Vince on Ming’s leadership: “under discussion, not under threat”

by Stephen Tall on October 15, 2007

Vince Cable, the Lib Dems’ deputy leader, has had this to say to the BBC about the future of Ming Campbell’s leadership:

“It’s certainly under discussion. But I don’t think it’s under threat and I think the key point for all our activists and MPs and lords is that we shouldn’t panic in what is a very volatile political environment.”

He added: “I remember in the middle of our party conference, which was only a few weeks ago, our leader was being shown in some polls to be more popular than David Cameron. Brown was ruling the roost: he was the hero of the hour – he’s now the ‘zero’. I mean, in this kind of extremely turbulent, volatile environment it is absolutely foolish to rush into decisions with major long-term implications.”

I imagine Vince hoped his statement would be seen as supportive. And he’s right that decisions taken hastily can turn out disastrously.

But his position strikes me as dangerous and wrong, because what the party absolutely cannot afford to happen is months of leadership speculation with no resolution in sight. There could be nothing more demoralising for party activists and members, nothing more undignified for the party, nothing more of a turn-off for the British public, and nothing more unfair to Ming after long and devoted service to the party.

The long, slow death by a thousand off-the-record briefings inflicted on Charles Kennedy in the months leading up to his resignation was a low point in this party’s history. Few of our Parliamentarians covered themselves in glory: loose lips sunk a lot of Lib Dem ships during that time.

In a way, Vince is right: I wish there were more time to consider the major long-term implications. I am not someone who is convinced a change of leader is a panacea (more of a placebo). But with each passing day of uncertainty Ming’s credibility suffers. Decision day cannot be put off indefinitely, as Gordon Brown recently found out to his cost.

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8 comments

“what the party absolutely cannot afford to happen is months of leadership speculation with no resolution in sight”

That’s precisely what we *have* had every day since Ming was elected. The sooner he goes the better.

by mym on October 15, 2007 at 3:42 pm. Reply #

Last night, I dreamt that Ming stood down.

by Laurence Boyce on October 15, 2007 at 3:54 pm. Reply #

Unlike Simon (sometimes), Vince is a man who chooses his words with very great care.

So what does he mean by “It’s certainly under discussion”?

Is this an answer to a question that the BBC has (mischievously) not reported?

Does Vince suddenly twig that he is going to be quoted, retrieve his guard and shove in the quick caveat about Ming’s leadership not being under threat?

The tittle-tattle story in the Grauniad this morning suggests that Steve Webb is after the leadership? Did the Grauniad make this up, or has Steve or someone around him been briefing hacks to this effect?

by Angus Huck on October 15, 2007 at 4:03 pm. Reply #

are we now entering the endgame?

by Phil Coates on October 15, 2007 at 4:16 pm. Reply #

I don’t think Lady Elspeth will let him stand down.

Seriously though, I’ve got really mixed feelings on this one. I didn’t vote for him, actually that’s not true, I gave him my 3rd preference primaraly becuase I was furious that all of our Scottish MP’s (excepting Charles of course) came out en-masse as Ming supporters. I strongly believe that it’s wrong for MPs to try and bounce the membership like that. Also believed that the candidate I was supporting was a much better choice for the job. Ming was brilliant at Foreign Affairs and should have stayed there.

However, he was elected, and if I can put up with that our MPs must also put up with it, ceasing their off-the-record briefings to the media and ill chosen words in public. Were Ming to voluntarily choose to stand down then I would feel that he had made a principled decision and would support that choice.

by Iain Rubie Dale on October 15, 2007 at 4:29 pm. Reply #

What I hate about party politics is it’s slavish adhearance to poll results
A week might be a long time in politics but surly the future of the party is more important then tomorrows polls.
Especailly as a week or two ago Ming was rated better than Cameron. All the Tories did since then was say something about Inheritance Tax and bang go the polls!

I did vote for Ming as my first pref and Huhne as my second (and delivered leaflets for them both in the leadership election)

I voted for Ming to be a safe pair of hands that would sort out the mess left behind by CK

There will come a point when that work will be done. To give Ming credit he is sorting things out faster than what I assumed possible. But there is still work to do on positioning the party for the future and parts of HQ.

I have always thought Ming is allowing potential leadership contenders to excel and in return they wont challenge him. Ming might decided to do a Mike German, but I’m not asking him to.

What I want (but wont get) is the media to report us properly rather than constantly looking for knocking stories.

by lloyd on October 15, 2007 at 5:25 pm. Reply #

can I ask a question of everyone.
Why is it with Thatcher, Blair and maybe even Brown now? we ask for them to be pushed out/step down even if they are “democraticaly elected” but we can’t do the same of Ming, who lets face it is not in the same position as those above in terms of the implications it will have for the nation.
Once again we seem to want it one rule for others and another for us and we wonder why people find it easy to take pot-shots at us!

by Big Mak on October 15, 2007 at 5:26 pm. Reply #

its on the BBC website that Ming is going to offer his resignation, so his detractors may have what they wished for!

by jamess on October 15, 2007 at 6:35 pm. Reply #

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