Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Reflections on the Lib Dem race

So now we're down to three. Like most people, I was absolutely flabbergasted when I heard Mark Oaten had not only stepped down from the leadership campaign, but also the home affairs brief.

Not sure there's really anything to say.

But of the three remaining, it's going to be a tough call decising who should be the next leader. Simon Hughes got the activists' support and charisma (admittedly in person rather than on TV), while Chris Huhne is an unknown force and Menzies Campbell poses serious questions. Like, for example, his alleged role in the rumours surrounding Kennedy before and after Christmas and the party's keenness to get the election over and done (which would presumably favour the early runners and before the others have built up momentum). The fact that David Steel was pushing for a 'coronation' on the same day that Ashdown came out in favour of Campbell suggests to me that the establishment want to take control.

At this rate, the caricature that Polly Toynbee drew of the Lib Dems at a LSE meeting last night is going to become more evident. She portrayed the party as less concerned with social justice and lifting people out of poverty than with gaining middle class votes (e.g. tuition fees). She made reference to the Orange Book tendencyt - as if that's the mainstream of party thinking.

Already you can see her type sharpening their pens to portray Lib Dems as little better than the Tories.

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