What I wrote at Lib Dem Voice

January 18, 2006

It's Ming for Me

Three days is a long time in blogging. Having declared last Sunday I wouldn't be nailing my colours to the mast so early, I've changed my mind and made up my mind: Sir Ming Campbell will be getting my first preference vote in the Lib Dem leadership contest.

Here are a few reasons:
  • He is our most credible figure, well-known and well-respected within Parliament and with the public. As Andrew Rawnsley said: "The Lib Dems' problem is their credibility gap. There is a strong case that, for them, an older leader is precisely what they need to convey gravitas."
  • He has the authority and experience to unify the Party which no other candidate can match.
  • I like his definition of leadership: "I believe in leading not following; setting goals and objectives; shaping events not being shaped by them; taking responsibility and discharging it; being both candid and confident; neither dictatorial nor prescriptive, but consultative and committed."
  • Because he understands what it is to be a gut liberal: "just as government does not always know best, neither does the council" - this statement worries Lib Dem MP, David Howarth. It reassures me.
  • He recognises that the Lib Dems have to take the fight to Gordon Brown's New Labour. For sure, Mr Cameron's shiny new Tories pose a threat; but it is Mr Brown who will be Prime Minister at the next election. It is he we have to beat.
  • His experience will counterpoise neatly with Cameron's youth. This will be all the more critical in the lead-up to the next election, when all the talk will be of hung Parliaments and coalitions. "The only project I would embark upon, were I to become leader, is maximisation of the vote and maximisation of the seats." That's the correct response; not a hostage to fortune.
  • He's speaking my kind of language on public service reforms: "Local politics must be reborn with new powers for communities to take decisions about their own public services. If that leads to greater innovation and experimentation in the way that public services are organised, all the better. I am determined that the Liberal Democrats should pioneer ways of making public services truly responsive and accountable to the public. Liberalism in this country was founded on opposition to protectionism. But governments can, and must, do what is within their means to help to prepare Britain for a globalised world dominated by new economic powers in Asia and elsewhere. That is why schools and skills must return to the top of our domestic agenda."
  • Nick Clegg is backing him. (Okay, so there are better reasons than this; but there are worse ones too.)
My second preference is still up for grabs, though. (Tip: it's between Chris and Simon.)

5 comments:

Pete Simpson said...

OK, but let's consider some points against him:
1. Was nervous at PMQs and made a noticable mistake in his speech.
2. Has been losing support since his campaign launch.
3. Assumed to have played a major part in Charles’ downfall.
4. Will be seen as too old by many.
5. Is an intermediate solution, not a long-term solution.
6. Still talkes about left and right far too much when talking about the party.
7. Owns a (or two, if you believe some reports) petrol guzzling Jaguar.
8. Is in favour of Tuition Fees
9. Has held a shotgun certificate.
10. Fails to understand the issue surrounding passive smoke
11. Is failing to lead the way in the by-election in his nearby constituency.
12. Would continue ‘Celtic Fringe’ leader tradition that we started to avoid.
13. Was worryingly keen on merging with New Labour in the long run.
14. Was once described by Ken Clarke as "as much a Tory as I am".
15. Could we realistically have a leadership election during hung parliament talks? …No!

Im afraid I'm not convinced Ming is right for the party, it's a shame, but I think he's missed his chance.

I'm leaning towards Chris Huhne myself, but I still think it's early days.

Yolly said...

I strongly believe Simon Hughes is by far the strongest electoral asset that the Party has, and this should be the over-riding imperitive for members.

If we are ever to get our hands on the levers of power again, Hughes will get us there.

Anonymous said...

Chris convinced me by quoting Mill. It is a good thing that at least one of the candidates is familiar with the liberal theory.

Rob Knight said...

I don't have time to reply to all of them, but I must reply to at least two of Pete Simpson's points:

14. Was once described by Ken Clarke as "as much a Tory as I am".

Most Tories don't think that Ken Clarke is a Tory though. So that statement really means he isn't a Tory!

14. Was once described by Ken Clarke as "as much a Tory as I am".

Has he actually shot anyone? If not, I really can't see the harm. If he owned an unlicensed shotgun, then I really might be worried.

MatGB said...

points against him:
1. Was nervous at PMQs and made a noticable mistake in his speech.

Everyone's allowed a bad day.

2. Has been losing support since his campaign launch.
Well, yes. Only candidate, 2 candidates, 3 candidates. Votes split. He's also been gaining support.

3. Assumed to have played a major part in Charles’ downfall.
It's not that he got Charles out, it's that he did it slowly and badly that puts me off. Either CK is stubborn as an ox, or Ming just couldn't do the job of Deputy when it mattered.

4. Will be seen as too old by many.
But not by all, we'll see.

5. Is an intermediate solution, not a long-term solution.
After two long leaderships, a shorter one wouldn't hurt, and he'd be in office for at least 5 years unless he messes up, that's still better than the Tories usually manage.

6. Still talkes about left and right far too much when talking about the party.
Possibly, but there are differences within the party, refusing to acknowledge them would be silly. IT's what the differences are that matter, and Im not sure I agree with his analysis; from an observers perspective, anyway.

7. Owns a (or two, if you believe some reports) petrol guzzling Jaguar.
Owning, I care not. It's how much he uses it that matters. If it's a cherished possesion he drives once a month, then I forgive him. If he drives it from London to Scotland every weekend, then he needs a slap.

8. Is in favour of Tuition Fees
Finally, a good point against.

9. Has held a shotgun certificate.
And? This vegetarian has no objection to a perfectly legal activity. I'll attempt to persuade him that that sort of thing is wrong, but unless we ban it, he's entitled to a life, surely?

10. Fails to understand the issue surrounding passive smoke
You mean he wants to let people make their own choices? He doesn't believe in interfering and might prefer a different, more LIBERAL solution? Shock horror. Point in his favour as far as this lifetime non-smoker high-cancer risk potential member/supporter is concerned.

11. Is failing to lead the way in the by-election in his nearby constituency.
Possibly, but, it's only just been called, he's scheduled a visit and, um, he's a bit busy with a different election anyway? National publicity is good for local campaigns, he's getting lots of that.

12. Would continue ‘Celtic Fringe’ leader tradition that we started to avoid.
??? Last I looked, CK was a little more Celtic Fringe than any other leader for years. There is a part of me that thinks, electorally, that an MP for an English constituency would be better, but, well, I don't think we should take prejudice of others into account, if the Lib Dems are a liberal party, judge him on his merits.

13. Was worryingly keen on merging with New Labour in the long run.
Really? I thought the point of PR was to make parliament more representative and give us more choice?

Besides, it wouldn't be New Labour if it was liberal (in any sense of the term), so a non-point. If we'd been in coalition, then Blair would've been under a lot more control; isn't that the point?

14. Was once described by Ken Clarke as "as much a Tory as I am".
Ken Clarke, he who is not a Tory. And this directly contradicts pt 13, what are you actually saying?

15. Could we realistically have a leadership election during hung parliament talks? …No!
Well, no. We wouldn't need to, as the party leader would be taking a cabinet post. This is another non-point.

So, 1st choice is between Ming and Huhne. Why am I already posting like I've made a decision on joining?