Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Hughes Sorry Now? Simon Shows Signs of Panic at Huhne Advance
This story which has just gone up on the Press Association wires certainly shows signs of desperate panic in the Simon Hughes camp. I must admit that although as a Tory I'd like him to win, I think his campaign is going nowhere, and that it is Chris Huhne who has run the only campaign with any sense of vitality. See what you make of this...
Liberal Democrat leadership contender Simon Hughes today tore intorival Chris Huhne, saying he did not have the experience or public profile for the job. Mr Hughes said after just nine months as an MP Mr Huhne was not ready to lead the party. He said he was virtually unknown outside Westminster. And he warned it could be a mistake to choose a leader who faced a huge battle to hold onto his own seat at the next election. Mr Hughes insisted the contest was a two-horse race between him andSir Menzies Campbell, saying Mr Huhne was not "in the same league''. But he also alluded to Sir Menzies' age, 64, saying the party must decide if it wanted a leader for "this generation'' or "a caretaker''. Mr Hughes was speaking at the launch of his manifesto. He has fallen behind the other two candidates after revealing he is bisexual and apologising for a string of previous denials. Mr Huhne recently claimed Mr Hughes was out of the running following his admission. But Mr Hughes today sought to turn the tables on his rival. Speaking in his Bermondsey constituency he said he and Sir Menzies were recognised by voters across the country. "I don't think Chris has got that sort of recognition,'' he said. "I don't think he is in the same league.'' Mr Hughes said the contest was always going to be between him and Sir Menzies, and Mr Huhne did not have the experience to compete. "That is the serious choice - a choice between the well known Liberal Democrats who have a track record, who are tried and tested,who have fought and won elections and campaigned up and down the country. Chris Huhne arrived in parliamentary politics eight months ago,'' he said. Mr Hughes said he and Sir Menzies had decades of experience compared to Mr Huhne. Mr Huhne has a precarious majority of just 568 in his Eastleigh constituency. Mr Hughes said the party would have to pour in a quarter of its resources to hold onto the seat. He said Huhne was taking a risk in running for the leadership that he would not have been prepared to take. He said Mr Huhne was probably "marking his card'' for the next leadership election rather than being a genuine contender this time round. Mr Hughes also emphasised his environmental credentials. Huhne has made the running on green issues, but Mr Hughes portrayed him as a newcomer to the scene, whereas he had been campaigning on the environment for more than 20 years. He also attacked Mr Huhne's plans for punitive fuel taxes to combat pollution. "You can't just callously say 'let's tax fuel much more and nevermind the consequences','' he said.