Diary: Rennard's a fuss about nothing, says Lib Dem who came in from the cold
Jasper Gerard, who was once a rising star on the Sunday Times with excellent contacts among the Liberal Democrats, wrote an entire book about how Nick Clegg captured the party leadership, and thought he had scored a success when the Daily Mail paid a handsome price of the serialisation rights.
What he did not foresee was that Mail scribes would comb the book for everything bad they could find about Clegg or his party, omitting everything else. He was shocked. He feared that his relationship with the party would be ruptured. Bridges have since been mended. Gerard is now a prospective Lib Dem parliamentary candidate, and he went on the World at One yesterday to belittle the Lord Rennard affair as a big fuss about very little. "It was only touching a woman's knee, it's hardly Jimmy Savile," he complained.
That echoed similar remarks by the Lib Dem peer, Tony Greaves. "It is hardly an offence for one adult person to make fairly mild sexual advances to another," he said. If that is how they think, it's no wonder that the women involved felt they would never get the Lib Dem establishment to take their complaints seriously.
The 12 golden rules that didn't reach the leader
Olly Grender knows more probably than any other Lib Dem about handling a media storm, having worked for Paddy Ashdown when the party's fortunes were at their nadir, and done a stint in Downing Street. She distilled her wisdom into an article for the New Statesman headed "My 12 Golden Rules in a Crisis."
This invites the question of how many of the 'golden rules' Nick Clegg observed in handling the Rennard fire storm.
Instead of running through the lot, I will go straight to Rule 6, "the most important rule of all" according to Grender – "establish what the truth is, decide how it will be told." Did Clegg do that? He did not.
Did he "establish a clear decision making operation", as per Rule 1? No.
Did he, as per Rule 8, do "the opposite of what your instincts tell you, so be more open and accessible" – by disappearing to Amsterdam yesterday? I think not.
Did he follow Rule 3 – "get good independent advice both PR and legal"? No.
Or Rule 12 – "Say sorry. Say it quickly and keep saying it"? No.
Is there one rule he can definitely be said to have followed? Sorry, no.
Musical chairs at City Hall
Strange shenanigans at the London Assembly yesterday. Boris Johnson was there, expecting to face two hours of questions about his budget, when opposition members spotted an empty chair where the deputy mayor, Victoria Borwick, ought to be.
Her absence meant they had the majority needed to throw the budget out, so they sent the Mayor away, but before they could vote, Ms Borwick hurried in, foiling their plans.
Boris has now de-nounced Assembly members as "great supine protoplasmic invertebrate jellies".
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