by Stephen Tall on January 18, 2006
Three days is a long time in blogging. Having declared last Sunday I wouldn’t be nailing my colours to the mast so early, I’ve changed my mind and made up my mind: Sir Ming Campbell will be getting my first preference vote in the Lib Dem leadership contest.
Here are a few reasons:
- He is our most credible figure, well-known and well-respected within Parliament and with the public. As Andrew Rawnsley said: “The Lib Dems’ problem is their credibility gap. There is a strong case that, for them, an older leader is precisely what they need to convey gravitas.”
- He has the authority and experience to unify the Party which no other candidate can match.
- I like his definition of leadership: “I believe in leading not following; setting goals and objectives; shaping events not being shaped by them; taking responsibility and discharging it; being both candid and confident; neither dictatorial nor prescriptive, but consultative and committed.”
- Because he understands what it is to be a gut liberal: “just as government does not always know best, neither does the council” – this statement worries Lib Dem MP, David Howarth. It reassures me.
- He recognises that the Lib Dems have to take the fight to Gordon Brown’s New Labour. For sure, Mr Cameron’s shiny new Tories pose a threat; but it is Mr Brown who will be Prime Minister at the next election. It is he we have to beat.
- His experience will counterpoise neatly with Cameron’s youth. This will be all the more critical in the lead-up to the next election, when all the talk will be of hung Parliaments and coalitions. “The only project I would embark upon, were I to become leader, is maximisation of the vote and maximisation of the seats.” That’s the correct response; not a hostage to fortune.
- He’s speaking my kind of language on public service reforms: “Local politics must be reborn with new powers for communities to take decisions about their own public services. If that leads to greater innovation and experimentation in the way that public services are organised, all the better. I am determined that the Liberal Democrats should pioneer ways of making public services truly responsive and accountable to the public. Liberalism in this country was founded on opposition to protectionism. But governments can, and must, do what is within their means to help to prepare Britain for a globalised world dominated by new economic powers in Asia and elsewhere. That is why schools and skills must return to the top of our domestic agenda.”
- Nick Clegg is backing him. (Okay, so there are better reasons than this; but there are worse ones too.)
My second preference is still up for grabs, though. (Tip: it’s between Chris and Simon.)