Those who appointed Rennard need to accept the consequences of what they’ve done

Lib-Dem-logoWith depressing predictability, many people’s response to the concerns a lot of Liberal Democrat members have raised about the return of Chris Rennard to the Federal Executive has been ‘aren’t there more important things to worry about?’ It’s also interesting to note that ‘shut up and deliver leaflets‘ has now evolved into ‘go and do some phone canvassing’. This is of course mixed in with ‘don’t you know there’s a by-election on’ and ‘talking about this just gives us bad publicity’ to try and shut down any debate by blaming everyone else for the bad things.

It’s an interesting attempt at political judo: trying to make it look like it’s those people complaining about the Lords putting Chris Rennard on the FE are the ones in the wrong, rather than those who’ve actually made the decision. It feels to me very much like people who misunderstand free speech – yes, you have the right to say what you like, or elect whoever you choose, but that doesn’t free you from the consequences of your actions. Imagine if Tim Farron used his slot at Prime Minister’s Questions to ask Cameron if he could tell him who put the ram in the ram a lam a ding dong. He’s perfectly entitled to ask that, and as leader he can choose the subject of his questions, but he’d have to face the consequences of that choice.

This is the situation the Lords group – or, at least, the 40-odd of them who voted for Rennard – are in. They’ve made their decision according to the rules they have and in accordance with the power they have to appoint a member to the FE. Having seen the decision they’ve made, a large chunk of people in the rest of the party have pointed out that it’s a really bad decision and the response hasn’t been to try and explain why they think it’s a good decision, but to complain that people are daring to criticise it. Hiding behind ‘there are more important things you should be doing’ and ‘you’re making the party look bad, go and deliver leaflets as penance’ is quite a depressing way to try and avoid a debate and shift the blame for the effects of a decision onto those who didn’t make it.

Too many people forget that liberalism is about the freedom to make decisions and act, but that freedom comes with responsibility for the consequences of your actions. No one acts in a vacuum or makes decisions that are void of consequences and to assume that you can do whatever you want without facing criticism when you get it wrong is to demand to be removed from all consequences and be unaccountable in the way you exercise your power. Unaccountable power is something liberalism opposes, and it’s those who are trying to get everyone to move on and just accept it that are being illiberal here.

5 thoughts on “Those who appointed Rennard need to accept the consequences of what they’ve done”

  1. Well said. In effect they’re answering a different question – not “how do the LD Lords justify what they’ve done?” but “do the LD Lords have to justify what they’ve done?” – and giving the wrong answer (“No”).

    Or rather, saying they don’t have to justify themselves is the strictly, literally correct answer, even though it’s staringly obvious that it’s politically and ethically wrong. Blimey, it’s deja vu all over again.

  2. To be fair, a very large proportion of the electorate is anticipating the Lib Dem result in the forthcoming by-election (wherever it is) with feverish interest.

  3. One correction to this article- nobody appointed Rennard to this position, he was elected.

    A very bad election result from a narrow unaccountable electorate to be fair IMHO. but still an election result.

  4. … and those who are campaigning to have a Special Conference (with all the time and cost associated with it) to determine whether the Lords should have a Federal Exec rep or not, need to accept the potential consequences of what they are doing. As do those simply posting their (generally) negative views on those Lib Dems in the HoL – i.e. those Lib Dems who nearly stopped the Tories gerrymandering the electorate for the Boundary Review; fought harder against the cuts in Working Tax Credits than Labour did etc. etc. As do people like me who believe Lib Dems are stronger together so long as that doesn’t become an excuse to fight amongst ourselves whenever the opportunity arises. Or is “not quite perfect enough for me” a valid reason to drag the party further into the mire?

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