At long last, the leadership election is starting bring out real issues, with both Ming Campbell and Chris Huhne starting to develop their policy stalls. Simon Hughes meanwhile is still stuck in willy waving mode.
From what I’ve read, Ming’s policy document is quite impressive. I need to go through it in more detail, but I do like the noises coming from its section on the environment. I think it’s unfair to attempt to compare Huhne’s initial outline of his basic position on environmental taxation with this more nuanced text, but it clearly puts the onus on Huhne to come up with something just as good.
Meanwhile, Huhne has a number of points in his section on leadership which should gladden the heart of plenty of anxious activists. His sections on keeping it local, leading and listening and winning the youth and student vote amount to a firm rebuttal of the centralisation that has been going on under Kennedy and Simon Hughes’ presidency over the past 12 months. I’m sure Andy Mayer will appear now and scream “activistocracy!” at me, but really this is simply good management and effective internal communication. If Campbell doesn’t address these issues, then we would be right to worry, especially given his emphasis on the parliamentary as a team (seemingly at the expense of the rest of us).
Meanwhile, another bizarre row has broken out between the two camps, with a spokesman for Campbell accusing Huhne of “naive populism” for calling for the government to set a date for withdrawing the troops from Iraq. I originally read this story earlier in the day before the Huhne camp had got its rebuttal in, but I too was puzzled as to how Campbell could use such robust language given that Campbell spent much of last year calling on the government to set a date for withdrawal. It does strike one of a bad case of the jitters.
Whatever. The point is, it looks like we’re starting to have a real debate on policy and strategy, which is badly needed. I hope we can all agree to welcome that.