Thursday, March 02, 2006

Right result, rotten prediction, Congratulations Ming

Well, my man won. But then my prediction was way way wrong. My feeble excuse is that among the Lib Dems I speak to about such things, I have felt swamped by Huhnies over the last few weeks and a bit out on a limb in continuing to support Ming. I wrongly sensed a bandwagon rolling. But for the first time have voted for the winning candidate in a leadership election. The party has made the right choice.

It is good that the margin was so decisive. As James Graham pointed out a while ago the worst thing for the party would have been a narrow victory for Ming – the front runner limping home damaged.

It must surely be the right result in terms of the party at Westminster. It would have been difficult for Huhne to lead the parliamentary party when only one ninth of its members had backed him.

The key things Ming should do now are:

- Give a warm and generous response to the defeated candidates, especially Huhne. Clearly the latter’s campaign has put noses out of joint but the whole leadership contest would have been much poorer without it.

- Learn to love the party’s footsoldiers a bit more and show that he values them. To use a rugby term, the truck must remain attached to the trailer.

- Be his own man, not a bridge to the future. Bridges are for walking over. I can’t think of a better metaphor right now, but Ming must lead from the front. He must not be simply a mouthpiece for the younger MPs who played a leading role in his campaign.

He now has a great opportunity to take the party to unprecedented electoral heights. I am sure he will seize it.

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