22 May 2024

‘We are going after every vote we possibly can’, says deputy leader of Liberal Democrats

Before a general election was called for July 4, the Lib Dem leader, Ed Davey, accused the Conservatives of being out of touch and out of time, claiming that people across the country were crying out for change.

We spoke to Daisy Cooper, who is deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: The last time you did really well in a general election was 2010. That time, people voted for [Nick] Clegg and they got [David] Cameron. The truth is, this time, if you vote for Davey, you’ll get Starmer. Are you going to be honest with people about that?

Daisy Cooper: There are millions of people across the country who still haven’t decided how they’re going to vote on 4 July, and Liberal Democrats are going to spend absolutely every single second, every minute of every single day, campaigning for their votes. And we will not let up until 10 pm on polling day. So whatever happens after that will be, and we’ll deal with that the day after. Between now and 4 July, we will not take a single vote for granted, and we’re going after as many votes as we possibly can, so we can unseat Conservatives right around the country.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: But what is success?

Daisy Cooper: Success for us would be growing, obviously, to elect more Liberal Democrat MPs. We’re putting the NHS and social care front and centre of our campaigning, and we know that that is the number one issue that comes up on the doorstep time and time and time again. We can hear that the Conservatives have driven our NHS into the ground, they have not helped people with the cost of living crisis, they failed to tackle the absolute environmental catastrophe of sewage in our rivers. And in around 80 seats around the country, it’s the Liberal Democrats who are the clear challengers to the Conservatives. And in those seats, if people vote for the Liberal Democrats, they get a local champion and they can help kick this Conservative government out of power.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: But again, the trouble with voting Liberal Democrat is that if you end up with electoral power inside parliament, you change your position on things. In 2010, you betrayed your voters over tuition fees. So people are going to go into this election knowing whatever you say now, it might get junked after the election in order to do a deal for power.

Daisy Cooper: I can be absolutely clear with you, and voters all around the country, that a vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote to fix our NHS and social care. It’s a vote to tackle the cost of living crisis, which is a huge problem for families right around the country. And it’s a vote to clear up our rivers. That’s what people will be voting for with Liberal Democrats in this general election.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: But isn’t the truth that the choice is simple in this election? It’s Starmer or Sunak, and if you want change, you should go the whole hog. And if you don’t want change, then you stick with the Tories.

Daisy Cooper: No, that’s not right. I mean, it’s very, very clear that the country is crying out for change. But as I say, in around 80 seats around the country, it’s the Liberal Democrats who are the key challengers to the Conservatives. And it’s only by voting for the Liberal Democrats that you can kick out those Conservative MPs. We’re ready to play our part in kicking the Conservatives out of power, and to get rid of this failing Conservative government for good. Because quite frankly, people are sick to the back teeth of our NHS being driven into the ground, for being taken for granted. So we’re campaigning in those 80 seats, and we really hope that we can win over the trust and support of many voters in those areas.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: Is your manifesto written? When are we going to see it?

Daisy Cooper: I don’t quite know when it’s going to be published, but we’ve done a huge amount of work. What I can tell you is that we’ve got leaflets that are ready to go tomorrow.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: But have you agreed on your policy platform? Is it all settled or have you still got to now go into a panicked ‘what are we going to say about x’?

Daisy Cooper: There’s no panic here. As I say, we’re putting NHS and social care front and centre of our campaigning. We’re focusing on the cost of living, and cleaning up the scandal in our rivers. We’ve got lots of policies on lots of different areas and our manifesto will be published in due course. But as I say, we’ve got leaflets that are ready to go tomorrow.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: It’s still not quite clear on what the answer is. Are you saying there are still things to be decided, or has everything been worked out? It’s just a question of it going to the printers?

Daisy Cooper: Let’s be clear, the manifesto will be published in due course. We didn’t know the election was going to be called today, just like the rest of the country didn’t know that the election was going to be called today. Our manifesto is very, very advanced, but of course, people are going to want to do a few last minute checks and cross some Ts and dot some Is. But fundamentally, as I say, it’s the NHS and social care that we’re putting front and centre of our campaign. We’ve already talked for many months now about improving access to GPs, about improving access to dentists, about solving the crisis in social care. We have a whole raft of policies that we’ve been talking about for months and months and months. So it won’t be a surprise to some people to see some of that, we hope, reflected in the manifesto once it’s published.