Friday, July 27, 2018

Why Vince Cable's idea of a leader outside parliament won't work

It transpires that Vince Cable's plan of "opening the doors, ceasing to be an inward-looking, membership club and broadening out" goes much further than we realised.

As the Daily Mirror told us last night
Vince Cable has hatched a secret plot to pave the way for a non-MP lead the Lib Dems. 
He wants to scrap or amend an obscure part of the party’s constitution which states only an MP can take the helm. 
The move, which is likely to be put to the party after summer recess and could be debated at the annual conference in Brighton in September, would mean a non-politician could become leader, scuppering ambitions of Sir Vince’s rivals on the Commons’ benches. 
One potential name in the frame is campaigner Gina Miller, who took the Government to court over Brexit last year.
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For a more gossipy take on the same story, see Patrick Maguire in the New Statesman.

I can see the appeal of persuading high-profile figures with liberal beliefs to join the party. We are in a trough at present - the idea that we are doing wonderfully well in local elections rests arises largely from confirmation bias - so we badly need an infusion of pizzazz and brio.

Moreover, local politics often works this way round. You first identify people in the community who have sympathetic beliefs and are well known, and then persuade them to join the party and become council candidates.

But would a leader outside parliament work? I think not.

That leader, assuming the Liberal Democrats still have pretensions to power, would have to get themselves elected to the Commons sooner rather than later.

We don't have safe seats where we can engineer a convenient by-election (not even Twickenham). Even if we did, the voters don't like being taken for granted in this way. Just ask Patrick Gordon-Walker - one for the teenagers there.

So Gina Miller, or whoever it is, would have to try to gain a seat at the general election at the same time as leading the party's national campaign. And all that with little experience of party politics.

Even if we Lib Dem members wanted it to work, it sounds pretty unlikely to be successful.

Oh, and then there is this tweet...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A blog called Liberal England can be forgiven for being Anglocentric to some extent, however, why shouldn't the leadership of a party that claims to be federal be opened up to AMs and MSPs? Why should they be excluded when ultimately it is the membership that would get to decide if they were elected or not? The idea that all power resides in Westminster is outdated by nearly two decades. Why should it always be that the party fields reserve league calibre candidates in Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament elections? The UK's third party has its leader as an MSP, demonstrating it can work and that being in another parliament does not mean they necessarily have a diminished profile on the UK stage.