It’s for the best, Mark

by Stephen Tall on January 19, 2006

Mark Oaten is due to pull out of the Lib Dem leadership contest today. The writing has been on the wall since it became clear he could rely on only one MP’s support: not so much a big tent, as a portent.

Many Lib Dems, me included, have harboured doubts about his leadership credentials. But it would only be fair to acknowledge that Mark has shown in the last 10 days that he can be an effective spokesman for the Party.

He has appeared comfortable, relaxed, and good-humoured in his countless media interviews, and in his Meet The Challenge hustings speech. He has impressed a number of people – many against their expectations – and he deserves credit for that.

That he was not my, or many others’, first, second or third (or, come to that, fourth) choice to be Leader should not blind us to his obvious talents. He remains a significant figure within the Lib Dems.