Sunday, November 15, 2015

Some background to the row over Chris Rennard, Liberal Democrat peers and the Federal Executive

I have to declare an interest, in that I have known Chris Rennard for more than 30 years, but I agree with Mark Pack's view that the last thing we should be doing is distancing Liberal Democrat peers from the rest of the party.

I also believe it is a misbegotten idea to change the party constitution just because you don't like the successful candidate in a particular contest.

But a post on this blog from February of last year may give some useful background to the current row. As the BBC documentary is still online I am reproducing it in full.
I have just listened to the second part of Steve Richards' Radio 4 documentary Nick Clegg: The Liberal Who Came to Power.

The press coverage beforehand concentrated on Jeremy Browne's opposition to the idea of selling ourselves as the party of the centre and on Shirley Williams observation that Nick likes to surround himself with young people, not all of whom are particularly competent - Simon Titley's belligerent youths.

I agree with both, but Shirley Williams said something else important that the pre-broadcast coverage missed.

She said that Nick Clegg has a low opinion of the House of Lords.

I was talking to a peer in London the other week - as one does - and was told that relations between Nick and the Lib Dem group in the Lords are not good. The peers feel they are required to do a lot of hard work to improve the poor (and often illiberal) legislation the Commons sends to them and do not get the recognition from Nick that they deserve. 
This poor feeling between Nick and the Lords, I was told, in part explains the poisonous progress of the Rennard affair. Many Lib Dem peers are inclined to stand by one of their own because of it.
Featured on Liberal Democrat VoiceNote, too, Caron's second comment: "And, actually, one other person who has been very critical of the Lords is Mr Farron. There is no love lost."


Anonymous said...

I think the Lib Dems are showing every sign of having turned into one of those small political sects who have given up any hope of power, and whose hatred of their supposed colleagues is many times more bitter than their opposition to their political adversaries.

Katharine Pindar said...

Disagreement isn't hatred, and we Liberal Democrats certainly haven't given up hope of power, having much to offer the country. It's a pity that with only eight MPS we have to rely more on the unelected members of the House we want to reform, but there are many former colleagues among them who are worth listening to, and they have shown their worth already in refusing Osborne's iniquitous plan of drastic cuts to tax credits. I think we are united in sharing the principles our Leader Tim Farron has well defined, and far more united than either of the two biggest parties.