Incoming Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey will be a “great asset” to the party north of the border, Willie Rennie has said.
The Scottish Lib Dem boss told us that Sir Ed would be employing his “impressive strategical thinking” to help the party win big at next year’s Holyrood election.
Sir Ed, who has been acting leader since Jo Swinson lost her seat in the 2019 general election, defeated Layla Moran to win the leadership by 42,756 votes to 24,564.
The new leader said his job is to “rebuild the Liberal Democrats to national relevance” but acknowledged: “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.”
I am delighted to congratulate @EdwardJDavey on his election as leader of @LibDems. Ed has experience and passion to rebuild our party and country and will campaign tirelessly to address climate change and improve health and care services. pic.twitter.com/fuBZ25ucM5
— Willie Rennie (@willie_rennie) August 27, 2020
Mr Rennie, who has known Sir Ed since 2009 when they worked on the party’s European election campaign together, backed him to succeed.
“Ed has been around the block, he’s got a huge depth of experience in the political world and he has a solid track record from his time in government,” he said.
“I know that his plan to develop a comprehensive post-Covid offer on the economy, climate change and care will really cut through on a national level.
“He will be a great asset and a great addition to the team. He has the determination to get us winning again.”
Since the coalition government, which saw Nick Clegg join forces with David Cameron’s Conservatives in 2010, the party has slumped in Westminster elections.
Lib Dems won 62 seats in 2005 and 57 in 2010 but in 2015 they were reduced to a rump of just eight MPs; in 2017 that rose to 12 but fell back to 11 in 2019.
Thank you so much to all my campaign team and volunteers. I am so proud of the positive, inclusive campaign we ran. I hope you’ll all join me in supporting @EdwardJDavey as our new leader. pic.twitter.com/IUUBDFCH9n
— Layla Moran 🔶🟡 (@LaylaMoran) August 27, 2020
There has been a revolving door at the party leader’s office – Mr Clegg quit in 2015, his replacement, Tim Farron, lasted until 2017, Sir Vince Cable took over but was gone by July 2019, and Ms Swinson only lasted until she lost her seat in the December 2019 election.
Sir Ed, speaking at an event in London, said: “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.”
Ms Moran, who lost by more than 18,000 votes, congratulated the new leader and said: “I look forward to working with him to campaign for a better future for Britain.”