Former Lib Dem candidate David Rendel dies

David Rendel
David Rendel

David Rendel, the Lib Dem candidate for Somerton and Frome in the 2015 general election and former Newbury MP, has died aged 67.

David Rendel
David Rendel
Mr Rendel was selected as a candidate by local members after retiring Somerton and Frome MP David Heath announced he would not be restanding for election in October 2013.

Mr Rendel had huge Parliamentary and campaigning experience, having been the MP for Newbury from 1993-2005.

David Rendel was a keen environmentalist and a frequent cyclist. He was also well known for his commitment to animal welfare.

He was educated as a scholar at Eton College before spending 14 months as a volunteer teacher in Cameroon and Uganda with Voluntary Service Overseas. He then went to Oxford University where he gained a degree in Physics and Philosophy and rowed in the record-breaking Boat Race crew of 1974.

After leaving Oxford, David Rendel worked in the energy industry (Shell International, British Gas and Esso) as a manager in the computing and finance departments.

Mr Rendel was elected MP for Newbury in a by-election on 6 May 1993, with a majority of 22,055 – the largest Liberal or Liberal Democrat Westminster majority in history. He won again in the 1997 and 2001 general elections.

As Liberal Democrat spokesperson on Higher and Further Education, David led the campaign against university tuition fees and top-up fees.

Previously, David Rendel was a front-bench spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats on local government (1993-97) and social security (1997-99) and served on the influential Public Accounts Committee (1999-2003).

As social security spokesperson, he lead the largest rebellion of MPs of the Parliament, against Government plans to scrap single parent benefits.

He also led opposition to benefit cuts for people with disabilities. He was the MP who first brought the SERPS fiasco to the attention of Ministers and asked the National Audit Office to investigate. As a result, the Government was forced to restore the pension entitlement of widows who were disadvantaged, at a cost of £12 billion.

David Rendel lost in the 2015 election in Somerton and Frome to Conservative Parliamentary Candidate David Warburton, who gained a majority of 20,268 – the largest constituency swing to the Conservative Party in the country.