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Rennard row weakens Lib Dem ‘we make govt better’ line

21 January 2014

8:58 AM

21 January 2014

8:58 AM

It’s been a while since the Liberal Democrats commanded quite so much media attention or quite so much space on the front pages. If all publicity were good publicity, the volume of coverage that the party is receiving from the Rennard scandal would do wonders for its poll rating.

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But that’s not how it works, and particularly not when your top brass has spent months trying to tell voters that the Lib Dems are so very grown up, mature and thoughtful that they’d make any government better. It’s a little more difficult to see this party as the special secret ingredient in a good coalition when all the talk is of the sort of confusing organograms that children might draw when devising secret societies, and when a row that could have quite easily remained an internal party matter had it been dealt with when the allegations were first made turns into a supernova of news.

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The Liberal Democrats haven’t just been amateurish at dealing with the Rennard affair, their organisation itself is built in an amateurish way. This is a legacy from the merger of the SDP and the Liberals, with those on the inside of the modern party joking that the SDP didn’t trust its membership, and the Liberals didn’t trust their leadership, and so a panoply of rules were developed which confused everything. It has led to a power vacuum at the top, which sounds very worthy on a conference floor, but doesn’t half make it difficult for a leader to, you know, lead. This was made worse by Charles Kennedy’s leadership, during which Rennard’s power base solidified. By the time Clegg arrived, Rennard was a difficult force to reckon with, and it was in those early days of his leadership that Rennard was known to staff as ‘God’. He also had an assistant nicknamed ‘Jesus’.

It means that other parties, who have kept rather quiet during this row because they know all too well the danger of casting the first stone, are still able to mock the Lib Dems, not because they’ve got a sex scandal (although in the other parties, sex scandals do still tend to involve sex), but because they’ve been so hopeless at dealing with it.


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Show comments
  • Two Bob

    Two Labour
    councillors have been suspended by the party and a police investigation has
    started over alleged comments made on Facebook.

    Naseem Ayub, who
    was also a prospective MEP candidate, and her husband Mohammad Ayub were
    suspended before Christmas.

    Bedfordshire
    Police said officers were investigating potential offences under the Computer
    Misuse Act and Malicious Communications Act.

    These cover the
    sending of malicious messages and/or inciting racial hatred.

    • James Strong

      This is not good news.
      The whole idea of giving ‘offence’, making ‘malicious communications’ and being ‘racist’ on social media will narrow speech and thought.Sooner or later dissent will be too risky, it will effectively be banned. We should get rid of this legislation.
      Last year someone was arrested for posting an offensive joke about Saint Nelson. I know the joke; it was undoubtedly offensive, but it was also very funny. It wasn’t a racist joke, no mention of Saint Nelson’s race was made, but it offended modern sensibilities because of its target.
      But from there, where.?
      No jokes about Cameron, Clegg or Miliband? We’re not there yet, but with this legislation in place can anyone be confident that future politician won’t be protected?
      There is only one small good thing about this; it appears that the law might be being applied regardless of the fact that the suspects are from a community.
      There should only be one law, applied to all. But this law femains a bad one.

  • MirthaTidville

    To be honest I couldnt care less, whose right and wrong in the Rennard affair.What it does show, though, more importantly,is how utterly unfit for Government this ill disciplined and disfunctional rabble really are. I hope the penny now starts to drop with naive voters as to just how dangerous they can be when votes get attached to them..

  • James Strong

    Clegg has ballsed this up.
    There is a procedure in place, the LibDems’ own procedure, but they don’t like the outcome. So they invent a new ‘offence’ of not apologising; not apologising for something that is denied.
    Where does it end?
    On another thread someone made the comment that this is Kafka-esque.
    Yes, it is.

  • swatnan

    Calm down d**r. Its a storm in a teacup and unlikely to bring down the Govt.
    The only way Rennard can put a stop to this is to come out as gay, or for the women to sue.

  • @PhilKean1

    How times have changed.

    It was once quite normal behaviour to pin a female against a wall and try to steal a kiss from her
    And they either fully engaged in the exercise, or pushed you off, brushed themselves down, and – with a bit of a giggle – went about their business

    But now? OMG !

    A hand resting on or brushing against a female’s knee will, if your appearance doesn’t match Brad Pitt’s, cause the female such stress and shock she may never again be able to be in the same room as a man she isn’t physically attracted to.

    I mean, I hate Liberals with a vengeance. I happen to believe Liberals are evil. But I have to say that, as far as I am concerned, after hearing the “accusations” against this man, I feel quite sorry for the victim in this case – him !
    .

    • First L

      He did not stop with a hand resting against a knee. He is quite clearly a sexual predator.

      He is also quite clearly far bigger than most women, who would not be able to push him off if they tried. For sexual predators a woman struggling against them would simply mean a harassment turns into an assault and an assault turns into a rape.

      It is sexual harassment verging on sexual assault. There is no excuse. Men should grow up. I’ve had to sack someone for sexual assault and I have a neighbour in prison for rape. It is widespread. Men seem to think it is acceptable. It is not, it never has been, it never will be. It is simply sexual inadequacy on the part of the male. Grow up and learn some manners.

      • @PhilKean1

        I have had women strip naked in front of me and physically try to prevent me leaving their house. And you try to get past a determined woman using your physical strength without hurting her. It is impossible.

        I have had women hit me when they are angry with me, either because I wanted to break up with them, or just because they lose their temper. And don’t forget women think it is ok for them to hit men, and us not retaliate.

        TV commercials, films and programs regularly show women forcing kisses upon men, stealing or hiding their underwear and swim-wear, pushing them against walls in order to get intimate with them, and being suggestive – in every case a situation that could possibly result in an accusation against an unattractive man.

        Oh, and I know how women act when they are the majority in office environments. The thing is, though, they know that men are not petty-minded and so will not complain.

        • Wessex Man

          are you a Love God? do you live in your own little fanstasy world? are you a halfwitted idiot?

          two out of three ain’t bad!

          • @PhilKean1

            Lots of questions asking what I am.

            However, like your pseudonym.

            Of course, no one, except those who can see your IP address, would have any idea who or what you are.
            .

            • Wessex Man

              answer the question little man!

              • The Red Bladder

                Don’t be harsh, he’s had a busy day.

        • @PhilKean1

          I must be honest and admit that a woman knows she’s got you when she strips naked before your eyes.

          But as gentle as you try to be, it is impossible NOT to hurt a woman who is determined not to let you pass.
          .

        • David Kay

          “Oh, and I know how women act when they are the majority in office environments. The thing is, though, they know that men are not petty-minded and so will not complain.”

          i work from home now and thats the one thing i miss about working in an office. Christmas parties were great, as were after work drinks on a friday. In fact every day was great!

          That film Species, good example of the mentality of women

      • James Strong

        OMG, first of all you say ‘he is quite clearly a sexual predator’,
        which is by no means clear. Then you go on to say that sexual predators rape women who resist them.
        From an unsupported premise you’ve managed to suggest that Rennard is nearly a rapist. Ridiculous.
        There was an investigation, it came to a conclusion that you don’t like but you won’t accept it.
        And you say that men should ‘grow up’?

        • First L

          There was an investigation. It came to the conclusion that Rennard was guilty. It simply also came to the conclusion that it did not have enough material evidence to support a full conviction.

          What the investigation said is, that if it sounds like a duck, feels like a duck and smells like a duck, then you can be pretty damn sure it’s a duck even if you’re blind.

          • @PhilKean1

            Wrong. VERY wrong, and unjust.

            We don’t “conclude” that people are guilty in Britain without first finding them guilty after receiving a fair trial – as much as that fact is likely to disappoint feminists.
            .

            • First L

              Um no.

              Trials are not the only judges of guilt in this country – a professional body can disbar a teacher or doctor or lawyer for instance on a standard of proof that is far far different to that of a trial.

              A full trial requires proof that goes ‘beyond reasonable doubt’. A tribunal or investigation does not require that standard of proof. Lord Rennard has been found guilty to this lower standard, in that it has satisfied the investigating officer that he is guilty. It doesn’t go ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ because there’s no cctv footage and it’s not inconceivable that four different women could simultaneously make up a malicious allegation against a man, for which therefore a jury would have to be convinced solely on their testimony and cross examination – and the last thing you want to do to abuse and rape victims is put them under hostile cross examination. People have committed suicide after such things. There’s a reason why rape convictions are scandalously low compared to any other crime.

              Thus, it is down to you – do you think there is reasonable doubt? Do you honestly think that four women would, over a number of years and completely separately, make up malicious stories about Rennard? Possible but highly highly improbable and highly implausible.

              His professional body has found him guilty. I require no other evidence.

              • @PhilKean1

                It is good fortune for men everywhere that the Court of Common Sense overwhelmingly found him innocent of all charges.

                The only people whose standing has taken a kicking in this whole grubby affair are those pathetic, over-sensitive and vindictive women who are pursuing this overblown action.
                .

      • James Strong

        OMG, first of all you say ‘he is quite clearly a sexual predator’,
        which is by no means clear. Then you go on to say that sexual predators rape women who resist them.
        From an unsupported premise you’ve managed to suggest that Rennard is nearly a rapist. Ridiculous.
        There was an investigation, it came to a conclusion that you don’t like but you won’t accept it.
        And you say that men should ‘grow up’?

    • Jesus Actionfigure

      “And they either fully engaged in the exercise, or pushed you off, brushed themselves down, and – with a bit of a giggle – went about their business”

      No, wrong. What women did was not “giggle”, but get angry about such abuse in large enough numbers to make objecting to it more common. Making routine assault – casual Savillism – socially unacceptable is great progress, and makes the world a safer place for everyone but the abusers.

  • RavenRandom

    The Liberal Democrats talent for self-destruction is the only positive from this whole affair.

    • monty61

      Indeed. The Lib Dem penchant for sanctimony comes back once more bite them. We also see what kind of ‘Leader’ Nick Clegg is.

  • The Red Bladder

    This inability to deal with those who bring the party into public contempt and ridicule seems to stretch from top to bottom of the party. My local town council has the pleasure of two sitting Liberal Democrats both of whom have been convicted of crimes of violence since the last election, they seem to show no remorse or sign of shame. From their colleagues? Not so much as a word! What a bunch of shysters they are.

    • HookesLaw

      Then there is the money the fraudster Michael Brown donated. Sanctimony has come back to bite the Lib Dems. Ineptness has caused it to do damage. I do not think there is any dispute about the groping. If Rennard does not show contrition he should be fired. The crisis may not be Clegg’s fault (or maybe it is…) but he will be judged by how he deals with it.

      • James Strong

        no ‘dispute about the groping’ ?
        Rennard denies it.
        Why on earth should he show contrituion for something he says he didn’t do?

    • James Strong

      This is a grossly unfair comparison.
      Two convicted criminals are not the same as Rennard,who still denies doing anything wrong and against whom there is clearly insufficient evidence of anty offence.

      • The Red Bladder

        I think it shows a complete lack of desire, or ability, to weed out any ‘rotten apples’. Total inaction seems to be the default setting for the Liberal Democrat party when faced with any impropriety from any member, however high, or low their standing.

        • David Booth.

          It seems the best way to get on in the LibDims is to mouth the right platitudes and be seen as ultra PC.

          • The Red Bladder

            From where I sit I should say it is perfectly possible to thump and grope one’s way to the top!

            • David Booth.

              Ah but “Lord” Rennard is now finding out what happens when you transgress the LibDims code of smug hypocrites.

      • In2minds

        Unfair to Rennard yes, but not to the LibDem party.

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