By “mutual agreement”, earlier today Lord Oakeshott stopped being a Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman in the Lords. In a lively alternative to the usually banal exchange of letters on such occasions, Oakeshott and Danny Alexander instead exchanged waspish soundbites.
Matthew Oakeshott criticised today’s deal with the banks on bonuses, lending and other matters saying, “If this is robust action on bank bonuses, my name’s Bob Diamond and I’m going to claim my £9m bonus next week”.
Danny Alexander responded on Channel 4 that his “name clearly isn’t Bob Diamond”.
Lord Oakeshott was not “the” Liberal Democrat spokesman in the Lords, a role which falls to Dick Newby. However, he was “a” spokesman. Aside from those in government, the Liberal Democrat peers in the Lords have since the election had a team of lead spokespeople on issues (Dick Newby in this case) along with a varying number of supporting spokespeople (one in the Treasury case, Matthew Oakeshott). There has been a range of views expressed in the last few days as to the exact formal role of the supporting spokespeople which, along with the lead versus supporting spokesperson distinction, helps explain the different comments made at different times.
Channel 4′s Cathy Newman reported, “Lord Oakeshott texted me saying: ‘I’ve decided I wd be more comfortable as a backbencher because I’m v unhappy with banking agreement.’”
Note: post updated to make clearer the situation with spokespeople in the Lords.