Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Charles Kennedy on Today

Charles Kennedy came out fighting this morning on the Today programme. He was on sufficiently good form to make anyone wonder what the fuss is about.

For those of us outside the bubble, it is hard to know what to make of it all. Clearly there are enough people at the top sufficiently exasperated with Charles for it all to have become an issue: this wouldn’t have blown up as it has if it was just a couple of would-be leaders getting impatient.

On the other hand, I can’t help feeling that some people expect the Lib Dem leader to by hyperactive as Paddy Ashdown was in trying to get the party into the headlines. So they find Kennedy’s laid-back style frustrating. But Kennedy seems to go down well with the electorate precisely because he does not appear as a politician on the make and doesn’t behave as though politics is everything.

My problem with Kennedy is that he tries to rise above the internal party debates, indicating that he sort of agrees with the Orange Book crowd, but wants to avoid antagonising those who disagree. Here I think he does need to show leadership. In my view the future of the party must lie with the Cleggs, Laws, Daveys and Oatens, because there can be no future as a major player for a party that simply calls for taxation and public spending to be always just a little bit higher than whatever they happen to be now.

Kennedy is seen as less ideologically driven than some of those mentioned above. He has a chance to nudge the party firmly in a more distinctively Liberal direction, while avoiding the kind of ill-feeling that would arise if an Orange-Booker took over now!


Liberal Neil said...

1 I agree with you about some of the criticisms of Charles being unfair. People forget how exasperated many were with Paddy during his last two years!
2 I don't think you can lump Clegg, Laws, Davey and Oaten into one and call it a position.
3 Even if you could surely the options open to the party are more than just either the 'Orange Book' position or higher taxation.
4 My own view, for what it's worth, is that we do need reform in public services, but not necessarily in the direction that is generally touted as 'reform', and that it wouldn't need higher tax take overall to achieve this.
5 I certainly don't think we will get anywhere as a party by a stratgey of moving ourselves into the rather crowded territory that is now occupied by both our main competitors.
Your good friend,

cymrumark said...


Happy New Year....nice to see you in the land of blogg.

Just got my own back up and running

Take a verbose at the moment as a reaction to having to write newsletters again...but due to writing in two languages have only half the space!