Sunday, February 24, 2008

Ming's Memoirs Lack Zing

I think we need a new definition of the word 'explosive'. "Turn to the Review section to read Ming Campbell's explosive memoirs" said the ad in the Mail on Sunday. I duly did, but found that the extract about Charles Kennedy's drinking added little to what we already knew. Not exactly explosive, I'd say. The only vaguely new material was an account of the conversation between Ming and Kennedy when Ming told him he should stand down. But even that could hardly be described as 'explosive'. Ming's account certainly does a lot to scotch any impression that he acted duplicitously, which was no doubt the intention. Read on...

I went to see Charles in his office. 'I think it's in the interests of yourself, your family and the Party that you should now step down.' I said. 'I don't think we can go on as we are. It's not tolerable. I tried to find an elegant way out for him. : 'You can say you've led the Party to its best General Election results since the Twenties. You've got new family responsibilities. You've got a wonderful wife and a beautiful son. You want to spend as much time with them as you can. You're leaving the party a legacy of achievement of which you're proud. All this is true.'

At this point Ming took an onion out of his pocket...
Charles listened intently. 'Ming, we've always been friends,' he said. 'I value your advice but you'll understand that I'll need to talk to Sarah. I've listened very carefully to what you've had to say.' He came out from behind his desk, shook my hand and said: 'Thank you for being so frank. We've had a long friendship. It's survived this long and I hope it'll survive all of this.'

Now I hope I am not being unduly cynical when I say that this sounds very much like the conversation Ming would LIKE to have had. I suspect Charles Kennedy's recollections may be a little different.

You can buy Ming's Memoirs HERE.


Unsworth said...


"I suspect Charles Kennedy's recollections may be a little different."

Oh dear! And was this not always the case? In fact I'd be surprised if Kennedy remembered very much at all...

Anonymous said...

An oddly well-remembered verbatim account of a conversation that must have taken place at least two years ago. Can't possibly be false ;-)

Anonymous said...

Ming has made the same mistake as Blunkie. By opting for a newspaper serialisation which contains most of the salacious [or as close to that as Ming is likely to get..] he appears to have put the kibosh on sales of the book.

Although I don't think he has done quite enough to endear himself to the joke-writers at Private Eye..

Richard Havers said...

18 months before Kennedy resigned Ming told a friend of mine when he asked him if CK was an alcoholic. "Well I wouldn't rule anything out." It took him long enough to do anything about it.

Newmania said...

I never thought it was Mings age that was the problem it was that he was mentally feeble and you have to be pretty smart to sell the fatuous guff the Liberals have in their bag.
So...they spurned Vincey Cable and went for little boy lost Clog. Error breeds error and Clogs Euro nutterism is awfully bad news.

asquith said...

To be honest, I think even those LibDems who have doubts over the Euro approach will stay loyal in the end. We won't become faction-ridden like...

Anonymous said...

He was a dud because he was pompous. If he'd addressed the age issue with humour and treated it like a virtue he would have been liked.

Instead he avoided it because his ego wouldn't allow him to address it in such a fashion.

His book sounds pompusly dry as well.

strapworld said...


What came across was the weakness of Campbell, and the inability of the Liberal Democrats to do anything about it, until it was too late.

I am afraid whatever reputation he may have had this 'autobiography' has shown him to be a weak and shallow individual, more interested in the trappings than attempting to see a colleague get through an illness (alcoholism IS an illness and not a joke) I also think it is an attempt to kill off any chances Kennedy may have had of gaining the crown again!

I did enjoy the story of the alleged affair between Steele and his wife. Of course it didn't happen. But Why then tell his wife to make herself scarce when the s... hit the fan?

Alan Douglas said...

"At this point Ming took an onion out of his pocket..."

Presumably a free onion is given away with each copy ?

Or is none needed ?

Alan Douglas

Anonymous said...

Your point is a good one,but all memoirs tend to be the same.They will soon be forgotten.Future historians will turn to the diarists.Channon,Crossman and Clark are each worth a hundred of these.

Anonymous said...

The words 'Ming' and 'explosive' don't sit very comfortably together. Bad reviews before the release of these heavily edited memoirs will kill it.

Anonymous said...

Sir Menses Campbell: the explosive memoirs

4am: got up for a wee.
5am: got up for another wee.
7am: got up for a wee and breakfast. After breakfast and a further wee, felt a bit sleepy so popped back into bed for 20 winks followed by a wee and 20 more winks.
12pm: lunch and a wee. Sat in the garden of the House of Commons in a bathchair with a plaid rug over my knees, because I feel the cold. Did a little wee in the bathchair too, but I don't think anyone noticed because Charles Kennedy was stood next to me. I reflected aloud on how all this used to be trees.
2pm: Mark Oaten dropped by for a chat, smelling slightly. He kept wiping his face with a wet wipe which I thought was most odd. I don't remember what we talked about because I fell asleep again.
3pm: woke up refreshed and after a quick wee I spent an hour on foreign affairs. I am an expert on foreign affairs, as many know. I was reading a book on the Tet offensive so I have been scouring the Look and Learn Atlas to see where Tet is. No luck so far.
4pm: went to the House for PMQs. I sort of forgot what I was going to ask the PM so instead I asked him how many countries there are with ten letters in the their name, a cunning ruse that totally foxed him. Everyone laughed at my joke. People laugh a lot whenever I speak. I was so pleased I quickly went a did a little wee.
6pm: Popped my porkpie hat on, got into my maple brown Austin Allegro and drove the half-mile to my London flat, where I arrived at 8pm. Slap-up supper of beans and sausages with bread and butter followed by spotted dick with custard. Watched the TV news with Elizabeth and was amazed to find that the leader of Lib Dems has the same name as me! He even looks a bit like me too, although the silly old fool does appear to be a bit old for the job.
7pm: Exhausted from my busy day, I slipped on a luxurious pair of plastic lined pants and went to bed for a well-deserved wee.

Anonymous said...

People have been thrown out of the Party for less. Interesting too that Ming seems to have been 'very sympathetic' to Charles' illness, and be clear it is an illness, but quite happy to heap misery and open it up to the public long after it was first publicised - and fairly well publicised.

I wonder whether other people feel as I do that now that Charles is not the party leader, his illness is his business, and I wonder if other politicians would like their own illnesses and resultant problems of performance at work to be discussed in a national newspaper.

And to have sold someone else's story. It's a kiss and tell, and in poor taste. Frankly the Whip should be withdrawn.