Thursday, January 04, 2018

The Campbell/Clegg pact in the 2006 Lib Dem leadership contest

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Mark Pack's latest Liberal Democrat Newswire (not yet in the newletter's archive) recalls the 2007 leadership election between Nick Clegg and Chris Huhne.

As it reminds us, Huhne might well have won if the pile of postal votes that arrived late had been counted.

Mark describes the two contenders:
The pair had been close friends and fellow MEPs; both were elected to Parliament for the first time in 2005. 
Strains in their friendship had surfaced when Chris Huhne had a tilt at the party leadership in 2006 after Charles Kennedy had stood down; Menzies Campbell had won, while Nick Clegg had sat the contest out. 
A year and a half later, Clegg and Huhne were direct opponents.
Blogging about Sarah Teather, I once recalled the 2006 contest:
At the first hustings ... she and Nick Clegg went everywhere together, apparently both unwilling to let Ming Campbell out of their sight - young cardinals bigging up an elderly candidate for Pope.
As Ming's leadership was not a success and rarely looked like being a success, this showed poor judgement on Nick's part. As I said at the time, he should have stood in that 2006 contest.

That post also reminds us that there was something of a pact between Nick and Ming at the time.

In the midst of the campaign, Ming told the Daily Telegraph that Nick would at some stage be "a very powerful candidate for the leadership".

As I said sternly in that post, "the next-leadership-but-one is not in Ming's gift".

It all seems a long time ago, but history tends to get rewritten if those who were around at the time do not write it down.

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