Sunday, January 19, 2014
DAY 204 IN THE BIG BROTHER HOUSE... The Rennard Saga continues
Someone on Facebook just commented in relation to the ongoing Rennard story “Day 204 in the Big Brother House” – never a truer word spoken in jest. An issue that could have been resolved years ago, quietly and behind closed doors, has turned into a soap opera/reality TV debacle. The Liberal Democrat stone has been turned and revealed to be more of a Pandora’s Box.
So now we have the slightly surreal spectacle of our undemocratically selected peers appealing to their democratic right to determine a matter which has serious implications for the whole party.
I welcome the statement from Alistair Webster clarifying his position, but he too has been inadvertently drawn into a situation which should never have arisen, had our procedures been more robust and more in line with current employment and voluntary sector practice.
On Radio 4 Today yesterday I argued that Lord Rennard had 3 choices, to apologise, to call for a hearing, or to leave the party he loves and has devoted his life to, in a parlous state. I think the opportunity to apologise is rapidly diminishing – it will need someone with the wisdom of Solomon to come up with a form of words acceptable to both sides.
In spite of everything I cannot believe that the man who has done so much to build our party would want to contribute to its demolition. Which frankly leaves only one realistic option, one, which if it were me and I genuinely believed I did not have a case to answer, I would relish. Appoint someone to chair the hearing who has the confidence of both sides and go through a formal process so that both sides can ultimately gain closure.
There is now the spectacle of each side upping the anti, today we hear that Lord Rennard will take legal action if the whip isn’t restored, members of FPC are arguing that his position on that committee is now untenable, the women concerned are talking about taking civil action. What is disappointing is that we are losing sight of the values we all claim to share, a belief in creating a fair, free and open society in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community. We all believe that the Liberal Democrats are the only party who can deliver that, let’s live our values and get back to fighting for what is fundamentally important for this country and the people we seek to represent.