It's over: Ming quits

by Stephen Tall on October 15, 2007

Here’s the BBC report. More soon…

6.32 pm… It’s official: Simon Hughes and Vince Cable made the announcement at 6.30 pm. Where was Ming? Did he resign, or was he ‘resigned’?

6.46 pm… This quote from The Guardian:

A friend of Sir Menzies told Guardian Unlimited: “This was a very personal decision taken after much reflection. He has been thinking about the decision ever since Gordon Brown took his decision [not to hold a general election]. That was the moment to think about things, talk to one or two people and weigh up whether he wanted to do this.”

6.50 pm… the statement from Vince and Simon is now up on the party website here.

7.01 pm… Nick Robinson on BBC Radio 5 Live says the announcement came (despite the speculation) completely out of the blue – he had been interviewing likely leadership candidate Nick Clegg for the News at Ten, and he had given Ming his full support.

7.08 pm… Here’s the press coverage so far: BBC.co.uk; The Times; The Guardian; The Daily Telegraph.

7.14 pm… The text of Ming’s resignation letter has just been released by the party, and can be read in full here.

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47 comments

Timely, and hopefully graceful.

by mym on October 15, 2007 at 6:39 pm. Reply #

Oh great – we’re 11% in the polls and now another leadership poll.

I hope the young turks are happy. Why don’t they just join the Tories where they belong?

by Winning Here on October 15, 2007 at 6:41 pm. Reply #

As one of the first people to ask for Ming to stand aside for the good of the party may I be one of the first to thank him for doing the right thing. All the signs are that he understood our concerns. He has shown what a great party man he is.

by John D on October 15, 2007 at 6:44 pm. Reply #

I was writing my post when winning here posted @2. Please lets not get into mudslinging. I am not a young turk being a party member since 73 and in my fifties and calling me a Tory is completely crass. If you want to know who I am go on to the members site.
I do believe that there are some agents provocateurs joining in on here, so can members who want to be controversial please restrict this to the members area.

by John D on October 15, 2007 at 6:50 pm. Reply #

Ming wasn’t up to leading a political party. The ‘young turks’ are more talented and better placed to push the party forward. Whoever suceeds ming needs to develope a fresh approach for us if we are to recover in the polls.

by Yellow Warrior on October 15, 2007 at 6:51 pm. Reply #

It had to happen. We need to make sure that the leadership contest goes well and that whoever wins it is leader for 10 years.

by mindstar on October 15, 2007 at 6:52 pm. Reply #

So, the Big Q:

Nick Clegg?
Chris Huhne?
Simon Hughes?
Steve Webb?
Lynne Featherstone?
Susan Kramer?
or…
Charles Kennedy?

by mindstar on October 15, 2007 at 6:53 pm. Reply #

Winning Here: why do I suspect you’re a Tory ;o)
You heard it from David Laws to George Osbourne – “I’m not a Conservative”

by Grammar Police on October 15, 2007 at 6:54 pm. Reply #

Good for Ming that he acted swiftly at the end; but I worry that the media now has it in their gift to end the career of our next leader whenever they fancy it. Good luck to whoever she or he is, and I hope the headless chickens in the party will be critical friends to them rather than backstabbing briefers.

Some small amusement when News 24 completely messed up their live transmission of Simon and Vince’s statement from Cowley St, showing it in blurry black and white that constantly broke up into digital artefacts (or Lego bricks if you prefer). They ‘repeated’ it in colour a few minutes later, without even an apology!

by Alex Wilcock on October 15, 2007 at 6:55 pm. Reply #

On the bright side, at least MPs and the great and good aren’t rushing to tell us poor bloody infantry who to vote for this time. Shirley Williams, first Parliamentarian to be asked on News 24, said “I’m not that stupid” (unaccountably omitting the word “again”).

by Alex Wilcock on October 15, 2007 at 6:56 pm. Reply #

Could we perhaps have a period of quiet reflection about what has happened before indulging in recriminations/triumphalism?

by tony hill on October 15, 2007 at 6:57 pm. Reply #

…and Sky couldn’t make it there at all!

Ming has done the right thing for the party as he has always done. He can be rightly proud of his contribution to the Lib Dems and the country.

by Ross on October 15, 2007 at 6:58 pm. Reply #

“…Winning Here Says:
October 15th, 2007 at 6:41 pm
Oh great – we’re 11% in the polls and now another leadership poll.

I hope the young turks are happy. Why don’t they just join the Tories where they belong?…”

Here, here! My meb. No. is 7286783

I hope they’ll be happy when we’re stuffed out of sight at the next election!

by James on October 15, 2007 at 6:59 pm. Reply #

Will be have to keep voting until we get it right?

by nigelashton on October 15, 2007 at 7:03 pm. Reply #

Heh …Simon Hughes sounded like he was giving an obituary on TV just now …..

Best thing for the party

by Tankus on October 15, 2007 at 7:08 pm. Reply #

As a Northern Tory, can I say I’m delighted… let’s see if we can get you under 10% eh?

by Tory on October 15, 2007 at 7:08 pm. Reply #

Remember if you want to talk without the other parties being able to cut and paste what you write and avoid trying to workout which ones are the trolls please visit the forum.

by Ryan Cullen on October 15, 2007 at 7:09 pm. Reply #

So the vultures in the media have their pound of flesh. It no longer mattered whether Ming was doing a good job or not. But if the easiest story that can be written about you is about your age, then that is the story that will be written, whatever you say.

It is wrong, it is about spin over substance, it undermines democracy, it really ought to be fought against. But we have to pick our battles carefully.

Ming, by making this sacrifice, has shown, yet again, that he is a man of substance, character and judgement. Thanks very much.

by Joe Otten on October 15, 2007 at 7:12 pm. Reply #

Ming has always been a real liberal, everything he has said and done as Leader has shown that.

He was in many ways the right man at the wrong time. I was one of a number of people who repeatedly tried to convince Ming to stand in 1999 when Paddy resigned. However, last year I didn’t vote for him, not because my view of his abilities had changed but because the times had changed.

It’s sad that British politics has been reduced to little more than stardust and sound bites but that doesn’t make it less true. The modern party political leader needs to be fit for the media age, and sadly Ming just didn’t have the right image for the iPod generation.

It’s sad, sad for Ming, sad for the party and sad for politics. It’s time to pay tribute to a great liberal and good man and move on.

Still, as the old cliche says ‘nothing so became him as the manner of his parting…’

by Charles Anglin on October 15, 2007 at 7:12 pm. Reply #

I hold Nick Clegg, Chris Huhne and Simon Hughes fully responsible for Sir Ming’s departure. They have brought shame on your party and from this moment on should officially be known as the Rat Pack.

by UK Daily Pundit on October 15, 2007 at 7:13 pm. Reply #

“But if the easiest story that can be written about you is about your age, then that is the story that will be written, whatever you say”.

Sad, but true. And, of course, there is a similar argument – a killer argument – against Charles Kennedy, whatever his qualities, ever becoming Leader again. There would only ever be one story about him: the obvious one, which the media would pursue mercilessly.

by HG on October 15, 2007 at 7:18 pm. Reply #

His rampant alcoholism, you mean?

by Labour on October 15, 2007 at 7:28 pm. Reply #

Simon Hughes (at least) should have been tendering his own resignation at the same time.

by Hywel Morgan on October 15, 2007 at 7:29 pm. Reply #

Well done Sir Ming great man, good decision.
I also agree with Hywel about el presidente Hughes.

by Chris on October 15, 2007 at 7:40 pm. Reply #

have you noticed that the media have already moved on to their next “bashtheLibs” theme :

“did you wield the dagger???”

by crewegwyn on October 15, 2007 at 7:47 pm. Reply #

Well it sounds as if they did. The letter is short and damning. He might as well have put F off at the end. One thing’s for sure, to see who the next leader is, look at who Lembit is not supporting. And yes Hughes should resign over this – he’s tried to do this out of selfishness.

by oxfordeaster on October 15, 2007 at 7:55 pm. Reply #

Just been over to Conservativehome – responses there split between:

a) how sad, he was a man of principle even though I don’t share his politics

b) oh no! damn! that’s blown it! watch out, Huhne/Clegg/Laws would be bad news for us

Let those who have ears to hear . . .

by crewegwyn on October 15, 2007 at 7:55 pm. Reply #

@26 Simon Hughes?

Surely he won’t stand? I imagine he would be hammered!

by crewegwyn on October 15, 2007 at 7:59 pm. Reply #

“did you wield the dagger???”

To which the answer should be “No, you did!”

by Richard Gadsden on October 15, 2007 at 8:08 pm. Reply #

First of all, I think we should thank Ming for his service as leader. I didn’t vote for him last year, but I recognise that he had a clear democratic mandate from the party and he could (and in my view should) have continued until the next general election. He knew when he took over that the next election could have been more than four years away, so I am slightly surprised that he has decided to give up now.
But I think his going does mean we can have a fresh start and Ming deserves credit for recognising that and avoiding the months of prolonged speculation about his own future which some people in the party were stirring up.

by Bernard Salmon on October 15, 2007 at 8:09 pm. Reply #

A very sad day for British politics. Ming was the right man for the job, and continues to be so even now.

In the end, the media made it impossible for Ming to continue as leader. Who can blame him for calling it a day?

Who are the winners? Well, the media, of course. And their paymasters: Murdoch and his friends in the US military industrial petro-chemical complex. The same people who selected Blair and Cameron to look after their interests in the 51st State (or dependent territory, to be more accurate – no Constitutional rights for us Limeys).

What happens next? Well, I guess Frank Luntz will be brought in to ensure that the candidate favoured by Washington gets it. You wait and see.

I hope we get this latest leadership election over and done with as soon as reasonably possible. And when the new leader is duly elected, I trust we all give him or her our wholehearted support. No more sniping on Lib Dem Voice.

Oh, and please let’s give Ming back his old Foreign Affairs brief.

(By the way, Ming is younger than Mr Rupert Murdoch.)

by Angus Huck on October 15, 2007 at 8:30 pm. Reply #

Grr, just as I was considering getting more active in the party, the only leader on British politics with any common sense has gone. And, worse still, the Lib Dems are starting to sound uncannily like the Tories and the Labour party in the backbiting and lack of restraint that they show.

I can’t believe that people within the Lib Dems can’t see beyong recent poxy poll results and end up decapitating a true and respected liberal from the chance of standing in an election. Well, this mess consigns me back to spoiling my ballot for the foreseeable future – the Lib Dems really have lost a great deal of creditbility in this debacle.

by Steven Allen on October 15, 2007 at 8:38 pm. Reply #

What about Julia Goldsworthy?

by Sid Chambers on October 15, 2007 at 8:57 pm. Reply #

“A right shower of people who were stirring it behind his back. I think it’s despicable.” – Mike Hancock, speaking to BBC News24.

by UK Daily Pundit on October 15, 2007 at 9:05 pm. Reply #

“Winning Here” in number 2 must be a Tory himself, wishing that the “Young Turks” would join the Tories. It wasn’t the “Young Turks” who wielded the knife. Simon Hughes isn’t a Young Turk.

by Matt D on October 15, 2007 at 9:30 pm. Reply #

Does Sir Menses know he’s resigned? Has anyone told the old fool?

by Men's Ease Campbell Fan on October 15, 2007 at 9:49 pm. Reply #

@ Angus Huck:

In the end, the media made it impossible for Ming to continue as leader.

LOL! Bollocks. Sir Menses’ mediocrity made it impossible for the silly old bugger to continue as leader.

by Men's Ease Campbell Fan on October 15, 2007 at 9:54 pm. Reply #

@ Steven Allen:

Well, this mess consigns me back to spoiling my ballot for the foreseeable future

So you’re going to carry on voting LibDhimm then?

by Men's Ease Campbell Fan on October 15, 2007 at 9:56 pm. Reply #

Ming is a decent man who has always carried himself with dignity .He was clearly pushed. I have no time for those who gloat.
I suppose those who did the pushing want us to ape the Tories. Much good it seems to have done Labour.
We need an authentic voice not a pretty face.

by ali on October 15, 2007 at 10:17 pm. Reply #

I think lots of people are getting over dramatic on here, no doubt egged on by our opponents.
There is no dagger, it is as simple as that. It was the polls that did it. I suppose if I am bitter, it would be the so-called right-on satirists, the comedians and cartoonists who would not dream of lampooning someone for their colour or sexuality, but somehow age is fair game. Some of the reporters as well, always chipping in with a question at the end about Ming’s age, regardless of it being irrelevent to the subject they are discussing.
There is no question that anyone in the Parliamentary party was disloyal. As has been made clear by Ming, it was his own decision.

by Geoffrey Payne on October 15, 2007 at 10:20 pm. Reply #

Big Mak, you are dimmer than I thought. You totally misunderstood what I wrote.

Rupert Murdoch owns 40% of the print media in the UK. The media (much of it owned by Murdoch) forced Ming from office. Their chief argument against Ming was his age.

Is it not therefore hypocritical for a 76 year-old man who has a full-time and very high-powered job to say that a 66 year-old man is too old to lead a political party?

Make no mistake as to why the media deposed Ming. It is because of Ming’s opposition to the Iraq war and his refusal to be a stooge of the US military industrial petro-chemical complex.

Whoever gets Cheney’s approval will be promoted by Frank Luntz on Newsnight in a month’s time. Just you wait and see. The candidate who “wins” Luntz’s focus group definitely does NOT get my vote!

by Angus Huck on October 15, 2007 at 11:49 pm. Reply #

Lembit, Mike German and now Ming.

Does this mean Nicol Stephen will shortly be next?

by Just asking on October 16, 2007 at 12:35 am. Reply #

Angus tell you what I going to bed, if you have another half she is such a lucky lady, just whisper “US military industrial petro-chemical complex” and any women would be putty in your hands.
Goodnight you smooth talker you.

by Big Mak on October 16, 2007 at 12:48 am. Reply #

I think Ming’s done us all a big favour – for whatever reason he has stood down – the change of circumstances with no election opened the door and this site has seen a huge amount of debate about the leadership in the last week.

We had the prospect of that continuing through a general election and then Ming would have gone more or less straight after.

Now we have the chance to draw a line and move forward.

Who knows who we will choose – but this is really the chance for a new leader and now much of the dust has settled from the end to Charles Kennedy’s leadership.

Last time many people reacted to Charles’ untimely departure and voted for ‘safety first’ and elected Ming as a kind of interim leader.

Now lets ensure there is a proper policy debate and let the best candidate win. we have the time and there are going to be choices.

And lets not get led by the Press, but choose someone who will lead.

by Paul L on October 16, 2007 at 1:11 am. Reply #

Paul L I 100% agree!

by Big Mak on October 16, 2007 at 9:24 am. Reply #

Big Mak, it was President Eisenhower who spoke aout the military industrial complex and the threat it posed to American democracy and world peace.

I would have thought a fount of wisdom like yourself would have known that.

by Angus Huck on October 16, 2007 at 9:25 am. Reply #

Angus it was Martin Luther King that said “I have a dream” mine is that you get a life, get a grip and hopefully leave those of us that have now moved on post Ming to get on with saving the party. You shuffle off and read some nice quotes, you interesting man you!

by Big Mak on October 16, 2007 at 10:16 pm. Reply #

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