Ed Davey was on Any Questions last night. The other panelists were Kim Darroch, the UK’s Ambassador to the US until last year, Diane Abbott and Prisons minister Lucy Frazer
The first question was on the various comings and goings at No 10. Ed pointed out how awful it was that in the middle of a huge public health and economic crisis, the people around the Prime Minister were jockeying for position.
He also reminded us how Dominic Cummings was the biggest opponent of free school meals during the coalition years when he was Michael Gove’s Special Adviser. Obviously that situation has parallels today with the Conservatives being so set against the very sensible step of providing help with meals during the holidays to those who need it most.
When Lucy Frazer tried to defend the indefensible, he was pretty effective in demolishing her argument, telling her that the Government has had to be dragged kicking and screaming into taking the half hearted measures that it has.
Kim Darroch made the point that the best advisers tend to be invisible, drawing from his own experience working in No 10 under Blair and Cameron.
The next question was about when Trump’s rantings become an attempted coup rather than the rantings of s sore loser.
Darroch said that Trump has a genius for creating a different reality that he genuinely believes. Trump, he feels is signalling to his supporters that the election has been stolen and this is about maintaining his relevance and base when Biden gets into the White House. He highlighted how popular Trump still is within Republican voters. He raised the spectre of a second Trump run for the presidency in 2024.
The former ambassador had to rediscover his diplomatic skills on the spot when he was reminded of his comments on a New Statesman podcast that Joe Biden was past his best and his best was never that good. He defended that by saying that his experience of talking to young people in the US was that Biden was too centrist for them but he described Biden’s history of bipartisan working across the Senate as being right for the moment.
Diane Abbott reminded us how Trump always dodged the question during the election about whether he would step down if he lost. How, she says, can countries lecture China about democracy when Trump is behaving like this.
Ed needs to learn how to pronounce KAmala. There really is no excuse, four months after she was announced as the Vice Presidential candidate for not getting this right. However, I suspect that there will be UK politicians that will be higher up the Vice President Elect’s rage list for their misogyny and racism.
However, he was sufficiently joyful that we are getting people in the White House who understand how important saving the planet is.He described their election as “great for the UK, great for the world.” On Trump, he said that losers have their part to play in the smooth transition of power. Trump should not be fuelling division and discontent and all Republicans in Congress should call him out.
The next question had an interesting perspective on the Coronavirus vaccine – where would they put themselves in the global queue for doses, given that the US, UK, EU, Canada and Japan have already bought up 80% of the supply.
Ed’s take was that the virus doesn’t respect borders and neither should the vaccine. We absolutely have to step up to the plate and as a world make sure that all of humanity has access to the vaccine. If we don’t vaccinate around the world, we’ll continue to have a problem with Covid. He slammed Boris Johnson for merging the Department for International Development into the Foreign Office.
It is kind of good to see Kim Darroch highlight the efforts of the Government that Ed was part of playing such a strong role in international development.
Listen to all this and the rest of the programme here.
* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings