Monday, August 28, 2006

In defence of the Bright Young Things

Rob Fenwick has a posting looking at the weekend's press speculation ahead of the publication of Greg Hurst's biography of Charles Kennedy.

The most substantial of the stories he mentions is that in the Sunday Times. There, Isabel Oakeshott writes:
There has been widespread speculation that Campbell, the current Liberal Democrat leader, will be portrayed as a traitor who helped to engineer Kennedy’s downfall in an attempt to secure the top job himself.

Some critics of Campbell claim that he had a secret health check, just weeks before Kennedy’s alcohol problem was exposed, to confirm that he was fit to run as leader.

However, insiders say that it is not Campbell but the party’s bright young MPs who will be most negatively portrayed in the book.
I am puzzled at the logic behind this. According to the reports, Hurst will claim that Charles Kennedy was frequently unable to function as leader because of drink. If this was the case then it is hard to see what choice these "bright young MPs" or anyone else had: it was clear that he could not continue as leader.

As I said in Liberal Democrat News back in January:
Far from being disloyal, I think that when Lib Dem MPs look back on this episode they will feel that the root of the trouble was that they were too loyal for too long.
Looking ahead to Brighton, there is a lot to be said for Rob's view:
I think it was a mistake for Charles to give this speech at conference - already being dubbed the “shadow leader’s speech”. It invites a direct comparison between him and Campbell, dramatically upping the odds for Ming, and re-opening old wounds for MPs and activists alike.

1 comment:

Joe Otten said...

Was this the secret health check that was reported on the BBC at the time?

When I am party leader nobody will be allowed health checks!