Did you notice the almost audible gulping and stuttering from the chattering Tory websites after Ming Campbell’s sudden resignation when it was obvious that Nick Clegg would stand for the leadership? Not to mention their deeply unusual restraint since the leadership election results were announced.
I have a theory about all this and I think it deserves examination.
First of all, let us go back a couple of years.
David Cameron wins their leadership election but – for all his elan in the famous conference speech – Cameron, with his Eton/CCHQ/PR/Hooray Henry background is a recipe for not only ‘more of the same’ but more of the same with spades on for the doomed Tory leadership.
So what should their policy wonks do? Maybe they should look across the parties for a role model for their Dave. Look for someone else who is forty-ish, public school educated, has undoubted charisma and who has the strength to stand up for his principles.
I bet you that this is what the Tories did (and let’s face it it’s what they had to do) and that their fickle finger of fate landed on Nick Clegg as a Tory wet dream of someone who they found attractive and a potential role model but who was outside their mold.
Could they have looked at Nick and thought about what he would be doing? Did they think of him as they went through their cringe-making ‘hoodie’ phase. Did they think of Nick Clegg as Dave made it with the huskies and then made his extraordinary conversion to the environment (now seemingly more or less abandoned).
I believe that when they went through their Nick Clegg copycat phase, they forgot that they all joined the Tory party. The greedy Tory party who, no matter what their CCHQ do to try to stimulate their brain cells, only come to life when they are promised relief on death taxes.
The Tories’ current silence is intriguing – and it is possible that we owe to Ming Campbell a debt even larger than we thought. That by his sudden and decisive resignation, he delivered into the current political scene a leader who Tory HQ had chosen a template for their own leader – but who their party membership would never, ever allow.
The Tory Leader is Clegg-lite and I hope that some of his knee-jerk policies will be exposed to some very energetic Liberal Democrat scrutiny in 2008.
Mary Rose Gliksten is a member of Windsor Liberal Democrats.