The Liberal Democrats are pretty much the only political party I would consider voting for (well, I voted for everyone by Labour in the local elections in May because I was feeling particularly anti-Labour at the time, but you know what I mean). So the change in leadership is of interest to me.
In years gone by I would have described myself as a supporter of the Lib Dems. I guess I still am. But I’ve not been quite as enthused over the past year or so.
I’m not exactly sure what this is down to. Menzies Campbell’s time as leader of the federal party? Nicol Stephen’s rather rudderless leadership of the Scottish Lib Dems? My increasingly apathetic stance towards party politics? A bit of all three I guess. It will be interesting to see if Nick Clegg can get me to sit up.
The leadership campaign has yet again highlighted the dire nature of political discourse at the moment.
I have already seen two people interpreting the close result as evidence that the Lib Dems are deeply divided. The result was indeed impressively close, but I don’t see what that has to do with anything. Any leadership election that doesn’t see one candidate getting 100% of the votes is evidence of a divided party. It doesn’t mean anything.
All of the parties have well known divisions anyway. Blairites and Brownites in Labour, Eurosceptics in the Conservatives, gradualists and fundamentalists in the SNP. You wouldn’t expect anything else. No doubt a truly undivided party would soon enough find itself being criticised for being filled with flip-flopping robotic career politicians.
The alternative to having a leadership election is to have a coronation. In that case, everyone would throw stones at the Lib Dems for not having a leadership election. Plus, from what I gather, Nick Clegg and Chris Huhne are actually rather similar ideologically. On this basis, you’d expect a close election.
Also, the bad side of the media is never too far away when it comes to the Lib Dems. There is an interesting post at The Yorksher Gob (via MatGB) on why it was a mistake to elect Nick Clegg. He was the media’s favourite, which means they can’t wait to crucify him.
It wouldn’t surprise me if some of those predictions come to fruition. The media has an agenda against the Liberal Democrats for some reason — probably because having a third party just makes issues so damn difficult to simplify everything into their favoured ‘he says’, ‘she says’ format.
They spent years disseminating innuendos and speculations about Charles Kennedy’s drink problem. Then when the Lib Dems finally got rid of him? All of a sudden Charles Kennedy was the best leader since sliced bread, his colleagues knifed him in the back, the Lib Dems were the nasty party.
Before he became Lib Dem leader, Menzies Campbell was a well-respected ‘elder statesman’ figure. When he became leader? He was a dithering old pensioner who was practically unable to string a sentence together. Oh, and when they got rid of him on the back of relentless media criticism, once again the Lib Dems were the nasty party, unfaithful and disloyal.
It makes me despair. Tony Blair can dangerously erode our civil liberties and engage in an illegal, unjustified war that kills tens of thousands. Yet how is he presented by the media? Magical untouchable Teflon Tony! Meanwhile, Menzies Campbell was hounded out for being old.