LISTEN: Ed Davey on For the Many Live at Edinburgh

Ed Davey’s appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe is now available online.

He talked to Iain Dale and Jacqui Smith for their For the Many podcast.

Ed was in cracking form, very funny, bright and relaxed.

He came on stage while Iain and Jacqui were having a bit of a barney about women’s football. I had tweeted Jacqui after Iain told Harriet Harman that one thing that men could do better than women was play football. She got a lot of mileage out of that over the various shows. Anyway,  Ed was full of support for the Lionesses.

Jacqui then challenged Ed to come up with an act of heroism after Keir Starmer helped find a dog while he was on holiday in the Lake District. She might not have been expecting him to come up with an actual example, but he did rescue a woman from the path of an oncoming train.

Jacqui challenged him to get Iain Dale, who has said multiple times that he’s not sure who to vote for at the next General Election, to commit to voting Lib Dem. Ed is smarter than to fall for that trap, and, while he outlined lots of good reasons to vote Lib Dem, he recognised we might not gain Iain’s support.

Iain challenged him on why our national polling isn’t reflecting our by-election success. He pointed to local election success and the fact that we were talking to people about the issues they cared about.

His top task, he said, is to get the Conservatives out of Government.

He had been fighting Conservatives every single day of his political life and that was particularly true during the coalition years. He talked about how he almost took fellow cabinet minister Eric Pickles to a judicial review. He recounted a conversation with Eric Pickles in which the Conservative told him “Regulations are Communist” in the face of his plan to force landlords to better insulate their homes. Ed’s response: “Thou shalt not kill is a regulation. And it came in before Karl Marx.”

Lib Dems achieved much in the coalition – making Britain the world leader in offshore wind, giving more money to disadvantaged kids in school, same sex marriage. Iain Dale tried to challenge him that we had the biggest our offshore wind farms in Europe now and Ed said that he had organised the licences for them, not his Conservative successors.

Asked about future coalitions, Ed was clear:

“There’s not a chance in hell that we would put the Conservatives back in power.”

His focus would be “laser beam like” on getting the maximum number of Lib Dem MPs. Anything else, other than returning the Conservatives to power was open.

People would be able to see from the things we were talking about and the priorities in our manifesto what we would be fighting for.  The NHS, social care, the environment, the economy and reforming our political system, working for communities on the issues they care about.

He talked about the importance of political reform in regaining people’s trust in politics. Didn’t we muck up the referendum on AV? It wasn’t PR, he said, but he would bring his greater experience of government and what’s achievable to the forefront.

He thinks that the problem in the coalition is that we weren’t more visible about our disagreements with the Conservatives. “If you are in the middle of the road, you had better put on high-viz.”

He said he was feeling good about the prospect of a Mid Beds by-election as Labour party members there had told them they were voting for us. He said he wasn’t sure that we were going to win, but we were definitely the challengers. There was no way, he said, that people in the predominantly rural constituency were going to vote Labour to get the Tories out. He accused Nadine Dorries of an abuse of Parliament for her behaviour.

Why did he not let Ed Balls, with whom he was at school, talk him into a joining the Labour Party, asked Jacqui. Well, apparently Ed Balls never gave him back the history notes he lent him. Paddy was the one who persuaded him to join the Lib Dems after he had run a campaign for tactical voting in 1987.

All this and much more is available here on Global Player, or just search For the Many wherever you normally listen to your podcasts. You’ll find out how he answered the traditional Snog, Marry, Avoid question. The three options were Iain Dale, Jacqui Smith and Rishi Sunak.  What would you do?


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

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  • Great stuff from Ed

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