Thursday, 2 March 2006

Empty Chalice

The Lib Dems will announce this afternoon the name of the lucky inheritor of the leadership tankard. All bets are on a narrow Campbell win. Huhne to come a close second.

In the short term, a Campbell leadership will be useful. He is of course someone who is incapable of discussing or arguing domestic policies and he will continue within his comfort zone of banging on about those nasty Americans.

In a classic BBC Daily Politics show this week, he defended Scottish MP's (for he is one) voting on English-only issues by saying that he and his constituents had "friends and relatives in England". That is simply embarrassing.

Under him the Party will drift and be roundly ridiculed. Sadly, however, that is the point. In the medium to long term, this leadership outcome is the worst case. The younger, more ambitious element will see their opportunity slipping away and a year from the next election, they will stage a coup.

With Hughes out of the running, a more threatening challenge will take over. Campbell will simply have kept the seat warm while the younger element sort their lives out and get ready to take over. Campbell will promote all sorts of young MP's into limelight positions in the hope that they raise their profile.

Cameron's assault on the Lib Dems was admirable. He threatened them like never before and provoked this rather tawdry leadership campaign. If Campbell wins, the message to Cameron now is that you have just two years to inflict maximum damage to the Lib Dems, to encourage as many defections as you can and to re-attract many lost voters.

I don't mind admitting that I would have preferred Hughes to have won.

P.S. Huhne is a very nasty piece of work. We are asked to believe that he has seen the light and made a Damascan conversion. I don't think so! Here is a man who made an excessive amount of money in the City in the 80's courtescy of one Mrs Margaret Thatcher; a man who pursued profits, wealth and power where ever he could find it, and now that his wealth is secure, he advocates higher taxes for higher earners. Champagne socialism and hypocrisy of the worst kind.

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