There can be no ‘good result’ for the LibDems over allegations of sexual misdemeanours by Lord Rennard. Irrespective of the outturn of the affair, the fact that such claims have been made against such a senior personality in the party are scandal generating.
The handling in the past week of such a toxic issue has been mind blowingly awful. Those first making the claims on behalf of leader Nick Clegg that ‘he knew nothing guv’ could not have done his credibility more damage if they had tried, or if they had deliberately orchestrated a plot on his downfall. The fact that Clegg has been obliged to admit now that he ‘knew something but not a lot’ is a potentially terminal nail in his coffin. There is a smell of politicians once again being ‘economical with the truth’. The whole thing stinks of an attempted cover up over who knew what and when. If it wasn’t that then the only other conclusion is that the LibDem hierarchy are an incompetent lot.
The second and possibly the terminal issue for leader Clegg is the manner in which he dealt with the allegations when they surfaced five years ago in 2008. Apparently he dispatched an underling to deal with the problem and he seems to have diligently ensured that he personally ‘knew nothing of significance’ about the alleged bad conduct and behaviour. Audaciously and imprudently he was happy that his junior messenger could give a stiff ‘warning’ to the more senior man and Clegg confidante, Rennard. The whole thing stinks of an attempted cover up over who did what and when, and to close it all down. If it wasn’t that then the only other conclusion is that the LibDem hierarchy are an incompetent lot.
PM David Cameron cannot be happy with these alternative conclusions as the LibDems are in his coalition government and Nick Clegg is Deputy Prime Minister and was appointed by him. Cameron wants Clegg sacked but he can’t do it himself – he has to rely on the LibDems to ditch Clegg as leader and put Vince Cable in his place!
The Eastleigh by election on next Thursday was already going to be quite a screecher, but now the implications are even more electrifying. The LibDem chances looked promising but now are going to be hit by the latest media onslaught against them. Clegg is increasingly likely to be blamed for a failure to hold the seat, so Cameron will have his wish. The Tory vote might benefit, but UKIP are likely to be the real beneficiary and will definitely rain on Cameron’s parade. Poor Labour though will fall by the wayside and come fourth despite the availability of the extra votes, so the threat to Ed Miliband’s prime ministerial prospects of will have him biting his nails to the quick.