by Stephen Tall on May 27, 2010
It’s early days – Vince only announced he was stepping down as the party’s deputy leader last night, in order to focus on his cabinet responsibilities – but who would you, LDV’s readers, like to see take over from Vince?
Of course the electorate for the deputy’s post are the party’s 57 MPs (party members choose our leader and president), and I imagine and hope there will be four criteria uppermost in their minds:
1) Ensuring a ‘balanced ticket’ for the party leadership. Nick and Vince have worked well together precisely because they look, sound and are different. Their combined blend of youth and experience has worked incredibly well for the party. I don’t imagine the party will want a 40-something white male as deputy to Nick. The party will also be looking to someone identified with the ’social liberal’ wing of the party, or at least regarded as being within the mainstream of Lib Dem thinking. And finally there will be a strong feeling within the wider party that the Lib Dems need urgently to promote one of our female MPs into a prominent position.
2) Someone who can represent the non-ministerial ranks of the party. With so many of the party’s senior figures now in the government, the party needs someone who can represent the coalition who isn’t tethered to collective responsibility in quite the same way as an MP on the coalition government payroll. We know there are issues where the Lib Dems disagree, quite fundamentally, with the Conservatives. I’ve no doubt Nick Clegg will continue to represent Lib Dem interests as Deputy Prime Minister. But he will, inevitably, feel more constrained than if he were not sitting round the cabinet table. The new deputy should, therefore, be someone from outside the ranks of ministerial office, able to champion Lib Dem causes with the freedom that comes from the backbenches.
3) An MP who could be a credible future leader of the party. For all that the party will want and need a backbench MP, preferably female, preferably from the social liberal wing, it’s important too that they command credibility as a potential leader of the party. This person will be Nick Clegg’s number two, the deputy deputy prime minister. And as we saw when Vince Cable needed to stand in as leader when Ming Campbell resigned, choosing a deputy who can instantly step into the shoes of the leader is a vital quality – even more so, given the high-risk strategy the party has adopted of entering into coalition government, when suddenly politics is thrown into utter unpredictability.
The following names have all been suggested in the last 12 hours as potential contenders for the deputy leadership:
- Lorely Burt
- Tim Farron
- Lynne Featherstone
- Don Foster
- Simon Hughes
- Adrian Sanders
- Jo Swinson
- Sarah Teather
- Steve Webb
So over to LDV’s readers to cast your vote for who among them you favour … Or organise a write-in campaign in favour of someone we’ve missed out.