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Lib Dems ‘way more in tune’ with young voters than other parties – Sir Ed Davey

The Liberal Democrats are “way more in tune” with young voters than “any other party”, Sir Ed Davey has said, as Labour pledged to lower the voting age to 16.

The Lib Dem leader pointed to his party’s position on housing, calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and their pro-European stance as policies that may appeal to younger people as he hit the campaign trail in Chichester, West Sussex, on Saturday.

Sir Ed welcomed Labour’s promise to reduce the voting age to 16 but said “bolder” reform is needed to fix the country’s “broken” political system.

When asked how the Lib Dems could regain the trust of young voters following the U-turn on their pledge to scrap university fees during the 2010 coalition government, Sir Ed said his party had “fought the Conservatives every single day” during the power-sharing agreement but “weren’t able to get everything we wanted”.

Under the coalition, university tuition fees were trebled to a maximum of £9,000-a-year from 2012.

Sir Ed Davey with Lib Dem parliamentary candidate Jess Brown-Fuller during a visit to Birdham Pool Marina, Chichester (Andrew Matthews/PA)
Sir Ed Davey with Lib Dem parliamentary candidate Jess Brown-Fuller during a visit to Birdham Pool Marina, Chichester (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Speaking at the Birdham Pool Marina, the Lib Dem leader said that although his party did not achieve everything they set out to do during the coalition, he was “proud” of progress they made on mental health, same-sex marriage and renewable energy.

When asked what the Lib Dems can offer young voters today, Sir Ed said there was a “whole range” of policies that could appeal to younger people.

He said: “I would say the fact that we’re a more internationalist party – we’ve been the first major party to call for a ceasefire in Gaza, for example.

“Our pro-European position is well known.

“On issues like housing, which matter to a lot of young people, we’re focused very much on improving the rental sector so housing is more affordable.

“We were big on council houses.

“We’ve made a big thing of community policing, for all sorts of reasons, but we think unless you have more community policing, you won’t get on top of things like knife crime.”

He continued: “In different parts of the country, different ages, people have different issues, but I think they’ll see from the Liberal Democrats a party that’s way more in tune with young people than any other party.”

At another event near Winchester, Hampshire, on Saturday afternoon, Sir Ed welcomed Sir Keir Starmer’s pledge to lower the voting age to 16 saying that the Lib Dems have “long supported” this move.

He added: “The problem is though the British political system is broken.

“I think we’ve all seen the last few years that unless we transform our political system, we won’t get the changes in our health service and our economy and the environment that we need.

“So, Liberal Democrats are putting forward a much bolder programme of political reform, with electoral reform and with putting power out from Westminster and Whitehall into communities for people – and that pretty profound and ambitious form of political change, I think, is what is needed and what people want.”

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