BBC Question Time: Lib Dem leadership election special – open thread

by Stephen Tall on November 15, 2007

The two contenders for the Liberal Democrat leadership – Nick Clegg and Chris Huhne – go head-to-head on tonight’s special edition of Question Time (broadcast on BBC1 and online from 10.35 pm GMT).

The pressure will be on. Though Question Time’s audience is not large (a couple of million, or so), it’s likely that a high proportion of Lib Dem members will be tuning in; many times more than will attend all the hustings events combined. For many of the so-called ‘armchair membership’, their assessment of how each candidate has performed tonight will decide how they choose to cast their vote. Ballot papers will be sent out next week.

If you’re watching, and want to say what you think of how it’s going, feel free to use the comments thread. But please do keep the discussion reasoned and reasonable; abuse or ‘trolling’ will be moderated.

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Agreeing with Sam at 100 Simon, one of the influences over my decision was that of my fiancéé, who’s not a member—she couldn’t stand Nick’s hand waving, and found Chris better overall.

The media says he’ll play better with the public, is that actually true? I don’t think it is—the John Major comments may be meant as an insult, but he got the Tories more votes than any other leader, and a higher percentage than either Thatcher or Blair ever managed. I think Huhne’ll do better with the GP.

by MatGB on November 16, 2007 at 3:25 pm. Reply #

98 – We are not social democrats, we are Liberals! hence why we would not “champion” social democracy but Liberalism!

by Big Mak on November 16, 2007 at 3:49 pm. Reply #

Mat, the John Major comment was meant as another viewpoint of someone in the same position as your fiancéé (not an insult, but rather her impression!).

I found Chris more impressive than I thought I would (more impressive than last time round?!) but her view is interesting as she is not party political.

I don’t think she was thinking of Major’s 1992 victory, but his demeanor. Earnest, a little odd perhaps (maybe an acquired taste) and giving the impression of being a little dull . . . ;o)

by Grammar Police on November 16, 2007 at 4:12 pm. Reply #

I don’t think John Major has degrees from Oxford and the Sorbonne.

by Angus Huck on November 16, 2007 at 4:34 pm. Reply #

Ruth Bright Says:
November 16th, 2007 at 5:03 am
Chris was winning when the baby and I nodded off. I am so cheesed off that I missed it. Lesson – do not breastfeed whilst watching Question Time!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I note Ruth posted this just after 5am – is that when her and they baby woke up??

by Duncan Borrowman on November 16, 2007 at 4:48 pm. Reply #

@ Big Mak: I’m a liberal and a socialist (but not a Marxist, a Millite), and while I’m not a social democrat, liberalism and social democracy aren’t incompatible—we have a chunk of members from the SDP tradition, and we can’t just deny they’re there. An element of the broad church that is the Liberal Democrats is a number of social democrats, just as there are also liberal socialists, liberal capitalists and other branches. Using elements of our broad appeal to reach out to potential voters isn’t necessarily a bad idea. I’d hate to think under an FPTP system that we become beholden to just one wing, electoral suicide.

@ Grammar: Apologies then, it’s rare I see comparisons to Major that are meant in a good way, despite his obvious actual success—not his fault the electoral system was stacked against him after we’d figured out our targetting policies.

Having watched Brown on BBC Parlt this afternoon while eating lunch (security policy questions I think), then Earnest, a little odd perhaps … and giving the impression of being a little dull sums him up quite nicely. The Tories elected a good foil to Blair, I think Huhne’ll be a better foil to Gordon, both have similar strengths and weaknesses, but I think Huhne’s good enough to take him on and win, and it’s Labour we’ll be taking the most seats from next time, I think we’ll mostly be defending v the Tories. Plus the Cameron Project will derail again now the election pressure is off.

by MatGB on November 16, 2007 at 4:52 pm. Reply #

I was a little perplexed at some of Clegg’s answers, particularly over Trident, but I have always been impressed by Chris and cannot understand why there seems to be an undercurrent of some real anti-Huhne feeling running through some influencers in the party. I voted Huhne last time and on this display, will definitely go with Huhne again.

As others have said, Clegg in 10 years time perhaps. For now, it’s time for Chris Huhne

by Neill Hendry on November 16, 2007 at 4:59 pm. Reply #

98/102/106: Ok Big Mak, lets not get hung up on terminology. I want to support a party which agrees with the principle that government should temper capitalism`s inequalities. I`m fed up with Tory and New Labour surrender to free markets. Who shall I vote for then?

by Stocky on November 16, 2007 at 5:02 pm. Reply #

@Stocky: The problem with both NuLab and the Tories is not that they’ve surrendered to markets, but that they’ve surrendered to corporatist capitalism. Capitalism and markets aren’t synonymous, markets are a fair tool if not abused by those in positions of power.

So you should vote for us, because for the most part we recognise this and want to remove vested interest and allow the equal access that is currently denied.

Of course, Big Mak is from a completely different wing of the party to me, so may disagree with some of my analysis of the problem, but we both agree on a truly liberal solution. Markets, if used right, promote equality, not inequality. That they’re currently failing isn’t the fault of the principle, but of the unequal access and unfair practices promoted by those in power. Once you’ve ‘won’ the competition, you want to finish it and stay on top, that’s what causes the problems.

by MatGB on November 16, 2007 at 5:30 pm. Reply #

As an avid watcher of QT I was rather disappointed with this one as an event!

I was hoping both candidates would show more passion and use the occasion to highlights their personal strengths when pitted agianst those of the other.

For me they only managed to demonstrate what qualities they have in common

That leaves me still undecided.

Let us see which one comes up with the perfect formula to lead multi ethnic multi cultural Britain at the forthcoming hustings

by totallylibdem on November 16, 2007 at 5:33 pm. Reply #

As someone without a preference prior to QT, I believe that Huhne came across with more clarity, conviction and, most importantly in a prospective leader, authority.

by Les Farris on November 16, 2007 at 6:05 pm. Reply #

Didn’t think there was a outright winner – neither did themselves any harm, but neither came through as the obvious winner. THey’ll both have to get slicker over the tedious coalition question. The answer lies nearby – inScotland. The existence of a semi-proprotional system ensured that Labour wouldn’t get carried away and claim they woud win by a landslide and the partnership agreement locked them into a compulsory 4-year term, virtually ruling them out of the Snap election option.

by Mike Falchikov on November 16, 2007 at 6:45 pm. Reply #

MatGB/109: you say that you are a socialist, so shouldn`t you agree with me that free markets concentrate resources and therefore don`t protect people. How can you be a socialist and also advocate free markets, and presumably the concept of a meritocracy. Listening to Chris Huhne, wouldn`t he regard himself as a social democrat? How are you going to get the money from those who have won the competition? What do you mean by a truly liberal solution?

by stocky on November 16, 2007 at 8:49 pm. Reply #

MatGB: and another thing, I`ve been reading the blogs all afternoon and I`m puzzled as to why the bookies have Nick Clegg as such a strong favourite. The blog comments are far more pro Huhne. Do you think that the bookies have got it wrong?

by stocky on November 16, 2007 at 8:55 pm. Reply #

Stocky; because bloggers and other activists tend to be more left-wing than either armchair Liberal Democrats or the rest of the public. Huhne appeals to those people naturally and his pitch has been based towards activists: the policy on trident, pushing PR and talking about not being the third tory party. We saw it in the last leadership election where he was the favourite amongst the online activists too.
This doesn’t mean the bookies have got it right though, but we do need to recognise that the type of people who blog about Liberal Democrat stuff might actually be quite a homogenous group and not necessarily reflective of the wider party.

by Anonylib on November 16, 2007 at 9:24 pm. Reply #

It is important to say though that we are an activist party. At least 50% of my local party’s members are active to a greater or lesser extent. I don’t think we should underestimate – or overestimate – our importance, but in the Lib Dems at least, we should be more confident of the importance of activists than ‘elsewhere!’

by Martin Land on November 16, 2007 at 10:07 pm. Reply #

You’re lucky Martin – not only is my local party’s membership low, also a low proportion of it are active – I think there’s prob a high proportion of activists in areas where we’re strong, and a low proportion outside of that. In many places we’re not that strong

by Anonylib on November 17, 2007 at 10:42 am. Reply #

Coming on to the spat on today’s (Sunday)”Politics Show” – after somewhat lukewarmly repudiating the “Calamity Clegg” e-mail, Huhne damaged his cause by taking up the issues apparently raised by this rogue communication, thus giving it an undeserved legitimacy. He shouldn’t have done this.
Also the contribution by the former Lib Dem spin doctor which prefaced the studio debate was pretty pathetic in defining a “Liberal/libertarian agenda” as being about “lifting the smoking ban,more casinos and 24-hour drinking”. These are exceedingly peripheral issues compared to the need to roll back the police state that the Government is pushing inexorably towards, with its latest raft of so-called anti-terror measures which are r eally just an attempt to terrorise the population into submission.

by Mike Falchikov on November 19, 2007 at 12:04 am. Reply #

What a shame the party is so focussed on the minutiae of the leadership contenders opinion. When it comes to leadership, we need someone to develop a “main thrust”.

What we do not want is a Blairish leader, who simply fashions the party to suit himself. Someone who finally knocks the idea of collaboration with New Labour on the head would be good.

Power seeking pragmatists are ten a penny in politics. I hope the new Libdem leader is not one.

by ROGER WHITTLE on November 20, 2007 at 10:55 pm. Reply #

For those that might be interested, the blog that got me interested in blogging, Iain Weaver’s much under-rated non-partizan The Snow In Summer has written a review of the debate thanking us for our liveblog efforts. Although I’m not sure about the ‘bungalowheads’ thing.

I also think he’s wrong about the way the other two parties would split, but that’s a discussion for another day.

by MatGB on November 21, 2007 at 12:27 am. Reply #

I think I’ve given up on this contest. Apart from the two contenders bickering about detail, these two committed eco – warriors have decided to match each tonne for tonne of tacky junk mail. I would really like to see some creativity and radicalism in the contest. What we are getting is grey – suited mediocrity. These guys are looking and sounding more like New Torylabour airheads than Liberal. They are proclaiming their superiority in almost every way possible, like speaking five languages!!! Well who cares? I think we are all(the members) disappointed. I think Chris Huhne will win, but does he deserve it? I don’t think so.

by Roger Whittle on November 22, 2007 at 12:50 am. Reply #

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