Nick Clegg’s former aide Bridget Harris quits the party over its handling of the Rennard scandal:
“You go into politics and you accept the notion of a collective agreement for the greater good. After the 15 years I worked in the Lib Dems I realised there is no greater good, just everyone doing a s**t job.”
Nick Clegg took a pasting over Rennard on LBC this morning. Judging by the ensuing silence when asked why he doesn’t just boot the pervy peer out, Clegg clearly wants to get rid but is impotent to do so. Instead all he would commit to is banning Rennard from working on the LibDems’ election campaign:
This is a promise the LibDems have made before and – shockingly – broken. Back in 2010 when Rennard resigned over expenses, though citing ill health, their official line was exactly the same: “he is not part of our campaign team”. Only for him to soon be back spinning for Clegg at the leadership debates and be seen popping in and out of the party’s Cowley Street HQ. Which is strange, because it is unlike LibDems to go back on their word.
Nick Clegg used to take allegations of sexual impropriety very seriously indeed. Here he is in November 2012, making it very clear where he stands on ITV’s The Agenda:
“Serious questions need to be asked and if after we find out what’s happened, it’s clear that people have turned a blind eye or, worse still, connived with it, then of course they’re going to have to be held to account and – if that turns out to be the case – heads will need to roll of course.”
Here is is that same month, asking all the right questions on 5Live:
“I have been thinking about this a lot, because I cannot understand how this could have remained hidden for so long. There just must have been so many people who knew what was going on …and I just keep asking myself why, why did this remain buried for so long?”
Now of course this was Clegg commenting on sex allegations against Jimmy Savile, rather than the entirely unconnected matter of Lord Rennard that blew up three months later. But interesting, nonetheless…
— Jo Shaw (@_JoShaw) January 15, 2014
Utterly ashamed of my party.
— Charlotte Henry (@charlotteahenry) January 15, 2014
In 2014 a major political party finds that it has no suitable procedures for dealing with allegations of serious sexual harassment. #Rennard
— Dr Alison Smith (@DrAlisonSmith) January 15, 2014
Right. Back into twitter exile for me, I think, because otherwise I might say something actionable.
— Jennie 48% Rigg (@miss_s_b) January 15, 2014
Rennard's statement, however, is a massive pile of wank – even if people (unhappily) accept QC's verdict, he's just shitting all over them.
— Stace (@stackee) January 15, 2014
Rennard says in his statement: “I now look forward to resuming my roles within the Liberal Democrats.” Without so much as an apology…
Cathy Newman reports that the LibDems are to take no disciplinary action against Lord Rennard. Worth remembering what Clegg had to say following the Rennard Report last summer:
“It makes sobering reading. It shows that stretching over a 20-year period a series of mistakes were made which left a number of women feeling seriously let down and for that there is absolutely no excuse whatsoever.
The report also shows that the individuals who dealt with their complaints had the right motives, but there weren’t the right processes in place to support the women who’d come forward. And as leader of the Liberal Democrats I take responsibility for that.”
And yet he is doing absolutely nothing about it…
All our Rennard stories can be found here. The old perv still hasn’t sued Guido for calling him a corrupt sex pest.
Party president Tim Farron has called on Rennard to apologise. If you’re a LibDem you can harass women again and again and it’s fine so long as you say sorry.
Alison Suttie, Clegg’s former deputy chief of staff who was implicated in covering up the Rennard scandal, is also given a peerage. According to the Mail Suttie referred to herself as Rennard’s “niece” and asked Jo Swinson to interview those who had made allegations against Rennard. Something she denies. Swinson is said to have told victims to address future complaints to Suttie in Clegg’s office. Clegg says they never reached him but prizes for all anyway.
UPDATE: An alleged victim of Rennard speaks: