Idle chatter from an occasional dissident

Criticising Ming Campbell is, in his words "Idle chatter from an occasional dissident". If only it were true.

I, like many others, tempered my criticism of Ming in the run up to the phoney election because we knew that speaking out loud on this issue would affect the party. Now, with the phoney election out of the way, we need to return to the issue at hand, and that is whether Ming Campbell is the best person to lead us in to the general election in 18 months time.

if we are saying that he is, then what does it say about the Liberal Democrats as a party. We have a leader who had great qualities, but does not command the respect of the public, is seen as ineffective, and lacks the political sense to be able to judge the country's and party's mood on the Euro reform treaty, working with Labour and a host of other issues.

Are we really that short of talent that we don't have anyone better ? For that is what the Ming supporters are saying. We have nobody better able to lead the party in to an election.

If they are correct, if Ming's supporters are right, then we ought to seriously consider the way we vet our candidates and re-evaluate the way the party recruits because we must, absolutely must, ensure we have MP's who can command public respect, are politically savvy, but most importantly, are able to inspire the general public, and it is this area that Ming sadly fails in.

Ming today claimed that speculation surrounding him is " idle chatter from an occasional dissident", but the problem is that we have fewer and fewer dissidents because most people, unlike me, are reacting to Ming by turning their affections to another political party. They don't speak out against Ming because the 5% frop in the party's support in the polls means that they are speaking highliy of the new party they support, not harking back to the Lib Dems.

I know, I will get lots of abuse and I will, like last time have some very literate big wig in the party write a fully researched piece of text that points out that I am wrong in every part of what I have said. However, do the opinion polls really tell us lies ? Were the Scottish and Welsh elections really wrong ? Were the local elections proof enough ?

Anyone who argues that the Tories failed to improve their position because they replaced Duncan-Smith with Howard was obviously not involved in fighting the Tories at the last election. IDS was, like Ming, respected and well liked. On a personal level people tell me too that is a real gentleman. However, the Tories knew he was leading them to a worse defeat than in 2001, so they acted.

For all the Lib Dem success at the last general election, we should remember we only won 62 seats. If we fail to do better than that, and the polls and recent elections suggest we won't, then we need a leader in charge now who can improve our position.

Some in the Liberal Democrats may want the press to go away and stop running stories about Ming, but the fact that Ming has had to launch yet another comeback and we are still struggling in the polls shows the press are not simply making things up. there is a problem, there is a boil, but nobody has the guts to lance it for fear of the pain.


Anonymous said...

Fewer and fewer dissidents.

Norfolk Blogger said...

As I wrote yesterday, I am more tabloid than broadsheet.

I have ammended my post to use "corret" English. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I think you have raised some valuable points ... but I do strongly feel that this is a private discussion that should perhaps not be out in the public arena!

Personally I am discussing this in the Lib Dem Voice Forum.

jailhouselawyer said...

Are the LibDems ever going to be in a position to win a General Election or simply always going to come in a poor third?

I think that Nick Clegg has the qualities for the next LibDem leader.

My quarrel with the LibDems leadership is the U Turn on supporting convicted prisoners to get the vote. The LibDems supported this under Charles Kennedy and Mark Oaten. Then came the scandals and Nick Clegg and Ming Campbell changed things. Prisoners became sacrificial lambs and their human rights to the franchise ignored as the LibDems attempted to gain more public popularity.

The ECtHR said at the time that it was not a popular cause. Still, that is no reason for all 3 main parties to unite on this issue and deny us of any opposition whatsoever.

There is a boil here too and none of the parties have the courage to lance it. I will say it, it also means that all 3 main parties are closer to the BNP on this issue than any party claiming to favour democracy.

Paul Walter said...

Very well written Nich. You weren't describing me as a "big wig" were you by any chance? I have no wigs currently. ;-)

Antony said...

This is a brave article Nich and you should be congratulated on it. I notice from an ICM poll of LibDem marginal seats that 45% of voters who voted LD in 05 have now defected to other parties. If that doesn't stir Clegg, Huhne or Davey then nothing will.

Liberal in Cornwall said...

Ming has got to go, and go now, and go quietly, before an avalanche is created. Dissent and embarassed support is fading into that landslide of failure. One of the young ones has to take the throne.

Manfarang said...


Anonymous said...

No, keep him!

stuart said...

No, Anonymous, we shouldn't be discussing this in private. Why? Because Ming has demonstrated that he is unwilling to listen. These calls will get louder and louder until he goes. Does he really want that? Is his pride more important to him that stopping the party from ripping itself apart?

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with all of that. Steve Webb for leader!