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Has the party been honest about Chris Rennard’s departure?

May 21st, 2009 Posted in UK Politics by

The official line from Cowley Street could not be clearer. Chris Rennard’s resignation today has no connection to the allegations made against him in the News of the World.

He has resigned for personal and health reasons.

Having been subject to an awkward resignation from the party myself, I am very aware of the need to treat departing staff with dignity and decorum. I was very thankful to receive it in March 2007.

Chris has been an incredible servant of the party and this should be recognised.

But, British politics is presently in meltdown over the expenses claimed by Parliamentarians. I’m not wholly persuaded (to put it mildly) that the wider public will find the party line on this plausible. Any sense or sniff that we are telling anything other than the unvarnished truth will be seriously – and rightly – punished at the ballot box.

We still wait to hear what decisions the Federal Executive Committee took about the expenses issue. Given the FE meeting finished three days ago, I think we should be told. And I’m really struggling to understand why we haven’t been.

UPDATE: I’m on Question Time Extra on the BBC News Channel after tonight’s Question Time.

12 Responses to “Has the party been honest about Chris Rennard’s departure?”

  1. Ed Joyce Says:

    I don’t understand why Chris had to give reasons. He has done an awesome job for the party, in Ealing Southall for example, but I don’t understand what he had to gain from the email/release I (like all party members) received. Why give reasons. He did the right thing by standing down as we cannot criticise the other parties if we do not satisfy the voters. He makes a mistake – he takes the rap. Thats fine. Everything else is just words. I hope the voters interpret that we did take action to deal with this and don’t see the timing as coincidental.

    Ed Joyce

  2. Paul Embery Says:

    Mark is right to have concerns about how this matter has been handled by the Lib Dems. In normal times it would be bad enough. But in the current climate it is a spectactular mistake to try to lie about the reasons for Rennard’s resignation.

    Do Rennard and Clegg think the public are thick? Do they really think we are going to fall for this whitewash?

    This is going to come back to haunt Clegg. The man who claims to have taken the moral high ground over expenses, who claims to have acted more decisively than any other party leader, who led the campaign to remove the Speaker for his role in trying to suppress this scandal, and what does he do when a close friend is exposed? He goes along with a load of twaddle about resigning for ‘health reasons’ and issues a statement heaping fulsome praise on his chum…

    It lacks credibility, and it lacks integrity. The wonderfully transparent Mr Clegg, eh? Just as bad as all the rest…

  3. Angela Harbutt Says:

    Ed , I think it is very clear why the reason for Chris Rennard’s resignation needs to be explained – and honestly. I dont think that is Chris’ job to do. Its the party’s.

    Resigning the day after the Newsnight piece – and after days of growing pressure from the activists for the party to clarify Chris Rennard’s position – tells us all why he resigned but that is not enough.

    We simply cant afford to “hope the voters interpret that we did take action to deal with this and don’t see the timing as coincidental” . We should have told them plain and simple – so that there is no misunderstanding.

    I agree with Paul that this may well come back to haunt Nick . Serious questions about the FE remain.

  4. Ed Joyce Says:

    I agree with some of that Angela but what about the substantive issue which is about the return of the money claimed. All the Outer London LDP MP’s don’t claim a second homes allowance but Rennard did yet he lived in Stockwell. I don’t understand why we can’t have clear answers about why this happened, if it stopping and whether the money will be paid back. I avoided posting on this because I don’t like seeing party members falling on their swords but its for the benefit of the party in the long run that we are not seen as ‘the same as all the rest’.

  5. Neil Berry Says:

    Another part of the problem here is that he’s stood down from one job, but done so in a graceless way that implies the door remains open for him to return as a campaign consultant, and Nick Clegg’s o.k. with that. He’s still a member of the Lords, and hasn’t had his membership suspended so he can still rake in £40-50k a year on party business. He will not be poor despite losing his job.

    The gap then between what Nick is saying about expenses reform outside and what he’s doing inside is huge. What would we have said if Cameron had said Andrew McKay was welcome back as an advisor, or Brown had given Elliot Morely a sinecure at number 10.

  6. Angela Harbutt Says:

    Nick Cleggs “tribute” to Chris Rennard certainly implies that he WILL be back in a campaigning role in the not-too-distant future.

  7. john Says:

    Can we please cut through the smoke ,mirrors and other associated hogwash and simply tell us if the £ 41,000 is going to be paid back to the taxpayer or not?

  8. LiberalHammer Says:

    The big counterfactual question is whether or not he would have resigned yesterday regardless of the Newsnight story. What do people think?

  9. Kang Kang Says:

    Chris would probably have stepped down v soon. There was pressure coming from all sides to change his role. But the expenses thing has clearly hastened his departure. The health stuff is true, ask anyone who knows him.

  10. Elizabeth Says:

    Attention! Guardian editorial today! slip slip over the spelling of Lord Rennard’s name. The Gruaniad calls him Chris Reynard. Is this a deliberate reference to the Fox? Or is it just an overpaid leadrer writer’s sloppiness. We should be told.

  11. Julian Harris Says:

    I see a lot of questions above (some rhetorical, admittedly), that can all be answered with a “no”.

    Is the party being honest? No.

    Will the £41,000 be paid back? No.

    Is the Grauniad’s mistake a deliberate pun? No.

  12. Nick Clegg’s statement on Chris Rennard: 5 key points Says:

    […] any speculation about the reasons revolved around his expenses claims — see for instance this post by Mark Littlewood, then blogging as a Lib Den member at Liberal Vision — rather than the allegations that are […]