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Betfair punters have got the LD leadership race about right – Moran has a good chance of beating Davey

May 21st, 2020

We’ve now got the timetable for the LD leadership race and the successor to Jo Swinson will be announced at the end of August. It looks as though the race will be between Layla Moran and Ed Davey with Daisy Cooper as possibly another candidate.

The elections was due to have been underway now but has been deferred because of the pandemic.

In the aftermath of Jo Swinson unexpectedly losing her seat to the SNP in the general election the former coalition cabinet minister Ed Davey became the odds on favourite to succeed her. An early YouGov poll of members published in January had him well ahead.

The election follows the awful general election for the party in December which, it will be recalled, only happened because of Swinson’s backing. Although there was a big increase in their national vote share the number of MPs was cut from 12 to 11.

Since then Ed Davey has been joint acting leader with the party’s president and it has been a struggle for him to get a look in because of first the LAB leadership election and now the fight against coronavirus. This has almost certainly not helped him in the leadership battle.

The current favourite, Layla Moran, retained her then ultra marginal Oxford West and Abingdon seat with a 9k majority which was one of the best results for the party on the night. Clearly for any Lib Dem security in his/her own seat is a major issue as we saw with Swinson.

Moran has an impressive campaign team round her which is led by the architect of her general election victory and, although untested, she offers something new.

A possible issue is likely to be party’s participation in the coalition from 2010 to 2015 and here cabinet minister Ed Davey might face a challenge. One of the big things that hurt Swinson at the general election was that she had been a coalition minister. Moran did not become an MP until the 2017 general election so missed the coalition.

Another possible candidate is Daisy Cooper who gained St. Albans GE2019 overturning a 6k CON majority with a Lib Dem one of 6k. She is relatively new as an MP and hasn’t had the chance to build up the same awareness within the party as Davey and Moran. Her candidature is a statement of intent for the future.

There is still a lot of goodwill to Davey but the lacklustre performance of the party in the polls since GE2019 is going to help Moran although he will do far better than the 30% he got against Swinson last year.

Mike Smithson