In his first keynote conference speech as Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ed Davey shared his vision on rebuilding the Party and how he plans to fight for a greener, fairer country as we move forward through the coronavirus pandemic.
On the government's failures over COVID-19
Opening his speech with the challenges facing our country right now, Ed slammed the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying:
"Given the enormity of the threat to our country, it’s with deep regret and sadness that I must say: this Government and this Prime Minister have just not risen to this challenge. With unbelievable incompetence, this Conservative Government is failing our people, in one of our darkest hours.
On the British people's resilience
While the government's handling of coronavirus has been incompetent, Ed praised the public in how they've dealt with these uncertain times. He said:
"Coronavirus is causing enormous hardship and forcing all of us to make big changes. But it’s also showing the best of the British people. People’s resilience, kindness and hard work make me absolutely sure we can get through this."
On fighting for carers
Ed opened up about his personal experiences as a carer; for his mother, his grandmother, and now his son. Reflecting on how care homes have been left unprotected throughout the coronavirus pandemic, he told Conference:
"So let me say this, to all of you who need care. To all of you who are carers. To the parents of disabled children. To the thousands of young people, caring for your mum or your dad. I understand what you’re going through.
"And I promise you this: I will be your voice. I will be the voice of the 9 million carers in our country. It’s you I’m fighting for."
On the post-COVID economy
After Conference passed a motion that set out a list of proposals to get our country on the right course for a green economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, Ed echoed the importance of building back better as we move forward. He said:
"Liberal Democrats: we must also lead the way to a new economy. One that’s fairer. And greener. An economy offering real hope and opportunity for everyone."
On the 2021 elections
Ed stressed the importance of getting more Lib Dems elected throughout the UK next year, with a strong focus on ensuring our family of nations stays united, saying:
"Next May, we must get more Liberal Democrats elected to councils across England, to the Assembly in London, to the Senedd in Wales and – crucially – to Parliament in Scotland. Elections often determine the future of our country, but these Scottish elections could well determine if our country has a future.
"Once again, the forces of nationalism threaten to tear our family of nations apart. So it is imperative that we get brilliant Liberal Democrat MSPs elected to Holyrood in May…To reject more division and instead put forward a positive partnership. To work for Scotland and work for a better United Kingdom."
On taking the Liberal Democrats forward
In order for Lib Dems to start winning again, Ed explained that the party must start listening to more voices and show that the party represents the whole country, not just some people. He told Conference:
"We have endured three deeply disappointing general elections, in five tough years. At the national level at least, too many people think we’re out of touch with what they want. We can’t fix this with a catchy new slogan. Or by fighting the same battles, in the same way.
"The answer is to listen to what people are really telling us. And to change. We know that people want a better future for themselves and their families. So let’s show them that the Liberal Democrats can build that better future."