As expected, the “bridge to the future” slogan is pretty much the one thing that most media outlets have reported from Ming Campbell’s launch yesterday. Nick Clegg repeats it in his Guardian article today as well.
As I said earlier, this really does sap my enthusiasm for Ming as leader. No other candidate is being forced to address what comes after him in this way, and in my view he is being very badly advised to make it the central theme of his campaign. I cannot see the virtue of making the single best reason to not vote for your candidate the one thing that you repeat ad nauseum.
And I’m afraid, Nick’s article makes me still more uneasy. As with Apollo commentator Pip, I find this paragraph quite sinister:
… One of the most obvious lessons I extract from the messy fall of Charles Kennedy is that the party cannot afford to have another leader who does not enjoy the unambiguous loyalty of the overwhelming majority of his parliamentary colleagues. A leader who spends his time looking over his shoulder to make sure his own colleagues are on side cannot be effective in making advances against the other parties.
This sounds like something not a million miles away from blackmail. Yes, of course the parliamentary party needs to have confidence in the leader. But in a party that is founded on the principle of one member one vote, the parliamentary party also has a moral duty to respect the party’s wishes. It is a two way street. We’ve had a month of being told what to think by the parliamentary party – now it’s our turn.