What next for Lembit?

That’s the question after Ros Scott’s landslide victory in the race to become party president. Lembit is, without doubt, one of the party’s stars: he has charisma, a sense of humour, a strong liberal streak, and is a terrific speaker.

And yet somehow all that talent, all that energy, seems to be channelled in an unfocused campaign to become … well, who knows what? Lembit resigned from the Lib Dem shadow cabinet to stand as President, and so, for the moment at least, he has no official role within the party. He said it was the role he had always coveted. Yet, despite Ros firing the starting gun well over a year ago, Lembit did not launch his campaign until six weeks ago. Was his heart really in it this time?

It’s a real shame that someone who has so much to contribute to the party, with a clear ideology and terrific communication skills, should have become tarred with the brush of being ‘a bit of a joker’. It’s a personal shame for him, and a real shame for the party. Now’s the time, I hope, for Lembit to take stock, and to work out how he can reclaim the respect within the party and the wider public which his abilities well merit.

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This entry was posted in Party Presidency.


  • Clegg's Candid Friend 8th Nov '08 - 7:43pm

    Martin Land:
    “Mind you, this afternoon’s poll shows membership has now shrunk to 60,000, so he wouldn’t be alone…”

    Indeed, and that amounts to a loss of about 400 members a month, on average, since the election of Nick Clegg. (Compared with the loss of about 350 a month under Ming Campbell.)

    By my reckoning if that continues the party will be losing 1 member in 12 every year.

  • Julian Fountain 8th Nov '08 - 7:51pm

    I am one of those who has not renewed my membership.

    Those claiming Lembit’s an asset should face the facts – he’s not fit for public office, he’s just a self-centred show-off, an embarrassment.

  • David Allen 8th Nov '08 - 8:09pm

    The BBC website tonight sums up this issue nicely:

    “The former housing spokesman is one of the best known Liberal Democrats for relationships with weather presenter Sian Lloyd and Cheeky Girls singer Gabriela Irimia.”

    As Julian’s post suggests, this is still hurting us, even though just for once, the Party did something really sensible today.

    We should find something useful for Lembit to do that involves a reasonable amount of responsibility, but no publicity whatsoever!

  • Julian Fountain 9th Nov '08 - 1:26am

    James, I didn’t decide to leave just over Lembit. I have known he’s a knob for years – he won’t remember me but I met him in a bar years ago when he was letting his hair down and he did not impress.

    I left because I have given up trying to get the local Lib Dems in Walthamstow to have some minimum standards for what party members and the public can expect of their councillors, for instance, how many times a year should they turn up for their surgeries, how often should they actively go round door to door, how much leaflet delivery should they personally take part in, etc.

    This matter was discussed by the local party but the councilors who are in charge of everything declined to set such standards. (Its really just a clique because the party has lots of money and they don’t want do more than pay lip service to calls to widen the membership)

    This is a pity, as there is a councillor in my ward who would not pull his weight in the ward when I was trying to get the delivery system working and enthuse people into becoming active new members. He would promise the earth but never deliver – and failed to campaign in the Mayoral elections despite the local party having decided to use it as a dry run for a general election. It turns out he thinks councillors should not deliver things through doors as it is beneath them. He’d rather pay people to do this. He has also rarely attended advertised surgeries, asking others to cover for him. He prefers to play communal politics instead.

    Our local councillors get paid ten thousand a year for the work they do. I think the whole electorate should be able to expect them to put in hard work, or at least fulfill a minimum, but it seems the local party does not want this. I won’t campaign for the party until these attitudes and people change.

  • No other membership-wide election in this party’s or its predecessors’ history has resulted in a candidate with a high public profile losing to an unknown.

    In this thread and elswhere a lot of unjustified bile has been poured over Lembit. Yes, he has made mistakes, and yes, he does cross the line now and again. But his private life has done this party a hell of a lot LESS harm that those of Jeremy Thorpe, Peter Bessell, and one or two others I won’t mention. Has Lembit chucked a lover about of bed because they are not posh enough? Has Lembit paid businessmen to do something unspecified to someone on Exmoor? Or are those stupid questions?

    Perspective, folks, please.

  • Lembit is a good public speaker and debater who can really make an impact when he has a focussed brief – I want to see rather more of his contributions to public life than any more exposees of his private life.

  • Lembit is an incredible campaigner and motivator and knows pretty much all there is to know about getting Liberal Democracy out into people’s homes.

    I would suggest he do two things.

    1 – Get straight on the phone to the many SAOs and AOs like Liberal Youth, Delga, EMLDs et al and offer his skills in training and publicity to help the party get its message out there to these groups.

    2 – Go back to Montgomeryshire and use his talents to not only make sure he holds his seat but that neighbouring local parties like Ceredigion, Wrexham, Ludlow and those slightly further afield that could really gain from his help, get it.

  • Perennially Bored 11th Nov '08 - 12:49pm

    “I have known he’s a knob for years – he won’t remember me but I met him in a bar years ago when he was letting his hair down and he did not impress.”

    Actually he could well remember you. One of Lembit’s strengths, which he shares with a lot of successful politicians including, famously, Bill Clinton, is an incredible memory for names and faces. I’ve met Lembit once, in passing, at conference years ago, and have passed him a few times since then when he has always greeted me by name. A very useful skill!

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