Brian Paddick resigns as Lib Dem Shadow Home Secretary

Lib Dem Peer Brian Paddick has resigned from his position as Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary. Brian, a former Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, has always been a credible and authoritative voice on matters pertaining to crime, terrorism and civil liberties. The party owes him a debt of gratitude for his work in the role.

It’s the fashion these days to use Twitter to make announcements. In a tweet this afternoon, Brian said:

He doesn’t specify what particular views, but speculation centres around the issues around gay sex and abortion. Tim’s voting record on these issues is pretty clear and he’s made it plain that he is 100% in favour of LGBT equality. This matters to too many people I love so I certainly couldn’t support a leader I didn’t trust to do the right thing on these issues. In any event, I don’t think Tim’s views or record had changed since Brian had accepted the role, so I am perplexed by the timing. Unless…

I may be completely wrong here, but I’m starting to suspect that some things which have happened over the past few weeks have not been entirely random. There’s always been a sense that those few in the party who don’t like Tim have been biding their time. I’m hearing reports of conversations being initiated during the election campaign by a few people who did not support Tim last time. Those conversations were spookily similar, as if they were sticking to a script, covering a few key points that people wanted to get across. Indeed, I had more than one person say them to me.

Yesterday, Lib Dem Peer Liz Barker retweeted an article calling on Tim to go:

And today, the Twitter account of the Political Office of Lord Anthony Lester said this in response to Brian’s tweet:

So far, this activity appears to be confined to people who have never been Tim’s biggest fans. Certainly, I am hearing from sources close to Tim that they are “unfazed” by what’s happening. Let’s hope that this is an end to it and that we don’t spend the next few months turning in on ourselves.  That would not be a good look. 

The official response from the party has been to thank Brian Paddick for his service, as it is right and proper to do.

When he was elected less than two years ago, Tim’s aim was to have 100,000 members by 2020, a target he smashed earlier this year. He has a parliamentary by-election win under his belt, significant advances in local government by-elections and 18% of the vote in the local elections this year. Given the state of the party he inherited, that is a pretty good track record. As for what’s next, he set that out in an email to party members this afternoon in which he said:

Going forwards, I am determined that we will be a constructive opposition in this parliament.

We will play our part to bring the country together. We will work with people of all parties and none to oppose this extreme Government. And we will fight for the best possible deal for you, your family, your neighbours and our country.

With Theresa May’s Conservatives hell-bent on a deal with the DUP, it is clearer than ever that Britain needs the precious liberal and progressive values that we stand for.

With your support, I am confident that we will play a crucial role in holding the Conservatives to account, on Brexit, civil liberties and much more besides.

In terms of the leadership, the constitution sets out the circumstances in which there must be a leadership election. One of them is:

the first anniversary of the preceding general election being reached without an election being called under any of paragraphs (a) through (f), provided that:
(i) the Federal Board may postpone such an election for no more than one year
by a two-thirds majority of those present and voting; and
(ii) this paragraph (g) shall not apply if the Leader is a member of the
Government.

The one year thing hasn’t been in play for some time. In 2005, Charles Kennedy did ask for one. In 2010, we were in Government so it didn’t apply and in 2015, Nick resigned the day after the General Election. After 1997 and 2001, the elections duly took place with nobody standing against either Paddy or Charles. So there will be a leadership election at some point in the next year as a matter of routine.

There are questions that the party needs to consider over our future strategy and messaging. We have a massive opportunity to do great things in this Parliament. Backbench MPs can be very powerful. Every aspect of parliamentary procedure has potential for our lot to have real influence. We have a damaged Prime Minister of a barely-there government and a Leader of the Opposition who is great at campaigning but not so great at opposing in Parliament. We need to focus on doing the best we can to advance our values of liberty, equality and community for however long this Parliament lasts. My hope for the months ahead is that we get on with the job of advancing liberalism and don’t allow ourselves to be distracted by anything else.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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32 Comments

  • Well with 12 MPs now rather more shadow portfolios will be held by members of the elected chamber, Lord Paddick may have been on the way out any way…

  • David Becket 14th Jun '17 - 5:54pm

    I am not saying he should go yet but he needs to develop more gravitas, stop some of the negative attacks and knee jerk reactions. The response to Brexit in the current situation needs very careful thought, which it looks as if we did not have at SKY.

  • I wonder to what extent Liz Barker’s friendship with lord rennard affects her views on the only party leader to call him to account.

  • Niklas Smith 14th Jun '17 - 6:08pm

    Much as I admire and respect Brian Paddick (and I happen to think he’s done a good job as Shadow Home Secretary) I think he’s made a mistake here.

    If he is resigning because he disagrees with Tim’s views on LGBT issues he is conflating personal religious views with policy. Tim has a good record of advocating LGBT rights the whole time he’s been party leader. (It’s not just me, Pink News says so: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2017/04/18/lib-dem-leader-tim-farron-branded-disgrace-after-refusing-to-answer-gay-sex-question/

    As Nick Cohen argued a while back in The Observer, Tim is classically liberal on LGBT rights issues: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/29/tim-farron-defending-true-liberal-even-if-it-makes-us-queasy

    I know som devout Christians personally (including two of my closest friends, one of whom will be ordained shortly) and they seem perfectly able to have their religious views on sexual morality without shunning or condemning other people who don’t conform to them.

    Personally I am agnostic and find a lot of the tenets of various religions odd or downright wrong (including the Bible’s condemnation of homosexuality). That doesn’t stop me from supporting and defending the right to worship.

    Equally there are many religious (and even non-religious) people who personally disapprove of homosexuality or other orientations that reject the heterosexual norm, but at the same time agree that (for example) same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. I disapprove of people being unfaithful but would be horrified by a law being passed criminalising adultery. (Scary fact: in the US military adultery is still a court martial offence in the 21st century. Source: https://www.thebalance.com/adultery-in-the-military-3354158 )

    Tim Farron is enthusiastically publicising and supporting Lib Dem policy on LGBT issues. That’s his job as leader. It is *not* part of his job to *personally* approve of homosexuality or polyamory or any particular sexual orientation. That is precisely the sort of personal choice that we as liberals think is a private, personal matter. It is ridiculous and sad that the controversy over whether Tim does or did ever think that gay sex is a sin has been overshadowing the Lib Dems’ very progressive LGBT policies, and indeed our legacy in securing the right to equal marriage during coalition.

  • Matt Dolman 14th Jun '17 - 6:09pm

    Tim was clearly badly advised on a number of things this election – not least the way in which his position on homosexuality was communicated – but I think he’s played a bad hand well. It was never going to be easy with Corbyn on one side and Brexiteers on the other. A shame to see Brian go all the same.

  • David Evans 14th Jun '17 - 6:12pm

    Oh dear. So after one poor campaign the good lord resigns, but when Nick was totally destroying Liberal Democracy across the entire country for five consecutive years, not a tweet. It is so disappointing.

  • Eddie Sammon 14th Jun '17 - 6:13pm

    I’ve got nothing against Tim personally, it’s the despair that gets me. I’ll stop saying he should go because internal arguing is damaging if it goes on for too long, but there needs to be some changes. A deputy leader is a start.

  • Robert Blevin 14th Jun '17 - 6:28pm

    You are a passionate loyalist, and that is admirable. But I think the party is as ill served by grouping together people like Brian, Anthony and Liz and demonising them for deeply held convictions as it would be by people attacking people like you for your deeply held convictions. In doing so, I fear you too are ‘turning in on ourselves’. I agree we cannot do that, if for no other reason than it looks pathetic in a Parliamentary party of 12. My personal view is that Tim should be allowed to serve for as long as he thinks that is the right thing for the party, himself and his constituency. I hope he will give a lot of thought to those things, though. I think we have a better and more unifying potential leader now.

  • Robert Blevin 14th Jun '17 - 6:30pm

    I posted a few minutes too soon. But perhaps presciently.

  • Well you’ve got your wish, well done guys!! I hope you’re proud of yourselves!

  • Just seen Tim has gone, sad for me as it was his performance on two live events in the run up tot the election, a radio 5 interview and the debate, that won my vote….

  • This must have been some sort of organised plot, since Paddick would surely know better than to resign on the same afternoon as the horrendous tragedy unfolding in West London. Poor show indeed from Brian.

  • Philip Rolle 14th Jun '17 - 6:37pm

    I think a change of leader was needed. However, it is a shame if Tim Farron has been forced out over views that, frankly, harm nobody. An overreaction from Lord Paddick.

  • Well… that’s certainly not what I was suggesting.

  • Philip Rolle 14th Jun '17 - 6:40pm

    Although maybe his “overreaction” was an orchestration. Hence the timing – trying to bury a coup in tragedy. Questionable.

  • One minute an email from the leader saying what we have done etc etc, next minute gone. Vert strange. Still we have to get on with it. I am from

  • We’re supposed to be a liberal party, but it seems religious intolerance is the order of the day. Disgusted that our party leader has been hounded out because of his faith.

  • Gutted. I had never voted for the winning candidate in a leadership election before. Tim was on the same wavelength as the activists in the party – reading the story above leads me to think that the party establishment have seized their chance to topple him. Terrible news.

  • David Evans 14th Jun '17 - 7:04pm

    No it it worse than disappointing, it is disgraceful. Clearly Brian Paddick has no tolerance whatsoever of other Liberals who are not perfect in his mind.

    Unlike Tim.

    In one fell swoop we have become a party of the comfortable elite who have a bit of a social conscience, and will now collapse into oblivion. David Penhalygon will be spinning in his grave.

  • continuing: I am from the centre left of the party, seems to be only one candidate with the experience, ability and years in front of her, Jo Swinson, she should also boost our chances of recovery in Scotland. BUT I worry about the Tuition Fees vote. We must certainly avoid Lamb and Cable. They were worst offenders. She would give the party a new image.

  • After the slating Tim was getting from party members on LibDem sites plus the slating he was getting in the media I am very saddened to read the news of his resignation but not surprised. As a fairly new party member I am disgusted at the way some have done all they can to condemn him in public and privately. I hated politics before joining after the 2015 election and it is reminding me why I did hate it. Time to walk away from it all me thinks as nothing will change. Let me know when the LibDems actually become open, tolerant and united.

  • Well said Caron.

  • I wholeheartedly agree with those who have commented on Brian Paddick’s illiberalism. It is tragically ironic that Brian, however great his talents, should undermine Tim, who has been a Liberal all his life, and especially that Paddick should choose his ground for attack on the very issues Tim has dealt with so liberally.

  • Richard Underhill 15th Jun '17 - 9:00am

    The BBC is reporting that more than 40,000 reported crimes, including violent offences, were not reported by three forces. As a result Kent and Cheshire have been rated inadequate and Cambridgeshire requires improvement, the HM Inspectorate of Constabulary said.
    This should be followed up. What, for instance, has been done by elected Police and Crime Commissioners? The previous PNC for Kent was very keen on the accuracy of these figures, knowing that crime is also measured by surveying victims. Claims that crime has been falling despite cuts in police numbers, are trotted out routinely by government MPs.

  • Ruth Bright 15th Jun '17 - 9:10am

    To repeat Mary Reid’s point – why on earth did a former Lib Dem candidate for London Mayor choose yesterday to do this. What a sense of timing. When other parties are asking questions about the tragedy in Kensington we are busy with this totally avoidable indulgence.

  • Richard Underhill 15th Jun '17 - 12:15pm

    Chris Whiting: Decimation is a 10% reduction, as applied to Roman soldiers after a mutiny.

  • With the sole exception of Paddick I’ve never heard of these “leading” Lib Dems criticising OUR leader [I.e. the party, not the peers].

  • Lorenzo Cherin 15th Jun '17 - 2:04pm

    Mary Reid , David Raw, Ruth Bright,

    These get to the heart of this, outrageous choice of day, and we should pause before any central office sorts get to timetables and the like.

    There is something odd about a man going when pushed slightly by few with little support , considering the man pushed has much support.

    There is a humility in Tim not seen in Corbyn, or is it a lack of confidence vs much confidence?

    We hear of Lord Ashdown being involved on the tv news.

    It is necessary to know if there even was a delegation.

    Is it perhaps that Tim merely had conversations , not a pressurised visit.

    My view is the rumours must be met with facts.

  • @ Lorenzo Thanks for agreeing – but – please, and I mean this kindly and politely, give it a rest about Corbyn. If you don’t, I’m going to ask you to eat my hat (like Paddy’s, it’s a big one).

    I saw the TV coverage of his visit to the flats and St Clement’s Church (we, rather pathetically, only issued a statement). I was impressed with his humanity, warmth, empathy and kindness to the people he met. Whether you like his policies or not, at least show him a bit of respect as a fellow human being.

    You could also reflect on the latest poll published in the Telegraph today. Theresa May’s poll ratings are now lower than Jeremy Corbyn’s were before the General Election. A survey by Yougov found that the Prime Minister’s “favourability score” has fallen from plus 10 to minus 34. In the meantime Mr Corbyn’s popularity rating has climbed by 42 points.

    End of. Good night. |An early night cures many things.

  • LibDemDavid 16th Jun '17 - 7:20pm

    Well said David Raw, when my aunt died a few years ago who was active on peace marches, Jeremy attended her funeral and made a speech, we as a family were deeply touched. I find it shocking that a democratically elected leader like Corbyn is being vilified in this way, he doesn’t use personal abuse but seems to be the target of such on here.

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