Below is the text of the statement made by Wera Hobhouse, the Liberal Democrat MP for Bath, on 15 June 2020.
The Liberal Democrats need a New Direction. This is why I’m standing for leader.
Ten years ago, we were filled with great optimism for our future as a party. However, we have ended the decade with real disappointment; eleven MPs, the most right-wing government in recent history, and a departure from the EU.
We Liberal Democrats cannot pass off all responsibility for this outcome. In hindsight, wrong choices were made.
Those choices were strategic, not merely tactical. The mistake was to see our party in the political centre, standing equally between right and left. Now, the biggest threat to liberalism – not just in Britain – comes from the right.
Our reasons for entering coalition with the Conservatives in 2010 were well intended, but we ended up undermining our values. We ultimately legitimised the Conservatives’ long-term illiberal, nationalist agenda.
This has tarnished our reputation for too long. In this election, we need to make a clean break with the coalition.
During the years after the coalition this equidistant strain in our strategy continued.
In the most recent election, we trained our fire equally at the Conservatives and Labour, even though Labour backed a People’s Vote, had a plan to address the climate crisis and wanted to invest in public services to deliver a more equal society.
On a national level, I believe we need to abandon equidistance between Labour and the Tories, and build a winning, progressive alliance with other parties on the centre left to defeat the Tories at the next election. We need to start having those conversations now.
We need to fight from where our heart beats, the centre left, and be honest about our values.
That is my outline pitch for leadership of the party. On my website [https://werahobhouse.org.uk/#policyfocus], I will be adding to my six key policy platforms over the coming weeks. I’ve already set out my position on Europe, and on a progressive alliance.
I’m looking forward to discussing how we reform ourselves as a party, by becoming a nimble, decentralised campaign force, and implementing the recommendations from the Election Review.
This should be part of our local strategy to win back control of councils that we have lost. We build from the ground up. Door by door, street by street, ward by ward. I’ll be publishing my full plan for this soon.