Vince announces his Chief of Staff and Press Secretary

Those of us who had hoped of a return to Westminster for Sarah Olney will have to wait for a while because she has taken a job which will ensure she is there every day, but will not be able to stand for election.

Vince Cable has appointed her as his new Chief of Staff so she will have a key role in developing his strategy and liaising with the Party to get us all onside.

In many ways, this is an inspired appointment and sends out two very clear messages. First of all, it’s forward looking. Sarah wasn’t even a member of the party two and a half years ago. She joined us in the first post-Clegg surge in May 2015. She is a Lib Dem newbie who is going to be even more at the heart of developing party strategy than she was as an MP. That’s a nod to the members who has joined the party that the new leader may have been around for a while, but he is open to them.

Sarah Olney’s appointment also reaffirms the party’s increasingly vocal anti-Brexit stance. There will be no more equivocating and diffidence.

This should go some way to soothing the nerves of those in the party who were slightly nervous about Vince’s comments in the wake of the referendum about things like freedom of movement and a second referendum.

The other big appointment is Mark Leftly as Vince’s press secretary. I love the fact that he spent 6 years as the assistant editor of Building Magazine, given the rebuild job needed on this party.

He is much better known as the former Deputy Political Editor of the Independent on Sunday. Since he left when the print editions closed down last year, he has worked as a freelance journalist and has written for the likes of Time, The Guardian and the Telegraph. He knows about business, too, as a previous business correspondent at the Independent.

All in all, a very strong team for to support Vince and, we hope, take the party forward.

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

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10 Comments

  • Excellent appointments, showing ambition for the future.

  • Congratulations on the appointments. It will be a tough task to get the Lib Dems to their heyday again.

  • Katharine Pindar 9th Sep '17 - 9:15pm

    I trust that Mark is Leftly-leaning – and of course that Sarah is too. Our Leader will surely ensure that our party steers Centre-Left, as we long-standing members expect it to be.

  • Peter Martin 10th Sep '17 - 8:29am

    “Sarah Olney’s appointment also reaffirms the party’s increasingly vocal anti-Brexit stance. There will be no more equivocating and diffidence.”

    So you think you can safely ignore the 52% who voted to remain? We’re all neo-fascists who are beyond the reach of reasoned argument? No-one who isn’t in love with the neoliberal/ordoliberal EU has any place in the Lib Dems? Acknowledging their viewpoint would be showing “diffidence”?

    Ten years ago I would have voted to remain in the EU. This started to change after the 2008 GFC. My mind was finally made up that we had to leave when I heard this comment from Jean-Claude Juncker.

    “There can be no democratic choice against the European treaties.”

    I’m not saying he’s a fascist but the removal of democratic choice always goes with the imposition of fascism. Whatever we feel on the rights and wrongs of the Greek crisis, when this was said, we cannot go along with such sentiments. Democracy has to be put above everything else. Treaty or no Treaty.

    If there’s any ambition to win back seats lost in the West Country and the Northern Leave towns, Lib Dems have to be pragmatically more democratic too.

  • The thing is Peter, most of us think that staying in the EU is much better for the vast majority of Brits, and that leaving will be very damaging. Perhaps a few LibDems think that it’s OK to subject the British people to poorer living standards if we win back a seat in Cornwall, but I don’t agree with them.

    No-one says to ignore the 52% but nor can you treat them as a homogenous lump who want Brexit at any cost, nor can you use that as an excuse to ignore the 48% or the needs and desires of the population who were under-18 at the time of the referendum.

    Is it really democracy if all parties put a reckless Hard Brexit in their manifesto, and decide against asking tricky (any) questions of the Government’s handling of it?

  • Robert (Somerset) 10th Sep '17 - 6:02pm

    From above:
    Ten years ago I would have voted to remain in the EU. This started to change after the 2008 GFC. My mind was finally made up that we had to leave when I heard this comment from Jean-Claude Juncker.

    “There can be no democratic choice against the European treaties.”

    One has to be very careful when listening to someone making a speech in English when it’s not their first language or someone’s translation of it if it’s in a foreign tongue.

    For instance we use four words to say ‘the day after tomorrow’ while Germans use one, übermorgen, to say the same thing. A German literally translating that back to English could quite legitimately say ‘please come to lunch above morning’ and be puzzled as to why you didn’t know what he was talking about.

  • Peter Martin 11th Sep '17 - 12:29pm

    @ Robert,

    It wasn’t the only thing. I remember hearing an interview with a Greek pensioner who had worked for many years in Germany but then retired back to Greece and moved his euro savings to a Greek account.

    He’d had that account frozen during the 2015 crisis. I remember wondering just why many on the progressive left were so in love with the EU. Surely even a Tory govt wouldn’t treat Scottish people in the same way if a serious dispute between the Holyrood and Westminster Govts had erupted.

    Sure the Germans wanted their money back. But any dispute between Greece and Germany should have been settled through the courts rather than with intimidation and threats.

  • Peter Martin 11th Sep '17 - 12:39pm

    @ Robert,

    The quote originally was in French: “Il ne peut y avoir de choix démocratique contre les traités européens”

    My French isn’t brilliant but I don’t think translation is an issue.

    Other notable Juncker quotes are:

    ” If it’s a Yes, we will say ‘on we go’, and if it’s a No we will say ‘we continue'”
    On the 2005 French referendum on the Lisbon Treaty

    “We decide on something, leave it lying around and wait and see what happens. If no one kicks up a fuss, because most people don’t understand what has been decided, we continue step by step until there is no turning back.”
    Referring to his colleagues in the European Council.

    “Britain is different. Of course there will be transfers of sovereignty. But would I be intelligent to draw the attention of public opinion to this fact?”

    “We all know what to do, we just don’t know how to get re-elected after we’ve done it”

    “Monetary policy is a serious issue. We should discuss this in secret, in the Eurogroup …I’m ready to be insulted as being insufficiently democratic, but I want to be serious….I am for secret, dark debates.”

    Look, this guy may be your president, but he’s not mine!

  • David Bertram 11th Sep '17 - 1:49pm

    Welcome appointments

  • Richard Phillips 12th Sep '17 - 8:51am

    Inspired choice for CoS. Mr Leftly’s CV (and name!) seems very good, too.

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