Ed Davey’s defeat on convention flooring crushes Liberal Democrat hopes of abandoning housing goal

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Good morning from Bournemouth. One of many delights of convention season is the inevitable prospect of the Liberal Democrat management being defeated on the convention flooring. This yr’s “bruising defeat” comes on housing coverage. Some ideas on that and what it means in right this moment’s e-newsletter.

Inside Politics is edited right this moment by Leah Quinn. Comply with Stephen on X @stephenkb and please ship gossip, ideas and suggestions to

I’ll (not) survive

The final time that the Liberal Democrats gathered right here for his or her autumn convention, the place was giddy with pleasure. Defectors from Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour celebration and Boris Johnson’s Conservatives wandered the halls, inflicting pleasure wherever they went.

Rumours unfold by way of the place that the celebration was going to unveil one other defector to mark the convention rally. Activists speculated about doing so effectively that they’d have the ability to realign politics and exchange Labour as the primary anti-Conservative different.

Ultimately, politics didn’t realign. Each one of many Liberal Democrat defectors didn’t be re-elected, the Liberal Democrats acquired fewer seats in 2019 than 2017, and the celebration’s chief, Jo Swinson, misplaced her seat.

That election is a crucial a part of what you would possibly name the prehistory of this yr’s convention. Ed Davey got here into this convention eager to shed and downplay any coverage which may hurt the celebration’s hopes of successful over Conservative voters and gaining Tory seats on the subsequent election. (One pleased consequence of the 2019 election, from a Liberal Democrat perspective, is that each one however one of many celebration’s goal seats are in Conservative territory, which makes it a lot simpler for the management to tailor its nationwide message accordingly.) The celebration’s historic dedication to EU membership has been downplayed. Pledges to boost revenue tax have been scrapped. However Davey’s hopes of abandoning the celebration’s housing goal have been crushed, after the management was defeated on the convention flooring.

A part of the rationale for the defeat was organisational: the Younger Liberals, the primary opponents of the transfer, have been very effectively organised and did an excellent job ensuring their individuals have been round to vote. A few of it merely tactical: Liberal Democrats focusing on seats in London’s suburbs and exurbs, on the frontline of the UK’s housing scarcity, thought their pursuits have been higher served by resisting strikes to water down the housing goal, and outnumbered Liberal Democrats focusing on bucolic rural seats.

However a part of it was ideological: Liberal Democrats dedicated to constructing extra homes outnumber those that are dedicated to successful seats by opposing growth, a minimum of on paper. In observe, it’s extra difficult than that: the members who defeated the management fortunately knocked on doorways for an anti-HS2 candidate within the Chesham and Amersham by-election and are doing the identical for an anti-development candidate within the Mid-Bedfordshire by-election. However in idea, a minimum of, Liberal Democrat activists don’t need to be an avowed opponent of housebuilding nationwide, although the celebration will proceed to oppose it regionally when it serves their pursuits.

Each the Liberal Democrat management and the Conservative celebration assume this can be a reward to the Tories. CCHQ’s assault machine has fired into gear to focus on the row.

One consequence of the vote is that one barrier to easy working in a Labour-Liberal Democrat association of 1 variety has been torn down. Labour needs to liberalise planning as a part of their development technique, and I believe this vote makes it much less seemingly that the Liberal Democrats will block these plans or commerce them away in a coalition negotiation.

However one other consequence, a minimum of if Ed Davey and his Conservative opponents are proper, is that the Liberal Democrats have change into much more weak within the seats they’re making an attempt to win from the Tory celebration.

Now do this

This week, I principally listened to Dove Cameron’s Boyfriend whereas writing my column. I’ve added it to the Inside Politics playlist, which additionally now contains among the items you identified I had missed, together with Chvrches’ wonderful new report, Display screen Violence, and, extra embarrassingly, Philip Glass’s good Glassworks, which my accomplice purchased me tickets to for my birthday.

High tales right this moment

  • ‘Blue wall’ vow | The Lib Dems will vow within the Tuesday closing speech to knock down the Tory ‘blue wall’ within the south of England, prompting accusations that the celebration is watering down insurance policies to wander to Tory voters.

  • Scrapping HS2 will injury belief | That’s in line with Tom Wagner, the new US chair of Birmingham City football club, who says “any deviation [from the plan] may lead to a lack of investor belief.”

  • Inheritance tax shake up | Exploration into major changes to inheritance tax by Rishi Sunak’s authorities might embrace chopping the speed at which it’s levied or scrapping it altogether.

  • Tory local weather U-turns | Manufacturing teams have hit out at Rishi Sunak’s watering down of a few of Britain’s internet zero emission targets, saying it’s a “enormous setback” to the sector.

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