Thursday, January 19, 2006

Don't sell the Jag, Ming

When the four leadership candidates appeared on the Sky News debate the other evening. Ming Campbell was ambushed by a question about his Jag.

It happens that it was sent in by Rob Fenwick, a Lib Dem and Simon Hughes supporter.

Rob's own blog gives a transcript of what happened:

SKY: Let's talk about the environment, an important issue that Lib Dems certainly put at the centre of the ground. This question from Rob Fenwick: "Both Ming Campbell and Chris Huhne claim that the environment is of paramount importance. Chris Huhne owns a hybrid electric car, a Toyota Prius. Is it correct that Ming Campbell owns not one but TWO Jaguars? And if so, how does that square with a supposed commitment to the environment?" A gas guzzler, Sir Menzies

CAMPBELL: I have one 20 year old car which has been my pride and joy.

SKY: Not the best for the environment.

CAMPBELL: But we are all going to have to change our habits, including me.

And then later:

SKY: So the jag goes, does it?


The last thing Ming should do if he wins the leadership is sell his Jag.

I see it as central to what could be a very popular image. He would be the new Inspector Morse or the sort of dependable Scottish lawyer who was always played by Iain Cutherbertson.

Don't do it, Sir Menzies.


Anonymous said...

Couldn't it be converted to run on LPG?

frvfvsdvdsv said...

He just needs to convert it to bioethanol - simple!

Martin Tod said...

We had a blog question about this. Somewhat disappointingly for Inspector Morse fans, Ming's main car is a VW Passat. The Jaguar (and there's only one of them) is a classic car that he only used very occasionally. While investigating the answer, we found out that David Steel has a considerably more extensive collection of classic cars than Ming has ever dreamt of - but perhaps we were more tolerant of our leaders in the 1970s and 1980s.

Niles said...

And presumably you saw where Rob said

Thing is though, I never actually intended for him to give up his car - I assumed he’d have some sort of answer in mind for the question, whereas what happened was he panicked, waffled, and then when the Sky presenter asked if he was going to give up the car, he said “Yep!”

Anonymous said...

I think niles has hit the main point here.

Ming is supposed to be the experienced, unflappable one.

Yet he allowed himself to get trapped by a (pretty rubbish) Sky presenter.

The second point that strikes me is that he has given the impression that he is responding to the agenda set by Chris Huhne. Chris launches his campaign with a strong message on fuel taxes and within hours this is apparantly Ming's main priority too.

To my mind both these points are far more worrying than what car he drives.

Rob F said...

What a truly magnificent piece of spin this post was. Who asked you to write it? Top marks to them :)

Anonymous said...

It's unfortunate that he didn't have the wit to point out how running old cars, in spite of their engines, is probably the best thing one can do for the environment, because of the massive impact that (a) scrapping old cars, and (b) building new cars imposes.

Jonathan Calder said...


It is not "a truly magnificent piece of spin". It is my opinion.

And nobody tells me what to write.

Peter Pigeon said...

I thought it was very commendable to keep the same car for twenty years. We used to moan about built-in obsolescense. Here is a leader prepared to take direct action.

Well done Ming and well done, Jonathan: save the Ming Jag!

Rob F said...

That being the case then, I humbly apologise.

As has been pointed out above, my question was whether a stated policy core of "the environment, the environment, the environment" was consistent with owning two jags. I'm happy to concede he only owns one jag, and that the Ashdown Diaries, BBC political editor, and I are therefore wrong on that.

It was the Sky news presenter who asked him whether he was going to get rid of his car, which caused the furore.

Having said that he WOULD lose the car, it is still disappointing that his campaign is now engaged in a co-ordinated piece of spin to backtrack on that commitment.

I spoke to four people who are either on or connected to his campaign team 48 hours ago. Suddenly, mysteriously, ALL of them were falling over themselves to tell me he also drives a Volkswagen Passat.

If he's not going to ditch the Jag, I'd rather he came out and said so rather than waffle (as he did to Carol Walker on the BBC yesterday) or have his campaign team brief the media about the Passat anonymously.

I still believe it is inconsistent to say you believe in the "environment, environment, environment" and then own two cars, irrespective of their make and model.

As Ming said on the Today programme yesterday morning "The public now understand that taking steps to deal with climate change is fundamental to our survival" and then later when talking about the conduct of politics in general, "judge people not by what they say, but by what they do."

I firmly believe you can't be the passionate advocate of the environment he claims to be, while owning a vastly fuel inefficient car. It doesn't add up.

And as for my being a Hughes supporter, if you read the question again, you'll see it actually portrayed Chris Huhne in a very positive light - hardly a symbol of a politically motivated attack. The bit you forgot to quote from my blog was the sentence beginning "This question was not, as it may seem, an attempt to play one candidate off another..."

I asked the question because I wanted the answer. 5 days later, I still haven't got one.