‘Two jobs’ Tom McNally has finally shed one of his roles, having resigned as leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords.
He has combined this since 2010 with being a justice minister, with the result that it is easy to find peers who believe the demands made of McNally mean that he did neither role effectively and had an obvious conflict of interest when peers objected to something the Ministry of Justice is doing.
This was illustrated by his having been probably the only person in the hall at last month’s party conference in Glasgow to vote against the emergency motion on legal aid cuts – the party was against MoJ policy and he was stuck with it.
Who will succeed him? McNally followed Shirley Williams, who followed Bill Rogers who followed Roy Jenkins, who was appointed at the merger.
Alert readers will have spotted that the qualification for being Lords leader is to have been a prominent SDP member and, apart from the appalling Ian Wrigglesworth, the House is running out of those. As a newly appointed peer, Wigglesworth probably also lacks the required seniority.
Those thought to be in the running include John Alderdice, the group’s convenor (and a suitably distinguished and trusted loyalist), and its deputy convenor, former party president Navnit Dholakia.
Update on 4 October – We now hear that Jim Wallace will be standing for Lords leader, despite breaking the unwritten rule of never having been in the SDP.
However, as a Scottish lawyer, it is unclear that Wallace could take McNally’s Ministry of Justice post, which presumably will have to wait for the reshuffle.