Lib Dems to launch battlebus with ‘save the NHS’ message in blue-wall seat

Sir Ed Davey will launch the Liberal Democrats’ battlebus campaign with a “save the NHS” message in a marginal blue-wall seat on Sunday.

The UK’s fourth biggest party has put health at the heart of its agenda in the run-up to the July 4 General Election as it targets traditionally Conservative heartlands in southern England.

Sir Ed will say the Tories have left hospitals “with dangerous crumbling roofs” and “sewage pouring into” wards as he makes a manifesto pledge to introduce a 10-year rolling repair programme for the NHS estate.

Industrial strikes
The Lib Dem battle bus will contain a ‘save the NHS’ message (Jeff Moore/PA)

The Conservatives said the Lib Dems would merely “make way for a Labour government – just like the one already failing the NHS in Wales.”

The Lib Dems see health and the environment – particularly sewage-dumping in Britain’s waterways – as key electoral battlegrounds near the south coast, where they are seeking to make inroads in previously Tory areas.

Buoyed by a series of by-election and local election victories within the so-called blue wall, the party is eyeing the constituencies of several Cabinet ministers including Jeremy Hunt, Gillian Keegan and Lucy Frazer.

It will also be targeting Michael Gove’s seat of Surrey Heath, which the prominent MP announced he would not be fighting in this summer’s vote.

The party said details of the marginal constituency in which its battlebus tour will be launched will be released later.

General Election campaign 2024
Sir Ed Davey eats ice cream on the promenade in Eastbourne while on the General Election campaign trail (Aaron Chown/PA)

Sir Ed said: “Every vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote to save our NHS after years of Conservative chaos. The NHS will be at the heart of our manifesto with a plan to make sure everyone can see a GP when they need one and repair hospital buildings left in a desperate state.

“The Conservative Party can never be trusted with the NHS after their legacy of crumbling hospitals and soaring waiting lists.

“Conservative ministers have shamelessly broken their promises to build new hospitals and left ageing buildings to fall apart. It has left patients worrying about a roof collapsing over their head instead of being treated with dignity in clean and modern hospitals.”

Tory party chairman Richard Holden said: “A vote for the Lib Dems is a vote that helps Labour and Sir Keir Starmer who’d take our country back to square one.

“The Lib Dems would make way for a Labour Government – just like the one already failing the NHS in Wales, risking the progress we’ve made in driving down waiting lists.

“Only Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives have a clear plan and will take the bold action to secure the future of the NHS, including helping the NHS innovate, so patients can rely on getting the care they need.”