When Abraham Lincoln was told of complaints about General Ulysses Grant’s drinking, he is reputed to have said: ‘Find out what Grant drinks and I’ll send a case of it to all my other generals.’ These days, sadly, thrift and sobriety win out every time over eccentric brilliance.
Jonathan Calder (or rather Lord Bonkers) rates the 11 Lib Dem MP signatories of the letter of no confidence in Charles Kennedy as ‘Not a bad side, though the tail looks a little long for comfort and we may regret the absence of a second spinner.’ In fact they are a team of Geoffrey Boycotts or Gary Kirstens, but wihout the brilliance of a Botham or Flintoff.
Put another way they are all hard-working, earnest and worthy but a bit dull. One can well imagine them being exasperated by one such as Kennedy who can be wayward but has a charisma that they lack. It’s a case of ‘Please Miss, Charles is messing about again and distracting us. You should make him stand outside, Miss.’ Given that the Brent East by-election was one of Charles’s finest hours, Sarah Teather’s signing the letter smacks of ingratitude.
For Charles to have had a chance of survival it needed more ‘big hitters’ to come out loudly and clearly in his defence. Although Lembit Opik did well on television last night, that’s not quite the same thing. I suppose his team will now work overtime this weekend to convert begrudging supporters into keen loyalists and opponents into begrudging supporters.
It may help to point out that any successor will now have their leadership soured by the public perception of them as the beneficiary of a brutal and unnecessary act of political disloyalty.