Friday, 13 November 2015

A scab which should not have been picked refers.

My father taught me not to pick at scabs. They were nature's way of covering up wounds so that they could heal.

When it was clear that the Liberal Democrat party had exhausted all processes for dealing with Chris Rennard's exploitative behaviour (not forgetting that he had already been effectively and quietly sidelined after the first complaint by a young woman member had been made) and that protocols had been put in place which should prevent a recurrence, I suggested to the last of the Channel 4 Six who was still a member that pursuing the matter publicly would do harm to the party and her reputation without giving her the satisfaction that she desired. She did not take it well, but the public row died down anyway.

One would have thought that the senior people in the Lord's would have had the sense not to open the wound again. The argument that Lord Rennard has "served his sentence and been rehabilitated" is all well and good, but to my mind retaining his party membership was sufficient rehabilitation. The public - nudged by the media, especially the online media - will not understand. As young public relations practitioners are taught, “If the public thinks you have a problem, you have a problem.”. Jane Brophy in Oldham West will not welcome this distraction. If the affair drags on into 2016, it is going to affect our campaigns in the Scottish and Welsh general elections.

There are Lords (and even Ladies) who believe that Chris Rennard was hard done by. They are of a generation which believes that "boys will be boys" excuses everything. They no doubt also hark back to the golden days when Rennard-inspired campaigns won by-election after by-election and may even believe that we lost so badly in the 2015 general election because Rennard was not at the helm. They should recognise that things have moved on, even in the last decade. Not only have sexual politics changed, but so has campaigning. Today and the immediate future belong to the likes of Michael Ashcroft and Mark Pack. Pickles and Rennard are yesterday's men.

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