Sir Malcolm Bruce to stand for Lib Dem Deputy Leader post?

It had seemed almost certain that this month’s Deputy Leader contest – triggered by Simon Hughes’s decision to resign the post to become Justice Minister in the Coalition – would be between Solihull MP Lorely Burt and Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle.

However, there’s an intriguing suggestion in today’s Independent that Gordon MP Sir Malcolm Bruce (who’s retiring from the Commons at the 2015 election) will also throw his hat into the ring:

Lib Dem MPs are planning to vote next week in the party’s deputy leadership election. Lorely Burt, the MP for Solihull, is being urged to use the contest as a platform for enhancing the status of women in the party. Sir Malcolm Bruce, who is standing down as an MP at the next election, is planning to announce his candidacy this week. Senior figures are concerned that, with Mr Clegg focusing on government, the party is in need of a “strong and safe pair of hands” to see the Lib Dems through what is being described as one of the most dangerous and unstable periods in its recent history.

“There has been a lot of frustration with Clegg’s leadership in the Lords,” added a senior Liberal Democrat peer. “There is a view that the party needs someone like Sir Malcolm Bruce … to distract the Deputy Prime Minister from the advice he is being given by special advisers and party officials.”

The electorate for the post of Deputy Leader is restricted to MPs (party members vote for Party President). Announcing her candidacy on he website earlier in January, Lorely Burt said she had received 24 nominations, with 29 votes needed to win outright.

Other than the party’s wish to ensure one of its seven women MPs has a leadership role, there is another important consideration: the post will give whoever holds it increased media profile. It would be a surprise if MPs chose to give that opportunity to an MP who’s retiring rather than an MP who’s defending a marginal seat.

* Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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  • Delighted that Lorely is standing and has already received 24 nominations. I hope that doesn’t make her the leadership’s choice though.

  • Tony Dawson 19th Jan '14 - 7:13pm

    Malcolm Bruce is the best Leader this Party has not had.

  • If theres one thing we dont need its another “Senior” figure working against The Leadership. In any case Malcolm Bruce would be leaving the job just when some continuity might be useful.
    Unfortunately, Lorely Burts stated support for Rennard makes her seem less suitable, she would lose my Vote if I had one.

  • Morgan Inwood 19th Jan '14 - 11:53pm

    I am sorry but what is the point in standing when you are not standing at the General Election? Is Malcolm running on hos own accord or was he persuaded to run to cause problems for Nick?

  • peter tyzack 20th Jan '14 - 10:08am

    However revered Malcolm may be, I can’t see how a senior figure in the Lords would chime with the ordinary member. The role is to be Deputy to Nick, and hopefully the winner will be there to provide a measure of continuity when, in due course, Nick steps down. Lorely is Midlands based, easily connecting to all parts of the country, but most importantly will help us in speaking to women voters.
    As regards Gordon, I can’t even place his face, so that doesn’t augur well.

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