Friday, December 16, 2005


Liberal Democrats and their Leader

Bernard Ingham used to say that once no new developments were taking place after a period of nine days, a scandal can be said to be over. By this standard Charles Kennedy must be wondering how many days are going to bring new waves of torment crashing ovr his head. After the inconclusive meeting in the Commons two days ago- when few believed the protestatrions of loyalty from those who had been privately complaining- we hear that Ming Campbell, his deputy leader and allegedly the source of negative briefings about him, has said that Charlie 'has my ful support' but only so long as he 'remains leader of the Liberal Democrats' This sounds half hearted and as if Ming thinks he won't remain leader for long. Incidentally, we learn he was 'furious' at the briefings suggestion. Campbell remains my favourite to take over but The Guardian may be right that his best pitch is as 'an interim leader'.

Meanwhile Kennedy has tried to play it tough against his enemies suggesting he was 'keeping positions under review' and that 'We have plenty of talent around these days more than capable of filling vacancies.' This sounds an empty threat as most of the real talent in the Lib Dems that I'm aware of, is already in a shadow line-up which is indulging in the very acts of disatisfaction which are causing such grief to the leader. And if they were all fired that would send such a major signal of dissent that Kennedy's position would be untenable. I suspect there is a long way to go and at the end of it the Lib Dems will have a new leader. Piling on the agony, David Cameron has invited Lib Dem voters to join him in creating a vibrant reforming opposition to Tony Blair. I'd give Charlie till Easter, if not before.

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