And the new Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader is…

…..Drum roll…..


Malcolm Bruce 30th anniversary dinner

Sir Malcolm Bruce MP.

Reaction will be added as we get it.

Update 19:53. It’s definitely a surprising result given that Lorely Burt had said when she announced her candidacy that she had 24 MPs backing her. She only needed five more to have a majority. Why could she have lost a seemingly unassailable position?

Well, Sir Malcolm Bruce is very well liked and respected. Remember what Vince Cable was like as Deputy Leader? Malcolm will not be dissimilar. He won’t always be as on message as Lorely, either.  He has not been afraid to speak out cleverly and assertively against things that the Coalition has done that he doesn’t like. He’s had some success at getting them changed. That, I think might well be the most influential factor in the race. Sir Malcolm has also run a very canny campaign, a bit under the radar. People who have backed him in the past have been quietly lobbying MPs.

There is bound to be some annoyance that, when faced with the chance to elect an excellent female candidate to a high profile position, our MPs didn’t take it. There’s an argument that we need another man to speak for us like my child needs any more stuffed animals in her room.

Having said that, Malcolm is also a very wise, strongly internationalist, pro European old fashioned liberal. He stood for leader in 1999 and got my second preference. He is passionate about international development and human rights and very good at putting the SNP in their place. I wonder if the Scottish MPs got behind him to give him an extra platform to speak out in the referendum campaign. While he might be a surprising choice, he will, I think, do a very good job.

Update: 21:30:

Congratulations from Tim Farron:

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This entry was posted in News.


  • Richard Shaw 28th Jan '14 - 7:43pm

    Actually did not see that coming. Was really hoping for a win for Lorely.

  • Eddie Sammon 28th Jan '14 - 7:43pm

    I’m shocked, but I trust our MPs. I like the fact he seems to be moderate and distinctively liberal.

  • paul barker 28th Jan '14 - 7:48pm

    It does mean there will have be an election for a new Deputy Leader soon after May 2015, perhaps that makes sense when everything else will be changing.

  • Steve Griffiths 28th Jan '14 - 8:15pm

    We must respect the decision of the Lib Dem MPs now the votes are counted. I have also held Sir Malcolm in high regard over the years as an asset to the party, and congratulate him.

    Having said that – oh what a missed opportunity this has been, to change the face of the Lib Dems just a little, from the middle aged male persona it seems to have. I should add I speak as just one of those white middle aged male former activists. The party really does need to present a different face to the electorate especially in view of recent events and press coverage.

  • Really upset by this. Not that I don’t greatly respect Sir Malcolm but in Lorely Burt had a leading candidate with a razor-thin majority facing a tough fight in 2015 and could do with exposure and free media as possible and our MPs pick someone who won’t benefit from the increased media voice. Are we against keeping our seats in the West Midlands?!

    Also, and let us be blunt, at a time when our party needs greater diversity at the top we seem to be business as usual. We are rightly against tokenism but there would have been nothing tokenist about Lorely as Deputy.

  • Morgan Inwood 28th Jan '14 - 8:25pm

    Also backed Lorely because we as a Party can catch up on having female leaders because the other 2 parties are ahead on us on this point. Labour (Margaret Beckett and Harriet Harman) Conservatives (Thatcher). We need some form of stability post-2015, now everything will be up in the air

  • Rabi Martins 28th Jan '14 - 9:07pm

    I am really pleased I had the privilege of being part of a delegation to India and Kashmir with Malcolm and have considered him a potential leader ever since

  • Martin Gentles 28th Jan '14 - 9:09pm

    Congrats to Sir Malcolm, but wow, as a progressive, liberal party our leadership seems stubbornly white, male and middle class.

  • I don’t have a strong opinion about the candidates, but if Sir Malcolm is less on message than Lorely then surely he increases the diversity whereas she would reduce it? Depends of course what kind of diversity we value.

  • Melanie Harvey 28th Jan '14 - 9:25pm

    Being compared to Cable in good light is most certainly not a bad thing. Congratulations on your success Sir Malcolm.

  • I agree, not the best thing for the party’s image — though any short-term negatives are probably minor, since after all there isn’t a very long distance to fall.

  • Why would women want second place? The leader’s job will be available soon. A woman MP should go for leader.

  • Why generalise? Different people want different things. Gender is irrelevant.

  • I would have liked a woman to have won this but Lorely made a big mistake not going on Sunday Politics – natural leaders do not run from difficult interviews. Would Thatcher (love her or hate her) have fled from an opportunity to state her views? Not a chance!

  • Harry Hayfield 28th Jan '14 - 11:00pm

    Number of Liberal Democrat leaders since the party’s formation in 1988: 5. Percentage of leaders that were female: 0% (Source: Wikipedia)
    Number of Liberal Democrat deputy leaders since the party’s formation in 1988: 5. Percentage of deputy leaders that were female: 0% (Source: Wikipedia)
    Number of Party Presidents since the party’s formation in 1988: 5. Percentage of Party Presidents that were female: 29% (Source: Wikipedia)
    Number of Liberal Democrat group leaders in the European Parliament since 1994: 5. Percentage of Group Leaders that were female: 40% (Source: Wikipedia)
    Number of Liberal Democrat Cabinet Ministers since 2010: 18. Percentage of Cabinet Ministers that were female: 22% (Source: Wikipedia)
    Number of Liberal Democrat MP’s elected at the 2010 general election: 57. Percentage that were female: 12% (Source: Times Guide to the Commons 2010)
    Percentage support for Liberal Democrats at 2010 general election amongst women: 26%. Current percentage support amongst women: 14% (Source: BBC / ITN / Sky News Exit Poll 2010, ICM Poll January 2014)

    And now we face the criticism of having the chance to elect a female deputy leader, we elect a deputy leader who has announced that he is standing down at the next election? I’m a man and I have no regrets for saying the following:

    “Liberal Democrat Women, rise up! Rise up and throw off the shackles that us men have imposed on you!”

  • Disappointed it’s not Lorely.

  • I don’t want to pour too much water on the “disappointed hopes” here, but what are Lorely’s chances of surviving 2015? With her majority, 5 – 10% at most, I’d say. We’ll see.

  • Tony Greaves 28th Jan '14 - 11:39pm

    Malcolm is not Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats. He is Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party in the House of Commons.

    That is what it says on the tin. Perhaps that is what Malcolm will be instead of using the position to pretend to be something else.


  • If that much-touted runaway bus ran over Nick Clegg, Malcolm Bruce would take over his parliamentary responsibilities. In the present situation, there is a good argument that he is the only person who could do that job effectively. To bring gender into this argument is irrelevant. If he had a more modern campaign team, he might well have beaten Charles Kennedy for Leader when he stood for that post.

  • The collective electoral death wish to the parliamentary Party continues. No doubt they feel they have chosen ‘the best person for the job’ – but they certainly haven’t chosen the best person for the party.

  • Caractacus – why not? Surely the essence of Liberalism is trusting those closest and most affected to take the right decision for them (which you acknowledge). If its not the best person for the job, its at best tokenism and at worst discriminatory.

  • Harry – good point. Why are there not so many women coming through? Labour have an all women shortlist, they get more women.

  • This is a really difficult one. Yes on the one hand it would have been good if a woman had won this but on the other, it should be the best person for the job, obviously. However it does give the impression that the Parliamentary Party don’t give women a chance – no women in the Cabinet for instance. It cannot be that the women MPs we have are not as good as the male MPs (eg Danny!)it just makes one wonder if there s not an unconscious bias and the men stick together.

    However the women MPs do not have a high profile. They should be out doing more TV interviews etc. I cannot remember the last time I saw Lynnne et al in C4 News, Newsnught or any if the Sunday politics shows. Labour have Yvette Cooper and Harriet Harman, the Tories have Theresa May. Lib Dems have no-one (the most high-profile woman Lib Dem until a year ago was Vicky Pryce (talking about the economy)

  • Alexander Matthews 29th Jan '14 - 8:50am

    May be I am an old grump (not good at 23), but can we look at Lorely as more than just a ‘women’. She is a very capable politician and representative of our party.

    Right now, the only complaints that she did not win are based on the fact she is a women (other than one possibly ageist complaint that Malcolm is stepping down at the next election). Now, if that is the only reason to bemoan her not getting selected, then I am sorry to say, on the day the best person won.

    I am not actually saying that is the case (I do not know), but I would like to hear some support for Lorely beyond, she is a women, we need more woman.

    If this role had to go to a lady, then we should get off our high-horse and have all women shortlists for roles; if that option is anemic to people, then we cannot complain if a candidate who is not a women wins (unless there is an actual valid complaint against their victory, such as fraud).

  • Alexander Matthews 29th Jan '14 - 8:53am

    Note, I do see the irony of me getting women and woman mixed up. Haha

    Also, I do think Phyllis raises a very good point.

  • Matt (Bristol) 29th Jan '14 - 9:47am

    I am a (occasionally wayward and wavering) LibDem voter, not a member, so forgive me if I ask a stupid hypothetical question which encourages equally hypothetical procedural meanderings: in the (unlikely but much-predicted) event of a ‘decapitation strategy’ against Nick Clegg succeeding in Sheffield Hallam at the next election, who would then lead the parliamentary party through any coalition negotiations (should there be any) and the early days of the next parliament, if Malcolm Bruce is stepping down?

    Would it be the next Party Pesident, if that person happens to be an MP? Would it be Vince Cable (assuming he was still in parliament) as the next-most-senior-recently-ex-cabinet minister? Would there have to be another election for Deputy Leader before the end of the parliament and possibly during the election campaign, or on the day after the GE?

    Therefore, I suppose the election of Bruce could be read as a statement of trust in Nick Clegg, as it assumes he is retaining his seat.

  • peter tyzack 29th Jan '14 - 10:06am

    the middle-aged men in grey suits win again… opportunity missed.

  • @Alexander Matthews

    My point about Sir Malcolm standing down had nothing to do with age, it was solely down to the simple truth that it would have been far more valuable to the party in terms of the next election to have a Deputy Leader who will need the increased coverage that the job will bring. Would feel the same way if it was an MP in the 30s stepping down. I greatly respect Sir Malcolm but I just don’t see the point of someone being Deputy Leader for such a short period of time – more than happy to be corrected if there is a solid reason!

    Also, I’d say it is unfair to say that the only complaints about Lorely not winning is because people wanted a female Deputy Leader. As I said in my first post, if Lorely had won it would have been far from a tokenist move as she is more than capable of fulfilling the role.


    Lorely kept the seat in 2010 after a boundary change that, in theory, took away her already small majority from 2005 and led the seat. I think she needed to win a couple of thousand extra votes just to secure victory. Given that Solihull is traditionally rock-solid, I grew up there and the thought of a LibDem winning seemed like pure fantasy, but she did twice at a time of a national swing to them which means she is a far better position than you suggest. She is a damn good campaigner and really gets out there in the community.

    @Tony Greaves

    Good points Tony, likely that the media will ignore this fact and will view it as a similar position to Labour’s Deputy Leader.

  • Has anyone – or will anyone outside the Party – ever noticed or cared who the Deputy Leader was?


  • @David

    Whenever they are on the media, yes. When Vince Cable was, yes.

  • Alexander Matthews 29th Jan '14 - 12:25pm

    ATF, I feel your point about him stepping down would hold more water were it certain anyone made leader of the Parliamentary Party would still be in that role after May 2015. As Vince showed anything can happen in Politics. I also believe – though I may be wrong on this point – that after the May election, the MPs have to re-vote anyway, so that means whoever gets it is only in the role for the short-term at this time.

    I do agree that Lorely is more than capable of doing the role; however, I also think Malcolm is more than capable of doing the role, so just saying she is more than capable of doing the role does not provide us a reason why she is a better candidate than Malcolm. Maybe I missed it, but I have not read any actual reasons why Lorely should have won beyond the fact she is a woman – which I find pretty tragic, actually, because as we both agree, she is a more than capable candidate. We should be focusing on her skill, not her just her gender, otherwise it leads people to think the only thing she actually had to offer that Malcolm did not was her gender.

  • ATF 29th Jan ’14 – 10:32am
    ……. ……. ……. When Vince Cable was, yes.

    Vince Cable continues to be a capable and reliable Liberal Democrat. Malcolm Bruce also has a track record of competence. There seems to be a view amongst some in this thread that tokenism is more important than anything else. The enhancement of the role of women in the Liberal Democrats will not be helped by tokenism. Real action, electing more women to councils, assemblies , and parliaments will make a difference.
    I say this as someone who was the husband of a councillor and parliamentary candidate, lives in a constituency that has elected two Liberal Democrat women as MPin the last 15 years, has a woman MEP as top of the London List, a woman AM as top of the London List and a woman councillor as leader of the majority Liberal Democrat Group on Kingston Council.

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 29th Jan '14 - 12:39pm

    @ Harry Hayfield,

    Might I correct your figures for the Party Presidency? There have been eight Presidents since the formation of the Party, not five, and two of them were women (Diana Maddocks and Ros Scott), so only 25%, not 29%.

    However, Diana and Ros only served for one term, so the Party President has been male 85% of the time.

  • @Alexander Matthews

    “but I have not read any actual reasons why Lorely should have won beyond the fact she is a woman – which I find pretty tragic”

    On the first part, there are two key reasons 1) she isn’t standing down and 2) it would have greatly enhanced her clout locally and help her in 2015. When there is little between Malcolm and Lorely in terms of capability these were key factors in my support for her.

    I agree entirely with the second part of what you say. Yes, I personally would have loved our ticket to be more balanced but putting that ahead of ability would have been very wrong. But as a party we could have broken that glass ceiling whilst staying true to our principles, which makes it seem like a missed opportunity – and that is why I am in agreement with John Tilley as Lorely would have been far from tokenism. Tokenism is a step-backwards.

    Anyways, as saying goes “gone is the past, let us start anew”. I will, of course, support Sir Malcolm to the hilt.

  • What a lot of twaddle on this thread. Is it possible that MPs voted for who they thought would do the best job? That they wanted someone who had the most experience? That they wanted someone known to be independent from the leadership? That they wanted a guaranteed vacancy in 2015?

    I actually agree with Alexander Matthews that we are being patronising to all the candidates by making this just about gender, and that if we do want to improve our gender balance in the party, all-women shortlists are the only way forward. If we don’t support that, we should stop whinging when women don’t win an election.

  • How did we allow this to happen .. elect an MP standing down at the next election?? We want to support women as a party! … As a man, I was dying to see Lorely Burt ,or Tessa Munt (not a contestant), assume this position.

    Yes, I am of Scottish heritage – desperately keen to maintain the union … but I have not the vote … and I have nothing against Malcolm Bruce. Yet what is going on here??? We select someone standing down at the next election instead of rallying behind a lady that yes, has a very tenuous majority?

    Is that why we keep Clegg as leader … expecting him to either stand down as leader (a la Malcolm Bruce) or , lose his seat (the latter is most unlikely to happen, sadly) … although I do not wish us to lose Sheffield Hallam. This is a very distressing situation!!!

  • @tpfkar

    “What a lot of twaddle on this thread. Is it possible that MPs voted for who they thought would do the best job? ”

    I’m sure that is possible. It is also possible that people have reasons for disagreeing with the decision and it seems fair enough to voice them, especially given this is an important role in the party – though Tony Greaves is of course right o point out that technically it only relates to the party in the Commons – about which we didn’t have a say in the first place.

  • Simon Banks 29th Jan '14 - 9:05pm

    Harry: if we’ve had 18 Liberal Democrat cabinet ministers since 2010, I must have missed a number of very short-lived appointments.

  • Eddie Sammon 29th Jan '14 - 10:18pm

    Harry, disagree with the level of gender balance all you like, but there should be no room for misandrist comments such as men having put women in shackles. There’s not much gender balance in the coffins coming back from Afghanistan and generalist comments criticising men across the board are a deep insult to men who have made great sacrifices for their families. I hope others repeat similar arguments in the fight against both misandry and misogyny.

  • @ATF: sorry for not replying yesterday. Yes of course people can voice their views, it would be a bit of a lame thread otherwise – but at the same time those views are as open to challenge as mine. It just seems to me that it’s unfair and patronising to put so much blame on either the electorate or the candidates for not picking a female deputy in a single open contest with so many other relevant issues.

    And to lob another grenade in, is it really such an important role? It seems to me that the key reason for having a deputy is knowing what happens in the short term should a leader be unavailable for whatever reason – do they really have that much additional media exposure? The Tories seem to manage without a deputy.

  • Eddie, you are not saying that all deaths in the UK armed forces in Afghanistan have been male, are you?

  • Terry Gilbert 31st Jan '14 - 4:32pm

    ‘[Malcolm] won’t always be as on message as Lorely, either. ‘

    Maybe this is the key sentence?

    Personally, if I’d had a vote, I’d have been happy to support an off message female candidate. I suspect backbenchers want someone prepared to stand up for what the party believes rather than what the Government wants, and this position is key to that. At least, that was what I remember being said when Simon Hughes was elected to it.

  • Terry Gilbert 31st Jan '14 - 4:36pm

    >>Number of Party Presidents since the party’s formation in 1988: 5. Percentage of Party Presidents that were female: 29% (Source: Wikipedia)

    There must have been at least one transexual, for that to have been the case, Harry! (I think 29% must be a typo?)

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