Lord Stunell obituary


For six months earlier than the basic election of 2010, Andrew Stunell, Lord Stunell, who has died aged 81, was one of many Liberal Democrat MPs getting ready for a doable hung parliament. When that consequence took place he was appointed by the occasion’s chief, Nick Clegg, to its crew negotiating for a coalition with David Cameron’s Conservatives, along with David Legal guidelines, Danny Alexander and Chris Huhne.

His method was colored by the 1977-78 Lib-Lab pact that sustained James Callaghan’s Labour authorities, when he felt that the Liberals misplayed their hand and failed to attain advantages for the occasion. On the Sunday after the 2010 polling day, after two days of just about incessant dialogue and debate, Stunell cautioned his colleagues towards speeding the negotiations, with the “actual, actual difficulties in legitimising Labour after they’ve misplaced so badly”.

From his commerce union expertise representing native authorities officers with Nalgo within the Nineteen Seventies, he anticipated Labour “to have some actually feisty negotiators” however “they only didn’t have something. They weren’t there in any respect. Once we stated ‘the numbers don’t add up’, they stated, ‘Don’t fear, we’ve acquired the nationalists.’” However he was “stunned that the Conservatives have been ready to come back so far as they did within the negotiations”.

Because the chief of the Liberal Democrat group on Cheshire County council (1981-91) he had developed a extensively accepted information for occasion colleagues on councils with no total occasion management. In 1988 he was a member of the Liberals’ negotiating crew on the merger with the SDP that resulted within the emergence of the Liberal Democrats – although he alarmed colleagues by commenting that he loved the method greater than the top consequence.

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The Liberal Democrat negotiating crew of David Legal guidelines, Danny Alexander, Chris Huhne and Andrew Stunell exterior their Cowley Road headquarters in 2010, through the talks that led to their coalition with the Conservative occasion. {Photograph}: Dan Chung/The Guardian

Within the Conservative-Lib Dem authorities that resulted from the 2010 discussions, he was appointed parliamentary under-secretary within the Division for Communities and Native Authorities, however after solely two years was reshuffled out, along with three different Liberal Democrat ministers. Whereas on the division he helped to steer via the Localism Act, which devolved plenty of powers from central to native authorities.

Born in Sutton, Surrey, Andrew was one among 4 sons of Trixie, who had been a civil service clerk, and Robert Stunell, a mechanical engineer. From Surbiton grammar he went to Manchester College and Liverpool Polytechnic to review structure. Then got here architectural posts with the Co-operative wholesale society in Manchester (1965-67) and the Runcorn new city improvement company (1967-81).

As a Baptist lay preacher he had a eager sense of social justice, and in 1968 he was appalled when Harold Wilson’s Labour authorities reneged on its promise to Kenyan Asians to have the best to come back to Britain if Jomo Kenyatta’s authorities pressured them. Solely the Liberal occasion opposed the federal government, and Stunell joined it.

He was on Chester metropolis council (1979-90) along with his decade on the county council. From 1985 he was employed by the Affiliation of Liberal Councillors, making use of his expertise nationally.

Stunell fought his native Chester seat on the three basic elections, 1979, 1983 and 1987, received by Margaret Thatcher as Conservative chief. It was a Labour/Conservative marginal and he struggled to ballot a good third place vote. For the 1992 election, he was invited to place his title ahead for the Liberal Alliance for the Hazel Grove seat in Larger Manchester. The Stunell household then moved into the constituency and he diminished the Conservative majority to 929.

On the municipal election that adopted he gained a seat from Labour on the native Stockport council. Eight years of extremely deliberate group exercise by the occasion, together with gaining each council seat within the constituency, paid off, and on the 1997 basic election he was elected with a majority of just about 12,000. Liberal Democrat MPs greater than doubled to 46, and Stunell’s native authorities expertise was invaluable as deputy chief whip after which chief whip (2001-06). Beneath his stewardship each Liberal Democrat MP voted towards the invasion of Iraq.

Heading the non-public members’ poll enabled him to introduce the Sustainable and Safe Buildings Act 2004, meant to make new buildings greener and safer. Stunell was additionally involved on the approach new MPs have been anticipated to manage in a posh procedural and political atmosphere, and was instrumental in getting induction programs arrange for later intakes.

When he grew to become an MP, he was pleasantly stunned on the measurement of the wage, having by no means beforehand appeared it up, and he fortunately concerned himself within the sensible duties at his native Methodist church, having switched from his Baptist affiliation whereas in Chester. His pursuits included creating nation points and astronomy. He was made OBE in 1995 and knighted in 2013. After leaving the Commons on the 2015 election he entered the Lords, and served on the committee on requirements in public life (2016-22).

In 1967 he married Gillian Chorley, a music trainer who carried on her profession. She survives him, together with their 5 youngsters, Judith, Kari, Peter, Mark and Daniel, six grandchildren, and his brothers, John, Peter and Philip.


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