Tim Farron and Paddy Ashdown pay tribute to David Rendel

David Rendel on Newbury Town Hall steps - Some rights reserved  by Martin TodPaying tribute to David Rendel, former Liberal Democrat MP for Newbury who passed away last night, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said:

I am hugely saddened by the loss of David Rendel. He was a committed, selfless individual who I will remember particularly for his unyielding campaigning over so many years. I will miss him.

He won a stunning by-election victory in Newbury where he and his team showed the Liberal Democrats had the fight and passion to deliver a fantastic result in a challenging political climate. It was inspirational then, and is inspirational today as Liberal Democrats fight to rebuild.

His continuing work with the party, standing again as a candidate in the 2010 and 2015 elections, and serving on the party’s Federal Executive typified the resilience, commitment and resolve with which he approached politics.

He was a friend and colleague who I know will be sorely missed by his friends, family and the party.

Paddy Ashdown, who led the Liberal Democrats when David was elected to Parliament, said:

David Rendel will be enormously missed by his friends and family. His by-election triumph in Newbury was exceptional and an important step in driving the Liberal Democrats forward.

It takes a strength of character to stand for public office, and his continued work campaigning for the Liberals and Liberal Democrats over so many years reflected not only his character but also his strong commitment and belief in the causes he fought for.

Photo: Some rights reserved by Martin Tod.

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This entry was posted in Obituaries.


  • Paul Harding 17th May '16 - 11:46am

    Very sad, a true gentleman and a campaigner and fighter until the end.

  • Chris Rennard 17th May '16 - 12:46pm

    After the 1992 General Election, the Conservatives seemed invulnerable after winning a fourth consecutive term in Government. But in the budget of 1993, they went too far when Norman Lamont announced that VAT would in future be added to domestic fuel bills. By this time, David Rendel and the Newbury Lib Dems had gained control of the District Council, he was building a strong profile in the Newbury Weekly News and we were the clear opposition to the Conservatives when Judith Chaplin unexpectedly died.
    A BBC ‘On the Record’ documentary in 1993 recorded how in the Newbury by-election, we came from 12,000 behind, for David to win with a landslide 22,005 majority (and a 28% swing). When told of the result in the middle of the night, Paddy Ashdown famously screamed down the phone, “I wanted to be told the majority, not what was our vote.” It had to be explained to him that we had won with 37,950 votes (65.1%), compared to the Tories 15,535 (26.9% and Labour’s 1,151 (2%).
    The high profile campaign revived the party and boosted us to the mid-20s in national opinion polls. It provided a base from which we could go on to win the Christchurch by-election three months later and was one of four parliamentary by-election gains that we made from the Tories in that Parliament, helping to weaken them and remove their slender parliamentary majority. Norman Lamont (whose Special Adviser was then David Cameron) was sacked shortly afterwards. The campaign helped to show the party a different way of fighting elections and which was hugely successful for us when we doubled our number of MPs in 1997.
    The party owes much to David, the family who supported him and the team of local Lib Dems in Newbury who enabled this to happen. I have made a fuller posting on my Facebook page.
    Chris Rennard was the Campaign Director for the Newbury by-election

  • David was always very generous with his time, turning up to inspire the workers at the most unlikely local by-elections. And let’s not forget that he was the only member of the National Executive to warn against the coalition at the special Conference.

  • David Evans 17th May '16 - 1:23pm

    A truly inspirational man, whose wise counsel the party and I personally will miss very much. An Old Etonian, who like Jo Grimond, showed that a privileged upbringing does not inevitably lead to an arrogance so often shown by pupils of that school. He was steadfast to his principles and was always admired for it.

    In 2010 this included his principled stand and warning about the proposed coalition with the Conservatives. At the time it was reported that support for coalition was unanimous at the meeting of MPs, Lords and the Federal Executive, but later it became clear that he had spoken and voted against it. As he said to the BBC,

    “It was very lonely being on my own. I was with a group of about 250 people – all of whom I liked and respected. But I said in my speech that I felt this was a short-term government and all we would get would be short-term gains. Come the next election there was every chance we would go back to a minority government and any gains would be wiped out.”

    Alone amongst those in the room he concluded that the reaction of the public was not worth the compromise.

    His wisdom and judgement will be sadly missed.

  • Richard Underhill 17th May '16 - 2:54pm

    The Economist Magazine forecast that the Tory majority of 21 in the Commons would reduce to zero, which was mentioned in the Liberal Democrat News and which happened precisely.

  • Louisa Passfield 17th May '16 - 6:03pm

    I campaigned for David in the General Election campaign in 2005, and delivered vast amounts of leaflets both then, and during the council elections of 2007. Meeting him was an honour, it is rare to find such a true gentleman, and decent man who believed passionately in representing his constituents to the best of his remarkable ability. Newbury lost an excellent MP in 2005. I’m deeply saddened to hear this news and I send sincere, heartfelt condolences to his family.

  • John A Boyd 18th May '16 - 8:29pm

    I remember the first time I saw David as he walked down Northbrook St in Newbury during the midst of the 1993 campaign. He acknowledged me as I emerged from my car which had a David Rendel sticker in the front window. Many years later, whilst he was delivering residents surveys in the street where I lived I went out and spoke with him, the outcome of that conversation was me joining the party and being elected to the Thatcham Town Council literally weeks later.
    David was inspirational, even if people didn’t always agree with our policies they committed to our cause because of the ‘David factor’. Tireless doesn’t even come close to describing his work rate. He was always there to lead and support whatever election was taking place and would be there at the count. Nothing was ever too much trouble for David and The Liberal Democrats have lost a Champion amongst men. I am proud to have known David and to have considered him a friend. My condolences go to his family and all who knew him.

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