Friday, January 06, 2006

On the edge...

So, Charlie faces a difficult weekend.

As of Friday, 25 spokespeople and MPs (not including John H, sadly) have confirmed that they will resign their offices on Monday if Charlie doesn't resign his first and a Newsnight poll found that more than half of the LD MPs think he should go. Charlie still reckons that he has the support in the party to hang on to office - and there is some support out there, but these unscientific samples of blogs seem to show very mixed returns.

[UPDATE] The news doesn't get better for Chuckles - The Telegraph today nail his coffin lid down with a YouGov poll for the paper which shows a massive 65% support for a new leader and only 27% of the membership backing Kennedy. These are only preliminary results, but providing YouGov aren't doing anything silly with their sampling, I can't see there being a huge variation in the final outcome. The poll also gives Menzies Campbell 49% support, Hughes 21% and Mark Oaten 14%. On that basis, Oaten's voters will give their support to Campbell as an interim candidate to allow Oaten and his sidekicks to build their popular support for when Campbell stands down - hopefully at a point when Hughes has become too old for the job and it is time for a new generation to take over.

Realistically, for him to stay would do immense damage to the party - he'd either have to go to the second string of MPs to find replacement front benchers or persuade the current postholders to return with their tails between their legs, muttering something about for the greater good or for the sake of party unity. Whatever happened, it wouldn't resolve the deeper problems about the direction of the party.

Kennedy has been holding together a party that wants to pull in two directions at once - there are the old tax and spend lefties, like Simon Hughes, and the new breed of Orange Book liberals who want to take a more right of centre view and free up the public sector to private involvement. These factions have co-existed for a while, but the compromise option can't hold these diverging paths together forever.

The election of a new leader could open a whole new can of worms for the Liberal Democrats.

(PS - Why has John H been quiet on the issue? Is he hiding or on holiday? Not like him to miss the publicity opportunity.)

1 comment:

Bob Piper said...

I think JH has just realised why he has been receiving all those silent phone calls. They are from all those colleagues expressing support for his leadership bid.