Lib Dems ‘to focus on what people really need’


Sir Ed DaveyImage copyright
PA Media

The Liberal Democrats’ annual conference opens on Friday, with new leader Sir Ed Davey urging supporters to fight for what people “really need”.

The party has suffered three poor general elections in a row and Sir Ed warned that it needed to “listen” more.

The four day-conference, held mainly online, will feature debates on racial justice, mental health, Covid-19 and creating a “federal” UK.

It had been due to take place in Liverpool before the pandemic struck.

The Liberal Democrats secured 11.5% of the UK vote at last year’s general election and won 11 seats in Parliament. Then leader Jo Swinson was among those from the party who lost their seats.

Last month, Sir Ed – who served in the cabinet during the 2010-15 coalition government – won the subsequent contest to become leader.

Speaking ahead of the conference, he said: “The coronavirus crisis is taking an enormous toll on people’s lives and livelihoods. People are worried about their loved ones and millions of families are facing financial hardship.

“To represent communities across the country, Liberal Democrats need to listen. We need to be a party of aspiration, relevance and compassion that understands how we can deliver more of what small business owners, nurses, teachers, parents, carers and communities really need.”

He also attacked Prime Minister Boris Johnson for leading an “incompetent” government and promised the Lib Dems would build a “positive post-Covid future by embracing a caring, greener and fairer approach”.

Meanwhile, a report from the Social Liberal Forum think tank says the Lib Dems need to “radically overhaul” their messaging to voters if they want a resurgence at the next general election.

Simply “seeking to hoover up the anti-Conservative vote in constituencies where it came second in 2019” would at best bring “modest seat growth” in the House of Commons, it adds.

The Lib Dem conference follows Labour’s last week. The Conservatives will be holding theirs early next month.



BBC News