David Kirkby: Contradiction that has tied the Lib Dems up in knots Yorkshire Post …As if to confirm the impression of the Lib Dems tearing themselves to within an inch of their sanity over the affair, Chris Davies, a prominent MEP, defended Rennard’s behaviour by comparing it to “an Italian man pinching a woman’s bottom” and pointed out that the accused touching had been “through clothing”, implying that the only way to prevent molestation is to keep oneself in a state of perpetual undress.
The seeds of this unedifying episode can be traced back to the internal inquiry, conducted by Alistair Webster QC, which had been tasked with investigating the allegations of sexual harassment against Lord Rennard.
In the report, Webster said two especially important things. Firstly: “My view, judging the evidence as a whole, is that there is a less than 50 per cent chance that a charge against Lord Rennard could be proved to the requisite standard.”
Theresa May is the Tory grassroots favourite for leader to follow … The Independent Theresa May, the Home Secretary, is the favoured candidate of the Conservative grassroots to succeed David Cameron, according to a new survey.
She has moved narrowly ahead of Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, in the future Tory leadership stakes. They are both well ahead of George Osborne, the Chancellor, amid growing signs that he could be a candidate when Mr Cameron steps down.
The poll of 1,000 party members by the ConservativeHome website puts Mrs May on 23 per cent, with Mr Johnson on 22 per cent. “This shows the quiet but relentless rise of a minister who members evidently believe to be delivering on cutting crime, reducing non-EU immigration and police reform,” said Paul Goodman, the editor of ConHome.
Baroness Morgan row: Ofsted sacking is part of Tory cull of women … The Independent Conservative ministers were accused on Sunday of carrying out a “cull” of women who head public bodies amid a growing controversy over the sacking of the chair of Ofsted, the schools inspectorate.
Labour claimed that the surprise dismissal of Baroness (Sally) Morgan, a Labour peer, was part of a pattern stemming from the Tories’ “problem with women”, which resulted in them being ousted and replaced by men.
The Opposition pointed out that Dame (Liz) Forgan was forced out as chairman of the Arts Council, where she was replaced by Sir Peter Bazalgette; Dame (Suzi) Leather was ousted at the Charity Commission to make way for William Shawcross; and Baroness (Kay) Andrews was replaced at English Heritage by Sir Laurie Magnus, an investment banker.
Michael Gove accused of ‘blatant’ attempt to politicise Ofsted as Tory … Mirror.co.uk …The Labour deputy leader called for a committee of MPs to investigate the decision. She said: “It’s like raining men in the Tory party. What’s your problem with women?”
The Lib Dems also turned on Mr Gove, warning they not accept a “Tory donor ideologue” to chair the watchdog.
“Education policy is far more important than rewarding a few Tory cronies. The Lib Dems will not let our children’s education be dictated by some Tory donor ideologue,” a Lib Dem source said.
Lib Dem schools minister David Laws let it be known he was “absolutely furious” over the removal of Lady Morgan and the attempt to politicise Ofsted.
A source close to Mr Laws said: “The decision to get rid of Sally Morgan had absolutely nothing to do with her abilities, or even education policy, and everything to do with Michael Gove’s desire to get his own people on board.