Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Time to take stock

I think it is time for our MPs to take stock - to take a good hard look at the situation in which we find ourselves. It is up to them, in particular, for at least three reasons.

First, under article 10.5 of the Federal Party constitution, no one can stand for leader unless proposed by at least ten per cent of our MPs.

Second, it was a group of our MPs who forced Charles to resign, which under Article 10.2 triggered the leadership election back in the winter of 2005-2006.

Third, a good proportion of our MPs proposed Ming, and when other candidates entered the contest, argued in Ming's favour that he would be a "safe pair of hands", and persuaded the membership to choose Ming, though not by an overwhelming majority.

In short, a heavy responsibility lies on our MPs.

I am just an activist with no real say in all this - just as I had no say in whether Charles ought to go, and had limited information on which to cast my leadership vote (though I had more information than average, because I had sat on the Federal Policy Committee for so long: at least I knew the candidates a little). But if I have any influence at all, I want to use it now to say this.

The truth is that in the hard world of national politics Ming has had 18 months to gain acceptance as a potential Prime Minister by the general public, but he has not gained it. And I do not believe he is going to gain it by doing a bit of work on his approval ratings. We can argue until we are blue in the face that it is ageist to criticise Ming, but it is not a question of his age. It is a question of his energy levels, of his charisma or lack of it, of whether people are at ease with him, whether they feel he understands the country's problems and their own problems, above all whether he has the mix of qualities to run the country well, the toughness to withstand the sustained stress and pressure of the job, to be good in a crisis or in the series of crises that it is part of the job to cope with. It is a question of the whole man, the whole image, whole myth, even, of a human being considered by others as their potential leader.

I was among the loyal activists who wondered why, if Charles was unsuitable, the Parliamentary Party had not said or done anything to prevent him from being re-elected unopposed earlier in 2005. And I wondered why, if Ming was more suitable, he had not stood for the leadership either earlier in 2005, or in earlier leadership contests.

To go on indefinitely working for our success I need to be sustained by the belief that we have a leader who is a potential Prime Minister.

Is it not time that our MPs moved to propose someone new?

7 comments:

Tartsforpeace said...

Okay, I did not support Ming as leader and actively encouraged another MP to stand although not well known. But having been elected, I wanted Ming to succeed as a leader. Unfortunately, his failure to inspire not just the party workers but the electorate at large, has been disappointing. An understatement. As someone that knocks on doors and being known locally as a Local Democratm I have had to defend and counter the mockery that Ming is now getting from the media in a way that I have never met with previous leaders over at least 30 years. We cannot 'shilly-shally' at this moment, and if Ming cannot see the 'writing on the wall' and retire with dignity then we have to say in no uncertain terms that we cannot see the loss of many talented MP's should he stay and further, show us to be a party that cannot make up its mind. Yes, Ming made a very good speech at the conference, content was everything a Liberal Democrat feels proud to shout to the world, but it had low impact in the country because of his lack of charismatic style and what is seen as a lack of warmth. This will rumble on and on and it will become more and more difficult to recruit both members and candidates for local councils and ultimately the vote at all elections.

Tartsforpeace said...

Okay, I did not support Ming as leader and actively encouraged another MP to stand although not well known. But having been elected, I wanted Ming to succeed as a leader. Unfortunately, his failure to inspire not just the party workers but the electorate at large, has been disappointing. An understatement. As someone that knocks on doors and being known locally as a Local Democrat, I have had to defend and counter the mockery that Ming is now getting from the media in a way that I have never met with previous leaders over at least 30 years. We cannot 'shilly-shally' at this moment, and if Ming cannot see the 'writing on the wall' and retire with dignity then we have to say in no uncertain terms that we cannot see the loss of many talented MP's should he stay and further, show us to be a party that cannot make up its mind. Yes, Ming made a very good speech at the conference, content was everything a Liberal Democrat feels proud to shout to the world, but it had low impact in the country because of his lack of charismatic style and what is seen as a lack of warmth. This will rumble on and on and it will become more and more difficult to recruit both members and candidates for local councils and ultimately the vote at all elections.

Tartsforpeace said...

Okay, I did not support Ming as leader and actively encouraged another MP to stand although not well known. But having been elected, I wanted Ming to succeed as a leader. Unfortunately, his failure to inspire not just the party workers but the electorate at large, has been disappointing. An understatement. As someone that knocks on doors and being known locally as a Local Democrat, I have had to defend and counter the mockery that Ming is now getting from the media in a way that I have never met with previous leaders over at least 30 years. We cannot 'shilly-shally' at this moment, and if Ming cannot see the 'writing on the wall' and retire with dignity then we have to say in no uncertain terms that we cannot see the loss of many talented MP's should he stay and further, show us to be a party that cannot make up its mind. Yes, Ming made a very good speech at the conference, content was everything a Liberal Democrat feels proud to shout to the world, but it had low impact in the country because of his lack of charismatic style and what is seen as a lack of warmth. This will rumble on and on and it will become more and more difficult to recruit both members and candidates for local councils and ultimately the vote at all elections.

Penhill Flyer said...

This is a nonsense. We should be making our own decisions and not simply following the hostile national press. We know the press will do their utmost to find fault with politicians and particularly with our leader. So what do they come up with? He is too old.

If that is the best they can come up with then Ming must be doing a damn good job.

At yesterday's PMQs Brown wiped the floor with Cameron.(The proof was the sick look on Cameron's face towards the end of PMQs.) It wasn't difficult because of the pathetic questions that Cameron asked. Given the easy, "Get out of Jail free card" questions Brown should have really gone for the knock out blow. As it happens Brown merely won on points.

Ming on the other hand asked some simple pointed questions and forced Brown into the old refutable thing about there is a hole (unspecified) in the LibDem budget.

The reports - Cameron scored hits on Brown. Ming put in a lack-luste performance. Simply because Cameron shouted and blustered and Ming didn't.

You might want a leader who is all bluster and no substance but I don't.

I didn't vote for Ming. He was my second choice. We now some good young chaps for the future. But if there were a Leadership contest to-day I would give Ming my first preference.

Andy Mayer said...

Leadership speculation aside penhill I wanted to address one point you made

"We should be making our own decisions and not simply following the hostile national press"

I think many Lib Dem activists would share this sentiment and it was echoed in a line in the Leader's speech at conference.

However while the average local Lib Dem party has around 4-10 points of contact with the public a year, more during an election campaign, the media has hundreds.

Ignoring the media entirely is simply not possible in this modern media age. What they say about us and our leading figures matters becuase it is the major way that the public engage with politics.

We may not like the media, we may disagree with them, we may find some elements of their reporting biased. However that's the sea we swim in.

Demanding that sea roll back for us or go away, because we happen to prefer to believe that politics should be all about personal contact, community, and deep meaningful engagement with real issues, is rather Canute-like behaviour.

Were you aware for example that the newspaper with the largest number (i.e. not %) of Liberal Democrat voters was the Daily Mail?

The Family Solicitor.com said...

Jo, I agree with you 100%, and well done for having the courage for saying what so many are thinking.

I am writing to as many MPs, Peers and party activists as possible - in order to implore everyone to act now and to do whatever is necessary to secure a change of party leader.

It ought to be patently obvious to people that the bottom line here is that Ming Campbell is not up to the job and that the best interests of the party dictate that he stands down now. We need a leader who can (a) provide a more realistic prospect of success at the next general election and (b) realistically expect to lead us well beyond that point.

Those in positions of power and influence in the party must show sound judgement and moral courage NOW if our party is to thrive rather than contenting itself with mere survival.

The response I have received thus far indicates that the grassroots have lost all faith in Ming and regard him as an electoral liability. This is not a media driven issue - it is an issue which thousands of party members feel must be resolved, and resolved quickly. The question is...how do we (i.e. ordinary members) go about it? If only Ming could be persuaded to stand down - surely he realises the reality of the situation.


Yours sincerely,
Kelvin MacDonald Fraser
(member Weston-super-mare constituency party - macdonaldfraser@aol.com)

Peter Hartwell said...

Why do so many people, even Prime Ministers, look upon Opinion Polls as if they were "The Word of the Lord"? If it goes on like this the Bible will have to be amended with an eleventh commandment:- "Thou shallt not question the findings of Opinion Polls".
Please look at the real votes in real ballot boxes.
There have been 15 council by-elections over the last three weeks right across England and Scotland.
Ten seats were held by the incumbent Party BUT five seats changed resulting in a net gain of THREE seats for the Lib Dems a net LOSS of one seat for the Tories a net LOSS of two seats for the Indies and +/- 0 for Labour.
There were huge swings to us in some of the seats that we did not take this time but surely will next time. The biggest losers were the Tories. They did gain one seat from Labour but that was mainly because the BNP did not stand in that seat this time. You may recall them crowing about their wonderful local election successes at their Party conference. Those successes (sic)were the one seat they gained but they forgot to mention that we had taken two seats from them the week before.
One of the seats we gained with a huge 58.8% share was in one of our winnable seats - Chippenham.
So please look at the real votes in future.
Let's get on with the job, stop rocking the boat and make sure that we prove the pollsters very wrong in next years elections.
Naturally the media has jumped on this story in the hope of creating a split in our Party.
Why no mention of the good news of Michael Meadowcroft returning to the fold?
I think we need to be stricter with invoking that part of the Constitution which says that a member can be expelled for bringing the Party into disrepute!

Peter Hartwell
Fulham