Saturday, January 07, 2006

The game is up

Clearly Kennedy can't survive now and it is a matter of someone twisting his arm strongly enough over the weekend to get him to resign with as much dignity as he can muster. It is a great shame. I didn't vote for him in 1999, but feel that the party made the right decision then and I the wrong one. It is hard to see how any of his rivals would have done as good a job in the last two elections.

Cymru Mark in response to my last post implies the Lib Dems would have done equally well under another leader. I think not. Kennedy, because he was the favoured insider candidate, was able to move the party away from links with Labour without a revolt. Likewise a leader from the traditional Liberal wing of the party would carried less credibility in opposing the war – Hughes's opposition to the war would have been predictable – Kennedy's was signficant.

It is hard for anyone outside the Westminster bubble to judge how bad the problem has been with Kenneday's behaviour and therefore whether the reaction has been reasonable. My last post seems to belong to a previous era - we are now at the stage where Charles's every faux pas is blamed on drink – even though everyone has off days.

I suspect the key to this lies at the last party conference – by avoiding taking a stance on the controversial motions on Europe and the post office, Charles failed to please either wing of the party enough to make them go the extra mile to support him. It has been telling how few of the party's big hitters have leapt to his defence. In a sense ditching Kennedy is a decision by default to get on with the ideological battles rather than have a leader who ignores and rises above them. I suppose only Ming can now steer us in the right direction without triggering a split.

It is a great shame, but Kennedy is now doomed. As Gladstone said of Parnell. 'It'll na dee'.


cymrumark said...

A fair point about Kennedy moving the party away from its love affair with Tony Blair. Although despite Welsh Lib dem denials I understand that Kennedy was key to the deal which took the Welsh Lib dems into government with Labour in Wales.

The 99 leadership election was quite funny in many ways. Hughes was superb at speaking to rooms full of other Liberals, kennedy was useless in the hustings Malcom Bruce made me regret he did not stand against beith and Ashdown.

The best bit was seeing Kennedy give an interview on newsnight after he won the support of Campbell and the other Blair lovers. His body language indicated he was uncomfortable with the whole non-sense and he squirmed under pressure as his position made no sense. I longed for him to just say "Look I have to say this rubbish or these big guns will back Don Foster and I will lose!!". In the end his endorsement of closer links with Labour nearly cost him the election.

If the contest is early expect Lembit to stand and there to be significant anti-Ming briefings to the press.....

Liberal Neil said...

I helped organise the well attended hustings in Oxford last time round and - although not a Kennedy supporter at that time - one memory sticks in mind:

At the end of the debate (which was a draw to be honest) Kennedy rushed for the side exit while the others stood around at the front chatting to their supporters. There were a few comments about his rapid exit.

I went out back to check that the bucket holders were rattling their buckets with adequate vigour to find Charles cheerfully shaking hands with everyone as the went out.

As a result while each of the other candidates managed to speak to five or six of the committed, Charles must have shaken the hand of more than a 100 members. It was nearly enough to persuade me to vote for him!