If this was the West Wing, then all Kennedy would have to do next Wednesday is make an impassioned, poignant speech at the Parliamentary Party, underscored by some inspiring strings and suddenly everyone will realise what a noble, wonderful leader he is, never mind the booze and the lies, and everything will be forgotten in time for the end credits. Of course, that would require every day until that point to be raining.
Unfortunately, this is the real world and it don’t work that way. I started off thinking that Kennedy had performed a masterstroke in self-preservation, although was less convinced it was good for the party. Now however I’m not so sure about even that. On the other hand I remain unconvinced by any of the likely pretenders.
I really haven’t made my mind up about this at all. So instead, a few random points:
1. To be nominated as a candidate in this contest, an MP needs 7 of his/her colleagues to nominate – even Charles. I don’t think any parliamentarian should back anyone unless they are absolutely convinced they’re up for the job. No blank cheques this time.
2. Having said that, I don’t think anyone should sign childish letters calling for their leader to resign either unless they have a pretty good idea who they want instead. So who do the Brutus XI support? They seem a pretty diverse bunch and I don’t see them uniting behind anyone. It was the political equivalent of a toddler’s dirty protest. Like so much thinking going on at the top of the party, it was tactically very effective but strategically clueless and has left us up the creek without a paddle.
3. The fuck ups and failures of the past few years are as much the responsibility of Charles’ inner circle as himself. An alcoholic can be an effective leader – cf Winston Churchill – what they need is a core team around them who are not in denial themselves. Time and again they have left him exposed and vulnerable. Karma – and realpolitik – demands that some blood needs to be spilt now. If that isn’t to be the leader himself, then we need to see a major scalp – otherwise it just looks complacent.
4. It is surely only right and proper to ask if Daisy McAndrew ever lied for Charles Kennedy when she was his press officer?
5. One thing is for sure, David Cameron has effectively killed off all hope of an Orange Book Revolution within the party. Even the most frothing idealogue would baulk at the idea of fighting a General Election campaign to the right of the Tories. Cameron’s commitment on Wednesday to block any move towards health insurance essentially scuppers the whole David Laws plan. The party simply cannot afford to go to the right at a time when the Tories are doing the exact opposite.