Wednesday, 20 August 2014

So Chris Rennard is where for me?

Last night I wrote a letter on my laptop. But I wasn't prepared to send it straight away. I know that there are times when you are angry about something you need to write it down, but think about it before pressing send, publish or sticking it into a envelope. (If you don't believe me you should see some of the drafts on this blog that never made it to the interwebs)

Well yesterday the suspension of Lord Rennard's membership was lifted by Liberal Democrat HQ. So the letter I drafted was one that tendered my resignation for the Liberal Democrats, I didn't send it...yet. It is still there waiting for me to come to a final conclusion.

However, this August is an important one for Lib Dems, coming up is one of those biennial events where we get to elect our Federal Committees. I am a conference representative for my local party and therefore I along with many others have a vote. The lifting of the suspension of Lord Rennard in time for nominations means that he will be able to stand for whatever committee he wants. Depending which one he goes for he could have access to all manner of meetings.

There were four women, many of them friends of mine, who the enquiry called credible witnesses, but just said there was not sufficient evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt, that improprieties took place. I've heard stories down the years, I've seen female friends shy away or move towards others for security. I'm not prepared to leave others feel vulnerable in certain settings within the normal business of our party. But I feel that by letting him back in that is the situation that the party is finding itself in.

I love my friend Jennie's approach on this to basically not share a room with Rennard. However, what if he enters the conference hall just before a crucial debate and vote on party procedures regarding abuse of power, or sexual impropriety, if we all walked out when he walked in who would speak up for the victims?

Many of us talk about how the Liberal Democrats are one big family. Well that family pulled through, my Facebook chats lit up like crazy, starting with the man who won the last selection I went for. Many others told me how much I was needed and would be missed by the party. At times being over here in Northern Ireland once again I can at times feel isolated, but such comments touched my heart.

There were other comments I read last night that only seemed to recognise one person in this whole debacle. It didn't recognise that we have lost some of our best women as a result of whatever happened. They didn't seem to realise that many of us are not sure or comfortable that we can remain within the same party as Rennard and those who are his apologists.

So as for the question in the title "Where for me?" I'm still thinking, I'm still deliberating whether I should send the letter, but also when I should send it. I may wait until after I have voted and seen the results of internal elections before coming to a final decision.


  1. the question is simple, does it have a group " Friends of Israel " If so run like the wind

    Friend of Israel means servant of/to Israel, I mean servant in the Downton Abbey sense and these are not only my views, my views are shared by one of Israel's most senior Rabbi's

    alsoRabbi Ovadia called for 'Palestinian genocide'

    I got over half a page in the newsletter when I quit NI21 You'll be getting the whole paper, lol

  2. We don't need to lose people with your commitment to equality. This party, like it or not, is the only decent liberal force in this country and we are needed now, particularly as liberal, internationalist, pro equality values are threatened. The party's processes got this one very badly wrong and the whole process has revealed some very unpleasant misogyny in the party. We need you with us to combat it.

  3. Agree with Caron. If someone resigns because they are unhappy with something the party does, it just makes the things you are unhappy with MORE likely to continue.

    In this instance, where it is cultural change required rather than a policy change, it essential that those who really understand that there is a problem stay and speak out in every corner of the party.

  4. I sympathise with your predicament. I am not a LibDem and have never been a supporter, but I recognise there are many good people who are.

    Because of the particular kind of constituency where I live (a 3/4 way marginal in the north of Scotland where my usual preferred choice - Conservative - would be highly unlikely ever to win) I am even considering voting LibDem next May to try and do my small bit in ensuring that Danny Alexander is not swept away as I suspect many L:ibDems will be next year; yes, he is currently my MP.

    My own dilemma came with the prospect of IDS being elected as leader of the Conservatives in September 2001. In the event I resigned from the party within 3 days of his election (which I have never regretted, although I was/am sad it became necessary), also of course my position as vice-chairman of our local constituency party and secretary of the local party office (the main one in the constituency). Luckily IDS didn't last long as leader, in the event :)

    Good luck with your own decision - I'm sure you'll make a wise choice, whatever it is.

  5. Excellent article.

    I am very sympathetic with how you feel, not least because I know many of the complainants, and am very sad to have seen them forced out of the party. But I urge you to stay in the party because it's the only way to change things for the better.

    Some of our colleagues are simply avoiding conflict.

    Others use due process as an excuse to avoid taking responsibility for fixing things.

    Many know Rennard personally so feel a level of personal obligation.

    But relatively few really think that sexual harassment isn't a serious matter.

    So that gives me hope that we can win. But only if good people like you stay.