Saturday, September 07, 2013

The Observer tells only half the story on Sarah Teather

I could never quite make Sarah Teather out. When I first came across her on the party's federal policy committee she was a Kennedy loyalist, agreeing with the official line on every question. But she later became one of the first MPs to turn against him.

Then she became very close to Nick Clegg. At the first hustings of the 2006 leadership campaign Nick would not let Ming Campbell, the candidate he was promoting, out of his sight and Sarah would not let Nick out of hers.

Nick Clegg soured the relationship first by sacking her as a minister. Now this evening comes news that Sarah Teather is to leave parliament at the next election.

In an interview with the Observer she says that she cannot support Coalition policies on immigration and social security - though she was less vocal about her opposition when she was a minister.

She tells Toby Helm:
For periods over the past year, Teather thought she might be able to operate alone as a rebel within but, this summer, she took four weeks off, switched off her phone and just thought hard about the future. A fortnight ago, she finally concluded that she hadn't the energy or the will to go on without support, and she felt there was not enough there.
But that tells only half the story.

There are plenty of people in the party who agree with Sarah on immigration and social security. The reason she feels isolated is that she failed to support equal marriage, with the result that many who are her natural allies no longer trust her.

And Toby Helm does not mention that in his article.

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Alex Wilcock said...

Absolutely, Jonathan.

Principle? Astounding how she only found it after she was sacked.

Bottling out of fighting her seat again? Astounding how she only said that after finding she'd have to do it alone once a stream of former volunteers said they'd never go near Brent again as long as a homophobic bigot was the "Lib Dem".

Quitting out of pique and impending humiliation, more like.

Jennie Rigg said...

You guys have mirrored my reaction precisely.

Unknown said...

I think you are being slightly unfair. Her stance on equal marriage is unforgivable, but there are few who would stick their neck out and argue so powerfully for those caught up in the immigration system.

I think this day would have come if she had voted as she should on equal marriage, but you are right. The Observer article should have mentioned it.

Anonymous said...

Such a shame that she won't now be part of the Lib Dem's stunning 2015 election result.

Anonymous said...

Jenny Tonge, David Ward, Sarah Teather and tens of thousands of former party members.
The problem is Clegg and the cleggites. Whilst Clegg continues the Liberal Democrats will spiral downwards.

Si Carter said...

She's just jumping before she's pushed. Labour will take her seat, and all her pious hand wringing will be to no avail. Expect a Labour 4000+ majority.

Just a shame her principles don't extend to either crossing the floor of the house, or quitting now, eh? See, there's a nice little leaving present from the Commons to consider, plus the sort of pension that ordinary workers will never, ever see.

Anonymous said...

Never seen such a collection of mindless bollocks in a comments section. Single issue warriors, Alex Pillock and Jennie Rigg, any MP would be glad not to have such buffoons abusing constituents on their behalf. Followed, for desert, by some Lieborist claiming a Liebore victory against Teather, which is absurd given her enormous personal vote in Brent.

It's a great shame that Teather is standing down; a great loss to her party and to her constituency.

Laura said...

Fair enough that people don't think her a loss to the party. It's always going to be a balance - one bad issue, some good, not too good a record as a minister. Personally my views on her are still positive but marginally so.

But I don't think it's fair to accuse her of bottling out. She won her seat against the odds in both 2005 and 2010, and I wouldn't have written her off in 2015 either.

This discussion is getting extremely unpleasant, and although a lot of the fault is from the pro-Teathers accusing the Teather-sceptics of being single issue campaigners, which isn't fair, the Teather-sceptics aren't doing themselves any favours by mixing the justifiable criticism (equal marriage, Cleggite drone until sacked) with accusations that don't really stack up (running scared from a fight).

Chris said...

I think she was stitched up by the Murdoch press. Obvious, he hates Lib Dems esp bright young ones who cross him . She needs to watch out, look what happened to Rinka the Dog.