New leadership contest to begin in March?

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Is this “personal”? Or is it one of the single most important issues of the election? Far from making personal snipes, this question of Chris Huhne’s is probably the most pertinent of the campaign:

“Are we going to have an ongoing leadership campaign between these young turks, between the election in March and the next leadership election?”

It isn’t a question about age. Sir Menzies has deliberately made it an issue in the campaign with his slogan “a bridge to the future” and his repeated promotion of Nick Clegg. The calculation, it would appear, is that Ming himself felt vulnerable on this issue and has attempted to prebut it. It hasn’t worked. Unfortunately for Nick, it isn’t in Ming’s gift to give him the leadership and every time the suggestion is made, the chance that something or someone will come along to derail the whole project increases. What’s more, the very same people who are now telling us to meekly fall in line behind Ming and wait for someone better to come along were telling us that we could not do this under Charles Kennedy. The fact that both Ming and Nick have chosen to play this game causes one to seriously question their judgement. And if nothing else, judgement is the most important attribute of any leader.

But then, I’ve been banging on about this for weeks. Don’t take my word for it. But when one of the few bloggers who supports Ming says: “If Ming doesn’t immediately put people like Nick Clegg in a box, nail down the lid, and start playing the “the future of this country is too important to be left to schoolboys” card against David Cameron, he will lose the leadership to Chris Huhne,” it is time to sit up and take notice.

8 thoughts on “New leadership contest to begin in March?

  1. I really wish I hadn’t put two consecutive “the”s in that sentence… but apart from that I stand by everything in it.

    I’m still going to vote for him, but you can imagine my reaction at seeing Ed Davey and Sarah Teather grinning out from the Campbell Campaign Blog this morning…

  2. The election won’t be won on any of these “insider” issues. Most people don’t know who Nick Clegg is. Or Sarah Teather for that matter.

    The successful candidate will be the one with the highest and most positive public profile. That is likely to be Ming Campbell.

    The rank-and-file member who gets his information from the media will look at the three candidates and pick the two with whom he is familiar (Campbell and Hughes). He will then scan the bumph and pick up on (for him) crucial details, the most obvious of which is the fact that Ming has the support of 29 MPs, 35 peers and 8 MEPs.

    I would be very surprised if Ming gets less than 40% 1st preferences.

  3. Not sure this is an “insider issue” as the big worry is that we spend the next 4-5 years with leadership speculation rife in the media.

    I don’t dismiss the fact that Ming will put in a strong poll result, although I think he’s losing ground every day at the moment. But that only recalls the nightmare scenario: a leader who wins majority support from the armchair membership but who has successfully alienated a wide activist base in the course of their leadership campaign. It may well be that the activists are out of touch, but they will be the ones who will be expected to win the next General Election.

  4. It’s not an ‘insider issue’ – it’s the reason why a Campbell leadership could be undermined from day one.

    It would be massively divisive (and I’m a Nick Clegg fan) to have the next leadership campaign start on 3 March – which inevitably would be the media result.

    Personally, the sight of Carlile on the Campbell website rings all the alarm bells I need – but at least he won’t be running for leader next month. Clearly Campbell’s campaign was very well (pre-emptively?) organised. But there must be a lot of Parliamentarians out there who are regretting declaring so early.

    Having spent the weekend talking to members I’m still none the wiser as to who’s going to win.

  5. I began this whole excercise with aclear order of preference in my mind albeit a very tightly ordered one. As the campign has gone on i have really taken against ming. By which I mean I haven’t taken agaisnt ming but I have been appalled by the campign and the fact that we are going to have a proxy election going on for years all becuase they couldn’t be bothered to stand this time round. I’m sure if i had been a member of federal executive I would have agreeed the same timetable that they did. Hind sight is a wonderful thing but with it a few extra weeks and a beauty contest at confernce with young turks standing would have been better.

  6. I really do need to use that spell checker and not post before my morning coffee. I’m going to lock my laptop in a cupboard for a week as punishment.

  7. I am bold (foolhardy?) enough to make a prediction:-

    First preferences: Campbell 40%, Hughes 35%, Huhne 25%.

    After redistribution: Campbell 55%, Hughes 45%.

    The editorials in the “Guardian” and the “Independent” today have probably helped Ming. The garnering of ALL parliamentarians in Cornwall is perhaps more significant, given the large number of armchair members down there who are very remote from what metropolitan activists think.

    If I am right, Chris Hunhe has everything to be pleased about. Outsiders have tended to do very badly in leadership elections. Yet I am predicting that Chris will amass four times the support that Jackie Ballard and Dadid Rendel got.

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