Thursday, December 15, 2005

Lib Dem spin? Shurely shome mishtake...

Yes, there have been mutterings about Charles Kennedy's performance, stretching back over the past few years. That's nothing new. But what I find ridicuolous is the complete headless chicken routine of those briefing against him. David Cameron has barely been Tory leader for a week and a poll shows that he has jumped into the lead (a temporary blip and probably more reflective of the media attention he's been getting than anything else) and suddenly the Lib Dem Parliamentary Party is circling the wagons.

There have always been those who'll do anything to unseat Kennedy and this is the perfect opportunity. But it doesn't make the party look particularly mature of strong in character if it starts fluttering about because it's been overlooked over the past few weeks.

Of course, there's also the cynical side in me which wonders whether this might actually be a media ploy by the press office to get the party back into public attention. You can talk all you want about policies, but what really turns journalists on is personality - and you can't get more personal than a leadership election. Or at least talk of it. If you don't believe me, have a look at the press at the moment: Cameron's off the pages and the Lib Dems - unbelievably - are getting top billing on the news programmes. Not to mention several spokespeople on the radio and TV than they usually ever get (Lembit Opik, David Rendel and Simon Hughes all in the last two days).

Perhaps we should make talk of Kennedy's leadership skills an issue every three months, but not do anything about it. Seems to me there's more media coverage and mileage there than in anything that we in the Research Centre (when I was working there) ever achieved.

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