Saturday, January 07, 2006


Kennedy tarnishes his legacy

Not sure that Kennedy has come out of this all that well. He displayed a curious blindness to the interests of his party by first of all lying about his condition and then by using various ploys to hold on to his position, hoping the membership would prove his trump card. It was the threatened mass resignation of his Shadow Cabinet and their tacit threat not to turn up to PMQs on Wednesday next, which must have given him pause for serious thought, not to mention the editorials of all today's broadsheet press.

Despite all his achievments for the Lib Dems, his manner of departing its leadership will be remembered long and without much sympathy I suspect. Whoever was advising him- assuming he has been advised- has been way off the mark and helping Kennedy to live in a false reality-something which alcoholics do as a function of their condition anyway.

So what now? Campbell has said he'll stand in the leadership contest- triggered by Charles and now going ahead with the purpose of replacing not endorsing him. At 64 he'll be too old to continue for much longer but he has great leadership skills, in my view, and has been brilliant over Iraq. It was said he wanted a 'coronation' i.e. no messy public contest but with likely rivals standing back to allow him a free run. This may well happen as the party needs to be in good shape for the May local elections; a leadership contest involving all members would take up most of the time before polling day.

I noted also today that both Simon Hughes and Mark Oaten-the two most liklely to oppose him- were noncommittal about standing and they may be about to offer Ming the free run he would prefer. Given that he should have won back in 1999 against Charles, but for his cancer condition at that time, it's only fair he should get a crack at leading the party for a few years later on in his career.

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