+++Breaking: Tim Farron calls on Chris Rennard to step down from the Federal Executive

Tim Farron has issued the following statement calling on Chris Rennard to step down from the Federal Executive position to which he was elected by Liberal Democrat Lords last week:

As you know, Chris Rennard’s election to the Federal Executive has prompted party members to call for a Special Conference.

I have not spoken out until now as I have been giving Chris time to reflect on the party’s reaction to his election.

I have decided it is time to make clear publicly that I do not believe it is in the interests of the party for Chris to take up his position on the FE.

Chris was entitled to stand for election and the Lords were entitled to elect him. That does not mean his decision to put himself forward was in the best interests of the party.

Helena Morrissey’s review threw the spotlight on our party’s culture and working practices. We have made major changes to the constitution and to the rules we use to apply its values.

For example, we have ensured that for instances of alleged discrimination, bullying, harassment or intimidation, we now operate to the standards you would expect in most modern workplaces.

However, I also believe that the call for a Special Conference shows we still have some way to go to convince our members that the party’s culture has changed.

In considering this, I think it’s also important to remember that our Conference this year showed very clearly how the party feels about the Leader being able to intervene in decision-making. The idea for a Leader’s veto on the manifesto was kicked out without even being discussed. It is right I should not be allowed to reverse outcomes just because I or others don’t like them.

I am, though, entitled to an opinion on the decisions taken by our party and whether I believe they are in our best interests.

A Special Conference is not in our best interest. It will divert considerable time, energy and resource away from Oldham and the growing fightback we are mounting across the UK.

The party needs unity and must move on accepting the recommendations of Helena Morrissey’s reports into the culture and processes within the party, although it will take more time to do this.

Chris serving on the FE is not in our best interest, as the levels of anger and division have shown.

I am therefore asking Chris to step down from the FE in the best interests of the party.

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  • We elected the right guy, didn’t we?

  • tiredliberal 17th Nov '15 - 10:44am

    Finally, some leadership on the issue.

  • Excellent piece. Let us hope Lord R is listening and that wise heads in the Lords counsel him appropriately. Not holding my breath, though.

  • Well put. Good leadership.

  • Stephen Ruffian 17th Nov '15 - 10:48am

    Exactly the right statement to make to remind members that the party leader understands their concerns about this issue. Let’s hope that Rennard begins to see this too and acts before more members resign.

  • Adam Bernard 17th Nov '15 - 10:48am

    Well said. Thank you, Tim.

  • Very well put.

  • Alisdair McGregor 17th Nov '15 - 10:49am

    I hope he’ll listen.

    I doubt that he will.

  • Simon Foster 17th Nov '15 - 10:49am

    Absolutely spot on, in my opinion. Chris should do the decent thing now and step down from his role on the FE. Ever since I’ve known Chris Rennard he’s believed in targeting. He should now continue with this belief, and stand down, as there’s a long list of other things we could be targeting £90,000 on.

    The strongest thing we can ever do is to look at things from our opponents point of view and check that we are right. I have no doubt in my mind that Chris believes in his mind he never did anything wrong. What Chris needs to do is think about carefully about how others see things – including 200+ members who have called for a special conference, the views of the Party President, and now the views of our Leader.

    This doesn’t mean Chris has to change his personal view of what happened. He just needs to respect other people’s point of view of what has occurred, even, no, especially when it disagrees with his own.

    I want £90,000 spent on other things. The simple way to do this is for Chris to resign from FE.

    The map is not the territory.

  • Thank you Tim for taking a stand on this, showing leadership and putting things into perspective.

  • Simon McGrath 17th Nov '15 - 10:58am

    Whether you think we should have a Special Conference or not why can’t it wait 9 weeks to be debated in York ?

  • Grace Goodlad 17th Nov '15 - 11:01am

    A really helpful statement from Tim.

    I do hope that the time for reflection and Tim’s statement will prompt a change of heart from Chris and he stands down.

  • Lorraine Johnson 17th Nov '15 - 11:15am

    So proud of you Tim & thank you & Sal for listening to our concerns. I hope he hears your call

  • What Andrew Hickey said.

  • Neil Sandison 17th Nov '15 - 11:17am

    It s very good that our leader has taken a clear position on this. Do we know if there lordships have undertaken a equality and diversity training programme ?I still find it incredible that they were so out of step with the majority of the party.

  • Stephen Howse 17th Nov '15 - 11:21am

    Well done, Tim. Excellent leadership shown on this issue.

  • Liberal Neil 17th Nov '15 - 11:28am

    I think that’s a very balanced statement and hope it will be effective.

    It is also good that Tim makes it clear that although he has a view and is expressing it, he is clear that he cannot dictate how the party runs.

  • Please listen to the leader Chris. It’s not in the party’s interest or yours to take up this post.

  • Spot on from Tim. Excellent responses from both him and Sal on this.

  • A very sensible and reasoned response from the party leader. It was obvious that there was a lot of disquiet in the party. Whatever the result of the investigation there is obviously a lot of strong feeling about this issue.

    Compared with the present Labour leader who every time he opens his mouth sticks his foot in it (a foot shot full of holes), the move made by the Lib Dem leader removes this issue which could have tarnished the party. There is an opening area on the left where people can’t support the madness of the Labour Party and the Lib Dems can take that territory.

  • Great leadership skill and timing. Well done, Tim.

  • We did elect a very good leader. This is a very good statement. I suspect a great deal of work has been going on behind the scenes prior to this.

  • Peter Bancroft 17th Nov '15 - 1:06pm

    A thoughtful post and strong leadership in an almost no-win situation. Well done Tim.

  • Andrew McCaig 17th Nov '15 - 2:35pm

    Good statement by Tim and with the statement 1 hour later by Chris Rennard, good news management by the Party (by the look of it) which I am happy to see!

  • Meenakshi Minnis 17th Nov '15 - 2:57pm

    Very well said Tim. You are a leader I am gaining more and more faith in as time progresses. You understand although democratically done, Chris taking a seat on the FE is not appropriate. You realise that a large number of your membership disagree with varying degrees. Keep going Tim and we will re-build what we lost in the general election.

  • So the leader doesn’t like the result of a properly conducted election. This is hardly democratic. He and the rest of the party should accept the result of this ballot. It goes a long way to indicate why this party is so low in the polls at the moment.

  • Paul Pettinger 17th Nov '15 - 4:23pm

    Justin Trudeau wouldn’t stand for any of this non-sense, and am delighted our Leader hasn’t either. Well done Tim.

  • Trevor

    You are wrong. If this had been allowed to continue, the Party would be even lower in the Polls. Many more women activists would have left and the female (and their friends and family) vote would be lost for ever. No, I see this as a sign that this might be shaping up to be a party I could vote for once more. 🙂

  • Well done Tim.

    So important that you take a strong stance and if Rennard hasn’t got the decency to step down please don’t waste money on a Special Conference. The matter could wait until the Spring conference.

    We all dip into our pockets to support the Lib Dems and I feel our donations should and must be spent sensibly.

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