Where’s Lemby’s Answers? Day 1

Lembit OpikYou may remember that on Thursday I asked – for the second time – Lembit what I regard as some pertinent questions he needs to answer as part of his bid to be elected as Party President. This was in response to a rather daft article in the Shropshire Star in which he alleges there is a “conspiracy of mediocrity” against him. The following day, Lembit’s PR Richard Clein made these allegations on Lib Dem Voice:

This is all getting rather personal and people should be ashamed about some of the things that are being posted. The bile and vitriol is completely over the top.

Regarding both claims, I asked for specific examples on the basis that what is being labled “bile” by Team Lembit looks very much to me like legitimate criticism.

I’ve not had any answers so far, but it is clear that Team Lembit are replying to their emails. So I thought it was time to start renewing my vigil.

I have to admit that all this pisses me off royally. From the start of this campaign I’ve made no secret of my lack of enthusiasm for a Lembit Opik presidency, but frankly could live with it. With that in mind, and in the interests of basic decency, I’ve self-imposed a rule of declaring whole swathes of issues about Lembit off-limits during this campaign. Most other Lib Dem bloggers as far as I can see have done the same. I’m willing to back up everything I’ve said, yet Lembit has gone around making wild allegations which amount to smears on his opponents and critics.

Lembit has made great virtue in this campaign of how he is “bold” and campaigns with “vim and verve” – so why be so scared of a few questions?

I’ll add them again here for your reference:

a) Since Lembit claims to have such great campaigning and communications skills, why have the Liberal Democrats in Wales stagnated in the last two assembly elections (sticking with six AMs in 1999, 2003 and 2007)?

b) Given the deep problems at the heart of the Kennedy leadership, wasn’t it an error of judgment to stand by him? Loyalty is easy – a nodding dog at the back of a car can do it. Don’t the “rebels” – including Nick Clegg and Vince Cable – deserve credit for taking a difficult decision that Lembit lacked the resolve to take?

c) Why didn’t Lembit stand against Simon Hughes in 2006? Hughes presided over a string of failures, most notoriously watching the party’s membership fall by 10,000 members despite having pledged to treble the membership in two years. Again, doesn’t that suggest a lack of resolve?

d) Why wasn’t Lembit’s campaign ready in Bournemouth? Frankly, it was a total mess. Ros Scott launched her campaign exactly 12 months before, so it isn’t as if Lembit didn’t know she was serious. Is this the level of professionalism we can expect from him? Don’t actions speak louder than words?


  1. On your second point, it may be that Lembit sincerely considered Charles should carry on. So did a lot of grassroots members and so did Simon Hughes (who suggested Charles just take a break and come back after that).

    It was also, shall we say, disappointing that none of the people who wanted Charles to go stood against him either in the mandatory leadership election in summer 2005 or the election Charles called in January 2006. Did their fear of defeat outweigh their confidence that change was demonstrably needed?

    I could raise half a dozen other points but I don’t think it would help anyone here and now.

    Bottom line is, Lembit might have some questions to to answer, but there are other individuals whose conduct from Dec 2005 to Dec 2007 was a darn sight more inconsistent and troubling than Lembit’s.

  2. A period of silence from Lembit Opik would be welcome. I imagine that he has plenty to do in his own constituency ensuring his re-election in 2010. He will add to the ‘gaiety of nations’ by holding onto his seat; that is all we ask of him. I think he is well-intentioned but lacks judgement. does anyone disagree?

  3. James, I well remember your lambasting of me when I aired my doubts about Ming’s leadership. I also well remember the Meeting the Challenge conference where we heard that in electoral terms Charles was our greatest asset. So I for one appreciated Lembit’s loyalty and frankly still believe it was Colonel Campbell in the chamber with the dagger.So, surely, each to his or her own.It seems to me that you want loyalty when it is someone you approve of and you actually expect disloyalty when u disapprove?

  4. Antony and Linda: I’m not interested in your answers, only Lembits. Nor am I seeking to reopen old wounds. Indeed, one of the things I resent most about Lembit’s campaign is his explicit attempt to revisit this debate while claiming to oppose negative campaigning.

  5. “…what is being labled “bile” by Team Lembit looks very much to me like legitimate criticism…. I’m willing to back up everything I’ve said, yet Lembit has gone around making wild allegations which amount to smears on his opponents and critics.”

    I f**king hate it when that happens. You have my sympathies.

  6. Tim, if only I could post lolcats in my comments. You will have to make do with the text version:


    It just isn’t the same, is it?

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