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.
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.