MatGB has it absolutely spot on about the Liberal Democrats. I’ve argued before that economics is no longer the big ideological chasm it apparently once was. I say apparently, because I am too young to remember such a time.
Not everybody from Labour would like to agree with me. They like to characterise the Lib Dems as right-wing. What’s that supposed to mean any more? In favour of capitalism? Oh no!!
I have also always been greatly amused by the accusation that the Lib Dems inherently lack principles. They’ll often say, “They’ll say one thing in one part of the country, and another thing in a different part.” Did Labour mention the war much in areas with a large Muslim population?
Besides, since when was having a little argument amongst themselves a big problem for either the Conservatives or Labour? They are always at it! I read an interesting comment on Matt T’s blog by somebody called Ross, recalling a joke he once heard:
“All the parties have ideological divisions, Old Labour versus New Labour, Wets versus Dries for the Conservatives and for the Liberal Democrats David versus Jeremy”
Maybe it is just that the Lib Dems now have enough MP’s to develop factional tendancies.
As for the current goings-on in the Lib Dems, it seems like a bigger version of what’s happened a few times before. Although some seem to doubt it, I’m fairly convinced that Menzies Campbell is the biggest stirrer. He’s always banging on about how he wishes he was leader, and his “no comment” comments only slightly give the game away.
I think Menzies Campbell is great. People always point out that he’s too old, but I don’t think it’s a disadvantage for Campbell. Being an old, grey, bald fuddy-duddy like Major, Hague, IDS or Howard is a disadvantage, but I don’t think you can feasibly put Campbell into that bracket.
I think Charles Kennedy is alright, although often he seems to look and sound incredibly tired — when I heard him during PMQs on the radio a couple of weeks ago he sounded absolutely horrendous. The frequent allegations about his drinking reflect badly, although being a raging drunkard never stopped Winston Churchill or Clement Attlee.
I find it amusing that the other parties are trying their best to capitalise on the Lib Dems’ current leadership crisis given that the Conservatives have just come out of one and Labour have been in one since 1994.