Tyler to run for Lib Dem leader

THE BATTLE for the leadership of the Liberal Democrats descended further into farce yesterday after it emerged that the MP responsible for policing the contest was himself preparing to run.

MPs reacted furiously when they discovered that Paul Tyler, the party's Chief Whip, had indicated his determination to stand in the race to succeed Paddy Ashdown. In theory, Mr Tyler is in charge of enforcing the party's ban on any leadership campaigning before 11 June, when Mr Ashdown formally steps down.

Allies of the Cornwall North MP claimed that he was the only realistic alternative to Charles Kennedy, the party's agriculture spokesman and clear front-runner in the undeclared contest. Mr Tyler's move follows the decision last week of Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, to pull out of the race.

The Tyler camp claimed that he was a "big candidate" who would enter the fray in the hope of thinning the already-crowded field of runners. As well as Mr Kennedy, the current list of hopefuls includes Don Foster, MP for Bath, Jackie Ballard, MP for Taunton, David Rendel, MP for Newbury, and Simon Hughes, MP for Southwark North and Bermondsey.

With Mr Campbell finally out of the race, all of the other candidates are now claiming that they are the "main challenger" to Mr Kennedy. But senior Liberal Democrat figures are understood to be concerned that the party risks looking ridiculous unless the field can be narrowed to three or four candidates. Mr Tyler's opponents yesterday denounced his plans to run and derided his claim that he was a "heavyweight" candidate capable of beating Mr Kennedy.

Many are furious because Mr Tyler has reprimanded them for speaking to the media before the contest starts officially on 12 June, after the European elections.

Lembit Opik, MP for Montgomeryshire and one of Mr Foster's strongest supporters, was so incensed that he attacked Mr Tyler publicly yesterday. "Paul Tyler as Chief Whip has been the man to set the rules for the leadership campaign. It's a little bit like the umpire running on to the pitch and trying to tackle the other players for the ball," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"The logic of thinning the field by adding your own name to it does escape me. The issue is that Paul Tyler is the man who has berated us week after week for actually bringing up the subject of the leadership at all." Des Wilson, the former Liberal Democrat general election campaigns chief, said that Mr Ashdown himself had to accept some of the blame for the "mess" of the leadership contest.

"How can it be that after 11 years of one leader that no successor has emerged? I think that Paddy Ashdown has to take some responsibility for this. It's been very much a one-man band," he said.

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Gabriel Agbonlahor, Alexis Sanchez, Alan Pardew and Graziano Pelle
footballAfter QPR draw, follow Villa vs Arsenal, Newcastle vs Hull and Swansea vs Southampton
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam