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A former Tory councillor becomes the first to declare for Jo Swinson’s old job as LD leader

February 7th, 2020

She wants her party to be closer to LAB

Unlike Labour the Lib Dems decided to postpone the election to replace Jo Swinson until after the May local elections and in the meantime Ed Davey and the Party president, the blogger Mark Pack, are acting as joint leaders. The political logic is clear: the party traditionally does well in local elections and doesn’t want to be distracted by a leadership election.

Given that the starting gun won’t be fired until early May it is a bit surprising that one of the party’s MPs, Wera Hobhouse, has declared that she will be a runner. She clearly feels this will give her an advantage but it might be being premature.

Hobhouse has an interesting background having been born in Germany and serving for a time as a Conservative Councillor in Rochdale. In her declaration that she will run Hobhouse asserted that the party shot itself in the foot at the general election by attacking Labour – an analysis that is flawed particularly given that that red team was led by Corbyn who proved to be electorally toxic.

I wonder whether this line is a veiled attack on former LD cabinet minister in the Coalition, Ed Davey, who is currently the betting favourite to win. He, of course, fought in the last leadership race and was defeated quite heavily by Jo Swinson

At the general election Hobhouse retained her Bath constituency with a 6% Conservative to Liberal Democrat swing.

The postponement of the party’s leadership election till the summer allows some of the MPs first elected in December the time to build up a profile to go for the leadership. One of them is Daisy Cooper who gained St Albans and is well regarded by many party activists and a former candidate for the party’s presidency. I have her at 60/1 which is much longer than she is now and is likely to be much tighter when, as likely, she puts her hat into the ring.

Mike Smithson