This blog is a political blog from a left-of-centre perspective. This is not specifically a party political blog, but does have a Lib Dem orientation. Constructive enagement with radical liberals, social democrats / democratic socialists and greens is particularly welcomed.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Time for **Members** to decide

The real villains of the piece in respect of the Lib Dem leadership debacle are those spineless MPs who have briefed against Charles Kennedy since the last GE. The behaviour of significant numbers of the parliamentary party in recent days has been very disappointing.

As I predicted a few days ago, I expected the [mostly right-wing] media to promote a favoured choice and to unduly influence the election of the new leader to be. When this is added to the unseemly attempt to shoe-in Ming Campbell as leader by the influential parliamentarians I begin to bristle. The last leader went without recourse to the membership and the Westminster 62 seem to want to stitch up the appointment of Ming in a undemocratic 'coronation'.

Since when has it been received wisdom that Ming is overwhelmingly the obvious and only viable and electable choice ? This is not to denigrate Sir Menzies Campbell. He is an able Commons performer, a deft media operator and is respected beyond Lib Dem circles. The clever, patrician, 'too Tory' like persona grates a bit with this chippy, rather 'gobby', 'disadvantaged' or poor and opinionated left leaning party member, but I am probably in a minority on this.

More seriously, as the Tories to my utter incredulity found out, a vigorous and open leadership election with differing visions for the party offered can only help reinvigorate political debateand party renewal. We have many capable putative contenders and I'd like to see the diverse strands of liberalism represented in that debate and subsequent election. So c'mon step forward Mark Oaten or a.n.other 'Orange Booker', ditto Simon Hughes, and of course Ming. We need to show the public we are the most democratic of the main parties and let OMOV decide the outcome. Just saying so doesn't make it so !

As someone who has mostly worked with, for, and personally been of limited personal means, the social liberalism and overt commitment to social justice issues by Simon Hughes makes him my preferred choice. Further, as a Christian, I'd feel happy with someone with a progressive Christian ethos leading the Lib Dem 'parish'. Step forward please Rev. Hughes !

I can live with Sir Menzies Campbell. I'd be distictly unhappy with someone of the ilk of Oaten or Laws. But, as a democrat, I'd abide by the majority decision, but still vigorously argue for what I believe in.

Frankly, if endorsed by the party membership I will respect the democratic mandate of whoever wins, be it Ming Campbell or anyone else. Most of all it is essential that we all endeavour to unite behind whoever wins. The last week has surely been one of the most dismal post merger. It is time the members were heard rather than the 'hot air' coming out of SW1.


Blogger Joe Otten said...


"Further, as a Christian, I'd feel happy with someone with a progressive Christian ethos leading the Lib Dem 'parish'. Step forward please Rev. Hughes !"

What is an ethos? Is it a political position? I don't object to Hughes or his Christianity - I think he would make a fine leader. OTOH, I do object to, say, George Bush's Christianity.

I am a bit nervous and perplexed at any mixing of politics and religion. If Hughes' Chrisianity influences his politics for the better, then why, in the political sphere can't those politics then stand on their own merit?

I can't see any reason for having regard to a candidate's faith, if any, once full regard has been paid to their politics.

12:54 pm GMT

Blogger Barrie Wood said...


All I mean is that his faith urges him to a position of social justice and having concern for the less well off. Further, I think he'd present a more positive image of a Christian in politics than the vile Bush or dissembling Blair.

I reject the muscular, fundamentalist, illiberal brand of Christianity as much as most secular folks.

2:48 pm GMT


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