As you will no doubt have read by now, the Sun is claiming that Lembit Opik has agreed to take part in 2009’s Celebrity Big Brother. Thus far, Team Lembit have issued no denial, suggesting it is either true or they are in complete disarray.
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.