The Guardian view on the Lib Dem leadership contest: it’s not just about Brexit | Editorial

Ed Davey and Jo Swinson are fighting a more polite leadership contest than the Conservatives. But they need to talk about vision too

Midway through the week after next, and amid massive publicity, the Conservative party will choose a new leader who will become, though perhaps not for as long as they hope, the next prime minister. In the same week, but with only a fraction of the same ballyhoo, the Liberal Democrats will also choose a new leader. The Lib Dems’ choice is very unlikely to be prime minister. Nevertheless, the party’s new leader could be a more pivotal player in the emerging politics of the 2020s.

The Lib Dems have spent most of this decade paying the electoral price for the coalition of 2010-15. In the 2015 election, the 50-year march towards the political gunfire that began under Jo Grimond was devastated. The party plummeted from 57 MPs to a mere eight. Under Tim Farron and Vince Cable, the party was no longer preparing for government as it did under leaders from David Steel to Nick Clegg, but for possible extinction.

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