LibLink: Ed Davey on the Post Office scandal

Ed Davey has been writing in The Guardian today under the heading “I fell for Post Office lies – and I’m sorry. But I won’t be silent as Tories prey on victims’ trauma

He writes:

The Post Office Horizon scandal is the greatest miscarriage of justice of our time, and I am deeply sorry for the families who have had their lives ruined by it. As one of the ministers over the 20 years of this scandal, including my time as minister responsible for postal affairs, I’m sorry I did not see through the Post Office’s lies – and that it took me five months to meet Alan Bates, the man who has done so much to uncover it.

The Post Office is owned by the government but not run by it, so the official advice I was given when I first became a minister in May 2010 was not to meet Bates. He wrote again urging me to reconsider, and I did then meet him that October. But he shouldn’t have had to wait. When Bates told me his concerns about Horizon, I took them extremely seriously and put them to the Post Office. What I got back were categorical assurances – the same lies we now know they were telling the subpostmasters, journalists, parliament and the courts.

Since then, the innocence of the subpostmasters has been proven.

He goes on:

So how did we get here? It’s hard not to conclude that this was a conspiracy on a grand scale, and it was only exposed when a brave whistleblower came forward from inside Fujitsu itself in 2015.

And concludes:

The subpostmasters deserve far better. That starts with overturning their convictions now – more than four years after the high court exonerated them – and properly compensating them quickly – not leaving it to the Post Office’s complicated, slow and inadequate schemes.

Over the coming weeks and months, I will be travelling the country. If you want to talk about the Post Office scandal or the multitude of other failures and crises we are facing – from the NHS to the cost of living – I will be ready to listen. Together we will change the system.

You can read the post in full here.

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  • At last an apology. Why do politicians and others wait so long to do it, it just increases the pressure week by week. Always best to kill a story off at source. In this case Ed Davey’s situation would have dimmed by now and the spotlight would have shifted to others.

  • Excellent article. Some will still moan, but this is very good.

  • Ed Davey, “When Bates told me his concerns about Horizon, I took them extremely seriously and put them to the Post Office. What I got back were categorical assurances – the same lies we now know they were telling the subpostmasters, journalists, parliament and the courts.”

    Put me down as a ‘moaner’…
    No matter what he now says Ed clearly thought that Bates had no case… Had he thought differently Bates’s 2011 letter (9 months after he had met Ed) stating, “Having nailed your colours to the Post Office Ltd mast from the Justice For Subpostmaster Alliance (JFSA) standpoint there was little point in continuing a dialogue with you or your department at that point.”, would not have been written..

    No-one, apart from a few MPs like James Arbuthnot, comes out of this scandal with ANY credit and deflections from Ed won’t alter the facts

  • “Put me down as a ‘moaner’… me too, expats.

    Disappointing that BigTallTim resorts to the lingua franca of the Brexiteers.

    Three weeks too late, judging by the reception at PMQ’s yesterday. The damage is done.

  • David Allen 1st Feb '24 - 5:15pm

    At last a proper apology. Far too late, though.

    Davey has also seriously devalued his apology by mixing it with political knockabout. Thus:

    “We owe it to the victims ….to prevent anything like it from ever happening again.”
    Good point, this fits well alongside an apology.

    “There’s already a sense that some in the Conservative party are seeking to exploit this … by using their power and friends in the media to deflect criticism from themselves on to political rivals”
    Fair point, expressed in reasonable language, on its own this would have been fine.

    “Trumpification on the right of the Conservative party. …mindless attacks from some dutiful Tory columnists. …paid ads spreading disinformation and fake news.”
    This just doesn’t fit alongside an apology. It makes the apology sound insincere. Say it some other time.

    “I won’t be silent as Tories prey on victims’ trauma”
    Gutter press garbage.

  • Paul Barker 1st Feb '24 - 6:05pm

    The question is this –
    are we going to let The Tories & their Media choose our Leader ?

  • Well said Paul. The moaners are getting so boring.

  • Zachary Adam Barker 1st Feb '24 - 7:53pm

    “I’m sorry I did not see through the Post Office’s lies”

    This is NOT an a genuine apology. He is deflecting the blame on to the Post Office, abrogating responsibility. Hardly a brave shouldering of responsibility.

    Ed Davey is a liability. He should not be our leader.

  • Alex Macfie 1st Feb '24 - 9:15pm

    @David Allen (& others): A Nick Clegg style apology as you seem to be asking Ed to deliver would attract the same sort of mockery and opprobrium as the original. It would would not be seen as “brave”; quite the opposite, it would be a surrender to the Tory media. It would vindicate their smear campaign against Ed, and it would be used against him as admission that he was 100% responsible for the scandal exactly as they are trying to make out. Clegg had a lot more to be sorry for, doing a U-turn on an election pledge that was the basis for many people voting for our party. Ed was a mere bit player in a scandal that was not of his making, not even worthy of a mention in the ITV drama.

    You can hardly say Ed is “deflecting the blame on to the Post Office”, when the Post Office *is* the body that’s mostly to blame for this scandal. The whole point is that others, particularly in the right-wing media, are trying to deflect the blame onto Ed in an attempt to distract voters from the much bigger roles played by various Tory politicians. But sometimes it looks like our partisan enemies don’t need to do much. They just need to look on here, and they’ll have all the ammunition they need.

  • Neil Hickman 1st Feb '24 - 9:25pm

    “A lot of good people for whom I had constitutional responsibility suffered a terrible wrong. So is it right for me to apologise to them? Of course it is. And I do so. Unreservedly. I’ve spoken with my former colleagues Jo Swinson and Norman Lamb and they join in that unreserved apology. My colleagues from other parties will speak for themselves.
    But apologies can’t put things right. Really, nothing will; but three things need to happen.
    They need to be exonerated. It’s nearly three years since just a few convictions were quashed in the Court of Appeal.
    They need to be properly compensated. No more cheeseparing by expensive accountants and lawyers.
    And the people responsible for the biggest conspiracy to pervert the course of justice in the history of the English legal system – and let’s start calling it by its proper name – need to be in the dock and then in jail.
    I’m no longer in Government. I can’t personally make any of these things happen. But I will continue to call on those who do have the power to use it”.
    It’s nearly FIVE years since the damning High Court judgment (and the almost as damning rebuff from the Court of Appeal when the Post Office used taxpayers’ money to try and get the judge sacked). Why in Glory didn’t Ed Davey have something along these lines ready and waiting in his jacket pocket for when the story broke and the journos remembered that the Liberal Democrats existed?

  • Martin Gray 2nd Feb '24 - 4:33am

    Three weeks in the making – and this is it ? …
    Damage has already been done . Ed had an opportunity to stand up for the little man – but acted as an establishment stooge . With his background you’d of expected more from him than accepting assurances from fawning officials..Its obvious we need a leader not tainted by the coalition govt .

  • Martin Gray 2nd Feb ’24 – 4:33am….. opportunity to stand up for the little man – but acted as an establishment stooge .With his background you’d of expected more from him than accepting assurances from fawning officials…

    Ed’s ‘background’ as Business Secretary showed that the ‘little man’ was NOT his priority..
    In 2011, Davey was applauded by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) for his labour reforms’; cutting red tape, labour ‘flexibility’, reducing compensation, making dismissal easier and reducing the rights of employees..

    When you receive plaudits from the right wing IEA your concern for employees is, to say the least, questionable..

  • Alex Macfie 2nd Feb '24 - 11:04am

    I supported Layla in the leadership campaign, but that ship has sailed and now is not the time to be talking about changing our leader, when there’s less than a year to go before a GE. Ed’s very minor role in the PO scandal is still something that’s of interest almost exclusively to right-wing media apparatchiks, with Labour tribalists occasionally joining in on the action. However much right-wing groups may have supported Ed’s actions as Business Secretary, they are clearly not his or our friends now. And ordinary voters don’t think like party activists or apparatchiks. A lot of things that the fascinate the political chatterati don’t tend to come up on the doorstep, and this is one of them.

  • Finally. I don’t know who advised him not to apologise until now, but in taking so long it has undermined his sincerity. And I agree with David Allen on the choice of words still not being quite right.

    And no, we shouldn’t let the Tories and the Tory press decide who our leader is. But nor should we use their attitude to make excuses for things we believe to be wrong. And it’s not just a point of principle. I do think it was right for Ed to apologise, but it was short-sighted and weak to think that avoiding an apology was acceptable.

  • Gwyn Williams 2nd Feb '24 - 11:45am

    Ed Davey has never been Business Secretary. He was the Parliamentary Under Secretary for Employment Relations and Postal Affairs. The Business Secretary at that time was Vince Cable in Prime Minister David Cameron’s cabinet. Where are their apologies.
    The Labour Party has handled its involvement by blaming Peter Mandelson who in his role as Business Secretary assured Tony Blair that Horizon was sound. That is the ‘nothing to see here’ response that the Lib Dems should have taken.
    The real damage is the line oft repeated from the TV drama where Toby Jones as Alan Bates says “we are skint little people.” The Tories represent big business. Labour big unions. The Liberal Democrats are supposed to be the Party of the “little people”. Every former Lib Dem MP should be publishing their record of representing the sub postmasters and postmistresses. This issue should not be left to a former Tory MP now Lord Arbuthnot.

  • 1. Elsewhere on LDV, Robin Grayson has posted, “The National Federation of Subpostmasters was a Trade Union. But in 2013 the Post Office did not recognise the NFSP in collective bargaining. The Trades Union Certification Officer stripped its trade union status, and in 2016 NFSP became a Trade Association”.

    Membership is free as It enjoys an annual Post Office grant of £1.5 million a year. The NFSP was criticised in 2021 by Mr Justice Fraser in the Horizon IT scandal: “the NFSP is not remotely independent of the Post Office, nor does it appear to put its members’ interests above its own separate commercial interests.”

    The Post Office can now be seen as a devious, ruthless, tyrannical and insensitive employer. Yet this happened on a Lib Dem minister’s watch in 2013.

    It is a long way from the enlightened attitude of Campbell-Bannerman’s Liberal Government which passed the Trade Disputes Act 1906 which overrode the famous Taff Vale case and provided the foundation for the law on the right to strike in the UK, that no cause of action could be brought against a trade union for economic loss, if a strike was “in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute”.

    @ Alex Macfie “I supported Layla in the leadership campaign, but that ship has sailed ” From my house I can see North East Fife…. where there are plenty of fine ships and captains.

  • Roger Billins 2nd Feb '24 - 1:37pm

    Better late than never ! Now he has apologised for a very minor role in this scandal, we should move on. We should also point out that recent Conservative ministers did nothing to offer proper compensation until the ITV programme. Having said that, I, for one, will be very pleased when we are finally free from the hangover of the Coalition !

  • David Raw. Do not EVER call me a Brexiteers. That is unwarranted. What is warranted is that some moaners can’t forgive Ed for thankfully defeating Layla

  • Big Tall Tim 2nd Feb '24 - 6:16pm

    Alex Macfie – Absolutely spot on on both your posts.

  • As I recall, Nick Clegg didn’t apologise for tuition fees upturn but for not being clearer pre election what their red lines would be. I do tire of people bemoaning the coalition. What a shame to be actually In government! Speaking of coalition, one of the recent Sunday papers raised the issue that Cameron hasn’t had any criticism of his response to russia’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine. Anyone have any thoughts?

  • Big Tall Tim 2nd Feb '24 - 6:23pm

    Well said Russell

  • nvelope2003 2nd Feb '24 - 6:44pm

    Gwyn Williams: Vince Cable did give a detailed explanation of his actions. Sadly not many people emerge with much credit in this disgraceful affair. Only the arrest, conviction and imprisonment of those responsible for the way the Post Office behaved will satisfy most decent people.

  • Zachary Adam Barker 2nd Feb '24 - 9:05pm

    ” I doubt I would want the kind of sacrificial, messianic lamb that Zachary Adam Barker would apparently go for.”

    I am pretty sure I won’t confuse Ed Davey with being a messiah and nor will many others.

    Sacrificial lamb? I am asking for us to practice what we preach. For politicians to take responsibility.

  • Chris Moore 2nd Feb '24 - 9:36pm

    Electorally, it would be better for the party to move on.

  • Russell 2nd Feb ’24 – 6:17pm:
    …Cameron hasn’t had any criticism of his response to russia’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine.

    Although undermined by other EU members, the UK lead the response…

    ‘Where does David Cameron stand on major foreign policy issues?’:

    When Lord Cameron pushed for more stringent measures to punish Putin over the annexation he clashed with Angela Merkel, who resisted his call.

    Britain introduced an arms embargo and also demanded that Russia be kicked out of G8 meetings of global powers. Lord Cameron also suspended contact between ministers and their Russian counterparts. […]

    He later oversaw the launch of Operation Orbital, the UK Armed Forces’ deployment in Ukraine.

    Meanwhile, others continued to arm Russia…

    ‘EU member states exported weapons to Russia after the 2014 embargo’:

    Missiles, aircraft, rockets, torpedoes, bombs. Russia continued to buy EU weapons until at least 2020. Despite the ongoing embargo, ten member states exported €346 million worth of military equipment, according to public data…

    ‘French shipments of military equipment to Russia despite EU embargo and the violation of rule of law principles’:

    Paris took advantage of the fact that the EU embargo on arms exports to Russia imposed in 2014 was not retroactive to continue deliveries under previously concluded contracts.

  • David Garlick 2nd Feb '24 - 9:50pm

    Good work if a little later than would have been ideal.
    The constant targeting of Ed on this from MP’s and also the tory the press shows just how important it is to keep up the attack on their vulnerable seats. They are scared of us and rightly so. Politics is a dirty business, it is said, and one party stands out at the top of the list.

  • Steve Trevethan 3rd Feb '24 - 7:50am

    Might Mr Davey tell us in more detail about how he was lied to, who lied, how he checked out the lies he was told?

    Might it help to enable H M G to be better at its internal security and management?

    How can we have reasonable confidence in national security from (alleged/emphasised) enemies such as Russia, China, Iran etc. when a minister of the Crown does not know what is happening in the department for which he is (paid to be) responsible?

  • Alex Macfie 3rd Feb '24 - 12:25pm

    We can only take responsibility for what *we* did wrong. Failing to mention the much bigger roles played by others, as well as the brazen hypocrisy of the attacks on Ed, would give the impression that we take 100% responsibility for the PO scandal, including things that had absolutely nothing to do with any Lib Dems. When we are being unjustly attacked, we have to fight back. That’s part of politics. So it’s not just legitimate, but necessary, to call out the “trumpification” and weaponisation of the scandal by the Tories. We have to make sure that they can’t easily attack us over it by throwing their much bigger role back at them.

  • On the matter of Ministerial style, I recall that the much respected political historian, Professor Richard Toye, wrote in the Journal of Liberal History (51, 2006),

    “Churchill’s style as Prime Minister was to prod away at his subordinates in an attempt to expose organisational weaknesses and stimulate action”.

    Now Churchill was far from perfect, but it’s an example for all politicians (in all parties) with ministerial aspirations to follow. Ability to prod is a necessary requirement for office.

  • Alex Macfie 3rd Feb '24 - 12:36pm

    The attitude of our opponents in the Tory media does matter, and weakens their arguments. So again, it should affect what we say. We are talking about people like Kelvin McKenzie, John Redwood and Quentin Letts. Not people known for taking a stand for victims of injustice. We wouldn’t take lectures on racial equality from “Tommy Robinson” would we?

  • Amen to that

  • Steve Trevethan 4th Feb '24 - 10:51am

    Well posed Mr Raw!

    Might our party better serve our country and our party by pursuing the need for obviously much needed relevant governmental systems/structures investigation and improvement rather than possible party and/or electoral advantage?

  • Peter Martin 4th Feb '24 - 11:12am

    “I’m sorry I did not see through the Post Office’s lies”

    I’m sure Ed Davey is. Now.

    However, this doesn’t change the fact that on one side we had the establishment and on the other we had hundreds of postmasters, over a thousand if everyone is included, and generally of an erstwhile criminal free record.

    So, when accusations of theft were a made on this grand scale, who should anyone have believed?

    It really should have been a no-brainer.

  • @ Steve Trevethan Thank you, Mr Trevethan.

    The trouble is, politics is a bit like professional football. A team depends so much on the quality of the players. Some players are naturally gifted and can play…….. and some can’t.

  • Chris Moore 5th Feb '24 - 3:17pm

    Peter, to be fair to Ed, he was also lied to about the number of sub-postmasters/mistresses being prosecuted. So it wouldn’t have been obvious in the way you say.

    Nonetheless, he, like all the other relevant ministers responsible for postal affairs, from 1999 to date, was totally inadequate in his handling of the Horizon affair.

    Why on earth didn’t he bother to talk to some of the victims? No curiosity, apparently. Just believed comforting assurances.

    The other postal ministers are of little consequence; unfortunately Ed is a party leader and hence we will suffering grossly disproportionate damage.

    I remain of the view it would be best for Ed to step aside.

  • Alex Macfie 6th Feb '24 - 9:19am

    @Chris Moore: You’re looking at it too narrowly, as there are many other politicians beside former PO ministers who turned a blind eye much later on when there was no excuse, and are still in power. For instance, it was under a Tory watch that Paula Vennells was given a CBE then not removed from her Cabinet Office job after the PO lost to Mr Bates.
    We allow Ed to be made a scapegoat for this scandal, and we would allow all those others to absolve themselves of any responsibility. It would also set a precedent that any leader of our party can be taken down by the right-wing chatterati, who would go on to their next target. We also can’t afford 3 months of political navel gazing when there could be a General Election that soon.

  • Anthony Acton 6th Feb '24 - 10:45am

    “Witnesses in the next stage of the PO Horizon Inquiry will include Paula Vennalls and Sir Ed Davey” – BBC Radio 4 a few days ago. However unfair this is, if you showed people a photo of Ed and asked for the first thing that came into their minds, it would be the PO Horizon scandal. The mud being thrown at Ed by the Tories and their media friends now is nothing to what will come his way in a GE campaign, and unfortunately it sticks and will be very damaging.

  • Alex Macfie 6th Feb '24 - 11:13am

    @Anthony Acton: Well that’ll be an opportunity for Ed to put forward his side of the story won’t it? If he performs reasonably well in the witness box then it’s likely to silence most of his critics. In any case I really doubt that the Tories will be able to successfully weaponise Ed’s peripheral role in the PO scandal in a GE campaign when the much bigger roles of individual Tory politicians can easily be thrown back at them.

  • Chris Moore 6th Feb '24 - 1:14pm

    Hi Alex, I’m well aware of the multitude of institutional and individual failings across the PO and government.

    However, the minister in charge of postal affairs obviously has a special responsibility and Ed did as badly as all the rest.

    The others however are not leading a party. Ed is. So it is damaging us disproportionately.

    If Ed did stand aside, nobody could possibly conclude he was uniquely responsible. And it would allow us to go on the attack on this matter. Now we are hobbled and hamstrung.

    A shortened month-long leadership campaign would see the two or three candidates visiting marginals and wouldn’t need to detract from campaigning.

    (Martin Bennett has some good ideas in the post above mine, in the probable event that Ed continues.)

  • Nonconformistradical 6th Feb '24 - 1:44pm

    “A shortened month-long leadership campaign”
    Possibly while there’s a general election comapign going on??????

  • Alex Macfie 6th Feb '24 - 1:54pm

    @Chris Moore: “If Ed did stand aside, nobody could possibly conclude he was uniquely responsible” On the contrary, that is exactly what they might conclude. It would certainly be what the right-wing media bandar-log would be pushing. After all, no other politician has yet resigned from their current post over the scandal. Oliver Dowden has not resigned as Deputy PM over his failure to sack Vennells when he was Minister for the Cabinet Office.
    Note that we have NOT called for Dowden to resign. The point is the hypocrisy of people calling for Ed’s head but not Dowden’s.

    Although the “minister in charge of postal affairs” is in theory “responsible”, in reality they have very little power, as the PO is run as a business and the days are long gone of the tripartite corporate state when ministers could and did phone CEOs and give them instructions. Anyway let us see what he has to say to the inquiry. Like Martin I hope this happens before the GE. I presume that what is said to the inquiry is covered by legal Privilege.

  • I wonder if this all makes a May general election slightly more likely? The Tories surely know they are going to lose to Labour whatever happens so I’d imagine they are looking for whichever date will minimize their losses. If they can (however wrongly) tar Ed Davey with the Post Office scandal, maybe they’ll figure that an early election while this story is still making headlines might help them fight off LibDem attacks in their blue wall?

  • Alex Macfie 6th Feb '24 - 6:17pm

    @Simon R: That sounds rather fanciful to me. The Tories are >20 points behind and decide to call an early election just to spite the Lib Dems? While logic seems to be lacking among the Tory high-command, this is probably too irrational even for them. They’ll want to hang on for as long as possible in the hope that something turns up leading to a sustained improvement in their standing. The nature of election campaigns is that they’re rarely about one thing, and it’s difficult even for the incumbent party to make the election about what they want it to be (cf Theresa May, 2017). Going specifically after the Lib Dems over the Post Office scandal could easily backfire for the reason I’ve already given (drawing attention to Tory failures), and also because even if some potential Lib Dem voters have concerns about Ed’s handling of his Postal Affairs brief all those years ago, this does not mean it will override all other considerations for them. Bread and butter issues like cost of living and the NHS will be far more important.

  • Chris Moore 6th Feb '24 - 8:04pm

    Hello, Alex,

    The Tory press is already focusing disproportionately on Ed’s role. Resigning would not change that.

    Again, I’m well aware of Oliver Dowden’s role. But the public don’t know who Dowden is and don’t care. Ed, however, is the face of our party.

    We do actually have time for a leadership election, Nonconformistradical. In the event that the GE was brought forward to April say, we simply suspend the process and Daisy is our acting leader through the election.

    I dare say she’ d do a very decent job. And wouldn’t be weighed down with the heavy baggage of the PO scandal.

    Again, Alex, I’m aware that Ed didn’t have day-to-day control of the PO, but he and other ministers in his role failed miserably to exercise ministerial over-sight.

    Could I suggest that Ed resigning might actually IMPROVE our standing with the electorate? Somebody in the whole sorry saga who’s prepared to show a tad of tangible regret – rather than mere words – and take the consequences of failing badly?

    BTW To all the romantics on here who idolise the public sector, the PO scandal is a graphic illustration of what can go wrong in such behemoths.

  • Alex Macfie 6th Feb '24 - 9:35pm

    @Chris Moore: No, it really wouldn’t. If Ed resigned now, then it would be taken as an admission of guilt — that the narrative being spun by the Tory media machine is true. It would be an act of cowardice in the face of the bullies of the Tory media bandar-log. If we can’t stand up to them, then we might as well give up now. They’re attacking us because they see us as a threat. If it wasn’t that it would be something else.

  • Gareth Hartwell 7th Feb '24 - 7:18am

    The public have moved on from this and realise that many people were involved and should have done more, Ed Davey was only singled out by the right-wing Tories to try to cause mischief. Ed’s role is no longer an issue on the doorstep. So why are we raking it up again with Ed going on to the Today Programme?!

  • Chris Moore 7th Feb '24 - 6:24pm

    I wonder what we,’d be saying about Sunak, if it turned out he’d made the same mistakes as Ed.

    We’d be excoriating him for his complacency and for only listening to the well-off and well-connected. It would really be an open goal for us.

    I pray however Alex and Martin that you may be right that the electorate will have moved on by election day: not much comfort in that to the victims of this affair, of course.

  • Alex Macfie 7th Feb '24 - 7:22pm

    Chris Moore: Sunak has already made far worse mistakes than whatever Ed did as a junior minister over a decade ago), and (politically) he survives.

  • Chris Moore 8th Feb '24 - 9:36am

    The Tory party will pay for Sunak’s mistakes by losing the election badly.

    The LDs will pay for Ed’s mistakes by getting a worse result than we could have with fresh leadership.

    Every morning I pray that I’m wrong.

  • Chris, you are right.

  • Paul Barker 8th Feb '24 - 11:57am

    There are a wide range of predictions about how many MPs we will get at The coming Election – I have seen figures from 25 to 45.
    The lowest figure would more than Double the number we got in 2019.

    Of course some imaginary Leader can always do better than an Actual one.

  • Chris Moore 8th Feb '24 - 12:38pm

    Paul, there’s nothing imaginary about our deputy leader, Daisy Cooper, or the other two likely candidates.

    They would do better in my view.

  • Alex Macfie 8th Feb '24 - 1:01pm

    On another thread it is noted that a Conservative former MP and former Postal Affairs minister called Margot James appeared on Newsnight last night, much later then Ed was in the post and when the Post Office lies were unravelling. I’ve commented in more detail on that thread; suffice it to say that if Ed is being asked about the scandal then she should also have been given her appearance on a news broadcast.
    Whether the failure to ask her about the scandal was intentional or not, it shows a specifically anti-Lib Dem bias in much of the news media, with our politicians getting pilloried for things that others would be allowed to get away with. The worst response would be to roll over in the face of biased reporting. If Ed should resign over this scandal, then surely Margot James should resign from her public role in the LSE.

    Daisy Cooper may not be imaginary, but a Lib Dem party led by her is. Does she even want the job? When elected she said she wanted to focus on building her profile as a constituency MP.

  • @ Alex “it shows a specifically anti-Lib Dem bias in much of the news media, with our politicians getting pilloried for things that others would be allowed to get away with”.

    Is Margot James the Leader of a Party who has the intention of putting herself forward to be the Leader of this country, Alex ? Fact is, politics can be a rough old game and it’s tough at the top.

  • Nonconformistradical 8th Feb '24 - 1:27pm

    “The worst response would be to roll over in the face of biased reporting.”

    Indeed. Not the time to be contemplating a leadership change.

  • David Evans 8th Feb '24 - 4:21pm

    David (Raw) Indeed it is valid that you ask “Is Margot James the Leader of a Party who has the intention of putting herself forward to be the Leader of this country?”

    However it could also be asked “Is Is Ed Davey the Leader of a Party who has the intention of putting himself forward to be the leader of this country?” I think the truthful answer from both would be the same.

    Indeed, other than our very own Jo Swinson (whose inner circle didn’t seem to warn her of the massive credibility gap with that pitch), I would contend that it’s a long, long time since any Lib Dem or Lib leader seriously put themselves forward to be the leader of this country.

    True, politics can be a rough old game and it is tough at the top. However a public service broadcaster like the BBC has certain duties which they certainly have not complied with here, and in all honesty, being leader of the Lib Dems really is nowhere near the top.

  • @ David Evans, Well, David, to quote the theme song from that old Michael Caine movie : “What’s it all about, Alfie ?”

    If it’s only about being the best pot hole spotter, why bother to aspire to be a Minister (in charge of ?) the Post Office and then be in the Cabinet ?

    I’m afraid I’m long in the tooth enough to want a bit of assertive inquisitiveness in my executive post holding politicians – whether it be in charge of dustbins on South Lakeland Council or in Westminster – otherwise the country will be run entirely by unaccountable Sir Humphreys. No good offering any amount of ‘Fair Deals’ and “We Wills” if you ain’t got any push and go.

    PS And…. on the whole I think the BBC is pretty fair. The alternative is Murdoch and the GB News bunch.

  • Chris Moore 9th Feb '24 - 3:54am

    The reality is no elector, bar her constituents, gives a damn about what Margot James has done or rather not done. I myself had not heard of her till reading Alex’s post.

    Ed is a party leader however and rightly attracts more scrutiny and criticism.

    The Tory press always has it in for LD and Labour politicians.

    That’s not a reason for us never to consider changing leader when the leader has messed up.

    Alex, when Daisy was first elected she said what newly elected LDs rightly think: need to work the constituency. Didn’t you realise she is now Deputy Leader?!


  • Nonconformistradical 9th Feb '24 - 7:50am

    @Chris Moore
    “Didn’t you realise she is now Deputy Leader?!”

    Elected by LD MPs not by the party members

  • Barry Lofty 9th Feb '24 - 10:39am

    While we are about it why don’t we blame Ed Davey, The coalition government and the Lib Dems as a whole for the complete mess our country is in at moment.?

  • Ruth Bright 9th Feb '24 - 10:53am

    Well actually Barry….

  • Ruth Bright 9th Feb '24 - 11:00am

    There is nothing more delicious sometimes than rising to the bait. In answer to Barry I would say the coalition’s decimation of Sure Start, abolition of the Education Maintenance Allowance and abolition of the Health in Pregnancy Grant has helped mess up our social fabric. That’s why we need a post-coalition leader who can’t be skewered by Andrew Neil about these things.

  • Paul Barker 9th Feb '24 - 11:43am

    No Coalition = No Brexit.
    Of course we can’t re-run History but can you imagine a successful Leave campaign in the context of The Libdems polling in the low to mid 20s ? Labour would have been forced to get off the fence, the whole atmosphere would have been different.

    I bitterly regret backing The Coalition but in my defence I was with The vast Majority – 95% at The Special Conference.
    The Question won’t come up again for another 15 Years luckily but a bit of Humility is always good – it only turns sour when it becomes obsessive, as it has in many of the comments on Ed Davie.

  • Peter Watson 9th Feb '24 - 12:42pm

    @Paul Barker “I bitterly regret backing The Coalition but in my defence I was with The vast Majority – 95% at The Special Conference.”
    I wouldn’t blame anyone for wanting to be in Coalition in May 2010 – it seemed like a great opportunity – but how it was done … oh dear!
    The party that should have been the most prepared for Coalition appeared to be caught off-guard by not having the “balance of power”. It then went into negotiations backing away from its very high-profile pledge on tuition fees before subsuming itself into what looked like a single-party – Tory! – government. This all seemed to be compounded by a bunker mentality of ignoring polling (which even now, is not much better) and calls for change while hoping it would all turn out fine in 2015. 🙁

  • Chris Moore 9th Feb '24 - 4:25pm

    Hello, nonconformistradical, I’m not sure what your point is re Daisy Cooper?

    She’s clearly ambitious and not merely sticking to her constituency.

  • Nonconformistradical 9th Feb '24 - 4:45pm

    @Chris Moore
    My point is – Daisy has not demonstrated her popularity with a wider subse of party members, her role is as I understand for parliamentary purposes. She’s only been an MP since 2019.

    By the way – since you appear so keen on a leadership election – would you be prepared to cover the cost of such an election?

  • Mick Taylor 9th Feb '24 - 4:54pm

    Yes, indeed there will be an election in less than 12 months. Yet, here we are, with loads of people attacking their own party and shooting themselves ion the foot. I wasn’t happy with the leadership in 2019, but I didn’t go public and made any comments to the party president.
    My advice to those on this and other threads is that now is the time to support the party and stop criticising until the election is over. Why do the other parties dirty work for them.

  • I don’t see any issue with people criticizing the party here – this is after all a forum that I would assume is to a large extent read by members, so it’s not like broadcasting on national TV. And it’s very refreshing to see a measured but robust debate (compare with LabourList, which allows no debate at all on articles, or with ConservativeHome, where the comments are typically filled with wild conspiracy theories).

    Regarding those proposing a Leadership election… the phrase ‘grass is always greener…’ comes to mind. Ed Davey may well have been disappointing in some ways, but it’s very hard to compare someone who has actually shown in reality what they can do under all the pressures and conflicting demands that leadership entails with someone who is untested, and who we simply have no idea how well or badly they might perform, or what skeletons might fall out if they did become leader in reality. Maybe if we went through all the drama of a leadership election, we’d get someone better – but it’s not guaranteed. (Just look at how all it worked out the multiple times over the last 5 years that the Tories thought, maybe a new leader would work better than the current one! 😉 )

  • Ruth Bright 10th Feb '24 - 1:17pm

    A free forum of Liberals/Liberal Democrats being told to keep quiet! Perhaps all the people telling us to keep quiet should remember that the vast majority of us are volunteers who are legitimately seeking some motivation to get out there and campaign (for free in all weathers!) other than being told to put up and shut up.

  • Ruth Bright 11th Feb '24 - 9:26am

    Fair dos Martin. My local PPC always says thank you. That’s a good start for rallying troops!

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