So who was it who briefed the speech? The Party's new Director of Communications? The Head of Press? Who? The PA Report tonight descibes the person as a "senior press officer".
And who authorised him or her to brief it like that? My conclusion can only be that it was Ming himself.
There's only one way for the LibDems to lance this boil and that is to name the person concerned and make clear that he or she was not speaking for the Party or its leadership. And for those who think I am deliberately misinterpreting all this, this is the PA copy which will be in all tomorrow's regional papers...
Sir Menzies Campbell's attempt to reassert his position as Liberal Democrat leader was overshadowed today by chaos at the head of the party over its strategy for a hung Parliament. The party leader used a major speech to set out five "tests" for Gordon Brown to meet if - as expected - he takes over from Tony Blair as Prime Minister this year. A senior press officer told reporters afterwards that it was the "first signal" Sir Menzies would be interested in talking to Labour about a deal if the Lib Dems held the balance of power. And he also indicated that the party's desire for proportional representation at Westminster elections - not included in the five tests - would not be set as a precondition of such a deal.
Here are three comments from the previous thread. If I were a LibDem I'd be quite worried tonight...
Madness, I'm a floating voter between the Conservatives and the Liberal
Democrats. Menzies Campbell means I will vote Conservative now. I'm bemused
as to why Campbell thought he was being clever.
All he has done is tell Tories in Labour/Lib Dem marginals that there is no
point voting tactically and everyone else a vote fot the Lib Dems is a vote for
Labour. It’s the best news for the Tories since Labour picked Kinnock as leader.
Regardless of what he actually said it is how it is reported and what
can be inferred that is important. Whatever you actually say - if it is
enough to start a tabloid vote liberal=get labour frenzy then its a
disaster.The art of public speaking is to leave everyone with the impression
that you said what you actually said, this is quite difficult.
If he meant to move towards a coalition with his speech today, he's an
idiot. If he said those things but didn't mean to move towards a coalition, he
should have expected this type of media coverage and is therefore an idiot.
I've given up on the Lib Dems, it's a truly liberating feeling. I used to think they were a healthy alternative to a once goddamn awful Tory party, and a killjoy, controlling Labour party.
UPDATE: This is from Niles's Blog...
If the shadow cabinet hadn’t leapt to their feet cheering, I wouldn’t have
known the speech had ended.
That good, eh?