Sunday, October 19, 2008

Has the Shropshire Star driven Lembit Opik mad?

Before I went away I posted about a Shropshire Star story suggesting that
The Liberal Democrats’ unofficial campaign to stop Montgomeryshire MP Lembit Opik from becoming party president appears to have succeeded.
While I was away (in Shropshire, as it happens) Liberal Democrat Voice reprinted a press release from Lembit's presidential campaign issued a press release that began:


Lembit Öpik MP has hit out at the negative campaign allegedly being waged against him by asking the Liberal Democrat membership to ‘change up a gear towards Government’ by backing him for President.

The Shropshire Star story, when you read it in full, amounts to no more than the observation that only six Lib Dem MPs have endorsed Lembit's campaign. As his colleagues are presumably the people who know Lembit best, this may give us pause for thought. But the Star story offers no evidence of a concerted negative campaign against him, let alone a conspiracy.

Neither does Lembit's press release offer evidence for the conspiracy it alleges. Nor does a comment on the Lib Dem Voice posting by Lembit's "campaign spokesman" (and my old Liberator colleague) Richard Clein..

I think Lembit's campaign is struggling for two reasons, beyond the more effective campaign being fought by Ros Scott.

The first is that he has convinced himself that, because he lost to Simon Hughes in the same contest four years ago, it is his turn now. It happens that I endorsed and voted for Lembit in that contest, but the political situation has moved on and having been runner up four years ago is no entitlement to the party presidency today. It also smacks of the idea that the presidency is something to be divvied up between our MPs, and I do not agree with that view.

Lembit's other problem is that, having seen Charles Kennedy make it to the party leadership via the chat show circuit, he has set out to advance his career in a similar fashion. The trouble is that he has done it in such a ham-fisted fashion that he has put up the back of many Lib Dem members.

At least, he may have done so. As I said in reply to the Shropshire Star's claim that Ros is the favourite to win this election, none of us really know who is going to win.

Still, it is good to see my favourite newspaper making the political weather inside the Liberal Democrats.


Ed said...

I think the explanation is more straight forward than the two reasons you suggest. Lembit has spent four years making himself into a joke as a result of his own bad judgement and many of us do not want him to do the same for the party.

Anonymous said...

Lembit Opik is one arrogant fool of a man and he truly thinks the presidency is his due. There's no way this idiot should be let anywhere near a role of credibility
and gravitas. The backing Ros comments on her website echo the word "judgement" time and time again. Now I wonder why that should be?! LO is fooling nobody when he tries to claim that his high profile is a desirable commodity. There IS such a thing as bad publicity and he sure has the upper hand when it comes to that. He's a joke.