The first thing is that the story “rang” true. CBB is pretty much the only celebrity reality TV show Lembit hasn’t appeared on. He’s made much out of his appearances on I’m a Celebrity and Celebrity Apprentice*. And he has of course appeared on a myriad of other chat and panel shows. By contrast, no-one would have believed the story about Ros Scott or indeed pretty much any other MP. That is an image problem which Lembit himself has cultivated. So while it may indeed be “mischief” to invent stories such as this, it is only planting a seed in well cultivated soil.
The second thing is the length of time it took to rebut the story. Indeed, at the time of writing (1.20pm) the denial has yet to appear on his official website. No bloggers were briefed to start the rebuttal process. Why the length of time? Could it be that his campaign team weren’t completely sure the story wasn’t true and wasted the morning trying to track down the candidate? This suggests that a) Team Lembit perceive the same image problem that the rest of us do and b) either the campaigners or the candidate is not really concentrating on the fight.
Issuing a denial on a website is a five minute job. Is it really too much to expect Lembit to sort this out?
A thought though occurs: assuming CBB starts at around the same time as it did in 2007, Lembit’s participation would prevent him from taking part in either his first or second Federal Executive meeting (so much for that much-vaunted high attendence record). I find it awfully hard to believe that intense pressure will not be brought to bear to prevent him from doing that. By contrast, if he doesn’t get elected, then who will be able to prevent him from taking part?
I’m sure Lembit has thought that one through. So a thought occurs: is the choice he is offering us that either he will get elected, knuckle down and take his presidency seriously or he will continue going down the path of establishing himself as a celeb TV fixture. So people are being offered the Hobson’s Choice of either electing him or having him make the party look ridiculous. In other contexts, that looks rather a lot like blackmail.
In some ways though, he is doing us a favour. By raising the stakes in this way he is dramatising a choice the Lib Dems have to make: do you want to be taken seriously or be dismissed as wacky eccentrics? A decisive Ros Scott victory will send a signal that the party is raising its game.
All is quiet on the Opik front as we enter day six of the race to be Lib Dem party president. The media is still getting excited about his plans to go to prison and genius campaign slogans but of new stories, we have nothing.
So we are left to go back to YouTube. Here, it is revealed that Lembit is one of the very few people who actually watches Big Brother 9 (is it still going on?):
If Lembit can show this much passion for something as dull and uninteresting as a beauty contest on Big Brother, just think what he’ll do with the Lib Dem Presidency!