Sebastian Payne

Nick Clegg turns down Lib Dem job as new spokesmen announced

Nick Clegg turns down Lib Dem job as new spokesmen announced
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The Lib Dems have announced their 22 strong 'spokesperson team' — or what other parties would call its frontbench. During the leadership election, Tim Farron said the party wouldn't ‘bother shadowing every single department,’ describing it as ‘a waste of time and resources’. Yet the party has managed to cobble together a long list of spokesman, despite its limited presence in the Commons:

  1. Leader: Tim Farron MP
  2. Economics: Baroness Susan Kramer
  3. Foreign Affairs/Chief Whip/Leader of the house: Tom Brake MP
  4. Defence: Baroness Judith Jolly
  5. Home Affairs: Alistair Carmichael MP
  6. Health: Norman Lamb MP
  7. Education: John Pugh MP
  8. Work and Pensions: Baroness Zahida Manzoor
  9. Business: Lorely Burt
  10. Energy and Climate Change: Lynne Featherstone
  11. Local Government: Mayor of Watford, Cllr Dorothy Thornhill
  12. Transport: Baroness Jenny Randerson
  13. Environment and Rural Affairs: Baroness Kate Parminter
  14. International Development: Baroness Lindsay Northover
  15. Culture Media and Sport: Baroness Jane Bonham-Carter
  16. Equalities: Baroness Meral Hussein-Ece
  17. Justice/Attorney General: Lord Jonathan Marks
  18. Northern Ireland: Lord John Alderdice
  19. Scotland: Willie Rennie MSP, Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats
  20. Wales: Kirsty Williams AM, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats
  21. Campaigns Chair: Greg Mullholland MP
  22. Grassroots Campaigns: Cllr Tim Pickstone, Chair of the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors
  23. Out of the party’s eight MPs, only two have not been given roles. One is Mark Williams, the MP for Ceredigion since 2005. A Lib Dem spokesman said he was ‘not aware’ that Williams had been offered a position but noted that details of campaign teams are still to be announced and Williams take up a campaigning role.

    The other notable MP missing is the former leader Nick Clegg. In a press release, the party noted ‘Nick Clegg was offered a post in Tim’s spokesperson team, but decided after some consideration that he wanted to take a quieter role on the back benches and would not be taking a spokesperson position at this time.’

    Interestingly, Farron's opponent in the leadership contest appears to have been bumped down. Norman Lamb was appointed the party's economic spokesman on May 8 — a position that has now gone to Baroness Susan Kramer. Lamb is now the Lib Dem's health spokesman, a role that could be seen as a demotion, or possibly a choice by Lamb. While serving as care minister in the coalition government Lamb was a passionate advocate of mental health issues, so he may have felt more comfortable representing this brief instead of the more prominent economy role.