X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.spectator.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

Coffee House

Will Oakeshott’s demise kill off Lib Dem revolt?

28 May 2014

12:00 PM

28 May 2014

12:00 PM

Nick Clegg said this morning that ‘appropriate steps’ will be taken to deal with Lord Oakeshott after the peer was outed as the ‘Lib Dem supporter’ who had commissioned uncomfortable polling about the Lib Dems’ chances in 2015. As with other difficult situations with Lib Dem peers, though, Clegg doesn’t have that much power to remove the whip from Oakeshott, even if he’d like to. Speaking after his speech on international development the Deputy Prime Minister said:

‘I think it is wholly unacceptable for people in a campaigning political party facing very very difficult elections last week as we were to find out now with hindsight that a senior member of the party far from actually going out and trying to win votes was spending money and time seeking to undermine the fortunes of the party and obviously parliament will resume next week and a lot of these things will be taken up then and discussed in the House of Lords and the House of Commons, and following those discussions, you know, appropriate steps will no doubt be taken.’

What matters more than whether Oakeshott is disciplined by peers, though, is whether his actions have taken all the steam out of the revolt against Clegg. That revolt wasn’t as big as its agitators had hoped, according to LibDemVoice’s poll. Those who had crossed over to the anti-Nick camp in the past few days are livid with the peer, though, as they feel his botch job has made it much more difficult for them to get a hearing from the leadership. There are two groups within the anti-Nick camp: those who have long wanted his head, such as Naomi Smith (more on that from Charlotte Henry here), and those who are disappointed with the way the local and European elections worked out but furious with the way the leadership responded by suggesting that seats with a sitting Lib Dem MP had performed well (they point to Southwark and Brent as signs of this being bunkum). The second group worries that the leadership may now be a little more complacent at responding to them. They could, though, be brought back into the fold with a bit of TLC from Clegg and Co, so the last thing he should do today is believe that Oakeshott’s unmasking represents the unravelling of the whole row.

[Alt-Text]


I also understand that local parties are continuing to go ahead with executive meetings to discuss whether they should hold membership meetings that will call for a leadership contest. It will be interesting to see whether Vince Cable’s second intervention on behalf of Nick Clegg destroys the appetite of those local party members for a contest.

UPDATE, 12.10: Lord Oakeshott is to resign from the Liberal Democrats and take a leave of absence from the House of Lords.

Here is his full statement:

I am today taking leave of absence from the House of Lords and resigning as a member of the Liberal Democrats. I am sure the Party is heading for disaster if it keeps Nick Clegg; and I must not get in the way of the many brave Liberal Democrats fighting for change.

I leave, with a heavy heart, the party I helped to found with such high hopes with Roy Jenkins, Bill Rodgers, Shirley Williams and David Owen at Limehouse in 1981. We then, like most Liberal Democrats now, wanted a radical progressive party, not a “split the difference” Centre Party, with, in Shirley’s memorable words, no roots, no principles and no values. But that is where Nick Clegg has led us.

I am sorry I have so upset and embarrassed my old friend Vince Cable and that we were not able to talk before he issued yesterday’s statement from China. This is the background:

Several months ago a close colleague, concerned about voting intentions in Twickenham, asked me if I would arrange and pay for a poll to show us Vince’s current position and how best to get him re-elected. I was happy to help, and Vince amended and approved the questionnaire, but at his request I excluded a question on voting intentions with a change of leader. Although Vince had excellent ratings, both as a Minister and a local MP, he was slightly behind the Conservatives in this poll, as the full details on the ICM website show. That poll worried me so much that I commissioned four more in different types of constituency all over the country and added back the change of leadership question. The results were in the Guardian yesterday and on the ICM website. Several weeks ago, I told Vince the results of those four polls too.

The combined message of these five professional and reputable ICM constituency polls, Nick Clegg’s dire approval ratings year after year in all national polls, and Thursday’s appalling council and European election results is crystal clear: we must change the leader to give Liberal Democrat M.P.s their best chance to win in 2015. On Thursday I also commissioned one more ICM poll, in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey; the results should also be on the ICM website tonight at and http://www.icmresearch.com/data/media/pdf/2014_twick.pdf

A few stout-hearted MPs and peers and hundreds, maybe soon thousands, of candidates, councillors and Lib Dem members all over Britain are now fighting constituency by constituency for a leadership election. I have tried to give them the evidence they need to make the change. I pray that they win, and that the right man, or preferably, woman is now elected to save the Party.

When Charles Kennedy rang to make me a peer, from a panel elected by the party, fourteen years ago he said he wanted me to shake up the Lords. I’ve tried – my bills to ban non-dom peers are now law – but my efforts to expose and end cash for peerages in all parties, including our own, and help get the Lords elected have failed. I am very sorry to leave my many old, close comrades-in-arms on the Liberal Democrat benches all over Britain, and good friends and fellow campaigners across the House. But the unreformed Lords is now a bloated balloon and at 67 it’s time to concentrate on running my business and my charity.

Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.


Show comments
Close