Simon Hughes’ launch was a lot slicker than Mark Oaten’s and he was wise to mention his win as Party President 16 months ago but, well, it was a bit boring if truth be told. He seemed to be speaking in slow motion. And while it was good to have a venue sorted that didn’t literally leave journalists out in the cold (note, Mark, the correct use of the word literally there), why the Oxo tower? Is he hoping for lots of bad puns about people putting “stock” in him? I don’t see it beefing him up (hyuk, hyuk…).
I may have watched too many episodes of the West Wing recently, but why not launch your bid outside of somewhere personally and politically significant such as a local school? Yes, the tower is in Hughes’ constituency, but what did that say about his campaign and him personally? Having a constituency just over the river is a huge bonus for the Hughes campaign, and he needs to be using it to the full.
One positive thing is that he took questions and generally came across as talking to the room rather than making a declaration.
He’s unashamedly positioned himself with Beveridge and Lloyd George, which is about as unsurprising as it gets. In fact, there didn’t appear to be any surprises at all, or even content. That was true of Oaten’s launch as well, but at least he has been sounding off to the press for the past week about policy ideas (even if they are bad ones). It leaves one with very little to write about.
All in all, a competent performance from a competent performer, but an anti-climax given the amount of time we’ve had to wait for him to make it.
Tomorrow will be the really interesting one.
UPDATE: Stephen Glenn argues that Simon Hughes’ declaration that none of his nominees are nominating other candidates is a blow for democracy. I would disagree with that, as by definition it narrows the choice available to the membership to vote on. But it does make good political sense, and makes it harder for other candidates to subsequently accept nominations from the Mike Hancocks of this world, however desperate they may be. In fact, while Hughes today argued that we need a rules change, I would argue the rule works fine as it is. Anyone who now accepts nominations in this way will look like a Big Fat Loser.