LIBERAL Democrat leader, Ed Davey says he is convinced his party can win many seats in Devon at the next general election.

During a visit to Tiverton and Honiton, a seat won by the Lib Dems in June’s by-election, he also announced his party’s policy to guarantee a GP appointment within seven days or within 24 hours if urgent. 

The visit was part of his national ‘Blue Wall’ in which he hopes to convince traditional Conservative voters to back the Lib Dems in the next election.

In an interview with the Local Democracy Reporter Service (LDRS) he explained why he thought people might want to choose a Lib Dem MP.

ED: ‘I think many people are fed up of the chaos of the Conservatives, the economic chaos which has seen their bills go up hugely. Energy bills, food bills and now mortgage payments. People are really struggling and then they look to services like the NHS and they can’t get access to an NHS dentist.

‘The Conservatives have really let people down. People feel they’re out of touch and they’re turning to the Liberal Democrats as a possible alternative.”

LDRS: ‘You say it’s a possible alternative but you’ve only said what’s wrong with the Conservative Party. But you haven’t really said what you’re offering as that alternative.’

ED: ‘Let me give you some examples. I mean, first of all, we’re saying – and I’ve said for over a year – there should be a proper windfall tax on the oil and gas companies profits to pay for help for people’s energy bills … a responsible way of doing that.

‘Today I’m announcing that we want to give a right to patients to be able to see their GP within a week or emergency within 24 hours.

‘And we have a really well thought through, costed plan to be able to deliver the health care that people need.’

LDRS: ‘Talking about the windfall tax, that’s something Labour have spoken about as well. So, why shouldn’t people vote Labour rather than Lib Dem?’

ED: ‘Liberal Democrats thought of it over a year ago. Labour eventually got round to it and then the Conservatives did something. But unfortunately it was so badly implemented, so incompetently implemented that Shell, having announced nearly £30 billion of profit, also said that they hadn’t paid a single penny in the Conservatives version.

‘So, we have a morally bankrupt and incompetent Conservative government with Liberal Democrats leading the policy debate, whether it’s on windfall tax, whether it’s on a cap on people’s energy bills, or whether it’s proposals to improve our NHS.’

LDRS: ‘In the coalition government you were secretary for energy and climate change and yet ten years later, not a great deal has happened. So what can you look back on now from your time in that job that you achieved that might might have made a difference now?’

ED: ‘Well, under the Liberal Democrats, we actually trebled – no, quadrupled – Britain’s renewable power with wind and solar and Liberal Democrats made Britain the world leader in offshore wind.

‘What’s really sad is, since 2015, the Conservatives have had a chaotic energy policy. We’ve seen investment in renewables stall not accelerate. We’ve seen investment in insulating people’s homes go off, fall off the cliff.

‘That would have really saved people huge amounts on their heating bills. But I’m afraid the Conservatives didn’t continue the very good Liberal Democrat energy policies.’

LDRS: ‘At that time, people may look at you and say there have been 12 years of Conservative government. Five years of that time, the Liberal Democrats were propping them up, were supporting them, were helping them. People would be right in being a little bit sceptical of you now when you were the ones that were helping to build the foundations of this failed government.’

ED: ‘I think over the last seven years since the 2015 election, it’s been Conservatives who made many mistakes. Our current economic chaos was caused by the current Conservative government and the fact that mortgage rates are going through the roof and households are paying hundreds of pounds more every month on their mortgage. The food bills, the energy bills. That’s directly because of the Conservative majority government failing. And they’re failing because they’re arguing among themselves.

‘I think people have never known a government that’s so incompetent, so chaotic, so divided, and that’s all down to the Conservatives. Conservatives are to blame for the chaos in the country at the moment.’

LDRS: ‘A general election could be 18 months from now. You’ll be hoping to win, but realistically, you’re probably not going to get a majority as the Liberal Democrats. Who else would you work with?’

ED: ‘Realistically we will only get rid of the Conservatives if Liberal Democrats beat many Conservative MPs across the country, here in the south west, across the blue wall, in places like Greater Manchester and Scotland and so on. And if Liberal Democrats beat those Conservative MPs, as I believe we can, we can see the back of this awful, chaotic, Conservative government.’

LDRS: ‘If it was close, would you work with Labour?’

ED: ‘Listen, my focus as Liberal Democrat leader has always been to beat Conservative MPs and we’ve shown we can do it. We did it just early this summer here in Tiverton and Honiton in East Devon. No one expected us to overturn that record Tory majority, but we did. We showed we could beat Conservative MP even in their heartlands, and I’m increasingly convinced that we can win many more seats off the Conservatives in the next election.’