Thursday, January 19, 2006

Mark Oaten bows out

I think Mark Oaten has made the right decision in pulling out. He has a very positive contribution to make to the Liberal Democrats and I hope that whoever becomes leader will put his abilities to good use.

While it has seemed at times over the last few days that the attack dogs of the Lib Dem blogatariat were scenting Mark's blood, the initial responses on Lib Dem Aggregated Blogs to his withdrawal from the race, have in general been generous and constructive.

1 comment:

Angus J Huck said...

I see Ming Campbell is on "Question Time" tonight.

Along with ultra- Blair loyalist, the Reverend Chris Bryant MP (I am reminded of Enver Hoxha's quip that the Bulgarians were as close to the Soviets as their underpants).

I notice that Mike Storey spoke at Ming's launch this afternoon, yet most of his council group is supporting Simon Hughes (in 1999, they backed Kennedy).

Ming has made some welcome comments to the effect that we need to dispense with the mandatory retirement age. (The "Guardian" reports today that the number of people defying the scrapheap at 65 rose by 10% in the last 3 months of last year.)

Mark Oaten had little option but to pull out of the race (only Lembit backing him). Now he has a great opportunity to go away and do a bit of thinking. He is clearly talented. For a non-lawyer to succeed with the home affairs brief is far from easy.

An interesting voice from the past among Simon's backers is Will Fitzgerald.

Remember the Limehouse Group? Those in the SDP who described themselves as "socialists" and were fervent supporters of Owen and cuddling up to (Kinnock) Labour? By 1988, many Limehousers felt utterly betrayed by Owen (who had advocated conscription, praised Thatcher and developed a fetish for weapons systems). Some wandered off. Will Fitzgerald was one who said left-leaning social democrats should talk to like-minded Liberals. He pointed out that Bill Tidy (in Plymouth Sutton) had achieved a bigger swing than Owen loyalist, David Astor, in Drake. As far as I know, Will Fitzgerald was a protege of Lord Michael Young.

Fellow Limehouser, Tony Clayton, is still a councillor in Sevenoaks. Sephen Mennel seems to have turned up in Ireland. And Paul Beattie was, until very recently, a councillor in Stockport.