Monday, October 15, 2007

Ming Resigns: Who's The One Man Who Can Save the LibDems?


I promised to write a post yesterday about the one man who can save the LibDems. I hadn't quite expected Ming to resign the next day. On a personal level, I feel a great deal of sympathy with him. It's not nice being a fish out of water, and that's clearly the position he found himself in. I have long thought, as readers of this blog know, that Ming's position was untenable in the long term and the opinion polls have demonstrated that he has been incapable of building on Charles Kennedy's legacy. It seems that my remarks on Friday that Simon Hughes picked up the dagger were more prescient than I thought. It is clear that Vince Cable was the man who wielded it. From the LibDem viewpoint he should be congratulated, as it enables the LibDems to make a fresh start.
No doubt Chris Huhne and Nick Clegg will throw their hats into the ring. Both would be good
choices in different ways. Were the election to be held today, Clegg would probably win. However, I think neither of them will find it easy to make their mark with the electorate in the short term and the LibDems will suffer for having seem to have knifed two leaders within eighteen months.
The only man who can resurrect LibDem fortunes is the man pictured above - Charles Kennedy. I have no idea if he has recovered his health, but he seemed in cracking form on Newsnight last week. He has a rapport with the electorate which is almost unmatched by any politician from any of the three main parties.
LibDem MPs will recoil at the prospect of Charles Kennedy sticking his head above the political parapet again. But if they want to save their own seats, they ought to sideline their initial instincts. He's probably the only one who can achieve the impossible - to bring the LibDems back up to 20% or so in the polls.
MORE LATER...
UPDATE: We'll be covering this on 18 Doughty Street tonight from 9-11pm tonight. Click HERE to launch the programme from 9...

49 comments:

Anonymous said...

Paddy Ashdown?

Tory Radio said...

I poke fun at the possibil;itu of Ming hanging on - and hours later this happens.

You think Kennedy Iain. I think Clegg cannot afford to keep his powder dry and fail to run again.

mindstar said...

I think you may be right, Iain. But it won't happen.

Nick Drew said...

Jeremy Thorpe, anyone ?

oh ...

Man in a Shed said...

Gordon Brown - after all he seems to be pulling the strings on the Lib Dems right now with his election announcements.

Man in a Shed said...

PS Anyone else thinks its odd Ming not announcing this himself ?

Wrinkled Weasel said...

What strange news. I feel sorry for Ming, because, as you say, he was a fish out of water.

And I agree, Charlie was very much on form on Newsnight.

Now let me tell you what it is like to live with an alcoholic:

First there are the lies. (I believe CK has claimed to be on the wagon when, evidently, he was not.

Second, the unreliability. CK cannot be trusted to be where he is booked to be.

Then comes the heartache and the misplaced loyalty of people around him. And the guilt. And the broken promises. And the final realisation that despite periods of being on "cracking form", he is slumped on a chair in a pool of his own piss.

Really Iain. You clearly no nothing about alcoholism.rbzugzd

King Cnut said...

But isn't that exactly what British politics needs?

A good old-fashioned pisshead.

None of this smart suit and tie, soundbites and posing, let's have a bottle-of-whisky-a-day man.

He gets my vote.

Praguetory said...

I think that Ed Davey might be the choice this time.

Anonymous said...

Bloodthirsty lot the LDs. Adam Boulton, live on Sky: "you could almost see the blood dripping off Vince Cable and Simon Hughes". Or words very much to that effect.

Huhne's a slimeball; Clegg, as he demonstrated on Sky a few minutes ago is a charisma-lite nonentity. Agree that Kennedy's the man, but no chance of that.

simon said...

Well, he's gone- and this only confirms what a limp bunch of lettuce eating halfwits the LibbyDems are. The main catalyst for his removal, i suspect, were the recent polls showing the Libbies at 11%!!! Whoever the Libbies pick next for their 'leader' is already 'damaged goods' due to the manouvering for the position appx 2 seconds after Ming was elected! Personally, i hope they pick the Scottish Drunk who has proven to be a vacuous populist simpleton- if he has no idea about Libbie tax policy why should any of us be surprised. Huhne is a non-starter too- devoid of charisma. Clegg is 'too similar' to Cameron. What they actually need is a 'short-term' leader who will actually sort out WHAT type of Party they are- and to iron out consistent policies. But knowing the Libbies that won't happen. If they are smart, they would push Evan Harris into the role: relatively normal, relatively clear (for a Libbie), and has no baggage (backstabbing and bitching).

Anonymous said...

Now Ming should make himself immediately available for the job he should have got in 2000 - House of Commons Speaker! The sooner the Michael Martin era ends, the better....

Anonymous said...

Ming would make a brilliant Speaker. Gravitas, dignity, respect for the traditions of the House.

Newmania said...

I disagree iain , I think Clegg could reinvigorate the Liberal Party and may be a problem . Cameron has to tracak their good ideas closely and they do have some.

Cleggs weakness will be the weakness all Libs have , ,what is it you belive ? But I feel you have to attcak the Party but not by any means all the ideas.

I aslo feela bit dsorry for Ming ,... what have we come to when looking young trumps almosy anything

zimmer said...

I'd have more sympathy for Ming if he hadn't wielded the knife himself over Xmas 2005 and suggested he'd been foolish not to stand in 1999. Got what he deserved.

a former SDP man said...

You are all forgetting the one parliamentarian with both the experience of leading Britain's third party and the respect in the country at large that the Lib Dems urgently require.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man.

The hour is now. Lord (Dr David) Owen is the man.

a former SDP man said...

You are all forgetting the one parliamentarian with both the experience of leading Britain's third party and the respect in the country at large that the Lib Dems urgently require.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man.

The hour is now. Lord (Dr David) Owen is the man.

Margaret on the Guillotine said...

10-1 on this is one of those "delicate" topics Lib Dem Voice just can't bring itself to discuss.

Womble On Tour said...

The Lib Dems are mad. The polls are currently mad.

Polls move against the LDs when the media concentrates on the two main parties, as they have been doing for the last month. The LDs were polling between 15 & 20% for most of September. This is a knee-jerk reaction to a short-term problem.

I'm beginning to wonder if political parties are starting to become like football clubs - sacking the manager in response to a few bad results. It wasn't so long ago that there was speculation about Cameron's position. Now, although Brown is not under immeidate threat, there are mutterings. And now Campbell's copped it. And yet there's no election for at least 18 months.

The world is going crazy.

Domesday said...

Now's the time for the Conservatives to extend a welcome to the Lib Dems. The Conservatives are the only true liberal party in this country (a la JS Mill) with genuinely socially and economically liberal approaches. The Lib Dems seem to forget about the economic liberalism strand and march towards economic socialism. Let's see the Tory front bench running interference on the LD leadership campaign talking about OUR liberal credentials (and by the way anybody who thinks that liberalism is inconsistent with punishing thieves and the agenda most Tories believe in should try reading the liberal philosophers who are typically something to the right of anything you can find today).

Guthrum said...

Please God can the LD's just have somebody who is English !

Anonymous said...

David Owen is an objectionable, vacuous cnut. And yes I've met him.

Jill, London said...

Although I don't normally disagree with you Iain, I do over Cable. I don't think it's honourable to play Brutus to two successive leaders.

Part of the problem with Cable - and I should know as sadly I'm one of his constituents [NOT that I've ever voted for him!] - is he's very good at letting his councillors do his dirty work for him. Then he appears to have his 'hands clean' to the gullible local electorate.

Now he's shown up for what he is - a backstabbing opportunist!

Anonymous said...

Coming next on Iain Dale TV..

Advice for turkeys on voting for Christmas, and a recommendation for the Chicken Democrats to put the fox in charge of guarding the hen-house.. well he does have red hair and enjoys a wee dram of scotch...

Great advice there.. from Iain 'Hedging my bets' Dale...

Anonymous said...

Of course, Iain, and going back to a previous failed leader wouldn't in any way be helpful to the party who you are hoping will offer you a job..

mitch said...

Are they worth saving??

Norfolk Blogger said...

Iainm you know as well as anyone else that the man the tories fear is Nick Clegg. This is misinformation in much the same way as Tom Watson was spreading about you last week.

Savonarola said...

This is an opportune juncture for the LibDems to into voluntary liquidation. They serve no political purpose.

judith said...

The LibDems really have to decide what they stand for - should they go to the left of Labour, where they would attract a lot of disillusioned Socialists, or are they 'nice' Tories, in which case they should feel happy with Cameron and dissolve their Party.

Anonymous said...

Who cares, these people will say or do anything to get elected trying to be all things to all men.Bar one or two they are total nonentities.

Curly said...

A younger leader for the Lib-Dems may result in Broon looking like the old man in the house, not the one to bring change. There may also be a squeeze on the Labour vote, which is probably in terminal decline now, with those not keen on NuBloo Labour defecting to the yellows.


Yes, this ageism thing is all rather sad.

Iain Dale said...

Nich (Norfolk Blogger) I will take this head on tomorrow!

Nick Clegg fan said...

Judith 8:03pm,

Cameron is not a nice Tory. If the Lib Dems go for Clegg then Cameron will start to look a lot more like Blair-lite/spotty Tory-boy and the Conservative vote wil suffer.

Geezer said...

"Cameron will start to look a lot more like Blair-lite/spotty Tory-boy and the Conservative vote will suffer"

Except that the Lib Dumbs is a wasted vote. If there is a mood for change at the next election, and I suspect there might be, the Liberal vote will get badly squeezed, whoever leads them.
If Clegg looks like a Cameron copycat, it merely tells the electorate that the Conservatives are on the right track, muck like Labour trying to steal their policies, it legitimises Cameron's approach, rather than negating it.
If people like Conservative policies and/or Cameron's approach, then they'll vote Conservative (A party capable of winning the next election) rather than wasting a vote on the Fib Dumbs and helping Broon to stay in office.
The Lib Dems need a reality check. They did relatively well in 2005 because, Kennedy was the anti-war poster-boy, and a magnate for protest votes, with alcohol-fuelled charisma. The problems for the Lib Dems go much deeper than their leaders.

Anonymous said...

Chance for Dave here to start pulling us out of the EU, in contrast to the new Lib-Dem leader who by definition will be a europhile.

Anonymous said...

they were mad to select ming in the first place.The LDs need an unpopular Tory party to thrive electorally, now the Tories are no longer electoral poision they can't 'squeeze' non aligned or soft Labour votes.I can't see how a new leader is going to change that.They had their chance in 2005 and blew it.

Anonymous said...

Surely it is significant that Ming resigned with immediate effect rather than agreeing to preside over an orderly transition. He is not a happy bunny.

Save Our Parliament said...

Yes, Ming for Speaker.

tapestry said...

not another bloody useless Scot

Iain Dale said...

Anonymous at 7.38 - if I knew WTF you were on about I might be able to reply.

bebopper said...

Vince Cable is the most able man for the job.
Nick Clegg has nice hairdo and they'll probably go for him.
Big mistake. He may look like Cameron, but he's not as tough or determined.

Anonymous said...

Watch out for 'cloak and dagger' Norman Baker and the pathetic little sphere that surrounds him.

Anonymous said...

I've always thought that it is a good idea to take good advices from the enemy - NOT!

Tom Tyler said...

No surprise at all in this piece of news. Sir Campbell has done the right thing at the right time, and I applaud him for that.
As to who can succeed him, yes Iain, you're right that CK is the best choice in terms of his charisma and public appeal, but it's not going to happen.
It's not as straightforward as wrinkled weasel suggested at 6:52pm; there are alcoholics and alcoholics, not all are the same, nor do they all exhibit the same symptoms. Mr Kennedy may well manage to function fairly normally most of the time, but yet, it would be very unwise for the LD party to place Kennedy in the driving seat again. Would anyone vote for a man who "drinks to excess", to have his fingers on the nuclear button? Not blooming likely! So Kennedy is a no-no, even if the severity of his addiction does not leave him in a heap on the floor every evening.

Having said that, the Liberal Democrats play an important (and potentially crucial) role in British politics - they are the deciding party, in the event of a hung parliament. Isn't that funny? Hardly 15% of the voting electorate vote for them, yet they can hold the balance of power in their hands! Only in Britain....

verity said...

Tom Tyler - "Sir Campbell"???

Are you actually British?

Although, you may be. Comprehension school boy?

I saw someone the other day refer to the feral Heather McCartney as "Lady Heather".

Oluseun said...

Verity you are an insatiable snob. Why do you find it so difficult to contribute to debate without the adding unnecessary vitriol???

Anonymous said...

Lib Dhimm leaders are always the most bloody awful mediocrities.

We've had Jeremy "Nodules" Thorpe, David "Gaw bark to yurr constitu-uncies and preparr for Goverrmunt" Steel, Paddy "Sanctimonious" Pantsdown, lying Charles Kennedy who was on the piss, and silly old buffoonish Menses Campbell, who smelt of piss.

We can be sure that whomever they go for will be an utter nonentity, and as such they are spoilt for choice.

Anonymous said...

A pisshead running the nut and sandal brigade?

Duh!

Tom Tyler said...

Verity, huh?
Did I get that wrong? Am I having a "duuuh" moment? It is SIR Menzies Campbell, isn't it? Or am I going bananas? I thought he was a "Sir" and so that's how I referred to him. Don't like his party's politics, but due respect and all that?