Daily Archives: 13 January 2006

Oaten to pull out tomorrow?

Oaten has now declared his nominators. They are: Bob Russell, Mike Hancock, Paul Rowen, John Hemming, John Leech, Paul Keetch and Lembit Opik.

Hancock, Rowan and Hemming are all declared “nomination tarts” who have said they will nominate anyone who asks, and while I’m quite open to be corrected, “Bingo” Bob Russell comes from a similar mould. I’d be quite surprised if he turned out to be actively supporting Oaten.

That means that Oaten is only actively supported by 3-4 MPs, derisory given his long declared ambitions. The question must therefore follow: is he really going to stand, or will he eventually pull?

A time honoured tradition in NUS circles is for candidates to stand for election and then, at the hustings, pull out in favour of a particular candidate, once an appropriate pact has been secured. Lembit Opik, Mark’s campaign manager, has a background in NUS. Indeed, one of the more memorable bits of advice he once gave a friend of mine about the Lib Dems’ NUS strategy is as follows (I only slightly paraphrase slightly due to haziness of memory): “Deals. Do deals. Deals, deals, deals.”

Is this the advice he is now gently whispering into Mark Oaten’s shell-like? At tomorrow’s Meeting the Challenge conference we shall see.

UPDATE: Eek! Could I be eating my words already? Oaten has released a webcast – still no website though. I’ve tried this on Firefox, Safari and Explorer on a Mac, with no success. Can anyone else get it to work? I assume it contains warm endorsments from all his supporters (sarcasm aside, this doesn’t change anything since this webcast was clearly commissioned before it became apparent to what degree the wheels were coming off his campaign).

7 questions for candidates

I’ve been working with a small group of party activists on a number of questions to put to the leadership contenders. We’ve now agreed the list and they have been sent to all the candidates who have declared.

  1. In view of the General Election and events since, would you agree that a fundamental overhaul of our communications function is urgently needed? What changes would you direct? Is the structure of the party’s campaigning and communications adequate to meet the challenges of the next General Election?
  2. How should our policy platform, especially our approach to the provision of public services, be different to that of the other parties?
  3. British politics is paradoxically becoming more localised in outlook and more fragmented on single issues. How do you propose the party maximising its effectiveness with both trends in mind?
  4. How would you seek to retain the support gained through the Party’s principled stance over Iraq? In particular, how would you seek to retain, develop, and involve the Muslim and other minority ethnic communities?
  5. It is extremely unlikely that we will have a woman candidate for leader. How would you work to ensure the next leader of the Party is a woman? How will you work to make sure we have a more diverse range of parliamentarians, front-bench spokespeople and future leaders?
  6. It is very possible that the 2008/09 General Election will return no majority government. What would your declared position be in answer to pre-election speculation about such a scenario; what (if anything) would be your response if it occurs?
  7. What will be your approach to the Party’s policy-making process? Do you intend to chair the Federal Policy Committee?

We await the response.