The news has recently come through that David Rendel is not re-standing to be PPC for the Lib Dems in Newbury.
If memory serves, David came to Newbury in 1984. (He came round to my house in Thatcham to sign me up for the Liberal Party in early 1987. I then moved nearish to him in Newbury and started campaigning for him and the local Lib Dems in earnest in early 1992.) Since then he has been PPC or MP for us, as well as being a councillor for us for long stretches both in Newbury and Thatcham.
So, this is the end of a long era, in one sense, although I am sure David will continue to be omni-present in West Berkshire Liberal Democrats, particularly as a leading councillor.
But it seems appropriate to offer some reflections on the man.
The first thing is that David is incredibly nice. He always is. Beyond that, though, he frequently shows tremendous kindness, particularly to those who are ill or grieving.
My second and over-riding impression of David is that he genuinely actually loves the minutiae and the mechanics of politics at ground level. I am talking about the level of whether Mrs Muggins at number 8 Acacia Avenue is a supporter and whether Mr Bloggs at 59a Station road will deliver for us. All during his years here in Newbury and West Berkshire, David has spent countless hours out on the streets doing football cards, canvassing, delivering, getting postal vote sign ups etc etc. and he is incredibly good at it. And he has been doing it for donkeys years. And I have often asked myself “Why?”. “Why hasn’t he taken one of the many cushy numbers he has been offered? – why does he still go out in the cold?”.
There are two answers. One is that David loves that stuff for itself. But secondly, and most importantly, David and his family are committed to serving others. That is what their whole lives have been geared towards – to making other people’s lives better. There is no other explanation for why David puts himself out so much for the Liberal Democrats. It’s a bit of a cliché, to say “he has spent his life serving others”, but all those hours and years pounding the pavements are testament to its truth.