Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Carmichael, Farron and Heath return to Lib Dem front bench

The Guardian reports that Nick Clegg has reappointed Alistair Carmichael, Tim Farron and David Heath to the Lib Dem front bench:
Carmichael returns to his former Scotland and Northern Ireland brief, while Farron, the former countryside spokesman, will now become environment spokesman

David Heath, the former justice spokesman and another EU rebel, returns to lead a commission on privacy in the UK.
They are the shadow ministers whom he forced out over their support for a referendum on the Lisbon treaty. Nick had a difficult hand to play - Lib Dem policy on Europe has been confused ever since Paddy Ashdown started supporting referendums - but did anyone think the better of him for sacking these three? And the walk out over the speaker's failure to grant a vote on an "in-or-out?" referendum (and why should he have done, incidentally?) was embarrassing even at the time.

David Heath's new job is clearly an important one in a Liberal party, though I wonder if it makes the best use of his high reputation in the Commons. I hope Tim Farron will expand his new brief beyond the populist support for the farming interest that he has tended to display in the past.

As the Guardian explains, these appointments form part of a wider reshuffle:

Steve Webb will shadow the new energy and climate change department created in Brown's reshuffle last week.

Sarah Teather, the party's business spokesman, will replace Lembit Öpik, who stepped down from his housing role last month to concentrate on his campaign to become Lib Dem president.

John Thurso will become business spokesman.

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