Lembit gets serious (and announces next Presidency bid)

by Stephen Tall on August 28, 2007

Lembit Öpik, Lib Dem shadow secretary of state for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, has used an interview in the Financial Times to lay out his thinking on his new portfolio – and to confirm he will stand for the presidency of the party when current incumbent Simon Hughes’s term ends next year.

Full story here; here’s the fillet:

Lembit on Lib Dem business policy:

“I think our policies have been reasonably good, and certainly have improved a lot in the last five years.” But he admitted the Lib Dems had a long way to go. “We have a perception problem in the business community for two reasons. Number one, I’ve heard business people say some of our policies are tokenist to them. Number two, I think business hasn’t always thought of us as very important in parliament in terms of our relative influence. I’d like to change?both?of those things.”

Lembit on whether his celebrity undermines his credibility:

“Business doesn’t say that. Only people in the media ask me that?.?.?.?Industry looks at my record in business and what I say in meetings, not who I’m going out with,” he said. “What a grey world it would be if you can’t be an interesting person and?.?.?.?do an important job.” The MP cited his nine years at Procter & Gamble before entering Westminster in 1997, as well as the small aircraft brokerage firm he set up last year, as evidence of his business credentials.

Lembit on his political ambitions:

Mr Opik last week denied he wanted to be Lib Dem candidate for mayor of London, but he does want to advance in his party. Confirming that he intends to run for president when Simon Hughes’s term in office expires next year, Mr Opik said he harboured no ambitions to succeed Sir Menzies. “I’ll leave the leadership for people who want the leadership as much as I want the presidency.”