BBC’s The World at One focuses on Ming’s future

BBC Radio 4’s The World at One today featured a six-minute segment on the Lib Dems: how the party’s faring, and whether it would do better under a new leader. You can listen to it by clicking here.

The programme included an interview with prominent Lib Dem blogger, Linda Jack, a member of the party’s Federal Policy Committee, who commented:

“I think Ming was a brilliant shadow foreign secretary, but in terms of his leadership style he hasn’t captured the imagination of the party or the country. Unfortunately it’s the case where he has perhaps been over-promoted. Someone can be a brilliant man, and have incredible intellectual powers, and all the rest of it – but if that doesn’t translate in to leadership skills then, whoever your leader is, you’ve got a problem with them.”

The party’s deputy leader, Vince Cable, defended Ming’s leadership, pointing to the Lib Dems’ healthy performance in the Ealing Southall and Sedgefield by-elections. Vince also talked about the possibility of a ‘hung Parliament’, saying that the prospect of coalition with either Labour or the Tories was “very unlikely”, but he couldn’t “absolutely rule out any option”.

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  • Hywel Morgan 1st Aug '07 - 5:43pm

    Why are Lib Dems going into the press to slag Ming off? Why give the press a new agenda when they’ve just declared open season on Cameron.

    What do they think they are going to achieve. Do they just have egos unconstrained by any sort of commonsense.

    Linda, Nich & others may think they are doing the right thing. They are actually being incredibly stupid and damaging to the party.

    What will have happened is they will have interviewed a number of people and used the one most critical.

    With a General Election possibly a few months away we don’t have time for a leadership election anyway – even if it wasn’t about the most politically.

    I didn’t give Ming any sort of preference in the leadership election but now he’s the leader. He has good qualities and weaknesses (as do Brown and Cameron).

    Lets put the vanity press coverage to one side and concentrate on promoting his qualities.

  • Of course the fact that Linda has made it clear on her blog that she disagrees with Ming politically – particularly on her obsessively pet peeve of Trident – is neither here nor there.

  • David Morton 1st Aug '07 - 6:16pm

    I listened to the piece today. With respect to Linda ( or indeed myself) when you are at the Councillor/PPC level you only make national radio when you are saying what they wanted you to say. They had clearly decided what editorial line they were going to run and rang the necessery number of people to get a quote.

  • Woooo Hywel Morgan, who rattled your cage???! I have to say I think it is arrogance in the extreme to assume you know or understand anyone else’s motivation. Like others in the past I have had other opportunities to say what I said today (which as you would imagine was heavily edited), and kept quiet. I personally agonised about whether or not to speak to [email protected], in fact saying no – but then having talked to many friends and colleagues ringing back at 2 minutes to 1. The reasons I did so is this, I constantly complain about people briefing off the record, and it is also disengenuous in the extreme to pretend there isn’t a problem. At least three MPs also spoke off the record to [email protected] today. One of the reasons I have pulled my punches in the past is precisely because of my concern for the party. However, mine, and your, first loyalty must be to the party and when the leader is more damaging to the party than criticising him is then something has to be said. You may not agree, but at what point would you think something had to be done? When we are at 6% in the polls? Or reduced to 6 MPs? That is a matter for you and you alone to determine – as it is for me and others. If you read or listen to what I said carefully, you may find I did not “slag” Ming off……..believe me if you want to see me do slagging off it wouldn’t sound like that! Leaders come and go, no leader is bigger than any party, except of course of the likes of Saddam Hussain and Chairman Mao!

    Oh and Graeme – another one to assume you understand what motivates me! Sorry to disappoint you. If you listened to or read what I said there was nothing to do with Trident, in fact I congratulated Ming on being a brilliant Shadow Foreign Secretary. Despite perceived evidence to the contrary (!) I am a big girl!!!! Anyone who has read my blog will pick up my struggle with wanting to support Ming but being unable to deal with his lack of impact as a leader. My fight over Trident is and was one of policy, I didn’t agree with Simon Hughes’ position on Trident either. There are others within the party I would support as leader and still be prepared to have the policy battles with when necessary.

    And, a final thought if we are talking about loyalty to leaders and parties it is as well to remember……….he who lives by the sword inevitably dies by the sword….

  • Report on BBC News website:

    Basically, not helpful.

  • It seems that BBC Radio 4 have chosen to interview people who it could easily find out critical towards Ming. Both Linda and Nich had already previously criticised Ming in their blogs, and that was probably why they were chosen. And they gave Radio 4 what it asked for, criticism of Ming. They made up a a story, which damaged Ming and Lib Dems, perhaps shortly before elections, and a middle of a time we are hearing many Conservative politicians criticising Cameron.

    As Lenin would have put it, these are useful idiots (for Radio 4 and Gordon Brown, that is, but certainly not for Lib Dems).

  • I’ve worked in the party for quite a few years and not heard of Linda before. Not really that bothered to be honest, hardly groundbreaking stuff.

    Still i am sure it has pleased her to be on the radio. She’s making the big time! wow.

  • Ian Stewart 1st Aug '07 - 8:03pm

    for John @ 14:
    “I’ve worked in the party for quite a few years and not heard of Linda before”…..that shows either your ignorance or that we have many, many people doing lots of differing work for the Party…… choose.

    “Not really that bothered to be honest, hardly roundbreaking stuff.”…….so why bother posting?

    “Still i am sure it has pleased her to be on the radio”…as you hadn’t heard of Linda, you obviously don’t know her, so how can you be sure that it has pleased her to be on the radio?

    “She’s making the big time! wow.”….Federal Policy/Councillor/PPC….TV/Radio…she is not hiding either her views or her name.

    John…….either show the world what you are doing for the Party or creep back into the anonymity from whence you have emerged.

  • “When we are at 6% in the polls? Or reduced to 6 MPs?”

    Linda Jack has a short memory. The Liberal Party had MPs in single figures for much of the 1950s and 1960s. And the Liberal Democrats were on 6% in the polls at the end of the 1980s.

    Did either party respond to historically low levels of support with the panic dumping of a leader? Well, no. Clement Davies gave way to Jo Grimond who gave way to Jeremy Thorpe, after long periods of office. And the disastrous poll ratings of the immediate post-merger period were under the watch of Paddy Ashdown, whom no-one could describe as dull or lacking impact.

    Two assumptions, both probably erroneous, are being made by Ming’s internal detractors:-

    (1) Ming has actually done a bad job.

    (2) Another leader would have done better.

    Where is the evidence to support either proposition?

    Linda Jack lets slip the reason she has it in for Ming: she resents the deposition of the lightweight and underforming Kennedy and blames Ming for the decisive action he took. The fact that she regards Kennedy as a better leader than Ming says little for her judgment, I fear.

    Why do certain Lib Dem activists continue to allow to media to lure them into bad-mouthing Ming? They cannot all be ageist bigots (Mr Boyce excepted). And they cannot all be Kennedy sentimentalists. No, I fear it is more to do with frustration at lack of progress. Ming is the easy target for the intellectually lazy; those unwilling to ask searching and uncomfortable questions.

  • David Morton 1st Aug '07 - 8:20pm

    6. Laurence, the party has LOTS of problems. I’m probably the only member who is more worried after Sedgefield/Ealing rather than reassured. My argumnt isn’t that all is well merely that (a) its not ming campbells fault (b) a second public self imolation will make matters worse.

    And to think I didn’t even give Ming a third preference….!

  • Martin Coppack 1st Aug '07 - 8:29pm

    Wow…Linda you’ve certainly got them rocking and rolling tonight…

    Hywel – take a chill pill. Linda can hardly be accused of slagging off Ming in that interview.

    Graeme – couldn’t hear much of a link to Trident in the interview.

    Linda – loved the fact that you put your name to your comments. You were very measured (for you!!) and said what you believed despite the harm it could do to you. You’ve got passion but just as importantly you’ve said what everybody else is too scared to put their name too publicly.

    Your number 1 fan, Martin.

  • Well, who would have thought a few, well chosen (!) comments would have engendered such a storm. I don’t intend to deal with my critics, read my blog if you can bear it, I have said a bit more about my reasons for saying what I did and no I wasn’t called on the basis of my blog(heavens there’s only half a dozen of you read it for goodness sake!). I just have to correct one mistake, I was not a great Charles fan, but yes I did resent the way he was dispatched. However, I still gave Ming my second preference, if I had been that angry with him I wouldn’t have done so. So holidays Paul………..I wish……….sadly I am still embroilled in trying to advocate for a very poorly sister where I have discovered that NHS patient choice and human dignity doesn’t extent to psychiatric care.

  • “Just get the old codger to stand down.”

    Laurence clearly feels no shame at his ageist bigotry.

    Does he say similarly nasty things about blacks and Asians? Or gays and lesbians?

    And if not, why not? After all, age, like skin pigmentation and sexual orientation, is something one is born with.

    And why should age matter? What does Laurence have to say about Shirley Williams, 10 years Ming’s senior, becoming a government advisor? Or Eric Lubbock, nearing 80, speaking for the Party in the House of Lords?

    Does Laurence hold to some neo-Hegelian nostrum that older people should be consigned to the scrapheap and forced to live on £79 a week? And be grateful for it? Is this some kind of “natural law”?

  • Hywel Morgan 1st Aug '07 - 9:01pm

    “Hywel – take a chill pill. Linda can hardly be accused of slagging off Ming in that interview.”

    How is saying “Unfortunately it’s the case where he has perhaps been over-promoted.” not slagging off? I wouldn’t be very happy if someone said that about me.

    “Ming not up to the job says senior Lib Dem” is we’d put it on leaflets given the reverse situation.

    If people want a new leader they have to answer three questions?

    1) Who would be *guaranteed* to be better.

    2) When do we do the election? It took two-ish months to have a leadership election that would take us to the start of October at which point we could be in a General Election campaign

    3) Does changing our leader twice in 18 months make us look more or less credible as a national party.

    My answers are no-one, we can’t and less.

    Maybe I was overly harsh in assigning a motive to Linda’s decision to speak to the press now (when arguably we’d weathered the storm a bit on this issue). It wasn’t vanity. It was stupid.

    David @ 20 – pretty much my position really 🙂

  • Oh dear

    I have to say something about age, being a granny and eligble to all the benefits of Saga and Age Concern I think I may be allowed to. This is not about Ming’s age (although there was criticism apparently in our Ealing Southall leaflets of the Labour candidate’s age) it is about image. Who ever comments on Nelson Mandela’s age? He is 25 years older than Ming for goodness sake. The problem Ming has is that he doesn’t have the Mandela ability to communicate and to transcend issues of race and age, which has made his age, however wrongly, an issue. What about Ian Paisley? Whatever we think about the man how much chat has there been about a first minister being 80? No, it is about image. At conference we were treated to a cringeworthy attempt to make Ming look young by surrounding him with young women and showing faded damaged black and white super 8 of him running………….er sorry!!!! To me Ming’s image is stuck in the 50s. That goes down very well if you are an old school Tory, but he will never have the broad appeal we need if we are to make any progress in the polls. I am saying this reluctantly, I wish image didnt matter, but in this superficial, instant gratification, sound bite age, it matters enormously and if we ignore the fact we do so at our peril. I have no doubt of Ming’s commitment to liberal values, to tackling poverty, to civil liberties, to ending the war in Iraq, however, his first consideration has to be for the great party he has chosen to lead – not for his sake – not for the party’s sake – but for the sake of those we seek to serve through holding office. My concerns are not about his age, they are about his ability to inspire and lead his party in order to lead and inspire his party. No, we don’t need a leadership election at the moment,but let’s not pander to the cynicism of the public and the media by pretending everything in the garden is rosy.

  • David Morton 1st Aug '07 - 9:37pm

    21. Your ageism is awful.

    23. I laughed at that out loud. Cumbria and Somerset as it happens.

  • David Morton 1st Aug '07 - 9:42pm

    27. First I entirely respect your right to say what you said and shouldn’t be criticised for that per se. We are not a cult. However how do you square your statement above that we don’t need a leadership election right now with going on national radio and call for Ming to go? You may not have used those words but that is in effect what you did.

    Anyway don’t take any of it personally. Its all an internet storm in a tea cup! regards.

  • Is it possible that Laurence Boyce is actually Grant Shapps? Could somebody verify if his password is 1234?

  • With a bit searching anybody can easily find out, that Boyce has created himself as quite a pain in the ass in several places. See for instance

  • Hywel Morgan 1st Aug '07 - 11:25pm

    Nich – I was referring to your comments here:
    which were written during the Ealing & Sedgefield campaigns.

    Equally public domain though I’ll accept of a lower impact. I should with hindsight have given you the credit you deserve for having the sense not to feed the beast further. Though I doubt the opportunity would have come without your blog posting.

    What did you say to R4 before the by-elections when they did broadcast you BTW?

    However my three questions above still stand.

  • At least, in Laurence’s favour, he manages to keep it witty. He lacks the prep school sneakery and personal unpleasantness (and lies) we get from the Tory trolls.

  • Criticism always offers a valuable insight into the thought processes of the critic, bit it doesn’t always fit reality.

    The cross-over point is reached where a perception about style takes on a life of it’s own.

    Ming could be doing more, and I agree. But there is an unspoken corollary in this which offers the silent compliment that he has not so far made any unforgivable mistakes or unforgettable blunders.

    Perhaps some constructive criticism for what we need is in order – action on balanced representation within the party, for example, success in increasing the party membership, wider coverage of the purposeful and unified team (a particularly thing for potential successors to Ming) etc.

    The media narrative is similar to much good LD literature in the way it relentlessly focuses on any visible chink in a contenders’ armour.

    Ming’s modest failure has been to avoid dominating coverage with a continual rebuttal of the criticism to demonstrate how misplaced it is, but it is also a poisoned chalice to succumb to your opponents agenda at the expense of your real purpose.

    Yes, Ming was a sprinter and now he looks older, but he also ran relay and knows he is carrying the baton to hand over to the next leader. His job is to advance our position, not to break the tape.

    So we should stop speculating about the cause of our anxiety rashes and let them dissipate naturally.

  • Until we, as a party, learn to acquire the kind of hunger for power and determination which clearly infects the Conservative and Labour parties, we simply will never get there.

    Tolerating Ming’s utter uselessness is a symptom of our weakness and indecisiveness. Ming must be got rid of as soon as possible – ie. once Brown has properly settled in and the business with Cameron has died down.

    The party is in reverse gear at the moment, sleepwalking into that most damaging of things at the next general election – sheer, contemptible mediocrity. Even a bad result is preferable because at least it would cause the party to reassess and (science willing) to resolve itself to do better.

    Ming has escaped narrowly with the mediocre results of the previous two sets of local elections, and our performance in Ealing Southall was not as good as it could have been. Our poll position is sliding and our opponents talk about “not pressuring Ming too much” in case we actually get rid of him and bring in someone competent.

    It says a lot that the Tories’ worst fear is Nick Clegg, not Ming. We Must act now in order to preserve and to build on the gains we made in 2005. Anything less would be criminal and, in my view, utterly unforgivable.

  • The second way of looking at this compares the Campbell lack of style to the Cameron lack of substance – both of these perspectives could have been designed to make Brown look good by comparison.

    However, while the conservatives could implode under the clamour of their ambitiousness, LDs are playing the long game without gambling security for short-term gain.

    The recent by-elections were particular and peculiar instances of seats where the government ought to have remained ultra-safe and did.

    The real battle was for second-place and which party will be the ultimate successor to Labour, which when excluding all other factors provided a clear (if not convincing) result, as the consequences have shown since.

    The perception that Ming’s age is problematic is just too obvious to be insightful, so the subject may displease impressionable minds, it paradoxically helps us retrench the solidity of our identity.

  • It is not necessarily Ming’s age we’re talking about here; i, for one, find Kenneth Clarke an infinitely more charismatic, engaging and warm person than Ming, despite his being both older And a Tory!

    In reality, it is too easy to just put the negative public perception of him down to his age, although it undoubtedly contributes. The real problem is Ming’s chronic lack of charisma, his weakness infrontt of a camera, his general public appeal, and a serious lack of the kind of dynamism and energy that tells our opponents we mean business.

    Ming is wet, indecisive, rather boring and lacking in a genuine public appeal; in those respects, he characterises all the worst aspects of the party.

    A younger, fresher, more charismatic, appealing and dynamic leader is required. That does not have to be at the expense of substance; nor does it mean we need to indulge in Cameronian levels of gimmickry and PR. Instead, have someone Cameron’s age who is everything he is not – substantial, sincere, gritty and decisive. Such people populate our current frontbench – it’s just that they aren’t in positions of leadership yet.

  • Geoffrey Payne 2nd Aug '07 - 7:44am

    As someone in the Linda Jack camp, I would say that emphatically Ming’s age is of no concern to me.
    However lets rewind to the last general election. The Lib Dems performed particularly well from first time voters – a trend that promised further growth for the Lib Dems for a good many years to come.
    It was fair enough, in my opinion, for the party to move on to a new leader, and 2 out of 3 would have done a perfectly good job.
    But for some reason the party establishment swung behind the least inspiring of the 3 candidates and he got elected.
    Now the party has simply lost the initiative and no one knows what it stands for anymore.
    The rejection by the Lib Dems of coalitions in Scotland and Wales to many people simply did not make sense. If they had a substantive policy difference it would have made sense, but that applied only in Scotland, and even that was on the dubious grounds of not wanting a referendum – something we want other parties to agree to when joining the Euro.
    No great issues like child poverty, global warming, pensions, running the economy or the things that people actually vote on.
    Now on the question of what we are allowed to debate; I appreciate that at MP level there is such a thing as “collective responsibility”, but should activists also be guilt-tripped into not discussing this kind of thing? Are we all under a 3 line whip? It seems rather illiberal to me, I thought we were the party that was not afraid of open debate?

  • Elizabeth Patterson 2nd Aug '07 - 9:19am

    Thanks to Linda for her tact and skill in criticising MCs leadership objectively. The BBC had put the very relevant question of why we have slipped back in the polls and Vince’s explanation was not really convincing. All these points have been adressed in earlier posts.
    What I want to add is that the party establishment should not stifle discussion as they did during Charles’ time.
    It was a great shock to grass-rooters like me to be told wihin 3 months of Cameron’s election that Charles had to go immediately because of a long standing drink problem.
    Then we had all the attendant bitterness; the knives, the failure to pre-check Oaten, Paddy and Shirley pressing for Ming.
    Now where are we after all that?
    Vince defended our position with a shield of policy development. Not good enough. There must also be the public perception of a confident party on the move,and like Salmond in Scotland, this depends on public perception of the leader. Ming’s edwardian style and lawyer’s dignity doesn’t give this, but I guess we are stuck with him until the next GE.
    Elizabeth Patterson

  • David Morton 2nd Aug '07 - 9:38am

    Why don’t we just go out and sacrifice a goat to placate the Angry Gods? At a sociological level its exactly what deposing Ming would be doing at the moment. It would be just as effective as well.

  • AlexInGreenwich 2nd Aug '07 - 11:06am

    So Laurence is understandably vehement about the iniquities of certain types of discrimination:
    “Racism and homophobia are pretty much the lowest form of ignorance.”

    So what is his position on disability discrimination?

    “Lord Avebury would feature in a reformed legislature. Oh, and it looks like he’s a Buddhist too. What a spazz.”

    Spazz is an abbreviation for spastic, an old-fashioned but still clearly identifiable term for cerebal palsy. Perhaps Laurence can explain this bigotry away as well.

  • Barry Scott 2nd Aug '07 - 11:34am

    42 – I agree that perhaps we ought to have managed to convert more first time voters to become members of the party after the last election but isn’t that, in the end, the responsibility of the Party’s Chairman?

    Personally whilst I think Ming has a narrower appeal than the last two party leaders, I think that in the end our parties policies will be what people will vote for.

    We have a great front bench team to speak to them and present them in party politicals, speeches and so forth. The line that Team Ming is not a cult of personality but heavyweight, presenting policies that will actually improve Britain is a strong one.

    Couple that with the increased air time we get in election periods, and the fact that we will just have had our party conference and I think we will get a very clear boost to our poll rating. Particularly if the election is called on the last day of the Labour conference – it’d put the Tories in a bind as to what to do about their own conference and could cause disruption and confusion in their ranks.

    As Jeremy (47) says, members of our party keep assuming that the natural way to move is up. I certainly heard a lot of people talking about how the fact Blair was unpopular would mean that Labour would be wiped out at the last locals – they certainly did badly but they could have done worse.

    Numbers change – we’re very slowly creeping back up anyway and Ming’s personal ratings, as noted by Paul Walter’s blog a few days ago, are suddenly improving on several key measures.

    Even if Ming was not the best choice for leader (and I voted for him third) we would need to wait until after the next election anyway given how soon it is.

    That said, I think criticism of Linda is unfair. You have to say what you think and whilst I think she did fall into a trap she said what she said well and not too unkindly.

    And yes, Vince Cable did a great job of defusing the situation.

  • What I think some people are missing (or have been lulled into forgetfulness by acquiesence in period of tolerable politics) is that all liberal philosophy rejects the passive subscription to rules dictated by any presumptive individual.

    We might reach agreement eventually, but we recognise the value in going through the processes in order to reach that agreement – it formulates a detailed and nuanced collective opinion and foments a whole-hearted, conscious and steely resolve to carry out our collective decisions.

    We must be open-hearted and open-minded to recognise that all actions have consequences, we must be aware of them and be responsible for our role within them.

    Liberals don’t look outside for inspiration – and a liberal leader is not some transubstantiated icon to provide an illusory pretence of action.

    Liberalism demands wholly realised individuals capable of autonomous decision-making – our leader merely provides the best possible beacon for identification (so, as Ming’s liberality is unquestioned, the issue is irrelevant; improvement is inescapably ever-present).

    I’m sure we’d all love to revel in the tory pig-sty of glorious victory for a few seconds, but the facts will never be altered, work needs to be done and we will need to get on with it, win or lose come election time or war-time.

    That dichotomy of death or glory is a non-sequitor to a liberal as tomorrow is another day, and there will always be a tomorrow.

    If we agree we are liberal (and if we agree, we are liberal), we must plan, we must work, and we must get on with it.

  • Bridget Fox 2nd Aug '07 - 12:13pm

    If Ed is correct that we should be planning for a possible October GE, then all of this thread is a distraction.

    Ming was not everyone’s first choice but he has a clear mandate, he is our leader and will be our leader for the next GE. He has done excellent work sorting out the party’s organisation. He provides an alternative to Brown and a contrast to Cameron for those voters who are looking for reassuring after Blair’s froth and spin. We should be cracking on with campaigning against the other parties and to promote our excellent policies and teams.

    I want Lib Dems to win more votes and seats next time whoever our leader is. I don’t think at this stage of the cycle it is at all helpful for any Lib Dem to say things in the media which could be used to undermine that, however good their intentions.

  • AlexInGreenwich 2nd Aug '07 - 12:59pm

    Laurence at 49.

    As with a number of other posts, it might help if you read what I said.
    I didn’t accuse you of advocating bigotry, just of using bigoted language. I also asked whether you could explain it. Which you didn’t. Are you sure you’re not Grant Shapps in disguise?

  • AlexInGreenwich, i think it may be that Laurence just revels in the attention that he gets from people like you; using words like “spazz” and “gay” is profoundly adolescent and i, for one, think he should just be sent to the naughty corner and ignored.

  • Geoffrey Payne:
    “But for some reason the party establishment swung behind the least inspiring of the 3 candidates and he got elected.”

    So you didn’t back Ming at the time and are bitter the party disagreed with you. Why do you think the party would swing your way if there was another leadership election? Do we keep having them until it does?

    “The rejection by the Lib Dems of coalitions in Scotland and Wales to many people simply did not make sense.”

    And that’s relevant how? It’s a devolved issue and, unless you’re a member in Wales or Scotland, none of your busines in a way. It wasn’t for Ming as federal leader to dictate either (even as a Scottish member), and I’m not aware that he did.

  • Barry Scott 2nd Aug '07 - 1:52pm

    56: Very true – entirely within the responsibility of the two national party leaders there. By all means they could have consulted with Ming but that’s their call. We are, after all, a federal party.

  • The scottish question is important as it has an influence in Westminster regarding the westlothian one, and I’d much rather nationalist voters were liberated than liberal voters nationalised.

    Where it is a choice between power and influence both is better than neither.

  • Hywel Morgan 2nd Aug '07 - 8:32pm

    “But for some reason the party establishment swung behind the least inspiring of the 3 candidates and he got elected.”

    The hustings I went to Ming was easily the most impassioned and inspiring.

    “activists choice” Chris Huhne was particularly poor I thought & I nearly didn’t vote for him on the back of it. In the end I went Huhne 1 and nothing else purely because one of my best friends works for him & I didn’t fancy telling her I hadn’t 🙂

    I don’t want to see debate stifled – I just don’t see what ramping up the leadership question achieves. None of the “ditch Ming” brigade seem to have addressed my three questions above.

  • Benjamin Mathis 2nd Aug '07 - 9:53pm

    But a coronation of whom? There are two obvious candidates who always get mentioned in such discussions and have their own pockets of support, Nick and Chris. Lembit’s on record saying next time there’s a contest he’ll run – but how seriously? Are we seriously saying that David Laws, Susan Kramer, Lynne Featherstone, Ed Davey, Jeremy Browne, the attack of the revenge of Simon Hughes rides again or A N Other won’t stand if the prospect is that we’ll be electing another long-term leader and it’s their last chance? What about the much-vaunted return of Charles? Mark Oaten praying for universal amnesia? Stranger things have happened.
    Either way, a coronation it will not be.

  • Benjamin Mathis 2nd Aug '07 - 11:49pm

    Priest? That’ll annoy the secularist lobby!

    And I’m only repeating what was said last year. Lembit said he wasn’t standing but would stand “next time”. Now, as in all things Opik let’s not assume anything but that’s what he said.

    As for getting it wrong, maybe but like many before him, Chris will just have to wait till next time and remember Mark Twain (and others’) words: The people have spoken…the bastards.

  • Laurence, i’m afraid i’ve been harbouring a deep suspicion that you are one of the following:

    a) perpetually stuck in a state of mental adolescence

    b) on some kind of narcotic drug

    c) grant shapps in disguise, in what is one of the worst practical jokes since the establishment of the papacy (full offence to any catholics)

    d) just a complete idiot with nothing better to do than prat about on LDV and general irritate people

    so tell me old bean, which one is it?

  • Barry Scott 3rd Aug '07 - 10:03am

    As others have pointed out, the problem with Laurence’s argument is that it relies on all of us uniting around one candidate. Which wouldn’t happen.

    Clegg and Huhne would be bound to run and even though I agree Lembit’s got no chance, I suspect he’ll try. That’s not to mention Ed Davey and possibly (though I think it would be ill-advised) Charles Kennedy.

    Unlike with the Tories post-IDS, there is no natural candidate for everyone to coalesce around. Plus in principle as Liberal Democrats I believe that we ought to be advocating an open contest in any case.

  • I agree wholeheartedly with James S at 51 especially the last part – we must get on with it!

    The results in ealing and sedgefield were good and really down to this that we as a party got on with the fight and were united and clear in the messages we got to the electorate – messages which have substance and aren’t just about image.

    Shame that this is the only way Lib Dems get any publicity in the media at present – but we’ve got to be more relevent and we’ve got to talk up our policy differences from both the other two parties to do that.

    we could all come up with criticisms of the leadership – best if at this stage i the parliament they are ‘constructive’ ones – i.e. given where we are what can we do better and how are we going to get the message over in the forthcoming GE.

    This year’s conference is most likely the last one for the election – no time for a leadership election even if that were desirable – so better focus on the real political battle – the external one with the Tories and Labour.

  • In the 1970s, Laurence would have been a student lefty, quoting Marx, Lenin and Jean-Paul Sartre, and possibly also Mao and Comrade Enver Hoxha. He is a militant atheist and materialist, fancies himself as an intellectual, and has the bullying, sneering manner to go with it. All the ingredients of the classic raging Trot.

    His attitude to Norman Baker is telling. A Marxist would say Norman is diverting the workers from the revolutionary struggle with his agitation for high standards of probity in public life, his outing of corrupt ministers, and his investigations into high-level skulduggery. A similar excuse lay behind the odious public school know-all, Monbiot’s attack on the 9-11 Truth Movement.

    Something I will wager. If Laurence falls seriously ill, just watch how fast he rushes round to the local priest for absolution.

    Am I being too hard on Laurence?

  • Coronation? I don’t believe it would happen, but even if it did, a coronated leader would never have the same mandate than an elected leader, like Ming. So I think that if Lib Dems would switch Ming to some coronated leader, they were worse off.

  • Jeremy Sanders 6th Aug '07 - 1:57pm

    The problem with this whole argument is that there seem to be certain people who believe that a party can sweep to political success simply by changing leaders. Given that a large proportion of these people seem to be Tories, you would have thought they would have learnt by experience over the last 10 years or so!

    Personally I didn’t vote for Ming, but the idea that replacing him by Nick Clegg, Chris Huhne, or whoever would suddenly revolutionise the whole policial situation is simply nonsense.

  • #77 has the point mostly down to a tee.

    Leadership isn’t solely about the personality of the leader, it involves a combination of the whole team spurring impetus and building momentum.

    I personally think it should be taken as a credit to the party that we have such a strong front-bench capable of inspiring the speculation of any tormentor-aspirant!

    Were we to reverse the roles and ask who are alternative potential party leaders in the Labour or Conservative groups, we’d quickly discover, for all their greater numbers, their pools of talent are relatively shallower.

  • Hywel Morgan 6th Aug '07 - 11:19pm

    “All I know is that Sir Ming is not up to the job, and that Chris Huhne, say, would be.”

    Is there any evidence for this statement?

  • Coming in a bit late on this thread, but I do have another perspective, as I actually joined the party on Ming’s elevation to the top job. I don’t regret that decision – and I find it extraordinary that he has come in for such a degree of scorching opprobrium here and elsewhere.

    Here’s why I like Ming:

    1. He speaks in proper sentences, which are interesting and make sense. I stop what I am doing and listen to what he has to say, because it goes beyond the glib and obvious more often than pretty well any other senior politician.

    2. He dosen’t rush to score petty party political points.
    Some might see this as a demerit – I don’t.

    3. He is currently the same age as Winston Churchill was when he became prime minister (for the first time) and about four years younger than Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman (yay!) was in 1905. The whizz-kid fixation is a recent phenomena – Blair was PM at 43, of course, and look where it’s got us.

    4. He had two successful careers prior to going into politics, and won his seat from an unpromising position on, I believe, the fourth attempt. Contrast this with the parachuting of Messrs Brown
    and Cameron into their cosy safe seats, after their previous exhilarating careers as politics lecturer and hack (yawn) and PR man for Carlton Television (God give me strength).

    If you’re not convinced by any of that, then – as rehearsed above – please recognise it’s both too soon and too late for another leadership contest, with the prospect of a general election looming. Make the most of the good man we’ve got.
    It’s politics, it’s serious, it’s not effing pop idol.

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