Rod Liddle

Lord Rennard doesn’t need an inquiry. He needs a swift kick to the shin

2 March 2013

I was seated at a rather stiff and formal BBC dinner a dozen or so years back, one of those ghastly occasions upon which the boss class attempt, painfully, to commune with the corporation untermenschen over noisette of chicken, or something similar. There were perhaps 15 of us, drawn from various levels of the BBC strata, with the then head of news — and now director-general — Tony Hall seated somewhere democratically in the middle. Along from me was a lowly but attractive female production assistant whose dining was interrupted by an unwelcome hand snaking along her inner thigh. The errant hand belonged to the well-lubricated reporter on her immediate left. The young woman took a sip of wine and said to the transgressive journalist, just loud enough for me to hear: ‘Try to touch my clunge one more time and I’m telling Tony.’ Reader, the invasive behaviour ceased forthwith, I was reliably informed.

I was reminded of this incident by the recent hilarious revelations of apparent sexual misconduct in the Liberal Democrat party, and in particular the forlorn efforts of that blubber-mountain Lord Rennard to cop off with seemingly any lithesome and progressive bint who hove into view; or maybe not so lithesome — all she needed, to be of interest to Rennard, was a party card and a pulse. His noble lordship’s approach was, by all reports, a little less objectionable than that I described above: his hand rested only on the knee, it seems. He did not stampede towards the vagina like a bull at a gate. But it was still most unwelcome all the same. I suppose saying: ‘Touch my knee once more and I’ll tell Ming’ (or whatever poor sap was leading the epicene opportunistic rabble at the time) lacks a little force, is a bit short in the threat department.

But a quick retort of ‘In your dreams, you repellent centre-left garden slug’ should have put a swift end to the knee-patting business and doused Rennard’s corpulent ardour. Or perhaps a swift kick to whatever Rennard possesses in lieu of a shin. Or a glass of house chablis thrown in the face. Or semi-voluntary projectile vomiting. But instead, this being the Liberal Democrats, they have twisted themselves into paroxysms and built it up into a real crisis; the transgressed women find themselves, all these years later, full of outrage, and the leadership has resorted to that thing it does habitually, lying about stuff.

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Clegg and co. are caught between not taking the thing terribly seriously — Rennard is a bit of a dirty old lech and should be embarrassed by such behaviour and maybe we should have a word with him, etc — and the modern party line, which is what they have to spew out in public: all such transgressions are extremely serious and indeed tantamount to rape, and further they are symptoms of a deeply, irrevocably sexist society and are the reason why we have so few women MPs and women businesspeople etc. That is what they are supposed to think, even if it is largely rubbish. But like the SWP, which recently held a central committee meeting to clear a comrade of rape because they, uh, possessed no faith in the bourgeois courts, and the leftie supporters of Julian Assange, who refuse to even contemplate that he might be guilty of the same offence because he is a noble warrior for freedom against the fascist USA, the normal rules do not apply when you are on the left. And sometimes — such as in the case of Rennard, one suspects — the normal rules, which they have imposed upon us, are wrong. And sometimes — in the case of the repulsive Assange, for example — they are not.

I don’t doubt that it is sometimes unpleasant for women to work in some male-dominated trades and professions, because of the behaviour and attitudes of some of the majority gender. Nor do I doubt that plenty of professions are still rife with sexism and discrimination, politics almost certainly being one of them. But I am not convinced that Rennard’s alleged crimes give us much evidence of this. One of the accusations against Rennard is that he ‘propositioned’ a couple of women, despite apparently being aware that they were in long-standing relationships.

Now, it may slightly turn the stomach to be propositioned by a sweating Europhile lardbucket with breath that could stun a badger at 30 paces, but — hell — a cat can look at a king. If you don’t ask, you don’t get, etc. Sometimes if you ask you also don’t get. All the time, it would seem, in the case of Lord Rennard. But the poor bloke should be allowed to ask, shouldn’t he? Over the past 30 years the workplace has become the venue within which we meet our sexual mates, as Chris Huhne will confirm for you. Obviously these relationships have to start, you know, somehow, don’t they? And asking nicely seems to me a reasonable means of finding out if they are going to start at all.

I have the distinct suspicion that Lord Rennard’s overtures might have been considered less obnoxious if he more closely resembled, say, Orlando Bloom or Joaquin Phoenix than Jabba The Hutt. And a similar suspicion that the anger of the women would have been less deeply felt if they hadn’t discovered he’d tried it on with loads of others and that they weren’t special after all. The hand-on-the-knee business is not especially pleasant, for sure; but is it too antediluvian, too chauvinistic, to suggest that it might easily be brushed off?

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Show comments
  • TheMichaelMoran

    Interesting layout: The text is merely ill-considered guff until we reach the cartoon, and then it’s truly repellent afterwards.

  • Badly Done Emma

    Hit the nail on the head again Rod, well done! Slightly annoyed you stole my Jabba The Hutt joke (without ever hearing it). Last autumn at a small informal lunch attended by me and 8 highly influential and powerful people I was persistantly groped by a politico, older, fatter and more repulsive than Lord Rennard. This man has a strong accent foriegn to these islands and a way of spitting into your face as he speaks. Leaning in and spraying he took my hand, carressed it to my elbow and said ‘you are finger lickingly delicious’. That was in full view of his wife and only the start. I begged the host not to be seated beside Jabba but because women were in short supply I was told that was exactly where I was sitting.. Throughout lunch he stroked my hand and my thigh repeatedly under the table so I spent as much time as possible serving food, clearing and pouring wine. I was especially generous with his glass and he fell asleep in his pudding. None of your suggestions would have been suitable. I was thinking about writing to Dear Mary… In the pub last night I was telling my husband and others exactly what you said, I wouldn’t have been half so annoyed if he’d looked like George Clooney.

  • MMB Tycalibre

    The term Clunge used by a female BBC staffer 10 or 12 years ago?

    I doubt it.

    • Maff

      ‘Clunge’ has been used in Viz for about 20 years.

  • Chris Miller

    “The hand-on-the-knee business is not especially pleasant, for sure; but is it too antediluvian, too chauvinistic, to suggest that it might easily be brushed off?”

    Yes, it’s unsolicited physical contact. For some it will be seen as archaic chauvinism, for others it will be *felt* – and rightly, treated – as a precursor to, if not tacitly in itself, abuse. Ask a victim of rape the same question. You’d be lucky to get away with an embarrassing riposte in front of your peers. If it was me I’d break your fucking wrist.

    • sam

      “Ask a victim of rape the same question. You’d be lucky to get away with
      an embarrassing riposte in front of your peers. If it was me I’d break
      your fucking wrist.”

      This is an joke, no? Ask someone – ask them vernally – if unsolicited physical contact can’t be brushed off and you’ll break their wrist?

      Of course it’s a joke. Silly me. Well done.

      • Chris Miller

        No, it’s you not understanding what I’ve said, but well done for trying.

        Ask a victim of rape the same (hypothetical) question. (In such a situation) you’d (i.e. one would) be lucky to get away with an embarrassing riposte in front of your peers (if you had touched such a person in such a way). If it was me (in that situation) I’d break your wrist (as a response).

    • Eddie

      So, can a man break the wrist of any woman who gropes him then or touches his knee? That’s gender equality, matey – right there.

      Ask some male barstaff how leery and gropy drunk young women are theese days. Listen to leery filthy comments spewing from women’s mouths in theatre shows (men are not allowed to do the same of course).

      Moreover, it has become a habit in recent touchy-feely times for female managers to try and manipulate staff by touching their arms and saying with honeyed self-serving words ‘can you do that for me?’.

      Can we arrest all these pervert women now, before they aim lower?

    • Badly Done Emma

      Chris you think you would break the wrist of the offender but I bet you wouldn’t… The situation I was in forced a sort of angry ineffective paralysis.If a pal had told me the story I would’ve said exactly what you and others have been saying. If he had been charming and pleasant it would’ve been easier to make a joke out of it and tell him to stop – weird that.

  • Gareth Murray

    What an unpleasant article.

    • John21Allen

      Particularly the bit about the well-lubricated reporter.

  • welshdai

    This is such a surprise to the lib dem luvvies that this obese guy fancies women rather than young boys via cottaging and dogging like the majority?

    • Eddie

      You’re thinking of the BBC, silly…

  • Chris Miller

    PS: Citing apologists for abuses perpetrated by those on the left to censure criticism of abusers on the right a) insults and harms victims of both, and feeds into the culture of silencing the victim b) attempts to make political capital out of an issue which should have absolutely nothing to do with politics, and c) is a staggering case of false equivalence. Assange, Rennard, someone at the SWP – that all you got? Try using the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order to mitigate the Roman Catholic church.

  • foodepedia

    I thought clunge was an InBetweeners invention? Otherwise a great article, a breath of common sense as usual

  • Gaudi

    I was all set up to be outraged by your article but actually I am a little disappointed and hardly offended at all. Damn! A lot of women will be familiar with the type of behaviour you describe and we will deal with it in our different ways depending on the circumstances. I prefer a firm use of very Anglo Saxon language to repel such advances but I know some of my friends wouldn’t feel as confident and would and have become very upset by the leering and pawing. The really pathetic and wearying aspect is that you have to keep on making those rejections. When are these types going to learn to control themselves? Neither I nor other women should be responsible for teaching them how to behave like bloody responsible adults.

  • Iain Hill

    Let’s think a bit more radically about Rennard. I am like everyone else appalled by the allegations, and have great sympathy for the women involved.

    There is however a deeper problem. There are undoubtedly men like Rennard who (vide your picture) are extremely unattractive and unlikely to attract sexual partners by conventional means. Hence the obsessive behaviour which may apply to him.

    The state needs to provide paying sexual opportunities for such people (means tested of course). This could also benefit older people no longer able to find partners, without the social stigma of resorting to commercial prostitutes. Think how well armies have dealt with such problems during wartime.

  • Jambo25

    I normally don’t agree with Mr. Liddle on anything but I do on this. What in god’s name are these blushing violets doing even thinking they could survive in the rough and tumble of politics? If a creep like Rennard had ever tried the wandering hands trick on my ma she would have clocked him one. Her sisters would have done similarly. My wife did have to deal with the odd creep like this and she would come back, laughing herself stupid over how she or her fellow colleagues had rebuffed them.

    It’s always struck me as funny how those females who most proclaim their status as ‘strong independent women’ are often the first to run for the shelter of management or the law if they are in any way offended. I worked with quite a few of them in teaching. I once ended up on the wrong end of a formal complaint from one of them. Why? Well reader, I raised my voice to her after she shouted at me during an argument.

    • Eddie

      Yes, indeed. It seems feminists want to be able to pick and choose when women can be ‘strong’ – ie the same as men – or when they can be wimpy weeping Wendy women who have all the strengthy of bending buttercups whenever it suits them.

      If we are to have gender equality, then women should not be given favourable treatment. They should also realise that ‘if you can’t stand the heat…’.
      I suspect as Rod does that if this Lord has looked like Aaron Johnson or Orlando Bloom, his forward behaviour would have been welcomed. Because he is a Jabba the Hut, it wasn’t. But really, are these women so weak and feeble that they can’t just politely say ‘no’ – especially as men often behave like this after women have flirted and teased to get special advantage? Instead we have evidence that women really are the weaker – and more hysterical – sex.

      And yes, in teaching – massively feminised and female-dominated these days – this sort of offence-seeking nonsense happens all the time, almost always on grounds of race or gender. Many women love playing the poor wickle victim when it suits them. Men just tend to solider on through trouble and don’t complain.

      Then, some bint complains about them – because they raised their voice and expressed a different opinion to the uber-femi-nutsies in the ‘teamroom’ – and of course, this complaining whinging woman has done scores of things the man could have complained about! But because the man didn’t complain, his compliant is now merely a counter-complaint.

      And, sadly, women are always assume dto be innocent and men guilty – in law and in disciplinary processes: that is just the protecting of women instinct that comes from evolution really, but it should be worked against – it isn’t of course because it is a sexism feminists so enjoy (as they approve of any unfair bias in women;s favour, the utter femi-hypocrites).

      If women really cannot grow up and behave like adults – and grow a backbone maybe – then perhaps they should go back to homemaking and arranging flowers. I get sick of the wickle girl act from these manipulative devious harridens

      Pathetic. Utterly pathetic, all these women making a song and dance over this. Not my words, but those of my mother – a strong woman, unlike the whingers and cravers of victimhood (and fame and compo) who are churning up this storm in a teacup.

      • William Thomas

        You only have to look at Mrs Huhne – rich and powerful and important – except when she is “cowed”… Believe that, you’ll believe anything.

    • iviv44

      I think the difference is that your ma probably didn’t desperately want to be a Lib Dem MP. What makes the alleged Rennard advances look so dodgy is that he was the gatekeeper to the careers of these young women. Yes, it is tough on him; as Rod points out people should be allowed to ask about these things. However, in his position [sic] it is almost impossible to differentiate between a would-be peer wanting some conference lurve, and a creepy manager using the power of his position to coerce women into sex. In all other walks of life we expect people in positions of responsibility to make sacrifices so that it is clear they are not abusing their power. It would be hypocritical not to expect the same standards of a party Chief Exec.

  • Anna

    Why does the Spectator consider Rod Liddle qualified to proffer advice on this? Kicking would constitute assault and if prosecuted the defence ‘he groped me’ is likely to get short shrift in a country where women have difficulty getting the police to prosecute their rapists. My 19 year old self was far too shocked, humiliated and scared to kick her boss when he groped her and she needed her job. Please could you do some proper research on the subject before you give any more advice Rod.

  • Anna

    Why does the Spectator consider Rod Liddle qualified to proffer advice on this? Kicking would constitute assault and if prosecuted the defence ‘he groped me’ is likely to get short shrift in a country where women have difficulty getting the police to prosecute their rapists. My 19 year old self was far too shocked, humiliated and scared to kick her boss when he groped her and she needed her job. Please could you do some proper research on the subject before you give any more advice Rod.

  • James Strong

    How did he react when rebuffed?
    If he accepted the rejection and did not persist then his ‘inappropriate’ behaviour was such a tiny transgression, if transgression at all, that the fuss now is ridiculous.

  • sam

    other than the anachronistic use of ‘clunge’, this couldn’t be more spot on. Also, I think people should be letting up on Lord Greaves, who asked a perfectly sensible question, and deserved a sensible answer.* Instead of which he seems to have been smeared as some kind of apology for rape.

    *namely “at what point does a proposition become sexual harassment?” Not merely sensible, but in these febrile times, pretty essential to know the answer as well.

  • exile on euro street

    To all those doubting the use of clunge, it was used by the Scottish cook in The fall and rise of Reginald Perrin long before InBetweeners came on the scene: “Up yer clunge!”

    • Swanky Yanky

      Is this the indescribable thing that has too many words to describe it? Why do we not have umpteen different words for ‘kitchen’? I’ll tell you why: because we all like kitchens and feel at home in them.

  • ChestnutSlug

    There is a massive difference if he was in a position of professional power over any of these women though. Or if he did not stop when asked to. We just don’t have enough details yet to make a judgement, but there are certainly situations when a kick to the shin would not suffice.

  • Mr Creosote

    You can see from the photo why he’s such a fanny magnet. Cut the bloke some slack, he’s only got a year to live…apparently.

  • maurice12brady

    Dumping the revolting fat geezer wasn’t the problem — Sustaining a burgeoning political career was!

  • The_greyhound

    Thank God for some common sense.

    Like most people I have a very poor opinion of the Liberals : they are really quite disturbed bunch with an usually high percentage of rotters, all eagerly promoting some truly odd ideas. But on the evidence so far presented I feel sympathy for Rennard. Had he confined himself to fumbling the male candidates – as is more traditional in liberal circles – he would doubtless have been vehemently defended by his party. Unfortunately for him, he is as he was made, and cannot help his predilection for women. The Liberals should think about being a bit more compassionate and less bigoted toward heterosexuals.

    Incidentally had one of the liberal ladies been a bit more rambunctious, she might have said “Try to touch my minge one more time and I’m telling Ming” : an opportunity missed.

    • Eddie

      Sadly, there is no common sense in our hysterical, offence-seeking, sex-obsessed, feminised media and political arena.
      People come on to each other. Sometimes they misread signals (esp from women who can and do use flirting and teasing to get what they want).
      Really, are these women too thick or weak to say one little word: ‘no’. They are professionals for goodness sake, not the sort of chavvy disadvantaged vulnerable pinheaded windowlickers that old pervs like Savile has a penchant for.
      Lord Rennard is innocent! Free the Jabba the Hut one!

  • Maff

    So you’re ignoring all the acolytes that ditched Assange after hearing the allegations? I suppose facts do get in the way of a good sounding off about an issue you can’t realistically understand. Still, you witnessed a woman brush off an unwanted advance on one occasion so that’s enough for you to draw a conclusion on how all women should deal with same. Is writing lumpen, self-satisfied, ill-informed, solipsistic, attention-seeking columns as exhausting as it seems?

  • JulieThomas

    You yell and be ignored by not only your aggressor but your entire entourage and then we will see how many times you repeat that trick. And how big and powerful you feel. It’s called bullying and it is older than hills. It is insidious, and it works. Just be very grateful it never happened to you and quit with the moralising victim blaming.

    • Swanky Yanky


  • Swanky Yanky

    No wonder sex is irrational: it has to be. A vera is not a nice thing, objectively speaking. Mine’s all right since I own it, but the thought of anyone else’s is revolting. Only a kind of madness could make men (and, I suppose lesbians) interested in it.

    • The Shambolic Skeptic


      • Swanky Yanky

        Yeah, I find other people’s words vaguely distasteful. So I invented me own! :^)

        • Eddie

          You’ve been reading those self-help books again, haven’t you?
          But hey, you can call your splunge, front bottom, punani, happy hole whatever you want, swanky… (by the way your name is one little S away from obscenity as it is; are you aware?)

          • Swanky Yanky

            I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.

          • The Shambolic Skeptic

            Only in your filthy mind.

        • The Shambolic Skeptic

          Time for a talk AJ. The Vera… while some are angry, scary and offputting most, properly prepared are the tastiest of objets d’attraction et d’amour.

      • Swanky Yanky

        Yeah, I find other people’s words vaguely distasteful. So I invented me own! :^)

  • Garry

    As already said…nail hit firmly on the head Mr Liddle, there are legions of men out there who have the impression they are more attractive to the opposite sex than they are, Rennard is an extreme example, normally it’s enough to label them a creep and move on, but as this happening among that most self righteous, hypocritical, loathsome bunch of people, the British Liberals… I think we should linger a bit here.

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