In the light of serious sexual harassment allegations, Lib Dem peer Lord Rennard has understandably been keeping a low profile.
The party’s former chief exec and campaign guru returned yesterday though to ask a question in the Lords Queen’s Speech debate. When I saw Spectator contributing editor Harry Cole tweet what he had asked about, I couldn’t believe it:
It’s actually even worse than that.
This, direct from Hansard, is what Lord Rennard said:
I am proud of the way in which I helped my party to achieve gender balance when we began electing our MEPs by proportional representation. When I oversaw my party’s European election campaign in 1999, I had to rank all the constituencies in order of winnability to ensure that half of our top candidates were women. We elected 12 MEPs in those elections, six women and six men, but this relied on the party using a system known as “zipping”.
Lord Rennard denies all allegations made against him, and he must be considered innocent until proven guilty. However, the utter shamelessness of this intervention shows utter disrespect for the investigation process he is currently subject too, and the women bravely making the allegations.
Lord Rennard is accused of abusing his influence over candidate selection, yet in the speech above he proudly trumpets his own work in that area.