'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

Sunday, 10 May 2015

There are many fine Liberal Democrats who cannot lead the party. Time for a change?

Our constitution is very clear - the party leader must come from the massed ranks of our representatives in the House of Commons. So there are just 8 names in the frame. And in reality probably 3 - Tim, Alistair or Norman (I had heard Alistair had ruled himself out but cannot now find the article I thought informed me of this - so I may be wrong).

This makes perfect sense when you have 50, 60 or more MPs to choose from - and indeed even now we are fortunate that with just 8 MPs ,we still find ourselves with excellent candidates who will do a fine job.

But I wonder if this is a moment when we should consider if the leadership of the party as a whole should extend beyond the Commons - not on this occasion but for future campaigns; perhaps even a rule that this is the case if our numbers in The Commons fall beneath a certain threshold? Would anyone really begrudge the chance for Kirsty Williams or Willie Rennie to run? Some of our representatives in the House of Lords - with some more big beats of the party apparently likely to join their ranks soon? Our one current or many former MEPs? Caroline Pidgeon?

Other parties  - for different reasons - seem to cope admirably with a leader who doesn't grace the green benches; SNP, Greens, UKIP.

Perhaps next time we should widen the leadership net a little further


  1. So that's a nationalist party whose leader is First Minister of the country and a member of the Parliament they think is more important, a former leader who many in that party wish still was and someone who resigned as leader on not becoming an MP? While our political system (and the media) is so focused on Westminster, I can't see any benefits to changing it.

    1. Of course I take your point ref other parties but I suspect in future we may not be so fortunate to have such strong candidates in a small field - and may want insurance against that