Oaten has now declared his nominators. They are: Bob Russell, Mike Hancock, Paul Rowen, John Hemming, John Leech, Paul Keetch and Lembit Opik.
Hancock, Rowan and Hemming are all declared “nomination tarts” who have said they will nominate anyone who asks, and while I’m quite open to be corrected, “Bingo” Bob Russell comes from a similar mould. I’d be quite surprised if he turned out to be actively supporting Oaten.
That means that Oaten is only actively supported by 3-4 MPs, derisory given his long declared ambitions. The question must therefore follow: is he really going to stand, or will he eventually pull?
A time honoured tradition in NUS circles is for candidates to stand for election and then, at the hustings, pull out in favour of a particular candidate, once an appropriate pact has been secured. Lembit Opik, Mark’s campaign manager, has a background in NUS. Indeed, one of the more memorable bits of advice he once gave a friend of mine about the Lib Dems’ NUS strategy is as follows (I only slightly paraphrase slightly due to haziness of memory): “Deals. Do deals. Deals, deals, deals.”
Is this the advice he is now gently whispering into Mark Oaten’s shell-like? At tomorrow’s Meeting the Challenge conference we shall see.
UPDATE: Eek! Could I be eating my words already? Oaten has released a webcast – still no website though. I’ve tried this on Firefox, Safari and Explorer on a Mac, with no success. Can anyone else get it to work? I assume it contains warm endorsments from all his supporters (sarcasm aside, this doesn’t change anything since this webcast was clearly commissioned before it became apparent to what degree the wheels were coming off his campaign).