Not whispering but shouting

As readers will be aware, in my view the “Ming must go” debate in the blogosphere is a distraction being lead by armchair generals who are either unwilling or unable to conceive of what they are really calling for (i.e. self-immolation for the party for the second time in 18 months, with the option for another one if the next leader doesn’t meet Iain Dale’s their exacting demands). However, if Ming thinks there is a whispering campaign against him, he is quite wrong.

In fact, the perception I get is that the Parliamentary Party has remained loyal to their leader (another problem the MMG brigade fail to recognise). The calls for him to go are being shouted on the blogosphere. Calling for people to come out and say what they think is redundant – that is exactly what they are doing. The potential these people have to cause problems for the party has been underestimated; this must be the third time that blog posts have been leading to newspaper headlines.

My advice to Ming is that he should invite the main ringleaders to his office for a full and frank discussion. They should be free to report back on their blogs on whatever they feel like. If they are unwilling to attend the meeting, the honourable course would be to keep schtum (and whingeing about bad backs isn’t a good enough excuse). These Lib Dem bloggers demand to be taken seriously, so let’s treat them seriously, but with that comes an expectation that it is time to behave responsibly.

By all means slag off the leader – I do – but loudly wishing he hadn’t been elected without a meaningful idea of what the alternative should be is just silly. Come on Ming, call their bluff.


  1. I’ve never been an armchair general. I’ve spent too many cold evenings and morning trudging the street as a footsoldier, alone and cold, spreading the gospel of the party to be a general. However, I know that for for all the leaflets I deliver, it can all be undone by Ming decising to have secret talks with Brown without a thought to the consequences.

    I’m sorry you don’t agree with me and I am guessing you are sorry I don’t agree with you. To be fair though, I linked to someone who took me on on the issue and didn’t hide behind pointing a finger in a general direction of me.

    I may not be wrong, but it is my opinion. I really hope Ming proves me wrong and his performance in PMQ’s today was a good start, but it needs a lot of hard work and an end to the gaffes.

  2. Come on James, the game’s up. Of course the parliamentary party is loyal; they always are. But what they are thinking in private is another matter entirely. And while we may flatter ourselves to think that Blog posts are influencing headlines, don’t you think that Sir Ming’s dismal poll ratings might also be a relevant factor?

    I agree with you, in a sense, that we should quit attacking Sir Ming – it’s gone beyond that point. By this stage, we should be planning a face saving manoeuvre for when he stands down this summer, which he surely will. And I’ve got a perfectly clear alternative: Christopher Huhne – my choice and yours. What’s the problem?

  3. And what if he doesn’t stand down this summer Laurence, which he won’t? What’s your plan B?

  4. Plan B is to entrap Sir Ming in a sex scandal. But obviously this would be a highly risky strategy, not least because it might actually improve his national standing, and then he‘d think he was on some sort of a roll. So it would have to be something really dodgy. This is where Mark Oaten’s contacts could prove invaluable.

    Perhaps we should stick to plan A.

  5. The Problem with your strategy is that anyone who slags the leader off on line gets direct access to the leader – hardly sustainable.

    And if, as you say, they can’t go they should shut up how is that enforceable. It relies on goodwill from the people – which judging from Laurence (employed by the Tories to join the party and slag Ming off at every opportunity by hanging around on the blogs and getting his negative comment in first) Boyce above, is in very short supply

  6. You’ve got me all wrong expriest (are you really an ex-priest?). The reason I hang around on Blogs getting my comment in first, is because I’m a rather sad person who is not currently employed by anybody, least of all the Conservative party. But my attitude to the other parties is a little unusual I suppose, in that, with the exception of the BNP, I would like all the main political parties to be in the best possible shape. That way, come election time, we might be presented with a genuine choice; unlike the situation which pertained at the last election where, despite deep unpopularity, Labour was basically a shoo-in. I believe that, at present, the need has never been greater for a strong third party, and that the Liberal Democrats are falling well short of where we should stand given the current political climate. I believe that much (though by no means all) of this shortfall can be attributed to the somewhat lacklustre performance of the Right Honourable Sir Menzies Campbell CBE QC MP.

  7. expriest: you’re right about the dangers of holding the party to ransom. I’m only proposing a one-off, since we are in untested waters. At least Ming can say he has treated them with the respect they won’t offer him.

    Laurence: if you are truly committed to the Lib Dems being in the best shape it can be, you should concentrate on the things you can improve, not the things you can’t. The limit of your analysis is “get rid of Ming,” which suggests a lack of interest in anything more fundamental.

  8. Well I’m not totally committed because I’ve only just joined, but I’m committed for the foreseeable future, let’s put it like that. And I’m interested in lots of things beyond the leadership. For instance, I want to hear much less about civil liberties, and much more about secularism. And I certainly don’t want to hear the leader describe the party as “centre-left” on Question Time. You must have winced at that too. By contrast, Christopher Huhne would pose the Conservatives a major problem.

  9. You would need to elaborate on this Chris (I get DC quaking in boots) Huhne secret plan – he hasn’t exactly had them on the run over the environment has he instead they have cemented their VBGG message. he’s been our spokes on that for over a year, hardly a ringing endorsement.

    The sad fact is that this squeeze was predicted (its the only way the other parties can get a majority) and that it would be happening no matter who the leader. The question is how do we hold firm. I’m not sure the answer is ‘get a new leader’. I think the answer is reform your campaigning, shore up you held seats, pur money and resources into your target seats – sit tight, hope and fight – bob’s yr uncle a few more seats at the next GE and…..more power

  10. [Huhne] hasn’t exactly had them on the run over the environment.

    No, but he’s certainly been quite effective in that role where there is a large degree of overall consensus. Huhne would be much better placed with an economic portfolio, which is his strong suit. Of course Sir Ming knows that perfectly well.

    The sad fact is that this squeeze was predicted . . . I’m not sure the answer is ‘get a new leader.’

    You don’t get it, do you? We don’t need a new leader because of the squeeze or because of this or that. We need a new leader because he is simply not up to the job.

    a few more seats at the next GE

    You’ve got to be kidding me. If that’s what you really think, then you stand to make a fortune at spread betting. Now why don’t you get yourself a real name?

  11. Hi Laurence,

    It would be good to get into this properly but I have found in the past that trading comments on blogs doesn’t get it done because each of you is operating in rebuttal mode, ignoring those shades of grey which you both actually probably agree with.

    I guess my fault for starting in the firts place, but get trully p£ssed off with your one track mind.

    For instance – when you say “You really don’t get it do you?” that is my first reaction to your posts – I don’t think you get it either. I don’t think you understand what is really going on – you don’t think I understand.

    You don’t seem to accept that politics is a much longer and subtle game that who your leader has been over the last year. Now it is true that it matters (IDS) but it is only a part of the trend and the game.

    What do you think the Shadow Cabinet are doing eh? The Cleggs, the Huhnes, the Hughes and the rest. Do you think Campbell has told them to shut up and let him say what there is to say. Or do you think he has told them to come up with idea, get working, get promoting?

    Who leades does matter, but the context in which they lead should be part of the measure of performance.

    For instance Charles lead the party from 1999 to 2006 – before the run up to the Iraq war we were polling at around 14-16% (sometimes a bit higher, sometimes a bit lower) – was it his fault we were polling so low? Even polling so low we went up from 47 to 52 seats in the 2001 election.

    Look Laurence I could go on forever and we ain’t really getting anywhere.

    I just think if you could turn your relentless negativity into positive ideas to go forward it would be much more useful.

    Like others have said – sack Ming doesn’t cut it – what happens after that – why not come up with a proper strategy for success that ANY Lib Dem leader should follow.

    Without that you are just a Troll calling for Ming’s head – so Yawn and predictable.

    As for the name…

    xp out

  12. Yes, I do get it. I get it precisely because I am just an ordinary voter, not a party hack. Of course I don’t really know the first thing about you, except that you are possibly an ex-priest, so I think I’ll have to leave it there. You are all in complete denial!

  13. Oh, give over on the “ordinary voter” crap. You wouldn’t be reading these blogs if you were “ordinary”. You’ll be claiming to be a horny handed son of toil next.

    On what basis do you claim to be more “in touch” with the “ordinary voter” than the rest of us?

  14. Laurence,

    You are not an “ordinary voter”. You are a voter – no such thing as “ordinary” – each voter believes different things and makes up there minds based on different things.

    You are one voice not many.

    But you do reflect a strand of opinion – a valid strand of opinion – and you are lobbying – yes you are! – and why shouldn’t you.

    Not sure how strong or prevelant that opinion is. But you never seem to suggest any way forward except “Chuck Ming, Get Chris” – unless you set out why this would make a blind bit of difference you are basically just saying “Chuck Ming”.

    So Come on – up to the plate – now’s your chance – get positive on my ass.


  15. Oh, give over on the “ordinary voter” crap. You wouldn’t be reading these blogs if you were “ordinary”.

    OK, I was an ordinary voter until a few months ago!

    On what basis do you claim to be more “in touch” with the “ordinary voter” than the rest of us?

    In the Lib Dem context, I suppose the simple answer to that question would be: the polls.

  16. OK, I was an ordinary voter until a few months ago!

    No you weren’t, see above.

    the polls.

    LOL! A) expriest has already comprehensively rebutted that, which you are clearly just avoiding. B) Reading too much into polls doesn’t make you “ordinary” – it makes you an anorak who spends too much time looking at statistics. C) If I had a pound every time, over the past 12 years, I had been told the Lib Dems were going to go backwards in the next General Election because of “the polls” I would be a rich man!

  17. Which Poll LAurence? – the one that had us on down 2 to 12% or the one that had us up one to 18% two days later. Or the one that had us on 21% last month?

    Do you know what questions were asked to get those figures? Do you know how the answers were weighted by the pollster? Do you know how large the sample and how that sample were selected? Do you know whether those numbers were certain to vote or may vote or just everybody? Do you know hether those polls have been adjusted for “don’t knows”?

    Or are you talking about trend? How does that trend compare to this point in other parliaments?

  18. No seriously, I didn’t really get into politics in a big way until a) I found myself with a lot of spare time on my hands, and b) 18 Doughty Street fired up. And I don’t read the polls in any detail, but somebody told me recently that Sir Ming had a personal approval rating of -5%. I have absolutely no idea what a negative approval rating means (perhaps you can explain), but it sure as hell doesn’t sound very good.

  19. Your right Laurence – It really isn’t good – but then you look at other polls which say Ming is the most trustworthy and the most experienced and has the best jusdgementt of the party leaders and you theink hey ho. and then you think hold on, no-one in the country knows who Ming is just as they didn’t know who Kennedy was until the 2001 elkection (when we get parity of coverage) or who Ashdown was until the kerfuffle over Bosnia.

    Welcome to the life of a Lib Dem supporter. Forever frustrated because you can see what you need to say but can’t here anyone saying it. Well rest assured we are saying it, just the press aren’t reporting it. Why? Well it is partly our fault, and Ming’s fault, but it mainly isn’t, its just normal service resumed.

    Our job is to push, fight, scramble and joust for every breath of exposure, every leaflet delivered and every ward and seat won.

    If your commitment to the Lib Dems is just about looking at the blogs and saying “sack Ming” what use are you too us?

    All you are then is one vote – and by the looks of it not even a firm vote.

    So why don’t you become more than one vote? Get down to Ealing Southall and learn what it is to be a Lib Dem! Become 5 votes or 10 votes or 20 votes. TAlk to people, convince them, urge them, impress them, move them with your passion and commitment.

    But then again sitting at home and commenting on blogs is much easier.

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