Lynne Featherstone writes….Vote Layla!

I took over as Layla’s mentor when Vince had to stop because he became leader. I didn’t know her. I’d met her only once at a training weekend a few years earlier. We had lunch to introduce ourselves to each other. I came away from that very first meeting thinking here is someone who should be our leader.

I did my damndest to get her to run last time against Jo and Ed. Sadly (but possibly wisely) she resisted my pleading. She felt having been in Parliament a short time, and with a majority of just 800, she wasn’t ready. This time, with her majority increased to almost 9000; there was no holding her back. She is original, brave, intelligent, empathetic, and charismatic, and she will move us forward together.

Layla is liberal through and through and through. She wants every single person to fulfil their potential and have the security to live life as they choose. The words in our preamble: no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity, called to her as they did to me.

Her key priorities on education, the environment and the economy – Universal Basic Income and carbon negative (not just neutral!) targets and a teacher-led curriculum are how we move forward. Bold, liberal ideas, delivered with the right message and messenger will build our party and our country back better. You can read more about her plan for the party and vision for the country here.

With Layla, we can move on from the coalition voting record. We can rebuild trust and deliver positive and progressive change. Yes – we did some good things during the coalition. I was the originator and architect of the same-sex marriage law. But brilliant and liberal as that was – it’s not what people think of when the word coalition is brought up, and the coalition will be brought up in the many interviews our new leader will be grilled in. Being able to move the conversation forward from it is vital.

I’m writing here because I am asking you to vote for Layla in our leadership contest – to give us the vision, the plan, the profile, the ambition and the votes we need. This is a moment in our history where we need to change. Doing the same, looking the same and being the same will see us fall even lower than our current dreadful 6% in the polls.

We need the media to carry our message. Layla is all over the media. She was on Sophy Ridge (Sky) this morning, talking about the cross-party Coronavirus Inquiry that she is chairing, as well as the future of our party. She’s also in the Observer today, in an interview talking about tactically working with Keir Starmer’s Labour party where it can benefit us – but proper electoral reform will be the price for any possible post-2024 coalition. We got burned once – that won’t happen again with Layla.

As a party, we make policy – but policy alone doesn’t translate into votes. Layla describes it wonderfully as the party writing the prose and the leader’s job being to turn it into poetry. Layla is the candidate who can stand out from the crowd and credibly deliver a progressive liberal vision.

So please, Vote Layla and let’s move forward together!

* Lynne Featherstone was the MP for Hornsey and Wood Green from 2005 to 2015, and served as a minister in both the Home Office and Department for International Development. She is now a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords and blogs at

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  • richard underhill 26th Jul '20 - 12:49pm

    She’s also in the Observer today, in an interview talking about tactically working with Keir Starmer’s Labour party where it can benefit us – but proper electoral reform will be the price for any possible post-2024 coalition.
    I will get an Observer today, free at Waitrose, open until 4 pm on a day which is good for bargains.
    In the context of the need for strategy I would draw attention to Lucy Worsly’s TV programme about the USA, including the fact that their first President, Washington, was a slave-owner and did what he could to evade laws which freed slaves.
    Reading what John Alderdice’s review of what we need to do now, I am pleased that someone who was a popular candidate for election to the Commons in East Belfast and would have made a high calibre MP did not mention that another member of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland has been elected as an MP for East Belfast and as an MEP for the whole of Northern Ireland. He has concluded that there is ONE THING that we need to do. He is right, for the reasons he gave, and we should do that, so I will consider my vote in the leadership election as to whether each candidate commits to taking his advice. Relevant members of the House of Lords are nowadays free to do what Shirley Williams did, and resign voluntarily, but then stand for election to the Commons,

  • richard underhill 26th Jul '20 - 12:53pm

    I have encouraged John Alderdice to address my local party, which he did, although he was then a health spokesman (a consultant psychiatrist).

  • I get all the Liberal stuff. A valid case could be made for both candidates. However… I will be voting for who comes across best on TV and the media. Someone distinctive. Whatever we think about our policies and how unfair the system is there is no doubt that we are living in a presidential system when it comes to the media. We may not like it but we have to live with it. Our last leader was not telegenic but 1 of our present candidates is. And she speaks well as well.

  • Paul Barker 26th Jul '20 - 2:54pm

    The Big difference is that Ed comes across as a Politician & Layla as a person, not ordinary but not just another Politician either.

    A word on The Polls, under the present conditions they are useless. We dont know when they will return to “Normal”, not till Winter I would guess but when they do I expect us to be back on trend at 10% or a bit more.

  • Nigel Hardy 26th Jul '20 - 5:28pm

    We need a leader who can get the media attention with bold Liberal vision to take the party forward. That person needs to have the ability to rebuild trust and take the party with them building cross party alliances for the left of centre parties defeat the right in the next GE. Layla is getting the media to listen and knows how to give clear positive interviews without knocking anyone. She increased her majority eleven fold in December in a Conservative constituency by bringing voters from other parties to vote for her and helped do the same elsewhere on a local level. Her bold Liberal vision is a progressive one which we need for the future when we currently stand at 6% in the polls. Any lower than that and we will soon become irrelevant as a party which may not be good for the country. With Layla’s charismatic personality we can move forward and put the coalition period behind us which still haunts the party.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 27th Jul '20 - 12:34am

    Excellent from Lynne for Layla!!

  • It’s not fair to say Ed is just a politician. He seems to me to be a compassionate person based on his life experiences.

  • Both candidates appear to have baggage the media will seize upon once the election is announced, without that I would have voted for the MP from Oxford West, as things stand I will have to abstain, that for the first time since 1976. Why does the Leader of the Party have to come from the MP’s?. One day we may have none, what then! This is one very important issue for the coming Review to take on Board.

  • “With Layla, we can move on from the coalition voting record.” Bring back the Coalition I say. I’ll be voting Davey

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