Dragging my gaze for a moment away from the leadership campaign, an ICM poll in today’s Grauniad has the
Lib Dems back up to 21%, the same level as before this little episode began, with the Tories on 37% and Labour on 34%. Together with the Dunfermline result, this is a good reminder of how easy it is to get caught up in a largely media/Westminster village-driven concern with leadership and careers. (Not to say that I don’t think it would be a very good thing of Chris Huhne wins, of course, Richard…) I think this may have something to do with the Lib Dem vote becoming more solid, perhaps even more inspired by liberal issues. Perhaps we should just abandon having a single leader, and have a panel instead?
Readers will recall that I asked Simon Hughes to answer the following question via his e-hustings service:
Simon, youâ€™ve made a big deal out of the environment and green issues in the campaign, yet you drive a diesel powered Taxi. Ming Campbell has said he will give up his Jag – are you prepared to put your money where your mouth is and give up your car?
A reasonable enough question given the strong feelings Simon’s own web-manager has on the subject.
Well, it’s extremely late in the campaign, but I’m pleased to announce that Simon has finally got around to answering my question. More to the point, he has helpfully rephrased it slightly, with a view to improving clarity – no wriggling out of the tough questions for our Simon with strict legalistic definitions and other such lawyerly nonsense!
Thank you Simon. Your frankness and openness on this issue is an inspiration to us all! As Rob Fenwick said, this is “a crucial question of honesty and consistency“.
With just a few days to go now until the ballot closes, the Lib Dem leadership contenders are starting to bring out the big guns.
Alarmed by the “increasingly confident” Simon Hughes’ coup of not just “Bingo” Bob Russell but also Charles Kennedy’s brother-in-law (a man of such seniority within the party that he is currently an FE member because, um, yours truly resigned – imagine the fanfare if I decided to switch teams at the last minute?), Ming has responded by announcing that John Hemming is now backing him.
And how has Chris Huhne responded? With a quote from David Steel that, if you squint a bit and turn your head to one side, might look like an endorsement. Oh, that and forget that Steel has been backing Ming from the start and indeed sent out an email* yesterday calling for people to back him (with the rather dubious claim that it was simply his relatively short time in Parliament back in 1999 – 12 years – that stopped Ming from whupping Kennedy arse and nothing at all to do with the fact that he was involved in a faction that wanted the Lib Dems to all but merge with Labour).
Yes indeedy, it’s silly season in the Lib Dem leadership stakes now. Almost everyone’s voted, even more people have made up their minds, so the various campaign teams are planning to fill the next couple of weeks with increasingly bizarre and outlandish claims. It should be fun, lie back and enjoy!
* I seem to have been blackballed by the Campbell Campaign – used to get these emails regularly, but no longer. Fair enough, but it’s a bit petty isn’t it guys? I am still giving your candidate my second preference!