Archive for the 'Lib Dems' Category


Meanwhile in that other leadership race…

Monday, June 17th, 2019

Dr Foxy on how the Swinson Davey battle is shaping up

Understandably the focus of political interest and betting is on the contest to succeed Theresa May as leader of the Conservative Party, and most likely Prime Minister. This does rather overshadow the ongoing contest for the leadership of the Liberal Democrat Party, which finds itself in the rather unfamiliar position of rude health. Having had some excellent results in both Local Elections and in the recent Euro elections, Vince Cable contrasts sharply with Theresa May by leaving the role on a high, with the party polling at its best for nearly a decade, and united over the major issues of the day.

The choice facing the Liberal Democrats is between the strong favourite Jo Swinson, current Deputy Leader, and Ed Davey who is rated by punters as the outsider. There were around 200 in the audience for the East Midlands hustings with a significant minority of members who had joined in the last few weeks amongst the more veteran members.

The differences of policy direction between the two were modest and nuanced rather than the gaping chasms afflicting the Labour and Conservative Parties. Discussion ranged over a broad range of topics as a result, from environmental issues, fracking, restoring trust in politics and government, support for marginalised communities, the role of positive discrimination in promoting diversity, campaigning support for local parties and the integration of new members such as Chuka Umunna.

PBers would be either disappointed or relieved to find the important topics of Scottish Independence and Proportional Representation were as untouched as a pineapple topped pizza. Perhaps surprisingly, Brexit was little discussed, with both candidates strongly pro-EU membership. The differentiation between the two was subtle on policy, but quite different in style and presentation.

Ed Davey was on home turf, having been born and schooled in Nottinghamshire with a backstory of being orphaned at the age of 11. He was clearly proud of his work in the 2010-15 Coalition, particularly for his time as Secretary of State for the Environment and Climate Change.

Similarly he cited other achievements such as introducing the clause that repealed the homophobic Section 28, and the abolition of compulsory retirement ages. His background as an economist seems to give him a stronger leaning to market mechanisms and more inclination to incentives than heavy handed state intervention.

His points were well supported by evidence, and well argued in an assertive but not bombastic style that comes over well in more weighty interviews and debates. He rather reminded me of Clem Attlee in his ability to achieve change rather than just talk. In his closing speech he did rather give in to hubris by talking of being Prime Minister rather than just party leader.

Jo Swinson has been particularly active in the #PeoplesVote campaign, speaking to the mass rally in Parliament Square, and working closely with other parties on this. She clearly works well on common platforms, and this may be important both for integrating new members and for electoral strategy and in a hung parliament. She seemed a little stiff initially, but warmed up as the evening progressed, and was particularly passionate about environmental issues and reaching new audiences and voters. While also a member of the Coalition government, she did not emphasise this as much as Davey. She seemed to model herself more in terms of Jacinta Arden as a political heroine.

In all, I left the hustings in good spirits and would be happy with either as leader. Both were well rooted in the party, and strongly pro-environment amongst the other Liberal Democrat values of compassion and inclusivity. Both were happy to acknowledge that they had changed their minds over issues over the years, and both had known political defeat and despair losing their seats in 2015 as well as demonstrating the grit and drive to get them back. Both were approachable and demonstrated good emotional intelligence when speaking afterwards, and having selfies with supporters. Eavesdropping other attenders on the way out, most seemed to think that the decision was finely balanced as to who would be better.

I think that the race will be closer than expected, and that while Swinson should be favourite, I would not bet on her at current odds. Ed Davey is running a good campaign and had a lot of audience support. 6/1 at the time of writing is good value and I have backed him, and will be voting for him.

Dr Foxy

Dr Foxy has been a Lib Dem member for 5 years, having previously been a member of the Labour Party 1994-2002.


Chuka joins the Lib Dems but will he be able to retain Streatham at the next GE

Thursday, June 13th, 2019


The successor to Sir Vince Cable might currently be in another party

Tuesday, June 4th, 2019

It appears Change UK might be about to undergo some fundamental change, The Guardian report that

Up to half of Change UK’s MPs are poised to leave the fledgling political party after its dismal performance in the European elections.

Change UK’s interim leader, Heidi Allen, and the former Labour MP Chuka Umunna, who is the group’s spokesman, have been advocating closer cooperation with the Liberal Democrats, and are among those thought to be considering defecting to the party.

Other MPs may also leave the party, potentially including the former Labour MP Luciana Berger, who was the face of Change UK’s launch event. The MPs are holding a meeting on Tuesday lunchtime and an announcement is expected later in the day.

Umunna conceded last week that the party had “made mistakes along the way”, and suggested pro-remain parties should “work together instead of competing”.

However, the Guardian understands a core of five Change UK MPs – out of the party’s 11 – including the former Labour MPs Joan Ryan, Chris Leslie, Mike Gapes and Ann Coffey, and the former Conservative MP Anna Soubry, are determined to continue as a separate party.

One party source insisted Change UK would go on to field candidates at the next general election and said the group had been working on a policy platform.

All of this makes me wonder if we’re about to see some new entrants in to the Lib Dem leadership race, the rules state

‘Nominations will close on 7 June, with the new leader to take over on 23 July. Nominees must be an MP, have the backing of at least 10% of the Parliamentary party (i.e. one other MP) and be supported by at least 200 members spread across at least 20 different local parties.’

Now we live in rather interesting times and it is possible, I’ve asked for odds to be put up on Chuka Umunna, Sarah Wollaston, and Heidi Allen to be added to the list to succeed Sir Vince Cable, the latter two have always seemed to me to be closer to the Lib Dems than the Conservative Party long before they defected to Change UK.

Nominations close this Friday for the Lib Dem leadership, if it is going to happen, the Change UK MPs needs to defect very soon.



The latest Euro polls find BRX reinforcing its position with the LDs starting to nudge LAB out of second place

Saturday, May 18th, 2019

In London the LDs have 3% lead


Jo Swinson moves to a 69% chance in the LD leadership betting following Layla Moran’s withdrawal from the race

Tuesday, May 14th, 2019

The race looks all over before it starts

After PB’s overnight guest slot on the LD leadership there’s been a big move in that the heavily tipped Oxford West & Abingdon MP, Layla Moran, has withdrawn from the race.

So the attention now turns to Jo Swinson who decided not to stand two years ago because she had a very young child to care for. She was made deputy to Cable and has been seen a lot more in the media. On local election night I thought she performed well as the LD panelist of politicians sitting next to Labour’s Barry Gardiner.

It is hard now to see anyone at all competing with Swinson and winning. The former cabinet minister, Ed Davey, is now 12% in the betting and the only other movement is Christine Jardine who won Edinburgh West of the SNP at the 2017 general election.

According to the Evening Standard which broke the story her decision has nothing to do with the controversy when she admitted to facing charges which were dropped in a 2013 incident at the Party Conference in Glasgow.

She says that as a relatively new MP her first priority has to be to serve her constituents to the best of her ability. At the general election she unseated the Conservatives incumbent by a majority of just 816 and clearly there is an element of wanting to ensure that she can get returned again.

It is thought that Vince Cable will step down after the Euros next week thus triggering the contest which is by postal ballot of the entire membership.

Mike Smithson


A possible Westminster by-election opportunity for the LDs – Brecon where the MP has just pleaded guilty to fraud

Friday, March 22nd, 2019

It was held by the LDs from GE1997 to GE2015

This morning the MP for Brecon and Radnor, Christopher Davies, pleaded guilty to parliamentary expenses fraud. He awaits sentence. If he receives a custodial sentence of a year or more than he automatically will forfeit his seat in House of Commons.

But if the sentence is any less than a year the new recall procedure, currently in operation in Peterborough, could comes into play and he would have to go if 10% or more of the electorate signed the recall petition.

This is a seat that the Lib Dems first won in 1997 and lost at the 2015 general election when they took a battering nationally at the end of the coalition.

In areas where the Lib Dems have been traditionally strong they are usually well placed to fight by-elections and particularly so in the supercharged political atmosphere that we now have with Brexit. That’s not going to go away whatever happens in the next couple of months.

Everything now is dependent on the sentence that Davis is given. At the referendum in June 2016 Brecon and Radnor voted 52% to 48% to leave almost exactly in line with the national average.

By land area the constituency is the largest in England and Wales.

Mike Smithson


Vince Cable stepping down as LD leader. Layla Moran the opening favourite to succeed

Thursday, March 14th, 2019

On the eve of the Lib Dem Spring Conference in York the leader since GE2017, Twickenham MP Vince Cable, has announced tonight that he’s stepping thus opening up a leadership contest.

This has not come as a surprise and it was always envisaged that his period as leader would be to bridge the gap following Tim Farron’s exit after GE2017.

Two women head the betting. Layla Moran, who took Oxford West and Abingdon from the Tories two years ago is the early favourite followed by Jo Swinson, who served in the coalition as a minister and returned to the Commons at GE2017.

The party has changed its rules and could conceivably now elect a leader who isn’t even an MP. Gina Miller has been suggested.

As for Moran she has a powerful media presence and has taken a very strong role on Brexit. It has been noticeable how her media appearances have increased in recent months. She’s also the first MP of Palestinian descent.

Swinson was widely tipped in 2017 but she did not want to put herself forward at that stage.

What’s important for the LDs, who have been in the media shadow since GE2015, is that they have a proper leadership contest and they elect a leader who will attracts media coverage. Both Moran and Swinson could do that.

I’m on Layla at 2/1 but I won’t put any more on until she confirms that she’ll run.

If the LDs elect a woman then Labour’s Mr. Corbyn, would be the only male heading a significant UK political party.

Mike Smithson


Layla Moran now becomes favourite to become next LD leader

Wednesday, January 9th, 2019

The LD MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, Laylan Moran, made a point at PMQs this lunchtime that I’m surprised hasn’t been taken up by other remainers – the pro-Brexit comments by Putin.

This comes as her betting price on Betfair has tightened and the last price recorded by Betfair as I write rates her as a 42% chance.

There’s isn’t, of course, a vacancy but Vince Cable has indicated that he’ll go before the next election. My guess is that if she stood Moran would win a membership ballot. She has a powerful media presence and has taken a very strong role on Brexit. It has been noticeable how her media appearances are increasing. My only caution is that I’m not sure she would stand.

The other possibles are Jo Swinson and Ed Davey.

Mike Smithson