Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The other leadership crisis

What with all the current media focus on Blair and Brown, little attention has been paid thus far to the other unresolved leadership issue in British politics: whether Ming Campbell should be quietly pensioned off as leader of the Liberal Democrats.

As regular readers of this blog will know, I didn't support him as leader, but when he won I was prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Ming is a decent man, of that there is no question, but my suspicions that he would prove ill-suited to the demands of modern politics have proved sadly correct, and it is not just Tory MPs and part-time bloggers who think he cannot take the party through the glass ceiling.

He has failed to give the Liberal Democrats the distinctive branding and youthful appeal they had under Ashdown and Kennedy and even his House of Commons performances, which were expected to be his strong suit, have been stumbling.

Sir Ming's official explanation for last Thursday's underwhelming local election performance has been to say that it was a "night of consolidation."

But consolidation is not good enough for an opposition party when a Government is this unpopular. They must be making gains.

Party loyalty being what it is, there has been very little debate thus far in the Lib Dem blogosphere about this issue - where is the sadly-now-defunct Ming's Dynasty when we need you?

Perhaps the most thoughtful contributions, while stopping short of outright criticism of Sir Ming, have come from Quaequam and Jonathan Calder.

Jonathan writes: "It is hard to resist the conclusion that we Liberal Democrats are close to exhausting the incremental strategy we have followed so far. Local campaigning will continue to win us the odd sear. But in order to make a further breakthrough we shall have to develop policies that appeal to voters outside our current areas of strength.

"The questions then become whether we agree on enough as a party to be able to do that and whether we have the skills to put them across in the national media when we have done so."


stalin's gran said...

The answer to Jonathan's last two questions is "No".

Anonymous said...

They should have looked to the future and elected Chris Huhne. When i saw the final hustings in London I was impressed with both of their speeches but felt that Huhne would help the party to find new direction.

Is there a way to remove ming wothout signaling that their is a crisis within the party?

Politics through the eyes of a teenager

skipper said...

I noticed that jackie Ashley in the Guardian today dilates at some length on Ming's struggling role, suggesting he picks up the banner of 'hands off Iran' as his means of regaining some initiative.

Anonymous said...

Best to keep quiet and see how it all plays out.

The testing time will be over the next few months