Party members are incredibly insular and concerns of party members often conflict with that of its voters and potential supporters in the country. Simon Hughes is the figure that resonates best with our voting public as the recent YouGov poll indicates.
Martin Turner of Lib Dem Christian Forum sums up my own views succinctly when he states that Simon is a man of
" conscience and integrity, vision, charisma and clarity, he is inspiring, loyal, generous and experienced..."
Chris Huhne seems to be impressing many members [including me] and indeed he has injected policy issues into the campaign more assertively that the other contenders. However, he comes across as so wooden and lacking in charisma. His literature mentiones attributes like being a 'one man think tank'. Now this might excite politicos but I believe that the wider public are more interested in the wider canvas of which themes and issues the party wish to project and be indentified with. This latter approach, has enabled the Lib Dems being indentified with opposition to the Iraq war, for progressive taxation, the environment, civil liberties, electoral and constitutional reform et al. It was the direction of the party and the issues it chose and the way they were communicated by Charles Kennedy that retained and attracted new supporters alike in recent years. Communication is key.
Watching News24 yesterday I was reminded that however well-intentioned and politically clever, I just cannot see Chris Huhne coming across well to the wider public. Sorry, but he is grey in every sense of the word. Labour members loved Michael Foot, the public didn't. Ditto Kinnock. Tory members chose IDS, but predictably the British public rejected the 'quiet man'. In their hearts Tory grassroots would probably have preferred Davis to Cameron, but for once the 'nasty party' realised in their desperation to win that Cameron might be the better bet.
We need to learn from these experiences. Where's the passion from Huhne? No Hughes-like feeling of anger at social injustice, ability to insire the foot-soldiers, no 'heart-on-the-sleave' politics, nothing from the heart at all seemingly.
And, worse still, although David Cameron is something of a political chameleon and policy-lite, his 'easy style' and broad themes he has addressed has given the public the erroneous impression
of a changing Tory party. Perception as much as reality matters in politics sadly. I just can't see Huhne doing the same and communicating in such a media-savvy way.
One plus point from all the leadership debates is that we are more united on basic principles that maybe many thought. The differences are more about nuance and how we achieve the goals we have in common. It has, though, led to some dull-ish debates. On News24 yesterday we had predictable questions on Iraq, hung parliaments, Kennedy et al. The responses by now are so well rehearsed !
Cliches of the campaign ? Worst offender ? Ming Campbell ! Ming's '..bridge to the future' .. his being a 'gut liberal', the need not to have three management companies running Britain...declarations of his energy, and his being on the centre-left of British politics - or on the right of the old Liberal Party as 'Lord' Greaves puts it.
Chris' favourite : not being a second class Labour or Tory person and repeatedly boasting of how successful his business life has been.
Simon ? the ' I'm in the mainstream of the party ' ...the I'm not too radical really stance.
To be honest I'll be glad when the result is announced. I've had enough of it now. My thoughts are turning to the 'leadership contest' about who is who the new manager of Nottingham Forest FC. Now that is REALLY important ! After my gibes of yesterday I can't believe that the clown that is Gary Megson is to return to the circus. I had the same sense of relief as the day Thatcher was dethroned. Onwards and upwards from here !