Author Archives: Chris Rennard

Lord Rennard writes… Individual Electoral Registration: a journey from Tory instincts to Lib Dem legislation

In 2003, the Electoral Commission recommended that Great Britain should follow the example of Northern Ireland and move to a system of Individual Electoral Registration (IER), where everyone fills in their own form. Labour havered for six years, fearing that ‘their’ voters might not register individually. It took until 2009 for them to introduce framework legislation to bring in individual registration at some future point, with no guarantees as to exactly when.

When the Coalition took office, the two parties agreed to speed up Labour’s glacial process.  Ministers settled on a transitional period encompassing the next General Election. The new system …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 6 Comments

Chris Rennard writes… Marking the great Sutton and Cheam by-election victory with Sir Trevor Jones

Just over forty years ago, the Liberal Party was on 8.5% in the polls. The chair of the London Young Liberals, Graham Tope, was the party’s candidate for the Sutton and Cheam parliamentary by-election. Few people believed that a Liberal win was possible.  We had come third in 1970, some 17,000 votes behind the Conservatives.

Some people prominent in the national party were dismissive of the ‘community politics’ campaign that was brought to the by-election by a Liverpool Councillor called Trevor Jones.  Possibly the first ‘Focus’ leaflets outside Liverpool were produced for that by-election promoting the local Liberal campaigning led by …

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Chris Rennard writes… Liberal Democrat News RIP

In 1945 the Liberal News was a receipt for your weekly Liberal Party subscription. As a weekly newspaper, it outlasted Conservative and Labour Party rivals by some decades. Week by week party members, and a handful of others, were reminded of what the Liberal Party was up to when the mainstream media paid scant attention to it.

At times, when Liberal members could only dream of the days when the party might return to Government, Liberal News (and then Liberal Democrat News) reported on the great by-election breakthroughs like Orpington, Edge Hill, Eastbourne, Newbury and Brent East. At other times, the best that it could do to sustain hope was to feature an occasional parish council by-election win.

As someone who helped to organise many of the most spectacular by-election wins, I knew that the party paper also helped to bring

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Chris Rennard writes: How can we make sure that people can vote?

Just before the Summer recess, the House of Lords began formal consideration of the hugely significant Electoral Registration and Administration Bill. Among other things this introduces Individual Electoral Registration (IER) for Great Britain. The system has been in operation in Northern Ireland since 2002.

I was closely in involved in working with other Liberal Democrats to change the proposals first put forward in the Government’s white paper which could have had the effect of significantly reducing the levels of voter registration in Great Britain. Mark Williams wrote about them

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 11 Comments

Chris Rennard writes… Restoring balance to the Coalition

Nick Clegg’s statement dropping Lords Reform in this Parliament should come as no surprise following David Cameron’s failure to persuade barely half of his backbench MPs to support the Government’s Bill on this.

Two years ago, Conservative MPs were supporting a Queen’s Speech that made explicit the Coalition agreement to elect members of the House of Lords through Proportional Representation.

The Coalition Agreement is the contract that underwrites this government. In its name many Liberal Democrats have voted for compromises in legislation that we would not on our own have put forward.

So, the question is what to do when one side fails to honour its side of the contract?

You act swiftly and decisively, even ruthlessly, as Nick Clegg has done, to redress the balance. Hence, the boundary changes are no more.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , , , and | 82 Comments

Chris Rennard writes…The inspiration behind Alcoholics Anonymous

Last week I was asked to speak to a group of charity fundraisers in Geneva. You can see my speech below this article on YouTube.

I was asked to inspire them based on work that I had done with the Liberal Democrats as a senior manager between 1989 and 2009 to help spend resources more effectively, raise substantially more money from large donors and make the party more electorally successful.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 5 Comments

Chris Rennard writes: Dick Newby to be new Liberal Democrat Chief Whip in the House of Lords

Lord Newby (Dick Newby) has just been appointed as the new Liberal Democrat Chief Whip in the House of Lords. This appointment is made by Tom McNally (as our Leader in the House of Lords) and at the same time Nick Clegg has asked Dick to serve as Government Deputy Chief Whip in the House. Dick will take up his duties in time for the State Opening of Parliament on 9th May.

Dick is a greatly respected and much liked figure amongst all those who have worked with him (and in roles in which it is sometimes difficult to be both). …

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