The anti-Brexit party had campaigned on a manifesto to stop Britain leaving the European Union and went into the December election with 20 MPs following defections, but returned just 11 to the House of Commons. After winning the leadership contest in July 2019, Jo Swinson ambitiously pitched herself as genuine candidate for prime minister – six months later the 40-year-old lost her East Dunbartonshire seat to the SNP.
The party review polled 20,000 members and found the electorate saw Ms Swinson’s pitch for Prime Minister as “unrealistic”.
The report authored by Lib Dem peer Baroness Thornhill concluded the party “alienated large chunks of the population” with its policies.
One section of the analysis was headlined The election: a high-speed car crash.
The report said: “Even beyond the chaos and uncertainty wich came into play in 2019, the Liberal Democrats had not translated their beliefs into a clear and relevant vision or the strategy to put it into place.”
The report also found the party did not appeal to enough black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) voters.
It said: “Beyond ‘stopping Brexit’, our other policies and messages struggled to cut through.
“There was no overarching offer of the country we wanted to create that would appeal to the electorate at large.
“Indeed, we alienated large chunks of the population.
“This was compounded by errors in how we addressed support amongst BAME.”
The inquiry also claimed sexism and misogyny featured in the campaign and Ms Swinson failed to connect with voters as the election drew closer.
The report added: “Previously net-positive ratings for Jo fell during the campaign.
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On the report acting leader Ed Davey said: “It shows just how much we need to change to get our party fighting fit.”
He added: “I’m proud we published it. Many other political parties wouldn’t, but we have shown real courage.
“Transparency is one of our values and today we have shown we practice what we preach.”