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Ed Davey elected new Liberal Democrat leader with decisive victory over pansexual MP Layla Moran

Reiss Smith August 27, 2020
Layla Moran and Ed Davey

Layla Moran and Ed Davey. (Getty)

Ed Davey has been elected the new Liberal Democrat leader, bringing to an end the fifth Lib Dem leadership contest in as many years.

Davey was elected the new Lib Dem leader with 42,000 votes to Layla Moran’s 24,000 (63.5 per cent), it was announced Thursday (August 27). Almost 120,000 ballot papers were issued – a record high – with turnout of 57.6 per cent.

In his acceptance speech, Davey thanked “his friend” Moran.

“You’ve inspired so many people, including young people,” he said, saying he looked forward to her playing a part in his team.

Davey now faces the momentous task of rebuilding support for the ailing party, which won just 11 seats in the December 2019 general election.

“Voters don’t believe the Liberal Democrats want to help ordinary people get on with life,” he admitted.

Davey,  the MP for Kingston and Surbiton since 1997 (save for a two-year period between 2015 and 2017, when he was unseated by a Tory), served as a cabinet minister in the coalition government.

He had served as acting Lib Dem leader since Jo Swinson quit following the disastrous 2019 turn-out, in which she lost her own seat to the SNP.

It was the party’s second worst defeat in its 32-year history, only marginally better than is post-coalition collapse in 2015, when it went from 57 seats to eight. The party did however increase its vote share in 2019, from 7.4 per cent to 11.5 per cent.

Moran meanwhile is a relative newcomer, having represented Oxford West and Abingdon since 2017, when she became the first woman from an ethnic minority background (she has Palestinian heritage on her mother’s side). A former maths and physics teacher, she came out as pansexual in January 2020 in an interview with PinkNews.

Lib Dem leadership result wraps up a friendly contest.

The Liberal Democrat leadership contest was an amicable affair, in comparison to last year’s fiercely-fought Conservative challenge and, to an extent, this year’s Labour one.

Due to the coronavirus one conducted away from crowds and without the usual stump addresses.

In interviews, both Davey and Moran painted themselves as friendly colleagues keen to steer the party towards a more progressive road.

Davey told LBC in August that “giving trans women and trans men rights and protecting them doesn’t undermine the rights of others.”

Talking to PinkNews during her campaign, Moran said she was “really proud” that “there is nothing between me and Ed Davey” on the issue of trans rights.

“In other leadership contests, it has torn them apart,” she said, backing much-needed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act.

“But we need to now double down on the support for the trans community because they need it more than ever.”

In a BBC debate, both Davey and Moran spoke of their disappointment in the dearth of representation among the party’s MPs.

Moran said she felt “shame” there were no Black Lib Dem MPs, and called for changes to the Equality Act to allow for all-Black shortlists.

Davey also said he wanted to increase the number of Black candidates, pointing to his record of reaching out to minority communities in his constituency.

On Brexit, both Davey and Moran campaigned against Brexit, but said they would not call for the UK to rejoin the EU. They also agree that green jobs are the way out of the current recession, and have both called for the introduction of a universal basic income.

More: Liberal Democrats

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