Ming: why I quit

by Stephen Tall on October 16, 2007

Ming Campbell has given a series of interviews this afternoon setting out his reasons for choosing to stand down as Lib Dem leader.

You can watch Ming’s interview with the BBC’s Nick Robinson here.

And here are extracts from Ming’s conversation with Sky News’s Adam Boulton:

MC: … at the end of last week I worked out there had been seven consecutive days of reports in national newspapers about leadership and it became clear to me that if the party was going to make the kind of progress which it deserves and the British people need, it could be best done by somebody other than myself leading it.

AB: Was it the case that you counted on the support of senior colleagues and the support wasn’t there?

Not at all. I initiated a series of meetings between me and senior colleagues about policy for the next election. There was no question of me asking for support, nor was there any question of people saying it is time to go. We conducted the meetings on the basis that I was going through until the next General Election and the decision to stand down was mine alone.

AB: Who do you blame?

MC: I suspect a lot of it is an obsession which many of your colleagues have, and in many cases when it came to the Liberal Democrats it became a default story. If there was nothing else to write about, then “let us write about the age of the leader.”
I happen to know one senior journalist on a broadsheet told one of our press team that nothing got into the paper unless it was attacking the Liberal Democrats and the obvious thing to attack was my age. I reached the view that this blanket of pages was going to stop the party making good progress.
I’m proud of the stability since Charles Kennedy’s resignation. The leadership election which was rather colourful in some aspects but I made sure the party was much more professional than it had been before and that I prepared the party for the General Election.

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Killed by the media, such a shame.

by John Dixon on October 17, 2007 at 12:13 am. Reply #

It shouldn’t surprise me, as an ex-hack myself, but it still does: the complete lack of self-awareness of journalists when asking him “who was responsible?”

by Andy on October 17, 2007 at 1:46 am. Reply #

You have to admire the dignity of the man and the virtue of a self less person. The challenge ahead is to present clearly who we are to the electorate and a style of politics which is unique and appealing. Its ironic, we made our reputation in local government and being bold in our pursuit of ideas but we have never quite managed to break the media barrier. The next leader has got that and more to do.

by Warrior on October 17, 2007 at 3:42 am. Reply #

Ming is very clear. It is the media who did it.
Even after that interview people like Nick Robinson were trying to elicit some kind of blame on his Parliamentary colleagues.
But there was nothing that Ming said to suggest that they were behind this. Maybe the Parliamentary party was not perfect, but what do you expect when the opinion polls had crushed the way they had? Even so, they were still remarkably loyal.
I would suggest to Lib Dem activists to stop blaming our colleagues and start thinking constructively about where the party goes from now.

by Geoffrey Payne on October 17, 2007 at 7:22 am. Reply #

I’m not sure that the Lib Dems have been ‘stable’ since Charles Kennedy left – they’re about 10 points down in the polls.

Obviously the media never really took to Ming so they contributed to his downfall, but if he’d been an excellent leader and had top-rate parliamentary skills, any discussion of his age would have evaporated.


by Letters From A Tory on October 17, 2007 at 8:06 am. Reply #

The BBC interview reaffirmed my belief that Ming is a man of extraordinary integrity. He achieved a lot while leader that I think won’t be recognised for some time to come – both policy and organisationally.

by Rob Blackie on October 17, 2007 at 8:08 am. Reply #

Geoff for that to be the case the media must have generated the whole thing themselves without any encouragement which I find a little hard to believe – usually there is at least a little fire even if the smoke is disproportionate.

It also then seems hard to explain Elspeth’s comments to Nick Clegg at conference

by Hywel Morgan on October 17, 2007 at 11:46 am. Reply #

Of all people on all media outlets, why talk to Adam Boulton? What next? Will john Redwood start making all his announcements to Johan Hari?

by Benjamin Mathis on October 17, 2007 at 8:51 pm. Reply #

Who is Johan Hari?

by crewegwyn on October 17, 2007 at 9:34 pm. Reply #

8- Because Adam Boulton is the political editor of Sky News.

You could equally ask why Ming talked to Nick Robinson that same day.

Now heres a good idea. Why don’t we have election where viewers get to choose the political correspondents of the major media organisations? Might stop a few of them thinking it is THEY who run the country:-)

by Nick on October 17, 2007 at 9:48 pm. Reply #

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