Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Lib Dems leadership quandary

On only one occasion did I exercise my franchise on mainland Britain and whatever the merits or demerits of that youthful decision, my X was etched indecisively beside the name of the aspirant Liberal Democrat MP.

Whether I would have stood by my chosen party in subsequent elections is a matter of conjecture, for which even I can not claim to have the answer. But regardless, my personal legacy from the 1997 election is that I harbour some residual sympathies toward the third party in British politics.

Whilst I am in confessional mood, I must also admit that I was a sucker for Charles Kennedy’s amiable wit and indeed his apparent fondness for a tipple, if anything made me more sympathetic to his leadership of the party. So it was with no particular joy or excitement that I descried the ascension of an aging party grandee, Menzies Campbell, to party leader.

Whether Campbell’s resignation yesterday suggests that he was a victim of ageism, is a matter on which various people will proffer different opinions. The postponement of the election for another 2 years and a perception that a younger leader would offer the party a fresher image, certainly seemed to figure in the minds of party members as their support for the leadership faltered.

The chief failure of Campbell’s tenure however, was an inability to draw together post-Kennedy factions and get them to coalesce around his leadership. The party correspondingly failed to maintain the dynamic public profile which Kennedy and Paddy Ashdown had previously established.

To be brutally frank, the quality of leadership contenders being bandied about to replace Ming Campbell is unlikely to cause many sleepless nights amongst Conservative or Labour strategists. If the Westminster party were to follow the instincts of their grass roots and consider seriously recalling Kennedy, then I have no doubt that the two main parties would be more discomfited.

1 comment:

Toddrpr said...

Nick Clegg or Chris Huhne? Name me one successful political leader whose name consists of only 2 syllables. Exactly. Bring back '8 second' Paddy.