Peter Riddell: "the contest is tightening"

by Stephen Tall on November 25, 2007

Thank goodness for Peter Riddell, the senior Times political columnist, and one of the few (only?) newspaper journalists who is both watching the Lib Dem leadership contest, and reporting it intelligently. His latest analysis appeared yesterday – do read it in full here, but for those who always skip to the end for the conclusion:

Mr Clegg is still the favourite, but only just, and there is a sense – more a mood – among leading Lib Dems that the contest is tightening and could be close.

The Times also carried interviews-cum-profiles with both candidates, which can be read here (Chris Huhne) and here (Nick Clegg).

Enjoy reading this? Please like and share:


It is impossible to say.
Last time round the party establishment supported Ming Campbell, and that made the difference in the end.
In hindsight of course they made a terrible mistake, but many of those who thought so at the time simply left, and on balance maybe the party establishment is even stronger?
In which case, I suspect Clegg will win easily.
I am not supporting him, but I am confident he will be an improvement and a step forward for the party.
However if you think Vince Cable is doing a good job as leader of the party, then why not vote for someone who knows as much about economics as he does, and vote for Chris Huhne?

by Geoffrey Payne on November 25, 2007 at 7:42 pm. Reply #

“In hindsight of course they made a terrible mistake, but many of those who thought so at the time simply left”

What evidence is there for this? (That lots of people who did not vote for Ming left the party).

Tony Greaves

by Tony Greaves on November 26, 2007 at 12:37 am. Reply #

I too have come round to decide to vote for Chris

My decision is influenced by the fact that Chris has pledged to be bold and radical

I joined the SDP because it promised to break the mould – I read Chri’s promises in much the same way

Pudits have been known to get it wrong before –
Members could easily prove them wong again this time

by Rabi Martins on November 26, 2007 at 1:52 am. Reply #

Is this contest turning into an SDP versus Liberal thing?

by Charlotte Gore on November 26, 2007 at 8:47 am. Reply #

4/ No. I was previously in the Liberal party and I do not believe the SDP should ever have been invented in the first place. However that is not to overlook the many talented people the SDP brought into the Liberal Democrats. I know Chris will disagree with me, but that is a debate for another time.
To answer Tony’s point, I can only make a judgement anecdotally. It is hard to come up with statistics that prove anything, so I could be wrong. With Ming as leader, it has become very difficult to recruit new members, as the figures show, but I am optimistic that will now change.

by Geoffrey Payne on November 26, 2007 at 9:20 am. Reply #

Charlotte – Huhne is getting more support from experienced members of the party, people who were around at the time of the Liberal SDP merger. The interesting thing is that he is getting support from people who were firmly on opposite sides in the merger arguments. So far from this contest turning into an SDP v. Liberal thing, it shows that those divisions are now over.

by Matthew Huntbach on November 26, 2007 at 9:51 am. Reply #

1 I suspect Ming won because, at the time, he was the best known name to armchair members, having had lots of TV coverage because of Iraq, as well as the establishment backing him.

This time round it is more veenly balanced. Huhne is better known because he stood last time, while Nick has more of the establishment behind him.

Both of them have had a reasonable profile amongst members because of their respective briefs.

by Sam on November 26, 2007 at 10:43 am. Reply #

Do slogans such as “breaking the mould”, “a new kind of politics”, “a radical agenda” and the like actually resonate with the public? Phrases that might be helpful to LibDem members in summing up why they actively campaign for the party might not be the kind of thing that sways those who haven’t yet voted LibDem.
Many of the public have now heard soundbites by both leadership candidates, and it is clear that neither has grabbed the public imagination. But maybe a passionate firebrand is not what’s required. Perhaps we need a leader in the mould of David Steel, Paddy Ashdown and Charles Kennedy who calmly and patiently explain our ideas without getting involved in the rhetorical hysteria of Labour and Conservative politicians.

by Asriel on November 26, 2007 at 12:42 pm. Reply #

Clegg appears impetuous,
moody and easily rattled.
I prefer the more experienced and steadier hand of Chris. I get the feeling that Chris will be more appealing for wavering Tories.

by welsh and proud to be a liberal on November 26, 2007 at 2:35 pm. Reply #

Leave your comment


Required. Not published.

If you have one.