REPRISE: Ed Davey’s first speech as leader of the Liberal Democrats

In case you missed it, here is Ed Davey’s acceptance speech from Thursday. Nothing happens for the first 19 minutes, so use the slider to get to that point. The text is below:

I’d like to start by thanking my friend Layla Moran. Layla, you fought a passionate campaign, full of energy.

I’d like to start by thanking my friend Layla Moran.

Since becoming an MP, you have inspired so many people, particularly young people. Your future is bright and I look forward to you playing a big role in my team.

To members of the Liberal Democrats, thank you for putting your faith in me and giving me the honour of leading a party I joined 30 years ago.

And I want also to thank a whole host of people who’ve run this campaign – whether in party headquarters alongside the Returning Officer, or in my own amazing campaign team.

The thousands of people who’ve volunteered time to campaign with me. Who’ve donated to my campaign. Who’ve championed our vision of a greener, fairer, more caring society.

I’d particularly like to thank Claire Halliwell, my Campaign Manager. Claire, you’ve been fantastic.

Thank you for putting your faith in me and giving me the honour of leading a party I joined 30 years ago.

And of course Emily, my wife and our two beautiful children, John and Ellie. Thank you Emily for your amazing support, patience and love.

I am sure I am speaking for many people when I say that – for all the stress and uncertainty of the last few months – one positive has been the chance to spend more time with our families. And so I’d like to thank Ellie in particular, for appearing as a surprise cameo in so many of my zoom calls and online hustings.

I want to talk now about the future of the Liberal Democrats.

I joined this party 30 years ago. I met Emily here. I have made so many good friends here.

And with those friends, I have campaigned across our country, knocking on tens of thousands of doors, delivering hundreds of thousands of leaflets.

The reason I have done all this is simple.

I love our party. And I believe in it.

I love our party.

I believe in it.

I stand for all the things the Liberal Democrats stand for:

Social justice, political reform, equality and protecting our environment.

I stand for fairness and for fighting to protect the rights of ordinary people.

I’m determined our Party backs a Britain that works with other countries across the world for peace and prosperity.

But we have to wake up and smell the coffee.

But, it is my love of our party that makes me recognise that we have to change.

We have to wake up and smell the coffee.

Nationally, our party has lost touch with too many voters.

Yes, we are powerful advocates locally.

Our campaigners listen to local people, work hard for communities and deliver results.

But at the national level, we have to face the facts of three disappointing general election results.

The truth is…

Voters don’t believe that the Liberal Democrats want to help ordinary people get on in life.

Voters don’t believe we share their values.

And voters don’t believe we are on the side of people like them.

Nationally, voters have been sending us a message. But we have not been listening.

Nationally, voters have been sending us a message.

But we have not been listening. It is time for us to start listening.

As leader I am telling you: I have got that message. I am listening now.

Whether you’re from the North, South, or somewhere in between

Whether you voted for Brexit or Remain, or just wanted the whole thing settled

Whether you voted Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat, SNP or Plaid

My message for you is this:

I will travel up and down our country to meet you.

To hear about the things that matter most to you.

Your problems and fears, your hopes and dreams.

I will face up to uncomfortable truths. And I will make your concerns my own.

I will face up to uncomfortable truths.

And I will make your concerns my own.

Our country is going through one of the most extraordinary and difficult periods for generations.

The challenge of Covid will affect our country and the world for decades to come.

Millions of people are suffering.

As Leader of the Liberal Democrats, I want to reach out to help you and your community get through this.

Whether your concerns are your families’ health, your children’s education or your livelihood.

I want to understand the new future you want after all this – and help to deliver it.

My job from today is to rebuild the Liberal Democrats to national relevance

So my job from today is to rebuild the Liberal Democrats to national relevance so we can deliver this future for you, for your family and for the people who need it the most.

None of this is going to be easy.

None of this is going to be straightforward.

And none of it is going to be quick or simple to achieve.

But I want the Liberal Democrats to represent the whole country, not just some people, and to stand for fairness and opportunity for all.

That is my commitment to you as the new leader of the Liberal Democrats.

The hard work starts today.

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6 Comments

  • I do hope the reality of the speech tself was more inspiring than the text, otherwise things do not bode well.
    I’m reminded of a lyric by that awesome rocker Ronnie James Dio from the song ‘ my eyes ‘, about the decline of his own band. First line is. ‘My eyes could see the body shaking’.
    Let’s hope there’s more to Ed then this somewhat inane and repetitive commentary, after all he has been co leader for the last few months already.

  • Sue Sutherland 30th Aug '20 - 2:23pm

    One of the reasons I voted for Layla is because she can do big speeches. Ed, I’m sorry to say, really can’t. However, he comes across very well when you meet him in person or on a computer screen. Can I make a suggestion that instead of trying so hard to wow the masses, he thinks of speaking to one person when he’s doing a set piece and tries to convince them and enthuse them. I think it would feel much more authentic if he did this. I watched his Holocaust day speech in Parliament and it was very good and very moving because it was understated.
    Best wishes, Ed, for your leadership.

  • Good points from Sue Sutherland and Martin. This was a rather underwhelming and relatively content free effort from Ed – which, apart from a few platitudes, was largely lacking what George Bush Snr would call “the vision thing”! Perhaps his party conference speech may be a little more inspiring in its content … and, as Sue requests, more authentic in its delivery too.

    I also agree with Martin that, whilst the online leadership hustings were more accessible, their format was far too repetitive and failed to properly test the range of communication skills and abilities that are required from an effective leader – including set-piece speeches, probing one-to-one interviews with experienced and sometimes hostile journalists, quick-fire Q&A sessions directly with party members, etc.

    Hopefully, next time we have a leadership election (whenever that will be), more creativity will be shown in designing hustings and other campaign events which actually stretch the candidates more fully and test more than than merely their stamina and resilience … or their ability to talk uninterrupted for 2-3 minutes on any given subject.

  • Stephen Howse 30th Aug '20 - 6:57pm

    I agree with the comments suggesting that Ed is better speaking with people one to one and in small groups – I suspect this is the rationale behind his planned ‘listening tour’. I’ve every confidence that the voters he meets and talks with will leave with a very good impression of him. I backed him for leader in part because having seen him up close in such a setting, I knew that was one of his strongest points.

  • Antony Watts 31st Aug '20 - 11:07am

    I’ve said it several times, and I say it again.

    Lib Dems have to present a vision. And the best way to do that is to be sure of policies then repeat, repeat, repeat at every suitable opportunity.

    Never open your mouth unless you are saying “Lib Dems think that…” “Lib Dems say…”

    But first a concise statement of who we are. What does “Social justice, political reform, equality and protecting our environment.

    I stand for fairness and for fighting to protect the rights of ordinary people.” actually mean in terms of on the ground policies?

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