That’s what it’s looking like with the news that Steve Webb will not be entering the contest to become the next leader of the Liberal Democrats, but instead backing Nick Clegg. (Although John Hemming has also declared, currently it looks unlikely he will reach the required seven nominations by MPs.)
From what I understand, the following MPs have definitely declared for Chris Huhne, who launched his leadership bid yesterday: Lynne Featherstone, Tom Brake, Sandra Gidley, Martin Horwood and David Howarth (and also Lord Oakeshott).
Nick Clegg, who will officially declare tomorrow, is backed by Steve, Ed Davey and Sarah Teather, as well as by Lord Ashdown (and doubtless others, these are just the ones I’ve read about).
It would, of course, be wrong for any of our MPs to stand if they did not actually want to do the job. Nonetheless, I suspect a lot of members (and I’m one of them) will be disappointed that the contest looks, as it stands, like it will be a two-horse race.
The Parliamentary party has a highly talented front-bench, with qualified female and male candidates representing the broad range of liberal values which underpin our party.
This was our opportunity to show the breadth as well as the depth that the Liberal Democrats have to offer the country. It was also the chance for some of our MPs to prove their mettle, either putting down a marker for the future, or making their bid for a senior role in the next Lib Dem shadow cabinet. It’s a shame that it seems no one else is yet prepared to grasp the nettle.