Monday, April 07, 2008

Chris Huhne shows true leadership qualities

From the Southern Daily Echo:

Eastleigh MP Chris Huhne has said he stands by the result of the Lib Dem leadership election despite reports uncounted votes would have made him winner.

Mr Huhne, pictured above, lost the race to Nick Clegg by just 511 votes cast by more than 41,000 party members in one of the closest contests in political history.

It was claimed yesterday that he would have won had about 1,300 postal votes not got caught up in the Christmas post and missed the deadline.

Reports said an unofficial check of the late papers showed Mr Huhne had enough votes among them to hand him victory.

Chris has done well to knock the story on the head - it is tempting to say that he is showing the qualites of a true leader - but it is hard to avoid a little speculation.

Today Stephen Tall poured scorn on the idea that those uncounted papers might have brough Chris Huhne victory:

For sure, the gap between Nick and Chris was a wafer-thin 511. But for the result to have been overturned by ballot papers received after the closing date would mean that Chris would have had to have picked up 70% to Nick’s 30% of the final 1,300 ballot papers. Given how close both candidates were running throughout the contest, this stretches credulity.
I do not think it does stretch it that far. As I recall, it was clear that the momentum was with Chris Huhne during the latter stages of the leadership campaign. So much so that Jeremy Hargreaves, one of Nick Clegg's most enthusiastic supporters in the Lib Dem blogosphere, wrote this when the result was announced:
I am of course delighted that Nick Clegg has won the race to be our next Leader - obviously I’d rather it hadn’t been quite so close (if the contest had lasted another week, I think it’s pretty clear that Chris would have won it).
I remember being tempted at the time to post a comment on Jeremy's blog saying that we must hope the next general election campaign does not go on too long.

The truth, I suspect, is that no one would have mentioned those uncounted ballot papers if Nick had made a surer start to his leadership of the Liberal Democrats. If he can raise his game, we shall not hear of them again.

I don't suppose Nick wants my advice, but that won't stop me. May I suggest that he tries not to sack any more of his most effective front-bench spokesmen and avoids boasting about his sex life in future?


Stephen Tall said...

Momentum, yes - but by more than 2:1, I strongly doubt. And if Chris's team thought it would make all the difference, I suspect their protests would have been stronger. Don't disagree with the rest of your analysis, though.

Anonymous said...

What good does all this speculation do?

Matthew Huntbach said...

As someone who made a lot of noise in favour of a Huhne vote in the leadership election, I said afterwards that I would take the approach "If you can't say anything positive, say nothing at all".

I have said nothing at all on the party's leader since the results were announced.