It became increasingly obvious yesterday that Charles was not going to survive and today's statement came as little surprise. We can hope that Charles will continue to play a role in the party – as well as no doubt getting syndicated newspaper columns and his own TV show etc.
It looks as though MPs are closing ranks behind Sir Menzies Campbell. I have never been a particular fan of his, but he has the dignity and gravitas and reputation as a big hitter to hold his own against the other leaders. He is probably among the best known of the Lib Dem MPs. He will nudge the party in the right direction politically, without being obviously parti pris in any ideogical debate.
Simon Hughes would simply not do and I don't see the grassroots support that political journalists often assume is there for him as leader. Yes, activists, especially those from a Liberal tradition, love Simon. But that is very different from saying that they want him to lead the party. My impression was that he ended up almost by default as the main challenger to Charles last time because he was seen as more sceptical of links with Labour. Voting for Simon was a safe option for those who knew he wouldn't win, but who wanted to fire a warning shot across the bows of Kennedy and his then supporters.
If there is a contest I will vote for Ming.