The die is cast

Scanning Lib Dem Blogs today, it is pleasing that we now seem to have passed the point where we are all boring each other to death ‘bigging up’ our preferred leadership candidates – and found other stuff to talk about! This is largely due to NuLab pushing the self-destruct button once again over party funding. Vince Cable is clearly going to end up being talked about as a potentially great leader we never had. His performance over the last week has been heart-warming to say the least. I applauded his decision to boycott the visit of the Saudi king. PMQs have been worth watching again and the Stalin to Mr Bean transformation will live long in the memory.

Turning to the Huhne-Clegg battle, I cannot help being struck by how fortunate we are to have had such a close choice between two excellent candidates. Some of my fellow bloggers have devoted countless bytes to posts along the lines of ‘candidate a wiped the floor with candidate b’ or ‘it’s a clear choice’. I was half-waiting for ‘only [insert name of preferred candidate] can win here!’ I think ‘it’s a two horse race’ was used by someone.

Nonsense. It was a close fight between the two, and I for one have absolutely no idea who is going to win. I cast my ballot for Huhne – and I am satisfied that he is the man who edges it for me, but only by a few inches. For a more balanced and reasoned view I recommend this post by Cicero.

The sharp-eyed will have noticed that I have had the honour of being selected as the PPC for Wycombe. I look forward to the future with relish because whoever wins the contest will represent a bold step forward for this party – and I would be proud to serve either of them!

Spot the difference

The rise of, increasingly violent Homophobia in Europe — and its neighbourhood — is deeply worrying. It is high on the European Parliament’s agenda following a crucial vote in April to condemn the rising phenomenon. Sadly, only one British Conservative MEP voted for the resolution, the rest present voting against or abstaining. This is in sharp contrast to Liberal Democrat MEPs , all of whom voted for the resolution. Sadly, that solitary Tory was not one of my North West colleagues.With their failure to support a resolution condemning discriminatory remarks by political and religious leaders targeting homosexuals, the Tories have shown their true colours. Tory apathy in the face of rising homophobia should come as no surprise as, today, the Conservative camp is rife with contradiction.Whilst Cameron attempts to paint a glossy image of a gay-friendly party in the UK, he is also desperately trying to get into bed, at European level, with Poland’s openly homophobic ‘Law and Justice’ party. I just hope the British public see Chameleon Cameron for who he really is!!!

Saj Karim, 9 June 2007

David Cameron’s recent speech on immigration was incredibly impressive – sensible, rational and positive, it persuaded me that he is a leader who has changed his party and will change this country.

Saj Karim, 26 November 2007

Hand wringing doesn’t change my view

There’s been a lot of ‘outraged of Libdemland’ blog posts about the ‘calamity’ document. Some have really gone off at the deep end suggesting that some cardinal and unforgivable sin has been committed. Now let’s be quite clear on a couple of things. First off – the title of the document is unacceptable – and I think Chris’s shock on being confronted with it was genuine. That said, who has not taken part in an election campaign during which some over-zealous supporter has overstepped the mark and had to be reigned in? It is unfortunate, but let not the sense of outrage act as a smokescreen to prevent us debating the content!

The Huhne campaign has sought permission to issue the document (minus it’s offensive title), with very good reason. The document is actually already in the public domain (thanks to Guido), and contains a collection of quotes which seem to suggest some inconsistencies which it is fair to ask Nick Clegg to address.

So no, I don’t think Chris Huhne has behaved disgracefully at all. I think he is right to bring these questions out and expect Nick to answer them. And if Nick can find similar inconsistencies in Huhne’s quotes and speeches, he would be equally within his rights to bring them out for discussion too!

And nothing I have seen has changed my view that Huhne gets my vote for leader. We are not the ‘nasty party’ – but neither should we be the ‘too nice to be challenging party’ either!

Why I’m Still Backing Chris – 2

There’s a lot of unfortunate stuff flying around at the moment, because the battle for the Lib Dem leadership is hotting up a little. It needed to! Whilst it is great that our two candidates agree on so much, we do need to pry open the differences between them if we are to make a choice. We do need to be careful, though, that some of the things we say could come back to haunt us if our preferred candidate doesn’t win!

That said, nothing of the two televised debates we have seen has changed my view that Chris Huhne is the stronger of the two candidates. The Question Time performances will, I suspect, have brought many floating voters into the Huhne camp. Although Clegg recovered well, it was clear that Huhne appeared throughout to be comfortable with every question – and with a firm grip on every policy area. The differences are not huge – both are very able – but Clegg sometimes appears to be wrong-footed. Sometimes Clegg can have a tendency to fall back on over-long stories which are not strong enough to back the point he is trying to make. Paxman or Humphries would not afford him that luxury.

A lot has been made of a couple of minor inconsistencies between things which Clegg has appeared to say in the past and his position today. I actually am willing to accept that reporters are not always accurate – and I am willing to also accept that sometimes in politics it is legitimate to change your view slightly. But saying ‘I don’t remember saying x’ is weak – and Dimbleby and others have a tendency to ask such questions armed with the relevant quote. I think Clegg needs to answer such questions more directly – and for his supporters to cry foul when Huhne’s supporters point out these inconsistencies is missing the point. The point is that we are more forgiving than the media or the opposition would be.

I like Nick Clegg, and I would happily serve under his leadership – but I also think Chris Huhne would be even better. And I don’t think trying to open up the differences between the two makes me ‘horrid’. I just want the best for my party.