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Saturday, May 13, 2006


Ming Campbell is proving a disaster for the LibDems. It isn't just his performance at PM's questions. To be fair he doesn't get as much time as Bliar & Cameron but to be equally fair if either of them had made the appalling mistake of claiming another prisoner listed for deportation had been released when he hadn't they would have been hung out to dry. It is also the general invisibility of any form of leadership - Cameron may not be able to come up with policies but at least he can ride a bicycle, now a major sign of leadership.

This from the Scotsman today shows the problem
EXTRA help is being given to Sir Menzies Campbell to improve the Liberal Democrat leader's faltering performances at Prime Minister's Questions.

The entire parliamentary party will be tapped for ideas to help Sir Menzies preempt questions and attacks from other parties, a Lib Dem spokesman confirmed
Simon Hughes damns with faint support
a plea from Simon Hughes, once a rival for the Lib Dem leadership, to give Sir Menzies several more months before assessing his leadership.

"We need to judge him when it comes to conference after six months, rather than after a few weeks," he said.

& has something similar in the Independent Also in Friday's Indie Letters we have a carefully thought out letter, in reply to a fairly stupid one calling for the LDs to to achieve popularity through state socialism to which I also replied, without effect. It ends
Finally, the Liberal Democrats' failure was their own fault. The party cannot resist the temptation to go on an excursion up its own backside (of which Richard Denton-White's letter is a fine example). When is the party going to wake up to the fact that the public don't find the Liberal Democrats half as fascinating as we do ourselves? In addition, and this has to be said, in January we replaced a flawed but likeable leader with a senatorial but unpopular one.


& in an example of me being ahead of the crowd (if only by hours) Iain Dale's excellent Diary reprinted a semi-official piece from Ed Viazey about how, if the LDs implode under Ming/we get a hung Parliament the Tories will be able to pick up the economic liberals to which I commented
I've said before that the Lib Dems, who expelled me for right wing deviationalism, should make more use of their position on PR & this item shows why. There is no argument put against PR because PR is very difficult to argue against.

If they still had Charlie, had genuine economic liberal policies (such as abolishing the DTI, far to radical for the new centrist Tories) & a principled position on the war they would be wiping the Tories. They still might though presumably not under emperor Ming.

The idea that you will split the Lib Dems, annex the bits you want & march towards glory without accepting PR is nonsense. At their strongest the Lib Dems never looked like an easier route to power than joining the Lab/Tories. Those that took the difficult route will not be seduced merely for the asking.

Without PR, Libs in a formal or informal pact are turkeys voting for Christmas. The Tories could have a historic rapprochement with the LDs by which both parties would tend to work together for at least a generation but they would have to do this on the basis that they could be trusted to produce a referendum on PR as Labour, who promised this in 1997, can't.

This would involve an intellectual acceptance by the Tories that the days when everybody was either a little Labourite or else a little Conservative have gone & that people will never again be satisfied with just 2 choices.

Iain's blog is possibly the best current political news blog, certainly Westminster news, going & thus he hasn't made the Tory candidate A-list. On the other hand he isn't black, female or a Coronation St actor (unlike Charlie who managed the latter).

Fortunately for the LDs Ming has no call on anybody's personal loyalty having stabbed Kennedy "for the good of the party". As such he cannot object to the same being done to him giving a successor ample time to get things right for the next Westminster election.

The election of Campbell as leader showed a failure of imagination and courage on the part of the Liberal Democrats. It would have been like the Tories electing Ken Clarke of Malcolm Rifkind, a yesterdays man.

Why did they take this backwards step and elect a man who was a university contemporary of John Smith RIP and Donald Three Millions RIP? Here was a chance to elect a youngster and show some faith in the future, but instead they went the opposite way and elected a bleedin pensioner!

As the old American political saying goes: 'friends say he needs rest'. He certainly does. Ming needs to retire, not become party leader!
Mr Anonymous - the Lib Dems weren't given the option of electing a "young leader". We had:

Sir Ming (64)
Simon Hughes (54)
Chris Huhne (51)

All the other potential leaders (David Laws, Nick Clegg, Ed Davey) pinned their colours to Ming's mast.
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