Statement on the Radical Association Hustings

August 9, 2020 § 1 Comment

A week or so ago, I was asked by the Radical Association to chair their Liberal Democrat leadership hustings event. As a former Association Chair, as an academic historian experienced in moderating discussion events, and as someone who has not endorsed, nominated, or campaigned for any of the candidates, I was happy to accept.

Unfortunately that event will not be going forwards, largely as a result of issues over chairing. Specifically, I was made aware in the past week that Sir Edward Davey’s leadership campaign had made representations to Lib Dem HQ making allegations about my partiality and complaining about my ability to chair the event. I have not been shown the content of that complaint, or given any right of reply to it. Even more surprisingly and disappointingly, Ed’s team at no point made any attempt to discuss their concerns about my chairing with me and thereby attempt to resolve any issues through reasonable dialogue.

I try not to take myself too seriously in politics – it pays not to, as a Lib Dem. I do, however, take my professionalism and integrity seriously, and I take my sense of fairness extremely seriously. Having those things attacked and undermined by a leadership campaign, out of the blue, has been one of the most deeply disappointing and demoralising things that has happened to me as a party member.

I’m sad for Radical Association members that they won’t get a full chance to put all their questions to the leadership candidates, and I’m hurt on a personal level that Ed’s team thought that this was an appropriate way to deal with me as a party activist who’s spent countless hours in recent years working on Liberal Democrat policy and on getting our party’s candidates elected.

I hope sincerely that this conduct by Ed’s campaign has been a one-off which they will on reflection agree was not up to the standards to which they would wish to hold themselves, and is not representative of their wider attitude to my fellow party activists. I will be taking no further part in anything else relating to the leadership campaign for a few days as I deal with the outcome of this extremely unfortunate episode and consider what to do next.

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