Chris Rennard to stand down as Lib Dem chief executive after 4th June elections

This just emailed to members:

My reason for writing is that I have decided to make the current election campaigns my last as Chief Executive. I discussed this with Nick some time ago and I have given notice to the Party President that I will stand down as Chief Executive at the end of the Summer.

I want to be able to work more flexibly in future whilst of course continuing to help our party advance. I believe that I will be better able to do so without the administrative burdens of being Chief Executive and running the party’s day to day organisation.

For family and health reasons, I have needed to change the way in which I work. My wife Ann has supported me enormously in all my work. But since she retired a few years ago after more than 35 years teaching, we wanted to have something of a more normal life outside the Westminster bubble.

This has become more important to me as I have struggled to maintain good diabetic control with the rigours of a very demanding lifestyle. This has proved to be increasingly difficult whilst carrying out the role of Chief Executive at HQ and around the country.

I decided that this Summer would be the best time for me and for the party to make a change. I am letting the party know this now, so that it can take the necessary steps to appoint a new Chief Executive in the Autumn.

My major work as Chief Executive in recent years has been to help create new structures for the party organisation and help to recruit an extremely strong professional team to work for it. The role of Chief Executive has therefore changed significantly since I undertook this role six years ago.

By the Summer, we will have had crucial local and European elections and I believe that we will do well in them. I am also confident that Nick Clegg will prove to be the most successful Leader that we have ever had. I am immensely proud of the roles that I have played so far in securing the steady advance of the Liberal Democrat cause. Our values and beliefs have never been more important than they are today. I will, of course, continue to support the General Election campaign, but not as chair.

Finally, I would just like to thank all members personally for all the support that I have had whilst working for the party and I look forward to continuing to work with you in future.

PS I thought about letting you know this after the current round of elections, but having taken the decision and informed the Leader and President, I wanted you to hear directly from me and to fully understand why I have been trying to make lifestyle changes and will make an even more significant one later this year.

Nick Clegg comments as follows:

“It is impossible to exaggerate Chris’ immense contribution to the Liberal Democrats over the years. Without Chris’ unique skills as one of the country’s most astute and effective political campaigners, I doubt that the party would now have the largest number of MPs in decades.

“More recently, his work as Chief Executive of the party has been invaluable in steering the party through some turbulent times and significantly professionalising the organisational aspects of the party.

“I am especially grateful to him for the invaluable support he gave to me when I first became party Leader. At all times, he has been utterly loyal, hard working and dedicated to the wider good of the Party.

“He will be sorely missed as Chief Executive by the many people in the party for whom he has been a huge inspiration for years.

“Whilst I understand Chris’ reasons for moving on as Chief Executive, I am equally looking forward to drawing on his immense wisdom and insight into politics in the years ahead.”

Discuss.

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29 Comments

  • Good luck with your, uh, diabetes n’at.

  • Alix Mortimer 21st May '09 - 1:33pm

    *off-topic housekeeping*

    Can I just apologise to any confused readers over my boo-boo in suddenly pushing this post down to second on the blog just now? The timestamp had suddenly jumped out by an hour and I was trying to fix it.

    I promise I will never try and do anything technical ever again.

    *blush*

  • Alix Mortimer 21st May '09 - 1:53pm

    …and back on topic, hmm. A tad disingenuous. It may well be true that he was already considering standing down, but he must know that it’s going to sound like bollocks. So he’s not going to comment further on the allegations and he isn’t going to repay the money he may or may not owe?

    Really, there’s two questions here. Do we want someone with that allegation against them to hold office in the party? No, probably not, so this takes care of that, which is something. But the second question is, do we want unelected lords giving inadequate answers to perfectly reasonable questions about what they do with public money? And this resignation doesn’t really resolve that.

  • hear, hear Alix

  • If the Party’s campaigning falls to pieces now, and any of the weasels and pipsqueaks who have subjected Lord Rennard to trial by newspaper this past fortnight have seats to defend, and they lose, they will know whom to blame.

    Rupert Murdoch must be wetting himself laughing at the weakness and stupidity of these fools (or are some of the smarter of their number angling for careers in the media?).

    A sad day for the Lib Dems.

    BTW, Chris hasn’t said that he is withdrawing from campaigning.

    PS: The Walter Mittys who think they can do it better than Chris will soon vanish from view – they will get fed up losing and join the Tories.

  • Mark Williams 21st May '09 - 2:10pm

    A victory for common sense. As a diabetic I can confirm that the best form of control is to remove one’s snout from the trough. Perhaps the new Chief Executive will blame Rennard for the Michael Brown donation and hand it back.

    As for “the most formidable campaigner in Britain”: formidable campaigners don’t finish third.

  • Yeah Senseco, who cares if we are bent and corrupt.

    AS LONG AS WE GET ELECTED

  • Well said Alix and the less said about Sesenco’s post the better…

    The principles of campaigning established by Chris Rennard (and Andy Ellis before him) are well established across the party with or without Chris at the helm. Chris by the way has not been Director of Campaigns for a number of years with the formidable Hilary Stephenson having taken over seamlessly.

  • IanH: I take it that by “we”, you are referring to the Conservative Party – the party that you yourself support?

  • Alix – agree totally. The issue of probity has not gone away and needs adressing publicly.

  • David Allen 21st May '09 - 2:40pm

    Well said Alix. If nothing else is said, very quickly, then our opponents would be quite entitled to assume that Clegg has said his last word on the subject. The contrast with Cameron’s decisive action is painful.

    We’re losing on this issue, when we ought to be winning! The Tories are ten times sleazier than we are, but by making some sensible responses, Cameron has come out smelling of roses.

  • Sara – indeed I stand corrected.

  • Mark Williams 21st May '09 - 3:31pm

    “The Tories are ten times sleazier than we are”.

    You mean the Tories are hanging on to £24 million of impermissible donations accepted “in good faith”?

    Gosh! I didn’t know that.

  • From a party perspective, he has done good work for us but it was important that he get the boot after his terrible expenses abuses.

    From a more general perspective this looks like a way to try and get some of the pressure off without admitting any error (and keeping the dosh). Not good enough and not credible.

  • David Allen 21st May '09 - 3:43pm

    Mark Williams, sorry, you shouldn’t have taken “ten times” too literally. No doubt it has led you to a gross underestimate of ill-gotten Tory gains!

  • So they’ve realised Rennard’s position is untenable, but they’ve decided to pretend that it’s nothing to do with the allegations over his expenses?

    Frankly, I hope the police investigate this, because it’s obvious the party can’t be trusted to.

  • @Sesenco I have never voted anything except Liberal, SDLP, Labour (to help evict the sitting Tory in Withington, Manchester) then LibDem

    I know as little about you as you do about me so I limit my postings to comments about your utterances.

    I really want to see the LibDems greatly increase their presence in Westminster but not if it means yellow-rosetted versions of the shysters in red and blue.

  • Dave Hennigan 21st May '09 - 7:16pm

    Many of Chris’s attributes have been taken on board by people across the country. His campaigning skills are legendary and I remember proudly watching Iain Dale interviewing Chris and asking him quite simply ‘…how do you do it?’, referring to the Byelection triumphs that he led!

    Chris did, and will continue inspiring us to campaign and win and always gave time to all members of the party, no matter whether they are MPs, Campaign Staff or a brand new member.

    I am sure and hope that Chris and Lady Ann will continue to help and inspire us and hope that they enjoy their retirement!

    Dave Hennigan
    Rochdale

  • Terry Gilbert 21st May '09 - 7:52pm

    Perhaps Chris’s legendary campaigning was the result of a ruthless streak not inconsistent with screwing the taxpayer for as much as possible? It leaves him sadly tarnished.

    In my view, the Federal Executive must act NOW to clean up the party, and expel those MPs – and Lords – whose claims were unjustified. It may leave us a little lighter in this Parliament, but will benefit us in the end.

  • What the hell are we doing? Where is Chris’ political judgement here – and where is Nick Clegg’s for that matter? How on earth are we getting beaten by moat dredging tories on this issue???????

  • Martin Kinsella 22nd May '09 - 6:05pm

    Guido has an interesting view on Rennard.

  • “Guido has an interesting view on Rennard.”

    Hmm. The implication seems to be that the News of the World has dug up some more scandal concerning Rennard, of a nature that its readership may find more congenial…

  • Chris Squire 24th May '09 - 5:30pm

    The best remedy for diabetes is exercise – lots of it. I recommend to Lord R that he fills up his new-found leisure by delivering lots and lots of Focuses. If he manages to walk off a couple of stone, he will feel and look a new man.

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