Goodwill to all men - unless you happen to be Chatshow Charlie who had to face catcalls from the Tories at PMQs today. Their shouts of 'He's behind you' are thought to refer to the party's elder statesman, Menzies Campbell, who is rumoured to be the source of some of the whispering campaign against Chuckles, not to our own John Hemming who was seated in the row behind. Now, we've all heard demands for the leadership to skip a generation, but I'm not sure that it should head towards somebody of pensionable age and who will be knocking on the door of 70 when the next election comes round.
If anyone hears a scraping sound, that's just 'Slasher' Hughes sharpening his blade.
Nice to see Lembit Opik, the human anagram, backing the boss, although a recent article by him warned that
'We seem wary of developing a visceral habit to tell it like it is. I believe that timidity is driven by a very personal political syndrome.'In the same article, he praised Campbell but omitted to comment on the performance of the current leader.
Hat tip to Guido for the news that Mark Oaten, coincidentally, sent round an email to the faithful reminding them of his existence and his political credentials - handy if a vacancy should occur. Charlie backed the MPs into a corner and asked them if they wanted a new leader. Silence reigned across the parliamentary party - no-one prepared to wield the axe.
This blog, of course, was the first to back John Hemming for the leadership of the party, even if other commentators fail to include him amongst the runners and riders and even if the new party leadership rules require him to find another half-dozen MPs who are prepared to sign his candidacy papers (a few hours in the Members' Bars should do it). Who better to lead the Liberal Democrats into the obscurity of a coalition with the Tories?
If the Liberal Democrats are at death's door, he'll drag them through.
Ho Ho Ho, indeed.
Well, Simon Hughes was dragged onto the Today programme on Thursday morning to assure everyone that all is well and that Charlie will go on and on (I've heard his speeches and he does) - although he didn't sound completely confident in his script. Perhaps it was the gritted teeth that ruined the effect. So that's that put to bed until the New Year. I'd be amazed if Charlie leads the LDs into the next general election - unless the results in the local elections in May go well and/or Cameron screws up, Kennedy could be looking to return to the circuit of chatshows and Have I Got News for You by the summer.