Help us find the Liberal Democrat stars of 2015 – starting with Rosie Farron, Janet Rennie and Richard Rees

For the last couple of years, around this time,  we’ve  asked you to name your Liberal Democrat Stars of the year.  Little did we know that in 2013, what we thought might be an interesting comments thread for a day or two would turn into a six part Liberal Democrat Roll of Honour  with some really lovely tributes to some fabulous people.

This year has been the worst time ever to be a Liberal Democrat, I’m not going to lie about that. What’s kept me going, though, is the camaraderie, inspiration and sheer dedication of so many people in this party. This coming year has its challenges, mainly in Scotland, Wales and London and with the EU Referendum. Our colleagues will sustain us in so many ways. It’s good to celebrate them.

This isn’t just about honouring the Great and the Good, although they are as eligible as anyone else. It’s about appreciating anyone from grassroots activist to Cabinet Minister who has made your Liberal Democrat journey easier, more stimulating and satisfying or who has provided comfort and inspiration for the future.

You can make your suggestions in several ways:

  • in the comments to this and other posts in the next few days
  • by emailing [email protected]
  • by tweeting @libdemvoice

Just tell us who you are nominating and why.

I have a few suggestions of my own, and right at the top of that list are three people whose personal hard work and willingness to sacrifice a huge portion of their family life keep our party going.

Rosie Farron, Janet Rennie and Richard Rees

Rosie, Janet and Richard are married to our three UK leaders. Being the partner of a party leader is not easy. You know that living with a political type is going to bring its own challenges. There was one former MP’s home I know where it took years for the hall to be decorated after the wallpaper was ripped. There was always an election that was more important.

If they get elected to Parliament, you’ll only see them half the week and their working hours will be phenomenal. When they are home, they’ll be working hard in the constituency. But if they are leaders, the whole damn party wants a piece of them too. Tim Farron’s schedule was utterly bonkers this Autumn as he ended up going to regional and state party conferences the length and breadth of the country.  Then there’s the dinners and events and state occasions that they are required to attend that eat into yet more precious weekends and family time.

We owe our leaders’ partners a massive debt of gratitude for being willing to make the sacrifices that their role entails. If there’s a non-life-threatening emergency on the eve of some great parliamentary occasion, or some keynote speech, chances are you’ll be left to deal with it on your own. That impacts on both partners, of course, because who wouldn’t want to be at home in these circumstances, but sometimes it isn’t possible.  So, today, let’s all raise a glass of something festive (at a more appropriate time of the day, maybe.  Actually, what the hell, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere) to our leaders’ partners and thank them for all they do.



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

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This entry was posted in News.


  • Stephen Clarke 26th Dec '15 - 11:12am

    It occurs to me that as well as having a Lib Dem Star award which will probably go to someone everyone has heard of and nothing wrong with that, It might also be good to have an unsung hero award to give recognition to one of those people who have worked tirelessly for the party without fuss.

  • James Baker and Mick Taylor in Calderdale. Both of whom have gone above and beyond the call of duty for the party despite various health & personal difficulties.

  • Sheree Miller, our outstanding candidate in Boleyn Ward by-election, who got a thoroughly deserved second place. Just brilliant on the doorstep, talking to people, listening to their concerns. And a great chilli too 😉

  • A Social Liberal 26th Dec '15 - 1:01pm

    I nominate David Evans

  • Rabi Martins 26th Dec '15 - 1:02pm

    How about a collective award for everyone who stood as our Parliamentary Candidate in our derelict seats at great personal expense and sacrifice just for the sake of the Party ?

  • Neil Mackinnon 26th Dec '15 - 1:18pm

    I am afraid this focus on spouses in politics makes me really uncomfortable. The private lives of politicians should remain private. Just as in any other profession there needs to be a demarcation between a politician’s work and there home life. You are correct when you say that they make sacrifices for their other half’s work – but so do lots of people. And it would be fair to say that Sarah Brown and Samantha Cameron have allowed themselves to be presented to the media in a way designed to soften their respective husband’s image. Despite this participation in presenting an old fashioned and pre feminist image of themselves it would be in their interest as well as ours for us to change our approach.

  • adrian sanders 26th Dec '15 - 6:14pm

    I nominate the staff who lost their jobs together with their supportive families as a consequence of Clegg’s leadership and those who advised him along with all those constituency activists everywhere who didn’t deserve the results they got.

  • Hannah Bettsworth 26th Dec '15 - 7:55pm

    Joanne Ferguson – one of our awesome new young members at the University of Glasgow! Paul McGarry will tell me off if I don’t add that she is originally from Central Scotland 😛

  • Stephen Hesketh 27th Dec '15 - 8:14am

    I second Adrian Sanders’ nomination

  • Stephen Hesketh 27th Dec '15 - 8:26am

    A Social Liberal 26th Dec ’15 – 1:01pm
    I nominate David Evans

    In a similar vein to Adrian Sanders’ nomination, David Evans (amongst very many) foresaw but who then personally worked tirelessly to avoid the calamity that befell us. Thank you for all your personal efforts David.

  • Mark Blackburn 27th Dec '15 - 9:21am

    I don’t personally know the guy, but from what I’ve seen in 2015 I’d say Zach Polanski. We’ve had the benefit of him seemingly landing from space in our party with boundless energy AND efficiency, a rare combination in LD circles. He appears ambitious, but with a true liberal soul.

  • Andrew Noblet 27th Dec '15 - 10:10am

    I would support Adrian Sanders nomination linked with Rabi Martins.

  • As an ex staffer who got redundancy notice on May 8th: thanks Adrian, Stephen and Andrew

  • Dave G Fawcett 27th Dec '15 - 11:17am

    I would like to nominate Gateshead councillor, Frank Hindle. He has been a councillor in the town for 25 years he and served as opposition group leader on Gateshead Council during the difficult years of the coalition. He has also been N.E Regional Chair and was the Parliamentary candidate in Gateshead in 2010 and 2015. He has been the election agent for the local authority elections for years. and he is currently starting a term as Chair of Gateshead Liberal Democrats. Frank has dedicated his life to the party and deserves some recognition for his dedication and work.

  • I know I’ll be accused of creeping for self-preservation, but I nominate Dave Hodgson and Christine McHugh. Dave got comfortably re-elected as Bedford Borough Mayor whilst our local parliamentary votes sunk into oblivion. Why ? Because he does a bloody good job as Mayor and is but one cog in an effective local campaign team. Christine very slightly because she is Dave’s partner, but mainly because she is the driving force behind the effective local campaign team that gets much more right than it does wrong. With these two and a small number of others, North Beds Liberal Democrats is a great campaigning team. Sometimes, I wish life was less hectic, but I know without them, we wouldn’t be what or where we are.

  • Our European Liberal Democeats are ably led by dedicated and hard working Catherine Bearder should not her spouse be added to the list, Professior, Simon Bearder? Not forgetting our wider European group ALDE which is led by the inspiring Guy Verhofstadt his spouse Singer, Dominique Verkinderen should also get a mention.

  • Our European Liberal Democrats are ably led by the dedicated and hard working Catherine Bearder. Should not her spouse be added to the list, Professior, Simon Bearder? Not forgetting our wider European group ALDE which is led by the inspiring Guy Verhofstadt. Should his spouse Singer, Dominique Verkinderen not also get a mention.

  • I would hope that any identification of Lib Dem ‘stars’ in 2015 should be the same in 2016 and would involve assessing individuals according to two criteria alone.

    (a) what have they done to ensure that a Liberal Democrat message has been spread


    (b) what have they done to ensure that Lib Dem candidates win, as opposed to lose, elections.

    Were it not for this party’s handful of ‘winners’, our star would not only never again be ascendant. We would be heading from red dwarf to black hole while the chatterati spin round endlessly and aimlessly on a fragmented asteroid belt.

  • Richard Underhill 28th Dec '15 - 11:48am

    Gareth Epps 28th Dec ’15 – 11:09am
    Are you discounting Tim Farron’s commitment to this cause? which comes from his religious beliefs.
    Pity about the name though, which is confusing. Sanctuary does not exist in UK law and one person who sought sactuary in a cathedral in the UK has been refused asylum and removed to his home country unharmed.
    It would also be misleading to imply that refugees want only one thing, such as “sanctuary” or safety, because an overwhelmingly majority of them want to return home when it is safe to do so, as UNHCR says.
    The 1951 UN refugee convention specifically covers five different grounds, which might overlap, one of which is religion. It does not specify any particular religion, so Sunnis who are persecuted by Shias and Shias who are persecuted by Sunnis are covered by the same text and may live together in a receiving country such as the UK
    In the former Yugoslavia Catholics were persecuted by Serbian and Montenegrin Orthodox, Orthodox by Catholics and Muslims by both. Communism in Europe was and in China is nominally atheist and pressurises a variety of religious beliefs, creating victims on both religious and ethnic criteria.

  • Christine Jardine 28th Dec '15 - 3:37pm

    This is a tough one. I had two organisers – Laura and Ross – who worked tirelessly in the first half of the year, and a third. – Jenny Marr who did the same in the second half.
    But my nomination is a group one for all the volunteers and activists who gave their all for a general election campaign that they knew was an uphill battle.

  • Christine Jardine

    An “uphill battle” in an area that was rock solid LibDem voting for decades! An interesting spin on the loss of your heartland.
    I think some relection is required. I’ve campaigned there for many, many years and I cannot think of a harder seat for the LibDems to lose apart from Orkney & Shetland. (which is now a marginal)

  • Sheree Miller 28th Dec '15 - 8:59pm

    Nominate Elaine Bagshaw for working tirelessly in East London.

  • Dear all

    I would like to mominate my grandad, Stan wade, a former district Cllr in the new forest for 30 years who,lost his seat this year. I appreciate this is not thinking outside the box but here are my reasons.

    1 when we struggle for members a support on doorstep, Stan, who,is eighty plus was out delivering focuses a canvassing most nights. He was determined to be honest at the door a not just speak in cliches . He is himself at the door.

    2. He has the energy of a party member quarter his age and still,has the fire on his belly to ensure the new forest has a liberal voice. He has kept inspiring me to be the best Cllr I can be on the district since being elected myself (opposition of 2 to 58!)

    3. He continues to try and support residents by raising issues and work with current Cllrs as much as he can.

    As I say yes he is family, but Also a sign that the lib dem fire can keep,burning in those of any age.

    In addition, Jack davies, the elect chair of nfdc lib dems, his enthusiasm in a very tough year for the local party and his campaigns have shown there is a bright future.

    Wishing all a happy,new year, alex wade

  • Steve Comer 11th Feb '16 - 3:51pm

    I would like to nominate Guy Verhofstadt who had demonstrated that it is possible to be a Liberal Group Leader in a Parliament without letting glittering prizes and endless compromises shatter the illusion of integrity!

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