Friday, July 6, 2007

Clarification requested on government advisory posts for LibDem peers

For the last week I have been trying to get more information on the government advisory posts offered to LibDem peers. I did a lot of googling and left some requests for information on the LibDem voice and Liberalism 2010 Apollo members' forums. Still facing rather a lack of information on some specific points, I yesterday sent this email to Sir Menzies Campbell, Ed Davey (Head of Staff) and Chris Rennard (Chief Executive):


Could some explanation and clarification please be forthcoming on the advisory roles accepted by Baroness Williams, Baroness Neuberger and Lord Lester?

I am very appreciative of Ed's early squashing on LibDem Voice of the Guardian story about Lords taking ministerial roles. I am also extremely appreciative of Ming's clarification of the rules of LibDems accepting advisory posts published on his web site on 28th June:

However, there is an extra element of clarification which is required urgently.

Could you please answer these questions either to me or in some forum?:

1. What specifically are the roles which Lord Lester and Lady Neuberger accepted?

2. How do those roles relate to Ming's rules for post acceptance published on June 28th? That is, can it be confirmed and explained that these roles are strictly within the criteria which Ming outlined?

3. Are there any more advisory posts to be offered? Is there a top limit of advisory posts which the LibDems would accept from the government? For example, if Brown offered 20 peers advisory posts, would all these posts be accepted? Where would we draw the line?

4. Has Baroness Williams accepted the role she was offered? If not, why is there a delay and is there a likelihood she will not accept the role?

5. In the case of the role offered to and accepted by Lord Lester, is this role sufficiently narrow and "insulated" to prevent the Liberal Democrat party being blamed for any constitutional reform botch-up which Gordon Brown produces?

With many thanks and best wishes

Paul Walter, Liberal Democrat member, Newbury, Berkshire.

I look forward to their responses.

UPDATE: This came from the BBC just as I was posting this:

Liberal Democrat peer Shirley Williams has said she is willing to be Gordon Brown's nuclear proliferation adviser "subject to conditions".
She told the BBC she would accept the prime minister's offer, as long as she is allowed to retain her independence.
She also said she wanted the "right to criticise government policy".


  1. Shirley is in the news today, answering your question - she'll accept "with conditions".

  2. Thank you Anonymous, I have obviously been deficient in my googling!

  3. I really don't know a lot about politics, but the Libdems and Labour have quite a lot in common with one another. More than they each have in common with the tories.

    Those of us who haven't voted tory in their lives would be apalled if the libdems and labour split the anti-tory vote in the next general election, letting the tories in.

    So cooperation, in my view, is a very good thing. This must extend not to fighting one another in seats where splitting votes will let the tories in.

    Blair has gone now and whatever we think of him, Brown is a very different animal. We need to put Iraq behind us and think hard about how we're going to ensure that Cameron (and more seriously, the right wingers champing at the bit behind him)doesn't get in.

    If the libdems offer not to compete in seats which would otherwise be marginal (and I have no idea how many fall into that category, so my point may be rather academic) they might, perhaps, be able to strike a deal for the introduction of PR, mightn't they?

    I'm sure this is all very simplistic and that the libdem cognoscenti debate such things into the small hours of the morning, but as an argument it sort of vaguely adds up for me.

    What do you reckon?

  4. Er, I probably should have made the obvious point that I think the current courting between the libdems and labour are, therefore, a good thing.

    (Please could I ask you not to mention the 'I' word in your reply - we've got to sort that out asap and move on from it, but Blair has gone now and the sooner he's gone the better.)

  5. 'sooner he's forgotten' keep forgetting you can't edit these things!

  6. I don't agree Anonymous. The Labour party is not sufficiently liberal or democratic. The Liberal Democrats are an independent party and that is how we will stay. It is up to the voters to decide who they want to vote for, it is our job as an independent party to stand candidates at every election we can.