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Liberal Democrats leadership election, 2017
← 2015 14 June – 20 July 2017 (2017-06-14 – 2017-07-20)
  Vince Cable
Candidate Vince Cable
Popular vote Unopposed

Leader before election

Tim Farron

Leader after election

Vince Cable

The 2017 Liberal Democrats leadership election was held following the resignation of Tim Farron as leader on 14 June 2017, after just under two years as leader of the Liberal Democrats. At the close of applications on 20 July 2017, Vince Cable was the only nominated candidate and was therefore declared the new leader of the party.

Background[edit]

In the 2017 general election, the Liberal Democrats gained four seats on the previous election despite a falling share of the vote, maintaining the party as the fourth largest in the House of Commons.[1] Prominent Liberal Democrat MPs who lost their seats in the 2015 election regained their seats, including Cable, Ed Davey and Jo Swinson. Former party leader Nick Clegg lost his seat.

Tim Farron, the party's leader, was re-elected in his Westmorland and Lonsdale constituency with a significantly reduced majority. He announced he would step down as party leader on 14 June 2017 a week after the election, citing difficulty in reconciling his faith and his leadership.[2] He remained as party leader until the 20 July, where he was succeeded by Vince Cable following an uncontested leadership election.[2]

Election rules[edit]

The timetable for the leadership election was determined by the party's Federal Executive, under Article 17.4 of the Liberal Democrat constitution.[3]

Liberal Democrat leadership elections use the alternative vote (instant runoff) system, with all Liberal Democrat party members being entitled to vote under a "one member, one vote" system.

Candidates had to be current Liberal Democrat MPs. Article 17.5 of the Liberal Democrat constitution[3] requires that any candidate wishing to stand must be a Member of Parliament and must have the support of:

  • "at least ten percent of other members of the Parliamentary Party in the House of Commons" (i.e. two other MPs at present); and
  • "[be] supported by 200 members in aggregate in not less than 20 Local Parties"

Timetable[edit]

The election timetable was as follows:[4]

25 June Opening of nominations
20 July Closing of nominations (4pm)
16 August Dispatch of ballot papers
11 September Deadline for ballot papers to be returned (5pm post or hand, midnight electronic)
13 September Verification, count and declaration of the winner

Campaign[edit]

Despite being the bookmakers' favourite, Jo Swinson announced on 18 June that she would not stand for the leadership. She explained that she had decided to contest the deputy leadership before hearing of Farron's resignation and that she had decided that the deputy leadership was the right role for her at the time.[5] On 20 June, Swinson was elected unopposed as deputy leader. This left Ed Davey, Norman Lamb and Vince Cable as the most likely contenders.[6] Cable declared his candidacy on 20 June.

There was some speculation that Swinson had chosen to support Cable to lead for two or three years before taking over the leadership herself, given his age compared to other potential leadership candidates.[7] The Daily Telegraph claimed that Swinson and Cable had agreed a deal to this effect.[8] While both Swinson and Cable denied this, Cable did tell the Telegraph that "it is a simple fact of life if I decided in three years' time to let someone else take over she is ideally placed to do it".[9]

Lamb had stood in the last leadership election, and has been praised for his work on mental health. He was expected to be more centrist and less stridently oppositional to Brexit,[10] and his abstention on the vote for the Article 50 notification triggering Brexit was seen as a potential weakness within the strongly pro-EU party.[11] He declined to stand, and explained his decision in an article in The Guardian, calling for the party to better engage with those who voted for Brexit.[12]

Davey originally planned to support Swinson.[11] He has been associated with the Orange Book wing of the party.[10] On 27 June, Davey announced he would not be standing for the leadership, citing "the need to be there for my young children and not continually away from home".[13]

After Davey's announcement, The Guardian observed: "Nominations do not close until next month, but Cable is the only candidate to have declared and there is no other Lib Dem MP seen as having the potential to beat him in a contest".[14] By 3 July 2017, ten of the eleven other Liberal Democrat MPs had declared they would not be standing; this left Christine Jardine, who was only elected to Parliament in June 2017, as the only remaining potential challenger who had not declared their intent.[15][16][17][15][13][18][19][20][21][22] By 14 July, Vince Cable claimed that every other MP had pledged to support him.[23]

Candidates[edit]

Declared[edit]

Cable's endorsements
MPs

Declined[edit]

Opinion polling[edit]

Before close of nominations[edit]

The following survey was conducted before the close of nominations and therefore includes candidates who did not put themselves forward.

Date(s)
conducted
Polling organisation/client Sample size Jo
Swinson
Norman Lamb Vince
Cable
Ed Davey Layla
Moran
All others
June Lib Dem Newswire 2,209
Lib Dem members
57% 43%[n 1]
30% 29% 18% 8% 15%
52% 48%
57% 43%

Result[edit]

At 4pm on 20 July 2017, Vince Cable was the only nominated candidate and was declared the new Leader of the Liberal Democrats.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ No other candidate achieved 15% of first preferences.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Results of the 2017 General Election". BBC News. 
  2. ^ a b "Tim Farron quits as Lib Dem leader". BBC News. 14 June 2017. 
  3. ^ a b "Our Constitution". Libdems.org.uk. Retrieved 14 June 2017. 
  4. ^ Allworthy, David (26 June 2017). "2017 Leadership Election Timeline". Liberal Democrats. Retrieved 26 June 2017. 
  5. ^ Swinson, Jo (18 June 2017). "The role I want to play in our party's leadership". Liberal Democrat Voice. Retrieved 2 July 2017. 
  6. ^ "Jo Swinson will not contest Lib Dem leadership". 18 June 2017 – via www.bbc.co.uk. 
  7. ^ "The LDs appear to have chosen their next two leaders without a single vote being cast". PoliticalBetting.com. 21 June 2017. Retrieved 2 July 2017. 
  8. ^ Hope, Christopher; Maidment, Jack (20 June 2017). "Exclusive: Sir Vince Cable 'to step down in three years' to let Jo Swinson become Liberal Democrat leader". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2 July 2017. 
  9. ^ Hope, Christopher (21 June 2017). "Vince Cable will not agree to support Tory Government because it is like 'mating with a praying mantis'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2 July 2017. 
  10. ^ a b "Lib Dem leadership: The runners and riders". 
  11. ^ a b "Next Lib Dem Leader Betting Odds: Norman Lamb the new favourite". betting.betfair.com. 
  12. ^ "Why I won't be the Lib Dems' next leader". 22 June 2017 – via The Guardian. 
  13. ^ a b Davey, Ed (27 June 2017). "Ed Davey MP writes... My family, my party". Lib Dem Voice. Retrieved 27 June 2017. 
  14. ^ Andrew Sparrow (27 June 2017). "Vince Cable now overwhelming favourite to be next Lib Dem leader after Davey stands aside - Politics live | Politics". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 July 2017. 
  15. ^ a b Elgot, Jessica (14 June 2017). "Liberal Democrats leadership race: the early runners and riders". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 14 June 2017. 
  16. ^ a b c d "Lib Dem leadership: Runners and riders". BBC News. 27 June 2017. Retrieved 27 June 2017. 
  17. ^ "Carmichael: "I am not a candidate for party leader"". The Orcadian. 15 June 2017. Retrieved 18 June 2017. 
  18. ^ Hobhouse, Wera (28 June 2017). "Pls respect with the best will in the world a new MP like me couldn't put herself forward. And we must respect personal circumstances too". Twitter. Retrieved 28 June 2017. 
  19. ^ Stewart, Heather (22 June 2017). "Norman Lamb rules himself out of Lib Dem leadership race". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 June 2017. 
  20. ^ Hope, Christopher (27 June 2017). "Vince Cable set to become new Liberal Democrat leader as Ed Davey says he will not stand". The Telegraph. Retrieved 28 June 2017. 
  21. ^ Moran, Layla. "Hi all. I've been very flattered by those who have suggested I put myself up for Leader. I have searched my soul and at the centre of it is: my constituency". Facebook. Retrieved 20 June 2017. 
  22. ^ Swinson, Jo (18 June 2017). "The role I want to play in our party's leadership". Lib Dem Voice. Retrieved 18 June 2017. 
  23. ^ Guardian Stephen Moss 14 July 2017
  24. ^ Payne, Adam. "Exclusive: Vince Cable stands to be the next leader of the Liberal Democrats". Business Insider. Retrieved 20 June 2017. 
  25. ^ Waterson, Jim (13 July 2017). "Why Is There Still A Liberal Democrat Leadership Contest?". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 21 July 2017. 
  26. ^ a b c d Elgot, Jessica (2017-06-14). "Liberal Democrats leadership race: the early runners and riders". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-06-14. 
  27. ^ "Carmichael: 'I am not a candidate for party leader'". The Orcadian. 15 June 2017. Retrieved 18 June 2017. 
  28. ^ Davey, Ed (27 June 2017). "Ed Davey MP writes... My family, my party". Lib Dem Voice. Retrieved 27 June 2017. 
  29. ^ a b "Lib Dem leadership: Runners and riders". BBC News. 27 June 2017. Retrieved 27 June 2017. 
  30. ^ Hobhouse, Wera (28 June 2017). "Pls respect with the best will in the world a new MP like me couldn't put herself forward. And we must respect personal circumstances too". Twitter. Retrieved 28 June 2017. 
  31. ^ Stewart, Heather (22 June 2017). "Norman Lamb rules himself out of Lib Dem leadership race". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 June 2017. 
  32. ^ Hope, Christopher (27 June 2017). "Vince Cable set to become new Liberal Democrat leader as Ed Davey says he will not stand". The Telegraph. Retrieved 28 June 2017. 
  33. ^ "Who will be the next Liberal Democrat leader? Possible candidates after Tim Farron dramatically quits". Daily Mirror. 
  34. ^ Moran, Layla. "Hi all. I've been very flattered by those who have suggested I put myself up for Leader. I have searched my soul and at the centre of it is: my constituency". facebook. Retrieved 20 June 2017. 
  35. ^ Swinson, Jo (18 June 2017). "The role I want to play in our party's leadership". Lib Dem Voice. Retrieved 18 June 2017. 

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