Chris Huhne could really pull it off

I’ve been accused of some things in my time, but never before of faking YouGov figures (see comments to previous post). But I must admit that it’s fun to lurk on politicalbetting.com and see the punters getting into a lather trying to work out how Lib Dems think.More indicative, I think is the survey in The Times today of Lib Dems coming away from a hustings which puts Huhne in first place. Of course it’s a small sample, but it backs up what I’ve said all along – that when people hear and see Chris for themselves it’s easy to see why he would be the best choice. The only question remains is how many people will see and hear him before the post their ballot back.

I think this week’s Question Time special will be the decider for many.

Seven days to save the party

Much has been written about the three candidates for the leadership of the Liberal Democrats. Today the ballot papers will be despatched to the 73,000 members. Although there’s over three weeks to get them sent back, most people who are going to vote will send them back almost immediately. I have a feeling that this contest is still wide open, but time is fast running out to persuade people who to vote for and why. The outcome will decide the future direction and profile for the Lib Dems through some difficult times ahead.
Why difficult times ahead? Well, not for any of the reasons that the tabloids would have us believe, that’s for certain. You average voter will have forgotten about the recent scandals quite soon, how many voters are still talking about Ron Davies or Stephen Milligan? No, the difficult times ahead stem more from the resurgeance of the Tories who’ve finally started to get their act together under the Eton boy. Unchecked they will be allowed to reinvent their image at just the right time to take advantage of the implosion of the Blair project and the undemocratic coronation of Gordon Brown.
If we don’t sort ourselves out we will get squeezed by a tidal wave of voters backing the Tories to get rid of tired Labour. We must not allow this to happen. Our message is distinct and different. We have so much to offer that is not on the agenda of either Labour or the Tories. But we have to work three times harder to make ourselves heard.
We must choose a leader who can boldly articulate our visions. Someone who is not afraid to put the environment at the top of the agenda. Someone who can make the case for difficult economic choices with authority and conviction. Someone who will be seen, not as the bridge to the future, but the man of today. That man is Chris Huhne. You know it makes sense.

Reflecting Britain

After much soul searching, I decided that, on balance, I should support the initiative. I do believe in the importance of getting more people into government from all sections of our society. I think the Reflecting Britain initiative is a genuine attempt to focus more attention on our failure to get more female and ethnic minority candidates – and for that reason I applaud it. But I would also like to see the campaign focus on why we fail to attract more grass roots activists from ethnic minority backgrounds, for it is from the local activists that the politicians of the future must emerge. I also remain opposed to ‘positive descrimination’ and will resist any moves to use positive descrimination as a ‘quick fix’.

Sour Grapes

It seems that we have someone who thinks that whispering to the press (see Times articles here and here) is a way of influencing the leadership contest. Our loose-tongued friend alleges that Chris Huhne agreed with Ming not to stand against him. This is true, but Huhne asked Campbell if he could be released from that agreement. Campbell said yes – fair enough. Then our jealous one whispered that Huhne had ‘only just become an environmentalist’. Please, put your claws away. Had you wanted to stand for the leadership, you should have done so. Sniping at someone else who had the guts just sounds like sour grapes.History has shown again and again that the electorate punishes any party that seems unable to unite itself. I for one called for and welcome a genuine leadership contest. I will serve whoever is democratically elected without question. It would be wise for all concerned to remember that by the time we get to Harrogate, we will all need to unite behind our new leader – whoever he is – if we are to get on with the real job of winning over the voters.

Bite the Capsule

It seems we are witnessing the beginning of the end of the New Labour project. Tony Blair always knew there were rebels in his ranks – but it is clear from last night’s defeats that he has no idea of the scale. Charles Clarke accuses those who defeated the government of political point scoring. He’s wrong, the Lords did their job of amending poorly drafted unenforceable legislation – and the house agreed. But his comments point to the control freak mentality of a government that believes anyone who has the temerity to disagree must be wrong. The sheer arrogance of a Prime Minister who doesn’t even bother to stay for the second vote – and then sees his colleagues lose by one vote – will upset many of those loyalists who voted for the government line last night.And yet more controversial Blairite legislation is in the pipeline, and still Thatcher-with-Trousers won’t listen. I predict more defeats in 2006. Blair’s reputation can only deteriorate further. Just like Thatcher, he will not turn as he heads for the abyss.

The late Tony Banks once offered Paddy Ashdown some advice which turned out to be somewhat premature. I offer it instead to Tony Blair: ‘Go on – bite the capsule’