Friday, January 06, 2006

Leaders about leaders

I think Charles Kennedy has had it. Even though habitual Liberal Democrat voters are a sympathetic (many would say naive) lot, some of them, and many more floating voters, are bound to wonder if an alcoholic can ever really be cured (they’ll remember poor George Best). More damaging will be the brand of ‘liar’ that will certainly be stuck to Mr Kennedy for denying that he had a problem so many times. The UK papers’ leader writers seem to agree. Even the Independent, which supported his party at the last general election, seem to think the game is up {you have to pay for some of their on-line stuff}. The Times leader leaves no doubt; it urges the party to have a proper leadership election. Reminding us of John Major, who used a similar ‘back me of sack me’ tactic in 1995 (when he was PM), it says "Mr Major’s victory was a setback for his party, which was buried by a new Labour landslide within two years. The Liberal Democrats must have a serious, defining contest."

The Guardian’s leader writer also wants a proper contest and implies that Mr Kennedy is a busted flush. It concludes: "His only strength is not that his colleagues want him to stay but that they cannot unite behind one person to challenge him. He may remain as leader for now but his party will pay the price while he does so". Also in the Guardian, Polly Toynbee thinks he should go although she thinks him "a decent man, with a decent view of the world". The Telegraph leader writer is less kind declaring that he "exhibited deplorable judgement in choosing to call a leadership contest". The writer believes a win for Kennedy "would be a blow to his party, which now needs a strong and confident direction". Also seeking comparison with Major in 1995 it says: "Ever since then, the Conservative Party has profoundly regretted being morally blackmailed into re-electing him". The writer thinks the Lib-Dems would similarly regret re-electing Charles. The Daily Mail comment piece broadly agrees. It says "many of the 62 Lib Dem MPs are considering whether to pre-empt the election with a confidence vote, thereby taking the leadership decision into their own hands. And the beneficiaries of the chaos [in the Lib-Dem party], of course, will be Labour and David Cameron's Tories". (Why only David Cameron's Tories, what about the rest of the party?!)

Hughes’s View

This puts me in a dilemma. I’ve learnt to mistrust his party having watched their ‘all things to all men’ tactics in recent elections. So I’d quite like to see them struggle for a few years with a wounded leader. An even worse outcome for them would be for a third rate candidate to win against him if all the real contenders chose not to stand. But a new leader would probably be best all round as it would force their party to come clean on policy. They got away without having their (lack of) policies scrutinised by the media for ages. But even at the last election the wheels were falling off as the contradictions between their tactics in Tory seats (remember the failed decapitation strategy?) and Labour ones were starting to be exposed.

Does any of this matter except to us political obsessives? Probably not. The entry of George Galloway into Channel 4’s Big Brother ‘house’ is likely to have more impact on more people. The Telegraph was delighted that he was booed on the way and noted that "Inside the house, he introduced himself to fellow "celebrities", saying: "I'm an MP." He enjoyed a prolonged handshake with Faria Alam, the former mistress of England coach Sven Goran Eriksson, and then went to speak to the red-haired actress Rula Lenska". I expect he’ll do well. He’s a charmer and up against a bunch largely of nonentities. Channel 4 will get a ratings boost but will Mr G get what he hopes for; more votes for his Respect party in Tower Hamlets in May’s local elections? It could well happen, the East End of London often elects non-mainstream candidates.

More views to come......

Proper links to come (maybe).......


At 14:07, Blogger Ibn ad Dunya said...

Thanks Brian! So Lib dems are a party pleasing everyone, while not having any real ideology. Would love to be able to follow Big Brother, sounds intriguing with right hounarable Galloway and Faria Alám battleing it out in the house, While Sven goes to Germany and wins the Cup for queen and country..


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