- Layla Moran wants to make the Liberal Democrats “even more radical than Labour” if she becomes leader.
- The MP for Oxford West and Abingdon plans to push the party to the left if elected its new leader.
- “I will be more radical than Labour and I will be unapologetic about that,” she said in an interview with Business Insider, in a warning to Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer.
- Moran is competing with Ed Davey and Wera Hobhouse to lead the party after its disappointing performance at the December general election.
- She said that not serving in Coalition with David Cameron’s Conservatives makes her the best-placed candidate to renew the party and win back young voters.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Layla Moran says Sir Keir Starmer should be worried if she becomes the next leader of the Liberal Democrats, telling Business Insider that she wants to push the party to the political left and be “even more radical than Labour.”
Moran, the Member of Parliament for Oxford West and Abingdon, said she wanted to “fundamentally change how people perceive” the Liberal Democrats after the party’s disappointing performance at the last general election.
The party, which went into the December election fighting to stop Brexit, failed to capitalize on strong polling earlier in the year, ending up with one fewer seat in the House of Commons and then-leader Jo Swinson losing her seat.
The Liberal Democrats will elect a new leader at the end of August, with Moran competing with acting leader Ed Davey and MP Wera Hobhouse to rebuild the party after it failed in its mission to keep Britain in the European Union.
In an interview with Business Insider, Moran said she wanted to turn the Liberal Democrats into a “progressive, radical” force on the left of British politics, and put the legacy of the party’s time in the Coalition government with David Cameron’s Conservatives fully behind it.
“I want to take the Lib Dems back to our radical roots. I want us to be seen as more radical than Labour,” she said.
Moran said that in a number of areas she is already more radical than Labour, pointing to her support for Universal Basic Income and withholding financial support for companies that use tax havens during the COVID-19 crisis.
She has also edited a new booklet of policy ideas that paves the way for the party to move further to the left. The booklet, with contributions from Lib Dem MPs and members, includes proposals like universal broadband and water.
While Moran does not necessarily support every idea included in the booklet, she told The Guardian newspaper: “What it shows is we are a party of the center-left – that is where our beating heart lies.”
She told Business Insider: “It’s really important that the Liberal Democrats put forward that vision of hope.
“I will be more radical than Labour and I will be unapologetic about that.”
Moran, who was first elected to Parliament in 2017, said she would convince young people to return to the Liberal Democrats if elected leader — especially those who supported the Labour Party at the last general election.
“There is now going to be a huge gap in the market for a party that speaks to the concerns of young people in particular. Obviously, during [the] Coalition we lost a lot of that vote, and I’m intent that we win those votes back.
“When I was at university, I know it is difficult for people to remember this, but it was cool to vote Lib Dem.
“I want it to be cool to vote Lib Dem again.”
Asked whether Labour leader Starmer ought to be worried about her becoming Liberal Democrat leader, she said: “I hope he would be. Certainly, we need to go after those votes that they [Labour] are taking for granted.
“That’s students, young people, and anyone who wants massive change.”
Moran suggested that she is the best-placed candidate to win over voters who want radical change, particularly those who currently back Labour, as, unlike Davey, she did not serve in the Coalition government with the Conservatives.
“That is what other people are suggesting. It’s up to the membership to decide if that’s the case.
“What I’ve heard, especially from young people, is that what they want to see is a party is renewed,” she said.
Moran would work with Labour to stop Johnson staying in power
Moran categorically ruled out entering government with Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the next election in 2024.
“I’ve ruled out propping up Boris Johnson. There’s no way that’s going to happen,” she said.
However, Moran said she was willing to work with Starmer’s Labour Party, telling Business Insider that the Conservatives would win the next general election unless there was a “putting down of the swords between Labour and the Liberal Democrats.”
She said: “We need to take a cold, hard look at the First Past The Post system. Despite the fact that the Lib Dems won more votes than all the other small parties combined at the last election, we won 11 seats and they won 71.
“There is something desperately wrong with the electoral system. We have to be smart about how to proceed.”
She added: “What we saw at the last election, was Labour activists coming into seats that only the Lib Dems could have won from the Tories — and doing it with glee. They felt that we were just as bad as them [the Conservatives.]
“I hope my program of renewal will help them realize that we aren’t the same as them.”
Moran said she believed Starmer would be open to doing what his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn refused to do, and form what has been dubbed a “progressive alliance” with the Liberal Democrats and other parties at the next election.
“Keir Starmer has proven himself to be a very logical man,” she told Business Insider.
“And it’s very true that if Labour doesn’t recover in Scotland, it’s going to be very difficult for the Labour Party to win an outright majority against the Tories at the next election.
“I hope that will lead him to the logical conclusion that fighting ardently in Lib Dem-Tory marginals is a bad idea.”
Moran said that in recent years the Liberal Democrats had struggled to win over new supporters because it had failed to clearly communicate to the British public what the party stood other than stopping Brexit.
“I went up and down the country, knocking on doors, talking to people after the last election, asking them why they didn’t want to vote for us. And that’s what they told me,” she told Business Insider.
Moran said she would focus on three core issues if elected party leader and translate them in a way “that’s really relevant to people up and down the country”: education, environment, and the economy.
“If we focus on those three areas, over and over again, and talk about them in a way that’s from the heart, not just the head, I’m convinced we will win people over again.”