Daily Archives: 19 January 2006

Lembit: stop spinning!

According to Mark Oaten’s campaign manager:

“It was Mark’s declaration that he was going to stand that ensured there was a contest. The others came in after him. It was he that ensured there was a choice for the membership.”

Yes, we know Oaten was first off the starting blocks. But then, he’d been planning the campaign for months, so it was hardly a surprise. But if Oaten hadn’t stood on the Tuesday, then the other two would have almost certainly have done a couple of days later. And that isn’t to mention the fact that both John Hemming and Phil Willis had declared an intention to be stalking horses to guarantee a contest.

Lembit: you’ve done so badly over the past week at least in part due to your habit of repeatedly over-egging the pudding. At least bow out graciously now rather than trying to pretend you’ve made some kind of monumental breakthrough.

Mark Oaten: how could I be so right?

What. The. Hell?

Seriously, why are the wheels on the Oaten bus coming off so quickly? While I’ve never had that much regard for Oaten himself, I have some regard for Opik as someone who understands both campaigning and communication. And I never dreamt that we would reach this stage with Oaten unable to claim more than one actual supporter.

Indeed, his campaign is starting to sound distinctly Orwellian:

  • He claims to be the loyalty candidate, yet was the first to launch his campaign (in the Telegraph before Christmas);
  • He claims to be the unity candidate, yet only one MP actually supports him;
  • He claims to be the media-friendly candidate, yet his campaign has lunged from one PR disaster to the next;
  • He claims to be the 21st century candidate yet is the only one without a campaign website (oh, and I checked the other day and could find no evidence that anyone has been buying URLs along the lines of mark2win, mark4leader, oatentowin, oatenforleader or any other variations);
  • He claims to be the liberal candidate, yet admits to only having discovered liberalism four years ago (5 years after being elected as a Liberal Democrat MP) and more than any other candidate his actual commitment to liberalism is questioned, with serious examples cited.

Last week I said he had a moral duty to stand; he’s organised for it long enough. Now, it looks so bad that I would be inclined to release him from his moral obligation. But I genuinely don’t understand why it has gone so bad for him. Perhaps I bought the hype more than I thought I did. More to the point, perhaps he did too.