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Nick Clegg: Lord Rennard allegations were in the background when he stepped down

27 February 2013

Nick Clegg’s head is spinning, apparently, now that quite so many media outlets are involved in pursuing the allegations about Lord Rennard. That’s what he told ‘self-appointed detective’ Cathy Newman when she managed to get through to his LBC phone-in this morning. Perhaps it was this dizzy sensation of his party being embroiled in a scandal that led the Lib Dem leader to change his tune rather on the issue of why Rennard left. He said:

‘Of course these things were in the background but his health was the immediate reason why he stepped down.’

Later, he added:

‘Of course the issues of his inappropriate behaviour were in the background, of course they were.’

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Previously Clegg had only referred to health reasons as the catalyst for Rennard’s departure. The Lib Dem leader also provided some interesting detail on the conversation that Danny Alexander had with Rennard in 2008 when the ‘indirect and non-specific allegations’ surfaced:

‘There was this sort of general concern. He meets Rennard, says, you know, “we’ve been told there are these general concerns, they are totally unacceptable. If you’re doing this kind of thing you must stop now.” He vociferously denied it all.’

That’s interesting, because as our story alleges this morning, Rennard is alleged to have not stopped at that point: it is claimed he was still causing concern by being tactile with a woman who had been drinking heavily at a Lib Dem party in 2011.

There was one other interesting thing to take away from the phone-in, which managed to touch on that scandalous gravel pit in Eastleigh as well as the Lord Rennard row. Clegg, who to be fair didn’t huff and puff nearly as much as he might have done, received a stern scolding from one caller, who said he’d ‘waffled on’ for ten minutes without answering Nick Ferrari’s questions about the party’s response. Clegg, in sort of responding, told her that he’d already told listeners what he could, adding ‘you may not like it’. Which reminds us why voters don’t like politicians: their attitude can so often appear to be ‘I’m not going to answer your questions, but there’s nothing you can do about it’. It’s this sort of attitude, along with not trusting voters as self-appointed organs of democracy, that leads to the rise of protest parties like UKIP in this country, or the success of Beppe Grillo in Italy. Daniel Hannan has a brilliant piece on what politicians need to do to remedy this in today’s Telegraph: Clegg might want to chew over it when his head has stopped spinning.

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  • Dogsnob

    I hate LibDems and wish them all the worst, but, thus far, the detail of said allegations are that Rennard ‘propositioned’ at least one woman and he touched her leg. Big wow.
    We seem to be plotting a course down a very drear existence when a chap can’t demonstrate his affections to his workplace colleagues in so light a manner.

  • The_greyhound

    The LimpDumbs are a party of fanatical atheists, the friends of industrial scale abortion, promoters of euthanasia, and betrayers of their country. The only female LimpDumbs of which one is aware (Tonge the fanatical promoter of terrorism, Featherstone, famed for being the stupidest person in Government, and the ridiculous Teather) rather suggest that the females are even worse than the males. So I’m left wondering why one would believe any of the allegations, or denials, or indeed why one would care.

    It would be better if the ground opened up and swallowed the lot of them.

    Now can we talk about something that actually matters – like Stafford Hospital for instance?

  • alabenn

    You can read Julie Bindel’s article in this week’s Spectator, available in print and online tomorrow. Click here to subscribe. this is from a closed thread titled
    Exclusive: Clegg ignored a sexual harassment complaint about a SECOND Lib Dem

    This is desperate of the Spectator, you could count on one finger how many would pay to read the bilious bilge that this woman spews out, this woman makes Polly Toynbee sound almost sane.

  • dalai guevara

    Will 10+ CH entries regarding the same thing now suffice?
    Some chap allegedly attempted *fiddling* four years ago, he later resigned.
    Why dig it out now and roll it out like a wafer thin pizza?
    Don’t answer that – we fully understand the hidden agenda of those who accuse others of a hiding something.

    • Makroon

      I’ll answer that: because the painfully inept Clegg hasn’t even learnt the basics yet – like, “when in a hole, first, stop digging”.
      It could be worse. Imagine if Cable was the one trying to fend off the press – the mind boggles !

      • dalai guevara

        Cable? You give the man too much credit, he’s got work to do.

        With regard to Clegg’s *new politics* speech: it resonates. I quote:
        ‘One: we will repeal all of the intrusive and unnecessary laws that inhibit your freedom.
        Two: we will reform our politics so it is open, transparent, decent.
        Three: we will radically redistribute power away from the centre, into your communities, your homes, your hands.’

        Surely, if he can win Eastleigh, what does that tell us about the state of the also-rans?

  • Dicky14

    UKIP a protest party? Well, I guess so, if you count ceding virtually all ground to a pan European panjandrum of unelected goons but…..

  • Slim Jim

    His head should be spinning on a spike on Tower Bridge.

  • toco10

    At the very least the ‘squeaky clean’ LibDems including the leadership have misled everyone in this affair and Clegg for once in his career must take responsibility and shoulder the blame.An admission of a cover-up would be a good start.

    • FrenchNewsonlin

      He’s sounds positively Nixonian, how many more days before he quits.

    • ButcombeMan

      Even in jest or quotation marks the LibDems can never be described as squeaky clean. They took over £2 million of bent money from Michael Brown because they failed in anything like due diligence.

      As far Clegg, his incompetence is now beyond parody..

  • Wessex Man

    These Liberal/Democrats have certainly shown their true colours over the last couple of years, the only reason they want a gagged press so much is to hide their dirty little secrets from the plebs.

    I heard their chairman shouting down the phone to the Sky News interviewer ‘they (Sky) were only trying to generate a story, by golly what a story!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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