'Oh, so that's who Richard Morris is..." Lord Hattersley on The Daily Politics

'An influential activist' - The Guardian

'Iain Dale, without the self loathing' - Matthew Fox in The New Statesman

You are a tinker...' - Tim Farron

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Are there other 'Former MPs' plotting with Lembit?

In a generally very unhelpful piece in The Guardian on Monday Jackie Ashley wrote...

'The final part of this fantasy conference is the commonly held idea that Clegg isn't really the Lib Dem leader, or at any rate won't be for long.Tim Farron is coming! Vince is on his way!
But the plotting is real enough. A group of defeated MPs and others are planning a motion for the Lib Dem gathering next spring to change the party rules in order to allow leaders to be ousted by the party conference. They'd be unlikely to get the necessary two-thirds majority, but a simple numerical one would be such a stinging rejection of Clegg that he would have to resign. Then, the argument goes, the party could find a different leader (probably Cable, as a stopgap) for the 2015 election, and save as many seats as possible'.
Hmm, I wondered. Who are this group of defeated MPs?

Then, after about 2 seconds thoughts, I worked out it was Lembit. And sure enough, a few days later I read...

'Last night's Liberal Left event was the exception – former MP Lembit Opik openly demanded that Clegg resign as leader, soliciting support for a petition that calls for Clegg to remain as deputy prime minister, but step away from the running of the party.
"The problem is that the image of the Liberal Democrats is mixed up with the coalition government," said Opik. Clegg is too tainted by his relationship with the Tories, he said: if he's not ousted by the next election, "we'll be throttled to death."
Currently, the Lib Dem conference cannot fire the Lib Dem leader. But should Opik's petition gather enough support, it would force a vote at the party's spring conference on whether to give delegates the power to sack Clegg. The proposal would need a two-thirds majority to pass'.
But read Ashleys original piece, and she apparently deliberately writes 'a group of defeated MPs'. That implies not just Lembit. So who could this be? Here's the list of sitting MPs who lost their place in the last General Election.

Sandra Gidley, Romsey, 2000-10
Julia Goldsworthy, Falmouth and Camborne, 2005-10
Evan Harris, Oxford West and Abingdon, 1997-2010
Paul Holmes, Chesterfield, 2001-10
Susan Kramer, Richmond Park, 2005-10
Lembit Öpik, Montgomeryshire, 1997-2010
Willie Rennie, Dunfermline and West Fife, 2006-10
Paul Rowen, Rochdale, 2005-10

No obvious suspects there I would suggest. The only possible rebel I would say may be Evan - but he is FAR too sensible to throw his lot in with Lembit. Isn't he?

So is Jackie Ashley flying a kite? or are we looking at MPs who lost in 2005? 

Answers on a postcard. PS For what it's worth, Lembits petition probably wouldn't work. Here's the rules on changing a party leader in the Lib Dems Get Adobe Flash player


  1. The problem I have with Conference being able to oust the Leader is what if its in an awkward part of the country for example Brighton, that alienates you know a lot of Scottish members.

  2. Aha!!!! hold that thought! I am about to launch a campaign on conference, voting, attendance and all that jazz. Should launch in the next few days.