Monday, December 10, 2007

We're not going to throw the baby out with the bath water

Iain Dale's piece about Chris Rennard (Will Rennard survive the leadership change?) is a pile of nonsense in my view. All right, Iain has these little contacts all over the shop and admittedly gears his blog towards "gossip". Yes, I am sure he has heard the odd bit of tittle-tattle and I may be surprised by what happens.

He bases his question, it seems, on James Graham's typically thoughtful piece. But that piece is geared mainly towards a discussion of strategy and Iain's question is a giant leap from that.

I don't think we're going to move Chris Rennard unwillingly from his Chief Executive post in a million years. The discussion about campaigning strategy is a different matter.

The strategy of the party is not the Chief Executive. The Chief Executive is not the strategy. It sounds a remarkable thing to say, because I suppose some of us have been hypnotised into thinking the opposite in recent years - which is a huge tribute to Chris.

The Chief Executive's role is much broader than directing campaigns and he is not solely reponsible for our campaigning strategy.

I am not quite sure what "Rennardism" means. Sure, it's something about targetting. But more importantly, to me, it represents sheer hard work and clever initiative.

I don't think that we will throw the baby out with the bathwater.

What we must do as a party, is stop thinking that our campaigns strategy is Chris Rennard. I am sure Chris would be the first person to enjoy seeing his campaigning ideas being built on by others. Indeed, he said as much in his Liberal Democrat News article:

So what might ‘going beyond Rennard’ mean? A few people might say abandoning what we have learned in our time as Liberal Democrats. But I think that the consensus is based on building on it. If we could make our held seats more secure and more self-sufficient, we can invest in further gains. If we can raise substantially more funds, we can compete in many more areas and many more ways.

It is a mark of Chris Rennard's extraordinary selflessness and belief in our party that he has been the one who has kicked off the discussion with his article "Going beyond Rennard".

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