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Friday, January 27, 2006


Can Simon Hughes be the credible successor to Charles Kennedy. I think not. The problem is that we were repeatedly told that Charlie's problem was not just that he drank but that he had lied on this personal matter. Well Simon has lied on this personal matter. The homosexuality itself is not disabling in the way that drinking may be (it used to be said that it made people a security risk, a self fulfilling prophecy if there ever was one, but that is no longer credible) but lying, in the particular circumstances of being Charlie's heir won't work.

He could have come out years ago. Indeed he no doubt wishes Matthew Parris had outed him at the same time as he did Mandy but that didn't happen. He could even just have refused to answer questions on the subject. If he had been outed 6 months ago he could probably have got by but not today.

A lot of the problem is that he got his seat by running against Peter Tatchell on not being the bender & this looks a bit hypocritical now. It is not entirely so because Tatchell was not merely homosexual he was & is an intolerant homosexual which, not unreasonably, pissed off his potential electorate. Last year I heard him on the BBC radio invited on as a guest to discuss some Catholic prelate who had refered to homosexuals as "perverts". Now quite obviously, in biblical terms for those interested in such things, this is nothing but the truth. Nonetheless despite this & despite the fact that a poll had shown that a very large number of people agreed Tatchell's argument was entirely the assertion that such a word was "unacceptable". The arrogance of this dismissal of the right of even a majority of people to hold contrary opinions was breathtaking. Looking back on it Labour must be very glad they lost that by-election since he would have done immense harm to their image in Parliament. Anybody really interested in alternate world stories (I am) could imagine a situation where a militant gay faction, in alliance with Militant, did so much damage to Labour that they went into the next election campaign 5% down & the Liberal/SDP Alliance 5% up & thus Labour got eclipsed - but I digress.

The point is that as a leader, at this point in time, Hughes would not be credible. I will admit that I think him to much of a "social inclusion" liberal & not enough of a classic liberal so I may be biased but I don't think so.
Tomorrow I am going to take a few hearty swings at Ming so I had better mmention Chris Huhne now.

Like everybody else I had never heard of him before he announced he was standing but:

1) He is widely thought to be running a very good campaign, which is after all what we are looking for.

2) According to the Wikipedia entry the day he declared, when he was an MEP he pressed for sunset clauses to be put into a lot of EU legislation & often succeeded. That impresses me - anybody who understands that it should be easier to get rid of government regulation than to keep it understands more about government than 80% of politicos.

3) He is new - a la Cameron.

4) He is more of a classic liberal (though this is a personal thing & is a disadvantage for most activists)(on the other hand it is probably an advantage for most Lib Dem voters & potential voters)

5) He has his own hair. This is a cheap shot - nonetheless it is true. William Hague, widely agreed to be extremely capable, lost heavily from being prematurely bald. I wish the media age we live in didn't require such nonsense but this is the world we live in & we must accept facts.

6) The one against. The Sun has been responsible for getting rid of 2 of his rivals - I have said earlier I am worried about their keeping scandal stories on file for use to distort democracy & the Hughes story is clearly one they have had for years.

I don't like being played like a fiddle but nonetheless I hope Chris wins.
The only possible good side to this is that when talk of getting rid of Charlie first came up I wrote against it here partly on the grounds that an assassination would divide the party for years as happened after Thatcher. With the 4 leading figures in the party gone we might have got all our trauma over at once.

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