On Friday 31st May Ed Davey and Jo Swinson fought it out in the first of at least 15 hustings across the country. I went to watch along with other Greenwich members to decide who should be the leader of the party. The conclusion for me and many is that either would be great – they differ little on policy and message. Both clearly respect and like each other and share many common ideals on the future of the party.
Themes for the evening were not surprising including Brexit, co-operation with other parties and how to take advantage of recent political advances. On Brexit nothing surprising was said – as Jo pointed out Channel 4 news had earlier on that evening tried to get them to disagree but both clearly sing from the Liberal Democrat hymn sheet. A people’s vote is essential to move forward. This will come about by persuading MPs from other parties that it is the only way to break the deadlock. Both said that they would prefer a No Deal not to be on the ballot as it is only a fantasy and means nothing. This time round the options need to be well defined and crystal clear.
As to how to win hearts and minds – both pointed to the emotional arguments behind the decision to stay in the EU. Ed pointed to the peace that has come across Europe and in Northern Ireland. Jo reminded of the arguments that had worked in the Scottish Indy Ref including the shared institutions that both side love – the BBC, the NHS, the Army as well as family and friends.
Where both candidates shined was when asked what their key policy outside Brexit is. Ed pointed to the Climate Crisis facing our earth and the successes we had with Green Energy in coalition. Jo vowed to make the economy work for the planet but for people too. She pointed to New Zealand’s decision to target wellbeing not GDP. When asked how to improve poverty levels Jo pointed to her work in coalition on things like shared parental leave and targeting dodgy lenders. She said that work must be meaningful, and people should be treated with respect. Ed pointed to the work the police do with the poor and highlighted increased home build. Both candidates were keen to push international cooperation against tax avoidance by corporations.
On working with other parties – both candidates said more or less the same. The Liberal Democrats must be the rallying point for Remainer voters, fighting against a tide of nationalism. Both speakers left it to local parties to decide local pacts. On specific issues deals should be done to support each other including Brexit and plans to tackle climate emergencies. Jo pointed out that with 11 MPs the Lib Dems cannot make a difference unless they influence other parties. Ed stated that we have to work with other parties but he did have problems with both Change UK and The Green Party on policy.
Other topics that came up in questions were transport, diversity, LGBT rights, young people and previous leaders of the party. Asked each other’s strengths Jo pointed to Ed’s climate change work and Ed stated that Jo was an amazing campaigner especially on diversity. In closing speeches both were impressive, talking about how they would tackle the media and clear messaging.
The view in the bar afterwards were split with strong support for both candidates. For me personally I will be supporting Jo, on both policy and personal grounds. I like her balance on economy, wellbeing and green issues. She talked of becoming a rallying point for the liberal movement and that’s what I’m looking for. While she came across as less “nice” than Ed, I think we need someone strong, differentiated and able to cut through the hype. Also I think its time we had our first female leader at a time where both other major parties (and indeed the Brexit party) are likely to have white middle-aged men.
To find out more about their campaigns please check out their websites https://www.joinjo.org.uk/ and https://edforleader.org/
There are currently more hustings planned across the UK, see here. You can see a recording of the hustings here.
What did other Greenwich Borough members who attended think?
Ramesh (Woolwich): I agree it's a tough and important decision, as both would be good leaders but offer different things at this significant time for our Party and country. Personally my preference is still for Ed (although I haven't fully made up my mind), as although I think Jo could potentially have more immediate media appeal, and would contrast with the leaders of other Parties, I felt Ed's answers showed greater clarity of messaging and strategy, and more precise and substantial policy ideas, that would provide a solid foundation for the Liberal Democrats going forward. "Decarbonising Capitalism" and investing in social home building and public services as a means of addressing poverty, in particular, I though were vital.
John (Middle Park and Sutcliffe): Jo spoke of the need to appeal to people's emotions as well presenting realistic policies based on the facts. As the present position we are in regarding Brexit is very much derived from emotion, then I think that it is very important that we can tap into that emotion while not ignoring the facts and expert advice.
Janet (Greenwich West): I liked what I heard from both candidates, but would slightly favour Ed Davey, because I think his knowledge of energy and green issues will strike more of a chord with the electorate, in other words he would be better able to ”out-green the Greens”.
Richard (Glyndon): I agree that we have fantastic candidates, both would be great as leader. For me personally, I can't make my mind up yet... I think it'll be best to wait to see what other policies/details both candidates come out with.
London has elected 3 Liberal Democrat MEPS - the most for any one Party in the Region.
This is thanks to the people of London being so decidedly Remain, and thanks to local campaigners for helping get the Lib Dem message of 'Stop Brexit' out. Check out our Twitter feed for photos and feedback from the intense campaign: https://twitter.com/GreenwichLibDem/
And join us if you want to be a part of this too!
Whatever you think of the Liberal Democrats use of the word “bollocks”, it is smart political messaging that means that our real anti-Brexit message is getting an airing that it otherwise wouldn’t from the press.
Behind the slogan, the Liberal Democrats’ manifesto for the European Elections come 23 May 2019 is a serious document for what the UK could achieve if Brexit was stopped. Brexit is a failed project, which must now be stopped so our country and the whole of Europe can get on with dealing with the big challenges we face.
I want to represent the area I’ve chosen to call my home. I’ll stand up for my friends and neighbours and challenge the Labour council when they get it wrong. I’ll also help residents to navigate the bureaucracy of local government to get problems solved. I have been a Charlton resident since 2010, and am a proud stay-at-home father to a talkative toddler. As a newcomer to the political scene I became more interested in local politics in the aftermath of the Brexit vote. Once I understood the lack of representation that residents had, especially when it came to planning, I decided I had to act.
l-r: Edmond Rose, Rhian O'Connor and Anthony Austin
The Liberal Democrats have selected candidates for the May local elections in Greenwich West ward. This ward has been a closely fought contest in the past, with the Liberal Democrats coming as close as 83 votes away from beating Labour prior to the Coalition. No other party has ever been anywhere near to beating Labour in Greenwich West.
The Liberal Democrats have announced they will invest more than £53 million more in schools and colleges in Greenwich borough over the next parliament.
The funding for Greenwich borough would reverse cuts to frontline school and college budgets, protect per pupil funding in real terms and ensure no school loses out from changes to funding arrangements.
As political parties and the media gear up for the General Election on 8 June, talk has turned – as always with our first-past-the-post electoral system – to the issue of tactical alliances.
This is particularly the case in this extraordinary General Election, with the threat of Theresa May’s hard Brexit looming and the Labour Party trailing something like 20 points behind the Tories.
Our Liberal Democrat champion in south-east London, Simon Hughes, is standing for election again! Some of us still remember the Bermondsey by-election in 1983, pounding the streets, delivering Good Morning leaflets ludicrously early on Polling Day, and other tasks from the campaign HQ in St James church hall.
It was amazing to go canvassing with Simon then, and it remains so now because he knows so many people. For 32 years they knew him too, as a superb MP who would always go the extra mile to help.
70 young people in Greenwich and Woolwich to be stripped of housing benefit
Over 120 young people in constituencies covered by Greenwich Borough will be affected by the Conservative government’s decision to strip 18-21 year olds of housing benefit, research by the House of Commons library commissioned by the Liberal Democrats has shown.
In total 18,000 young people across the country expected to be affected. The Liberal Democrats have committed to reverse the cuts, which came into force at the beginning of this month.
When it comes to the EU, for me, standing up against Brexit isn't just about policy, it's about identity.
People care passionately about Britain’s membership of the EU. It’s an issue which has struck to the core of many peoples’ identity – not just dual nationals or EU citizens living in Britain.
For me it’s even more personal. I am proudly French, as well as proudly British. I am the child of two nations which have been at war for most of the last millennium. The European Union has bound us together. Its purpose was to link our nations together – make us so inter-dependent – that war would be impossible.