It looks as if the cat’s well and truly out of the bag with this Liberal magazine petition website calling for Kennedy to resign (you’ll forgive me if I don’t include a link).
I think first of all it cannot be emphasised enough that the Liberal is not the party’s “in house” magazine, let alone the voice of the grassroots. Bizarrely, Tom Watson has hit the nail on the head here.
The Liberal was launched just over a year ago to spectacular indifference within the party. It has sought to define itself as a kind of small-l liberal answer to the Spectator and its content thus far has contained writing from at least as many Tory and Labour leaning writers as Lib Dems. Frankly, it hasn’t really been my cup of tea being the sort of uncultured philistine who instinctively distrusts poetry (making words rhyme together? Witchcraft!), although I did like the last issue.
Now, if Liberator were to do such an initiative, that would have significantly more impact within the party. It’s been going for 35 years and is regarded by many as required reading. While Liberator contains a more authentic voice of the activists however, it is less activist itself.
In all honesty, I think this petition is perversely good news for Kennedy. It will have the effect of over-egging the pudding just before Christmas. They don’t appear to have troubled themselves with the hassle of introducing any way of differentiating members who sign the petition from non-members, which means it can be easily dismissed even if they suddenly came up with tens of thousands of names. And they haven’t included a data-protection statement or opt-out, meaning they will not legally be able to use the email addresses they collect to campaign.
It does however, increase pressure on Kennedy to raise his game. The anonymous source quoted in the Western Mail today is quite correct:
“Charles genuinely believes he can take on Cameron and win. In a curious way this is an opportunity for us to define ourselves more clearly.”
No more starts and stops – this is the real deal, mate. If Kennedy can rise to this challenge over the next few months, then the party will be in a stronger position than ever.