Lib Dem Deputy Leadership – runners and riders. Who’s your choice?

by Stephen Tall on December 18, 2013

There will be a Lib Dem deputy leadership election in the new year, following (as Caron reported earlier) Simon Hughes’s surprise appointment as Minister for Justice, replacing Lord (Tom) McNally.

The post’s full title is Deputy Leader of the Parliamentary Party in the House of Commons – so the ballot is restricted to MPs. Last time round, in summer 2010 following Vince Cable resignation to take up the post of Business Secretary, it was contested by Simon and by Tim Farron. Simon beat Tim by 38 votes to 18.

The party’s standing orders were changed following the decision to enter coalition so that only an MP outside government is eligible to become deputy leader. This restricts the potential runners and riders list – which is all the more interesting given whoever’s elected pretty much automatically qualifies as a potential future leadership contender.

By my reckoning, if you exclude the MPs who are in government as either ministers or whips, or who are standing down at the next election, or who are Charles Kennedy or Mike Thornton, there are only 27 possible contenders. (Happy to be corrected on this.) Here’s that list, in some kind of order of likelihood as it seems to me…

    Very possible:

    Lorely Burt
    Nick Harvey
    Julian Huppert
    Tessa Munt

    Possible:

    Jeremy Browne
    Andrew George
    Stephen Gilbert
    Duncan Hames

    Outside chance:

    Martin Horwood
    Stephen Lloyd
    Michael Moore
    Greg Mulholland

    I’d be surprised:

    Paul Burstow
    Mike Crockart
    John Hemming
    John Leech
    John Pugh
    Alan Reid
    Bob Russell
    Adrian Sanders
    Sir Robert Smith
    Ian Swales
    John Thurso
    David Ward
    Simon Wright
    Mark Williams
    Roger Williams

Agree? Disagree? That’s what below-the-line is for…

* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.