Lib Dems pay tribute to Lord Robert Maclennan

The Liberal Democrats have today led tributes following the death of Lord Robert Maclennan.

Lord Robert Maclennan of Rogart, known as Bob Maclennan, was the last leader of the Social Democrat Party before it merged with the Liberal Party. He then became joint interim leader of the new party.

Bob Maclennan was a Member of Parliament from 1966 to 2001. Upon stepping down as MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, Bob Maclennan was elevated to the House of Lords.

Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ed Davey said:

It is with great sadness that we learn our friend and colleague Bob Maclennan has died.

Bob was the kind of politician we all strive to be. Considerate, honest and hardworking with an uncanny ability to reach out across the political spectrum to find common ground.

He was also a great servant, over many decades, to his Highland constituents. A passionate advocate of devolution, he campaigned tirelessly for the creation of the Scottish Parliament and wider constitutional reform.

As Liberal Democrats, we also pay him a huge dept of gratitude. It was his determined leadership and bravery that proved critical in the formation of the movement we know today.

I personally owe a huge debt to Bob. He advised me through my own career and was a real source of strength and encouragement. His love of the arts and his commitment to a fairer society shone through so many of our conversations.

Bob made our politics and our country better. He will be sadly missed and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords, Dick Newby, added:

Bob Maclennan was passionate about Europe, constitutional reform and social justice. He saw them all as interconnected and pursued them with energy and determination throughout his political career. I worked with him for almost 40 years and will miss him greatly.

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9 Comments

  • Sad news indeed. Bob held his seat for three different parties (Labour, SDP, LibDems) over nearly 4 decades, which says a lot about his personal popularity there. I remember doing some canvassing years ago for a local by election up there (I was there on holiday and thought, why not?) Almost every door I went to had a good word for him, all un-prompted.
    I also recall when he became party president (1994?) A lot of the old Liberals I knew thought he would be a disaster, but soon they were singing his praises for the way he did the job. Paul is right. He was a big player in bringing the two parties together in that time.

  • David Evans 18th Jan '20 - 6:20pm

    A sad day. He stuck by his principles and worked hard to fuse (Yes that’s very good work Paul) the two parties together at a difficult time. We were so much more successful after merger as our strong links with Social Democrats grew year by year to build what had been a perpetually struggling third party into a truly effective fighting force.

  • Nicholas M Cotter 18th Jan '20 - 7:59pm

    A True Gentleman in the Charles Kennedy mold ……….

    Very few Statesmen of Gravitas like him nowadays ……….

  • Adrian Sanders 18th Jan '20 - 9:24pm

    A thoroughly decent man who in my experience always had time for people. As Leader of the SDP he was crucial in finding the compromises that enabled the merger with the Liberal Party to happen. We own him a debt of thanks for helping, often against the odds, to make the new merged Party survive and thrive.

  • I will remember him for his kindness and courtesy. I organised a fringe meeting at which he agreed to speak. Afterwards I wrote to thank him. He then wrote to thank *me* for my compliments to him. I do not think I have ever known anyone else who would have done that.

  • A true gentleman we helped him in his 1970election school girls and could not afford the 12/6d ticket to victory ball in The Norseman not only did he pay our tickets but sent a car to collect us. He won as a Labour SDP and Lib Dem If only we had honest MPs like him now Love to Barbara his wife and children RIP

  • Very sorry to hear this sad news. Due to his good natured and mild mannered approach, lesser people sometimes underestimated Bob Maclennan – but he was always highly principled and his integrity was beyond challenge. Moreover, in the crucial and pivotal role that he played as interim leader of the SDP during 1987-88, he was probably the real (but still widely unacknowledged) hero of the Lib/SDP merger process.

  • I’m very sad to hear this and my condolences go to Helen and his family. Bob was passionate about the arts in the Far North and beyond and in recent years we were trying to establish an arts study centre in Caithness. He was a true gentleman, soft spoken and very much someone who you would benefit from listening to.

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