Thursday, December 15, 2005
Liberal Democrats leadership and Charles Kennedy
It's not just that Charles has not said much, he has not done much either that anyone can point to. Being opposed to Iraq can only take you so far. Lib Dems need a bit of drama, a few teling blows delivered on the government's left flank maybe. And there was that debate on the Queen's Speech which Charlie did not attend, some said because of a mammouth drinking session the day before. Being laid back plays well during election time- he can appear to be normal and sensible in contrast to the high pitched rhetoric of the big parties- but during normal 'peace-time' conditions a little more intensity is required. He just has not seemed to cut it while the part of the centre ground occupied by his party now faces a brash newcomer in the form of Cameron who outpoints Kennedy on youth-once his key asset- and apparent dynamism.
This is patently unfair as Kennedy was: successful initially as a contrast to the hyperactivity of the dynamo Ashdown; won votes and seats in 2001 and in 2005; and had the good sense to oppose Iraq. What more do Lib Dem MPs want? As they read opinion polls showing falling their ratings, they want action, excitement, some barricades to storm now and again and all they have is 'lazy old Charlie' with a rumoured drinking problem. It may be unfair, Kennedy may have won the right to continue until at least the next election but the genie of criticism in the Lib Dems is now out of the bottle and it won't qietly creep back in. Kennedy has faced down his critics once, but, like IDS in 2003, how often must he do it before his authority and credibility have evapourated?