Sunday, February 05, 2006

Don't do that thing, Ming

Yesterday's Daily Telegraph had an interview with Sir Menzies Campbell. As the accompanying news report says:
The Liberal Democrat leadership contest takes a new twist today, with the front-runner, Sir Menzies Campbell, effectively anointing Nick Clegg as his successor. In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, the acting party leader says that 39-year-old Mr Clegg - seen by some as the Lib Dem answer to David Cameron - will at some stage be "a very powerful candidate for the leadership".
It happens that I agree that Nick Clegg will make "a very powerful candidate for the leadership". He would have made a very powerful candidate this time. He should have stood. If he had I might well have voted for him.

But the next-leadership-but-one is not in Ming's gift. By hinting that he believes it is, he is doing neither his campaign nor Nick Clegg's reputation any favours.


Anonymous said...


The very people who complained that CK wasn't driving the party forwards now seem content to have a leader who talks as if he'd like to serve a few years until his retirement (almost as a badge of honour) before handing over to their annointed one - who they presumably reckoned wouldn't be a suitable "Stop Simon" candidate now.

Peter Pigeon said...

Everyone agrees that Clegg is likely to be a strong candidate for the leadership next time around. Where's the beef? Huhne will also be a much stronger candidate next time around. Ming sounds amibitious for the party now.

And the "I will not be a bridge to the future line" from Huhne sounds ill-judged to me.

Stephen Glenn said...

I agree with you Jonathan, Nick Clegg would have been a very strong candidate this time, if he had stood. I did actually get a bit of an insight into why he didn't when he came up to Dunfermline.

However, I don't think anyone in our party has the right to annoint a sucessor. Ming thought he had the right to a coronation until first Mark, then Simon and Chris announced that they would definitely stand against him. I'm against any short of cabal forming up that would see it as their right for one, no that just a chosen one, of their number should be annoited in succession of a previous leader.

Stephen Tall said...

Erm, before we all get hot-and-bothered about this quote, can we at least take into account that it appeared in the Telegraph - and that it's just possible they may have some interest in spinning a story they think may sow discord among Lib Dems...

Anonymous said...

Not only does he not have the right to anoint his successor, but he does not have the powers to.

Enlightened self-interest is the well spring of liberal democracy.

Anonymous said...

In the early days of the leadership contest, I was inclined to vote for Ming, calling it the 'Ming plus young cardinals' vote. But then one of the young cardinals had the conviction and fight to actually stand themselves, and even though I disagreed with some of his policy points, I immediately switched my support. This party needs to be led by someone with the ambition to become PM.
Anyone with half a brain who's been following this contest has known from the start that a vote for Ming was always going to be a vote for 'Ming plus an early Nick-or-Chris ballot.'
Now that Chris is standing, why vote for the interim option when you can go direct to the next generation and the future of this Party today? It's a shame Nick didn't have the grit to stand this time round, but that's politics.

Anonymous said...

Stephen Glenn, I didn't interpret the interview as Campbell was appointing a sucessor. The article doesn't tell, what was the question Ming was answering to, but probably the intreviewer was directly asking Ming's view about the future possibilities of Clegg to become the leader. So as Ming's words are out of the context, we can't tell what was his purpose, or did he have any, when he estimated that Clegg would have good chances to become leader in future.

Matthew of Sunny Swindon said...

This whole episode smells a bit like vote Blair, get Brown ~ it's a joke quote and not one I would have thought Ming should have offered up.

And seeing as Ming is a wise old fox who chooses his words carefully, it just makes me fear that the whole troup of new "wannabee important MPs" are backing Ming to take us through the 2009 election, principally because they know he will only go and stand down for a young pretender to challenge in 2013.

My vote goes to the candidate who wants to be PM after the 2009 election.

Paul Linford said...

Spot on. Campbell's main campaign pitch appears to be: "Vote for me and you'll get Nick Clegg in 2010."
The Lib Dems need leadership now, not in four years' time!