I have to say that it was like a breath of fresh air to receive a further statement from Liberal Democrat Women in my inbox tonight.
For the last few days we appear to have been stuck in an intractable stalemate, with slit trenches being dug on both sides.
Much has been said about the party rules, but the LDW statement reminds us that there are a several ways of skinning the cat (i.e moving forward) within the party rules.
I welcome the news that four of the women involved have initiated an appeal under the party rules, which have robust procedures for appeal.
I welcome the fact that LDW are offering their help behind the scenes and are seeking a meeting with Nick Clegg.
I also welcome their call for “an opportunity for all sides to have their say through a formal Disciplinary Process”. This is actually what has been missing. A hearing or hearings where all sides have their chance to air their grievances and points, and respond to each other.
In South Africa, they had a Truth and Reconciliation Commission which was relatively successful in defusing decades of seething hatred, murder and torture involving thousands of people in a country of 51 million people.
I have to believe that the Liberal Democrats collectively have the wherewithal to organise a reconciliation or at least a “boil lancing” between a dozen or so people over this matter.
Thank goodness for Liberal Democrat Women, who seem to be rolling up their sleeves to help on this one.
Here’s the full statement from LDW chair, Ros Gordon:
LDW believe the entire process from the word go has been mishandled. As a result we have been left with an unsatisfactory position which has not been fair to anyone involved.
We, have been talking to Senior Members of the Party about how LDW can contribute to resolving this distressing situation. Our involvement has been welcomed and we have been working behind the scenes to help in anyway we can. We are speaking to the Leaders Office to arrange a meeting with Nick Clegg as soon as possible.
LDW is aware that the women who made the allegations against Lord Rennard have raised an Appeal. We call for the party to consider this urgently and give an opportunity for all sides to have their say through a formal Disciplinary Process.
We still stand by our request for Lord Rennard to do the right thing and apologise to the women to whom he has caused distress whether intended or not. If he does not apologise we support the removal of the Lib Dem Whip and we will be writing to the Lords to request it.