Wednesday, 31 October 2007

It's a no-brainer!

Well, nominations have closed and there are just two candidates. When deciding who has the necessary leadership skills, don't just listen to what they say, look at what they've done. Deciding whom to vote for is a no-brainer!
When I asked what Nick Clegg offered that could compete with Chris Huhne's vastly greater experience of the wider world, I got no answer. So I am backing the candidate who didn't go into the public sector but instead chose to get out there and cope with the wider world - not looking at the water but swimming in it. And I look forward to seeing Chris Huhne wipe the floor with Gordon Brown and David Cameron, because he is the man to do it.
Here are the reasons why:
Proven team builder with ability to best use the talents of others? Chris Huhne, definitely yes - look at his successful business record. Nick Clegg, not proven.
Proven formidable debater and media performer? Both candidates are good but Nick Clegg can be pushed on to the back foot, and then he tends to start talking too fast. Over many years I have never seen or heard Chris Huhne flustered; his intellect, coolness under attack and mastery of his brief make him a formidable debater. And his media knowhow is tremendous because he was a journalist for 19 years.
Proven grittiness of character to overcome adversity? Chris Huhne, proven - his first job after university was as an undercover foreign correspondent in India. Nick Clegg, not proven. He has not yet done anything that made such demands on his character or resourcefulness. But at 40 he has plenty of time.
Chris Huhne is passionate about the environment, and as the Lib Dems' environment spokesman has been highly praised. With his help, we are now the party with by far the best environmental policies of the main parties. I believe people will recognise how important that is, and our distinctive policies will prove to be winners.
During my years on the Federal Policy Committee, of the two candidates Chris Huhne has made by far the greater contribution to policy ideas. Specifically, he rejects the current procrastination and fudge that passes for Lib Dem policy on the UK nuclear deterrent. What would Nick Clegg do when the decision could not be delayed any longer? I have no idea. But Chris Huhne's stance is typically thoughtful, based on cost and benefit to the country. He cannot conceive of a justification for the huge cost of a replacement system as powerful as Trident, and he acknowledges the implications for UK foreign policy of being dependent technically on the United States. Therefore, for him, the choice is between a minimum nuclear deterrent and none.
That is the way we should make policy - with rational, open debate based on evidence.
We are fortunate that Chris Huhne has chosen to use his formidable talents in public life when he must have many alternative opportunities. This leadership election offers a great opportunity for the Lib Dems. This time I hope we take it.

1 comment:

Left Lib said...

I agree with you, although Nick Clegg is almost certain to win. I am amazed that left wing liberals are supporting Nick Clegg, as far as I can tell he has not given them an inch.
It is the conservative press that has built Nick Clegg up. Not only do they say he is a star, they also say he is one of them!
And Nick Clegg does not seem to be bothered by that at all. And nor do most of the party membership it seems.
It amazes me that he is considered a media star. I have heard him trip up on really basic questions, like "who are you?" and "are you a conservative?".
For now I think it is just too early. Nick Clegg was right not to stand 18 months ago, and 18 months is not long enough for things to change since. Maybe with more experience Nick Clegg will be a star, but not now.
And yet only a few seem to notice his weaknesses. My fear is that once he is elected, that will soon change.
Although ... he may get away with it. Charles Kennedy did after being savaged by Jeremy Paxman before the last general election.