Red Card and Red Faces.
Did you see the look of guilt-fuelled panic on the face of Simon Hughes, President of the Lib Dems on Newsnight last night. At least the impressive Vince Cable managed to look innocent - even if he wasn't. Both were desperately trying to persuade us that it was all Ming's own decision to resign. How stupid they must think we are. Kirsty Wark has a job keeping a straight face as she read our their own quotes back to them.
Ming's off. It's been coming, of course, the polls dropping and the spectre of fighting the Tories for the next two years with the old boy up front has scared the willies out of, well, pretty much everyone in the party, with the inevitable result that he's been invited to adjourn to his office with a bottle of mineral water and a pearl-handled organic muesli bar. It's sad, in a way, he's a good bloke with a lot more integrity than the average politician (who would you prefer to be stuck on a desert island with? Him or Hazel Blears? Not a hard question, is it?) but probably inevitable. The best replacement for a drunk Charlie Kennedy was always a sober Charlie Kennedy, after all.
Was age or lack of charisma the reason Ming quit?
I doubt Ming’s age of 66 was the real reason for his resignationimage asimage Lib Dem party leader, more his lack of oomph or charisma, his inability to connect (my favourite word) with voters. It was his greyness of character rather than the colour of his hair that let him down, despite these brave words expressing his determination to prove his critics wrong:
Ming Campbell: a man who has done a lot to take the Liberal Democrats forward
I’m sad to hear that Ming has resigned tonight. As one of his Vice Chairs of the Federal Policy Committee I’ve had the opportunity to work with and get to know him over the last year and a half and have had a chance to see what he has really done for the party.
Is anyone in with a chance besides Clegg & Huhne?
The Betfair market is now open (although bizarrely the opening show featured Danny Alexander but not Kennedy!) and Ed Davey and Steve Webb have just been added to the list. Nick Clegg has got off to an early start as a red-hot favourite at 1.55 with Chris Huhne currently at 5 (4/1 in old money).
The future is not bright for the Lib Dems
If you believe the hype from those that kill it is said that the first time you do it is the hardest, the second time is much much easier. This is certainly true in the political world it seems where Cowley Street became the crime scene of yet another gang land stabbing incident in the capital. There was no hesitation, no mild stab in the stomach causing the victim to slowly bleed to death. No. This time it was a swift injection of steel into the base of the neck driving upwards. Dare I say it was textbook commando stuff?
If Newsnight Doesn't Understand, How Can Anyone Else?
So let me get this right; according to the combination of Newsnight and BBC Ten O'Clock News, Simon Hughes is the representative of the social democratic wing of the party, Nick Clegg is represents both the economic liberal wing and the right wing, and Steve Webb and Chris Huhne represent the left wing. If the telly was mine I'd be throwing things at it...
As well as fighting in Europe for his fabled ‘red lines’, Brown’s hapless troops must play their part to defuse one of Blair’s little Euro time-bombs. As picked up in Mr Unslicker’s weekend roundup below, in his last attendance at the Council of Ministers in March Blair was party to the agreement that the EU would collectively meet a ‘binding’ obligation for 20% of its primary energy needs to be met by ‘renewables’ by 2020.
Labour’s Plans to Gerrymander the next election
Labour MPs are apparently calling on the law to be changed to limit spending between elections. This is because those in marginal seats believe the Conservative Party are spending too much money in marginal seats and this will cost them their places. If this argument was somehow objective, you might be able to give it some credence. But of course it’s not. What Labour MPs are really saying is “we already enjoy a massive advantage, please can we have yet further help”. Consider how the balance of power is balanced between an incumbent Labour MP and his opponent:
Uber and out
Thankfully the Conservative party is finally distancing itself from 'modernisers' and beginning to look like a government in waiting.
After the binge, the hangover
Despite the sniping, Gordon Brown is Labour's best asset and he should get back to the plan of governing solidly.
Towards a principled policy on Labour Party funding?
There are less than two weeks to go before (hopefully) the last meeting of the three main political parties under the aegis of the Hayden Phillips inquiry into how our democracy should be paid for. Issues have become further muddied with a recent £10k increase per annum in allowances payable to sitting members of Parliament to communicate with their constituents.
Grilling for Miliband tomorrow
Some of his colleagues say the Reform Treaty deal has been re-written behind closed doors to ensure [ that the 'red lines' ] are rubbed out within five years. Michael Connarty MP, chairman of the Commons Committee scrutinising the Treaty, says the European Court wants to apply EU law across the board and will not accept a permanent exemption for the UK.
Happy British diplomats
To read newspaper stories of EU bullying and Britain's red lines collapsing you would think that the British delegation to Luxembourg would be in a ferment. Not a bit of it. Britain has hardly entered the debate on the treaty except to endorse it.