the National Liberal Club with Tim Farron with obvious excitement. Good luck.
    My nearest target seat this year was Eastbourne. Stephen Lloyd has been successful in getting apprenticeships. His experiences of winning, losing narrowly and winning again demonstrate his name recognition and huge amount of constituency casework done.

  • David Becket 23rd Jun '17 - 1:24pm

    @theakes and paul
    I think we have seen enough. We saw our ratings rise at the start of the GE Campaign and then plummet.
    Before the campaign Corbyn was seen as a loser and we offered hope, hence the build up at local level.

    Then we offered the worse campaign that I have seen in 25 years.

    It is not all Tim’s fault. It is those in the background who have been there since we started to lose share after Charles went who take much of the blame.

    That is why we need a candidate for leader who will promote a radical Liberal agenda and tackle some of the hidden problems within the structure of the party

  • Lorenzo Cherin 23rd Jun '17 - 1:33pm


    There are some in this party , me for one, who think you are a breath of fresh air, and at this point already, can see the potential you have to lead.

    You have many of the qualities needed. And we do need a contest. I admire Sir Vince, who could not, but a younger and more long haul leader would not go amiss!

    We need to get your majority up, and that is indeed the main thing for you !

    It is wonderful to have you in parliament, and on this site too.

    Keep up the good work, and I look forward to your work on education in particular .

  • Congratulation Layla on your election.

    Hopefully you will read the comments to your article on LDV and will respond and use LDV not only to tell people your views but to engage in debate with us here on LDV.

    As OxWAb is a Remain seat I can understand why you want to keep Brexit central to what you do, but hopefully you will not think education is a panacea and instead remember that everyone needs to have a better life than their parents and not fall into the underclass. This means we have to reduce economic inequalities and ensure everyone who wants to work can have a job (earning at least a living wage) and those who don’t work have enough money to make the choices the majority take for granted.

  • Layla Moran 23rd Jun '17 - 2:59pm

    Thanks for your comments everyone!

  • Sadie Smith 23rd Jun '17 - 4:49pm

    Enjoyed this very much, Layla. And I am enjoying seeing new MPS getting some positive publicity.
    You are doing great.

  • Great post Layla (so thrilled that you won!) and wish you all the best with that absolutely pertinent advice to keep the main thing the main thing.

    Fwiw though really am not sure about the absolute necessity of another election (internal or external) at this point. Sometimes you can have just too much of a good thing.

  • What a lot of sense!

    I like a lot of what I’ve seen and heard form Layla so far, and I think she will impress the wider public when she does national tv appearances, but we must not be too demanding and expect her or other newly elected candidates to solve our image problems.

    Layla is absolutely correct that she must spend her first few months as an MP focusing on constituency issues and getting to grips with the basics on being an MP, knowing that opponents will see her seat as somewhere to target and they won’t wait until the next election is announced to complain. I hope the party will give her and other new MPs full support in getting their offices set up ASAP and especially getting on top of all of their correspondence. MPs who won back seats should find it a bit easier, but still need to dedicate time re-establishing themselves, and getting up to date on contemporary issues and ensuring that they stay next time.

    And this is exactly why we should not be having a leadership campaign right now. It’s a distraction. It’s completely unrealistic to think that a brand new MP should stand as leader, and I can only assume that those who encouraged Tim to resign now were under the impression that Jo would take over. But they forgot to ask her if that’s what she wanted. Now I see people hoping that Layla will stand, but I’m glad she’s nipping that in the bud.

    I look forward to seeing more of Layla on national tv, or doing committee work, but not at the expense of her constituency work.

  • Neil Mackinnon 24th Jun '17 - 8:38am

    @MichaelBG If Brexit goes ahead these income inequalities are only going to get worse and be further inbeded. Brexit is going to make us all poorer.

  • We can’t force people to stand in the leadership race. So some commentators on here ought to prepare themselves for a Vince Cable coronation.

  • David Evershed 24th Jun '17 - 11:44am

    We don’t need an internal debate about personalities.

    We need a debate about fundamentals such as
    – reflecting on what we mean by being liberal
    – strengthening the liberal principles of the party and
    – demonstrating to the outside world why it is important to have both liberal economic policies as well as liberal social policies.

  • We are the party of ‘one member, one vote’ par eminence. Just as we demand that the people decide what to do about Brexit when negotiations come to an end, but I would like to see Tim stand as a candidate (Do a Corbyn, if you like) and let his resignation, reportedly as a result pressure from a small but influential group, be endorsed or rejected on the basis of OMOV.

  • David Becket 24th Jun '17 - 3:53pm

    @ Robert
    You might be right, only one candidate. However he must present himself to the members and be prepared to answer questions from members. The last Leader shoe in (May) was a disaster, we must not repeat that mistake.
    The voting paper must allow for a For and Against.

  • Richard Underhill 24th Jun '17 - 5:41pm

    We had a Liberal MP called Clement Freud (descended from the psychoanalyst). After winning a bye-election he decided he wanted to be re-elected. He found out that letters from MPs to their constituents are free, so he wrote to everyone he could. He bought all the local papers and noted all the events. Every birth, every death, every illness, every promotion, every demotion. On Saturdays mornings in the market place people would come up to him and say ” Thank you for the letter” but he did not know which letter, or who, but after 6 months he found the answer “It was the least I could do.”
    He was also a chef. He said that during postwar rationing he marinated the meat overnight and served it in his restaurant. A customer congratulated him on a meal and asked what the meat was. He said “It was horse” The customer laughed uproariously and went home. A true word spoken by a jester.
    He came to the Harrogate Liberal Assembly (before the merger with the SDP).
    I said “Can I ask whether you will be standing again?” He said “You can ask” but made no further reply.
    He also spoke about crop rotation in The Isle of Ely “Wheat, wheat and Mediterranean cruise”.
    He could speak on any subject for 60 seconds without hesitation, deviation or repetition.

  • Geoff English 24th Jun '17 - 8:27pm

    Yes, Layla, you are absolutely right, we must have a contest. I see people again starting to suggest it is not a necessity. Yes it is. It will give something to enthuse our members, and don’t we need it. It will raise the profile just a little for whoever is standing. I am so disappointed that Jo decided not to stand for the leadership, but understand her reasons. I was equally disappointed about Norman and yet again understand. Come on Ed, please go for it.

  • David – I really, really wish Tim hadn’t resigned as leader – but now it’s done, he can’t credibly change his mind now, the party would look even more of a laughing stock as we are now, so him re-standing is sadly a no go.

  • @ Neil Mackinnon
    “If Brexit goes ahead these income inequalities are only going to get worse and be further inbeded. Brexit is going to make us all poorer.”

    I think you are correct which is why I voted Remain, but there will be opportunities out of the EU to pursue policies to reduce inequalities which would have been more costly to do when in the EU.

    @ David Evershed
    We should never again adopt “economic liberal” policies or as I prefer to call them “neo-liberal”. We should have social liberal economic policies. I don’t understand why people think social liberalism is being socially liberal!

  • Stephen Hesketh 25th Jun '17 - 10:12am

    Michael BG 25th Jun ’17 – 1:49am in reply to David Evershed
    “We should never again adopt “economic liberal” policies or as I prefer to call them “neo-liberal”. We should have social liberal economic policies. I don’t understand why people think social liberalism is being socially liberal!”

    Well said Michael BG.

    The tenor of the economic approach of Social Liberalism is clear for all to see in the Preamble. There is nothing not to understand. If the party (MEMBERSHIP!) decides it does not believe in such an approach, it should amend its Preamble and not say one thing there while supporting something entirely different in practice.

  • @ Fiona
    Yes, I’m sure Jo’s very sensible and mature stance has not been lost on Layla.
    Leadership in 21st century Britain is a huge ask & responsibility.
    You are constantly “on” and the range of competencies required in order to perform at the highest level are many and varied.
    This is not a job people simply walk into these days without considerable experience and a huge network of trusted colleagues they can rely on.
    They have to conduct an orchestra, know each section inside out, judging when to bring each section in and when to diplomatically fade others out.
    Knowing which battles to fight and which to let go – and that’s before even starting to deal with the external stakeholders – the voters UK wide, not just your own constituency.
    On top of that an internal debate on rediscovering the soul of the party……………

    Jo is very wise in my view.
    Do not sacrifice your own life/family/work balance or career to fuel the wishes of others
    You only get one shot at both usually!

  • paul barker 26th Jun '17 - 3:14pm

    Like Layla , I would have preferred an Election but it looks like we arent going to get one. We should accept that & get on with it, the question now is how to sell the Cable Leadership ? My suggestion is that we promote it as a Collective Leadership, Vince, Jo & Sal together.

  • David Thorpe 26th Jun '17 - 3:22pm

    vince is that rare thing for a lib dem popular and respected by non political types-he is an easy sale

  • Neil Sandison 27th Jun '17 - 4:39pm

    paul barker
    agree with Paul Barker like the idea of a collective leadership .Makes it look less male pale and stale .would also like the collective leadership to promote a new liberal enlightenment so that we can move away from the coalition years and demonstrate we are offering a fresh brand of politics based on co-operation and consensus building so well put by Norman Lamb.

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