Lib Dem conference: Sir Ed Davey to underline health pledges as he promises to ‘fix our economy with care’ | Politics News

Sir Ed Davey will close this week’s Liberal Democrat conference by promising to “fix our economy with care” after the Conservatives “broke” it with “carelessness”.

In his first speech at the annual gathering since becoming leader, he will underline a number of health pledges the party has made over recent days – including enabling patients to see a GP within seven days and bringing in mental health MOTs for vulnerable groups.

But Sir Ed will also focus his ire on the current government, as the Lib Dems attempt to win over voters in traditional Tory seats.

Over the course of the conference, the party has hammered home its strategy of targeting the so-called “Blue Wall”, with around 80 seats in their sights where they came second to the Conservatives at the last general election.

Policy announcements made this week designed to appeal to those constituencies have included ditching their long-standing pledge to add 1p to income tax and watering down their housing targets.

But senior sources in the party also believe the NHS crisis is now the top priority in rural areas, and that making it central to their election campaign will see them win votes.

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Speaking on Tuesday, Sir Ed will tell party members in Bournemouth: “The Conservatives have broken promise after promise on the NHS. From their 40 new hospitals, to 6,000 more GPs and Rishi Sunak’s pledge to bring down waiting lists – all of it a total con.

“Perhaps there should be a warning on the ballot paper, like there are on cigarette packets: Voting Conservative is bad for your health.”

The leader will argue his party has “consistently led the way in highlighting the crises in the NHS and proposing solutions”, and that health and care were key to his plan for the economy.

“The Conservatives broke our economy with their carelessness,” he will say. “Liberal Democrats will fix our economy with care.”

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The Lib Dem leader spoke to Sky News on the eve of his speech

Sir Ed will also describe the Conservative Party as “more like a bad TV soap opera than a functioning government”, adding: “The factions and the feuds. The personal vendettas. The shock exits and unwelcome returns. The total lack of connection to reality. Each episode worse than the last. Well, it’s time to change the channel.”

And addressing activists, the leader will say: “Together, the Liberal Democrats are the strongest campaigning force in British politics. Our campaigns and our victories are changing the future of British politics and turning the tide against the Conservatives.

“We’ve shown the next election won’t be all about the Red Wall. It’s about the Blue Wall too. Former Tory heartlands where we’ve shown we are the only ones who can win.

“People are desperate for change. And while Rishi Sunak clings on – out of touch and out of ideas – our job is to show the British people that positive change is possible.

“Over the last few years, we have taken big chunks out of the Blue Wall. Our job now is to bring it tumbling down.

“The British people are desperate to see the back of this appalling, out-of-touch Conservative government, and we are the ones who can make it happen.”

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