Lib Dem leadership contest: what’s moving party members?

A fascinating set of answers to the question I posted on Twitter and Facebook:

Are you a Lib Dem members who has changed your mind so far in the #libdemleadership race – to/from Jo, Ed or undecided? If so, what’s your reason? Be great to hear more about what members are thinking.

My main takeaways from the answers so far are:

  • Very few members feel that a candidate would be a really bad choice for the party (and that’s also reflected in private replies as well as public comments). Far more so than I recall in previous contests, people say they’d be happy with either.
  • That, however, comes with a downside – it also shows that both are struggling to really distinguish themselves from the other.
  • Perceived gravitas is a factor for some in picking Davey over Swinson. Although that comes from both women and men, it’s worth bearing in mind how gendered the concept of gravitas often is.
  • Jo Swinson’s willingness to attack the SNP wins both plaudits and critics – the latter mainly being members in England who see the SNP as a fellow Remain party.
  • Ed Davey, though, is seen as having the more hardline stance about working with other parties – and several people have commented that as a result, they are backing Jo Swinson, preferring her more open approach to working with those outside the party or in other parties.
  • Perhaps because both have put the environment as their top issue other than Brexit, neither is making much headway in winning people over specifically with their green credentials.

For a more rigorous analysis of what members are thinking, I’ll be doing my nearly-traditional leadership election survey shortly. Sign up forĀ Lib Dem Newswire to make sure you don’t miss out.

14 responses to “Lib Dem leadership contest: what’s moving party members?”

  1. On Politics Live Ed Davey suggested that a small percentage win for Remain would settle the matter. I don’t agree neither did Andrew Neil. To me this shows poor thinking through by Ed. I sent out a letter to family and friends and since it was about the negatives of Brexit I also sent it to various MPs including Ed Davey and Jo Swinson. I followed the letter up with a short email. I have rec’d follow up emails from Jo’s team, one on Sunday and another at 8 pm yesterday. Nothing so far from Ed Davey. On the basis of determination and hard work my vote will go to Jo.

    • Went to the East Mids hustings. I don’t see Ed as having gravitas. I see it as staid and uninspiring. He never left the desk, using it as a shield. His answers were good, but lacked a thread.

      Jo is a professional communicator. As a teacher I looked at her delivery, her ownership and use of the space and the ability to string a coherent narrative into the answers.

      A leader needs to inspire and for Jo did that better. I am fairly new to the party structure so my knowledge of the two’s reputations on direction and policy is sketchy. I am simply judging as a public face

  2. Let’s be the first and have a joint leader. Both appeal to many but both have different ideas. Be good to have two leaders Say Jo for woman’s issues Scottish issues. Half the population Ed business and environmental issues. Plus good back up on all issues Would the members agree with me

    • For better or worse, the current rules don’t allow that, Barry. Perhaps also worth adding that the Greens have had joint leaders, so we wouldn’t be the first if we did change our rules at some point.

  3. Any chance on an update on receiving membership card etc
    Joined LibDems weeks ago and still no sign of them

  4. At a time when the main two parties struggle to put anything forward coherently, both led ineptly, it is dissappointing that the LD’s leadership race isn’t igniting enthusiasm when they have done so well in recent elections and their clear Brexit stance. What a shame that the Spring Conference failed to back opening the leadership up to non parliamentarian party members.

    It seems to me that the party could really do well by electing its first femail leader, one who has experience in leading the party as deputy. Once who is young with a new school position on working with other parties at a time the two party system is crumbling in unpredictable ways. FPTP punishes anyone or party outside the duopoly, and will do so with independent sitting MP’s and the LD’s alike unless the door is left wide open for like minded pro-European liberal MP’s to work with the party. Failure to collaborate now across parties will not serve us well when the next GE comes and Labour has to form a coalition and the LD’s have a significant increase in their seat take.

    Jo Swinson IMHO would be representative of modern day politics representing younger voters both male and female. Electing her would further show up the duopoly as stuck in a bygone age, unable to comprehend modern day topics. Her only downside is the tendancy to throw stones at the SNP, who are on same page as us on Brexit.

  5. We much wider a leader who highlights who (1) The party had a range of policies that are much wider than either Brexit or Environmental. In terms of our wider policies we need to show that our other policies are highly compatible with, indeed essential to effective Green approaches. (2) We need to move away from the neo-liberal economic thinking that affected us in the coalition era. Thus, we must fundamentally address the gross inequality affecting our society.

  6. My problem with Jo attacking the SNP is not because they are a fellow Remain party. It is because I don’t want the leader being overly distracted with regional politics. It is difficult enough facing two ways against the Tories and Labour without the leader losing focus by facing off against the SNP too. We need the leader to have steely-eyed focus on the UK-wide issues and the national crisis that we are facing at Westminster. I fear that Jo will take her eye off the ball in pursuit of her obsession with the SNP. A key aspect of leadership is the ability to delegate, leave this to Willie Rennie. If she is unable to do this then it raises wider concerns on her ability to prioritise the key issues and not just pursue her own personal agenda.

    • Sorry Richard but that really does not properly characterise the situation here in the north. I notice you say “delegate” to Willie, but as a separate party that simply isn’t the structure of things. If she takes her eye of the SNP, that would be a mistake. That would be like saying take the eye off “Brexit Party” in engerland. Unfortunately, as illustrated by Nigel Hardy’s comment above, SNP are really not on the same page… Remember that a substantial number of SNP voters voted for Brexit in ’16!

  7. In response to Barry and Mark, I’m all in favour of jobshares and think they should begin with Parish Council ballot papers and work up to Westminster when the public has seen they work fine, but re the Greens, they have absolutely no idea what leadership means and their record with joint leaders was as dismal as their record with one leader or no leader at all but just Spokespeople.
    In response to Nigel, I don’t have a strong view about our 2 candidates and either will do fine, but the discussion about possibly opening up the leadership to non-parliamentarians happened for a very good reason. That reason was, at the time, that there was every likelihood that the Lib Dems would have no parliamentarians after the next GE. Fortunately we are now in a rather (though of course not permanently) different position and we should be glad of that. The leader needs to be a parliamentarian, if only as a way of gaining profile in starved media circumstances.

    • I guess my thoughts on opening up the leadership was that the leader (who is an MP) has two jobs to do, serve their constituents and lead the party. It seems to me that this could possibly be an onerous juggling act. Also let’s remember that a PM then has three jobs to do, but admittedly we aren’t there yet!

      If the party were led by a non-parliamentarian then they could concentrate on leading the party as a whole without the not inconsiderable responsibilities of duties as an MP. A charasmatic figure could get the media coverage be they a parliamentarian or not. The Greens have set an example on opening up the leadership, though I note your comments there. What would happen under current rules if the party lost all its MP’s in a GE, wouldn’t it be without a leader? Fortunately we are beginning to turn the table on the two main parties with thanks to Brexit, but as you say nothing’s secure.

  8. @Richard Howard – I want a Leader who can take the fight to all the parties we are up against. I see no evidence that the fact Jo is fighting the SNP in Scotlans has in any way diminished her ability to campaign on climate change or on Brexit.

    It is worth remembering that of our currently held seats, we are facing the SNP in a four of them, the Tories in seven and Labour in one.

    Of our top five targets, we face the Tories in two and the SNP, Plaid and Labour in one each.

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