Has “Joker” Lembit been “stopped”?

So claims the Shropshire Star (hat tip: Jonathan Calder):

Sources say Mr Opik has secured the support of only six of the Liberal Democrat MPs – less than a tenth of the total… One insider described Mr Opik as ‘a joker’.

That latter word for some reason makes me think of a 70s song which had a brief 80s revival. How’s this for weirdly appropriate lyrics:

Some people call me the space cowboy, yeah
Some call me the gangster of love
Some people call me maurice
Cause I speak of the pompitous of love

People talk about me, baby
Say Im doin you wrong, doin you wrong

Well, dont you worry baby
Dont worry
Cause Im right here, right here, right here, right here at home

Cause Im a picker [technically an Opik…]
Im a grinner
Im a lover

And Im a sinner
I play my music in the sun

The rest is here.

On a slightly more serious note, one of the things that appears to have blown Lembit’s thunder is Chandila Fernando’s candidacy. People are at least talking about Chandila (not just me). Lembit’s appeal for Primary Colors, sorry “primary colours” has failed to set tongues wagging while Chandila’s more explicit talk about rebranding has provoked much more discussion.

Now, I’ve called Chandila’s candidacy a “cunning stunt” before and I still do, but I’ve never claimed it wasn’t effective. I wonder about unintended consequences though. Superficially at least, with Liberal Vision hailing Lembit as the most liberal Lib Dem MP, it does appear that they would prefer it for Lembit to beat Ros. If that is the case then Chandila’s exercise has essentially backfired.

But if they do feel that way, they are being unfair to Ros. The one candidate who has proven they know a thing or two about branding and positioning in this campaign is Ros Scott, and she’s shown actions speak louder than words.


  1. Yes, it seems easy to characterise the candidates and extrapolate from there, but I think it is a bit unfair to lambast Lembit’s contribution in this way unless you are exposing your own biases.

    So Ros is the bottom-up grass-roots campaigner, Chandila is the top-down manager and Lembit is the eccentric centre-ground moderate candidate.

    I think we should be singing the praises of this election that we have three clearly defined candidates who are all standing on different platforms and able to spread the debate on what we are about quite so effectively, it just wouldn’t have happened if any of the three hadn’t participated.

    Let us contrast this election with the recent coronations of Ming Campbell and Gordon Brown – in both cases the lack of due process in establishing their credentials through a proper democratic election contributed to a significant undermining of their positions and weakened their ability to do their jobs properly, well and/or at all.

    What niche do you think would be appropriate for Lembit and how do you think it would maximise his strengths?

  2. I think it would have been interesting to see what Lembit would have made of the business portfolio given enough time but what’s done is done.

    Lembit has a future role to play carving himself a niche as a high profile backbencher. I genuinely don’t mean that as a backhanded compliment – we place far too much importance on the front bench in my view.

    Lembit has some interesting ideas and themes which he hasn’t really had a chance to explore as a frontbencher and party leader. This stuff about risking unpopularity in order to gain greater definition is something I agree with, but he won’t win that argument on the FE – he has to find alternative avenues.

    Ultimately, even though he always claims it his dream job, President is wrong for him (I think he knows it). He needs to spend a.couple of years having the freedom to think outside of the box. He has bigger fights to win than segways and asteroids, but he won’t discover them until he stops having a ‘day job’ in the party which gets in the way.

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