Tuesday, 16 October 2007

And another one bites the dust

So, now we have yet another living former Lib Dem leader from Scotland.
The perfunctory nature of his letter of resignation makes clear the bitterness in Ming's heart over his treatment by his colleagues. Ok, this time there was no ominous knock on the door from the men in grey suits, but if ever a man was damned by faint praise, it was Ming Campbell over this past weekend.

I didn't put him number 1 two years ago: it's hard to find many active members who did. His elevation was due to the mass membership of the party looking for a cool head, an experienced, mature leader at a time of crisis. They got that, but one good speech without notes from Cameron, a tumble in the opinion polls (not reflected in local government or parliamentary by-election results by the way) and all of a sudden experience and maturity count for nothing. Public presentation, youth and vigour are everything, or so the press would have us believe.

Did those who should have supported him more simply bow to pressure from our great national newspapers? Was the constant stream of ridicule becoming a flood they could no longer ignore?
As I left Brighton a couple of weeks ago, everyone was saying what a good speech Ming had made: his best yet. Everyone seemed happy to get behind him and work hard for the party. But, as they say, a week is a long time in politics...and image is everything.

Who will the members go for this time? No-one would bet against Clegg or Huhne, but I hope some outsiders throw their hats into the ring, too.


miketually said...

If as much dirt comes out during this leadership contest as during the last one it's going to be very bad news for the Lib Dems.

I am rapidly running out of parties that I can vote for. Is there a party left which didn't have Thatcher as its leader, didn't start an illegal war or doesn't have a bunch of opportunists at its top level?

Aeres said...

Out of interest, considering Thatcher left office 17 years ago is there a point in time when this ceases to be a criteria in your voting choice?

I quite liked Ming myself, but perhaps the qualities of stability and a 'safe pair of hands' have given way to a need for more dynamism. Shame though as whenever I saw him on PMQ's he seemed to address thought-provoking issues rather than the knockabout politics that we usually see.

Agree that it can't be good news for Lib Dems, although I guess if there's going to be turmoil it may as well happen mid-term.

miketually said...

I suppose a complete cull of everyone who had anything to do with the Conservatives and then rebuilding the party around a whole new set of principles might be enough to get me to put a cross in that box.

Thatcher was such a hate figure while I was growing up (I was 2 in 1979) that I think not voting Tory has become hard-wired into my DNA.

Mike Barker said...

Yes, Mike. For the same reason I could never use Barclays Bank for any financial business, because back when I was at University they were the bank we all hated because of their support for the apartheid regime in South Africa. It's probably an irrational attitude to hold now, but just like you could never vote Tory, I could never have anything to do with Barclays.

BTW, if she could be persuaded to stand, the really radical choice that would certainly shake up the other two parties would be 29 year old Julia Goldsworthy.

miketually said...

I'm not sure I like the thought of someone younger than me being the leader of a political party. Not because I don't think they could do a good job, but because of how old it would make me feel ;)

I think Julia is pretty googd friends with Cllr Matt Davies (http://mattdaviesharingey.blogspot.com/) - they shared an office when working as researchers.

Aeres said...

I guess it proves the adage that it can take years to build a brand but a single event to destroy it. Funnily enough I got told off when I was 4 years old in Boyes for pressing the stop button on the escalator and I haven't been back in 30 years. Not entirely sure if they can be blamed mind you....

Goldsworthy would certainly be radical and in the short term would no doubt provide a 'bounce' in fortunes. However, ageism is alive and well at both ends of the spectrum and a promising career could be ruined if things took a turn for the worse.

That said, she's now 4th favourite so it seems that others agree - although I can't see past Clegg myself.

Mike Barker said...

It looks like a straight fight now between my first choice last time, Chris Huhne, and the bookies favourite, Nick Clegg.
Both former Euro MPs, journalists and pupils from Westminster School, they present the identikit image of the very modern politician.
I saw them both close up in action at Brighton. Chris struck me as the more thoughtful and considered, Nick as the young Turk.
As we always say, either of them would do a great job.