Friday, January 06, 2006

Revolt of the classroom swots?

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.


Chris Black said...

Perhaps the XI were showing a brutal loyalty to the party .

Sarah Teather had to make her own assessment of the situation. She may well have been right.

One of the difficulties for rank and file people like myself is that until now we haven't had enough information to make judgements.

cymrumark said...

Kennedys drinking was well known at the time of the last leadership election. I attended a hustings where it was clear he had been drinking. At the time the party membership was told that there was no problem...many close to him must of known this was not the case including some of this weeks assasins but supported him to keep Simon Hughes out.

The lib dems have won the odd by-election or two before Kennedy came along and will do so again so havinbg a pop at Sareah teather is a bit unfair.

As an opponent I would have liked a badly damaged Kennedy to survive a good bit longer. The fact that he has only made his staement because he was forced to hardly suggests the problem is under control.

Do you really believe the Lib dems would have made less progress under a different leader?