Thursday, February 23, 2006

..and as they enter the final furlong...

With a few days left for the thousands of Liberal Democrat members to cast their votes, the contest still looks neck and neck. Campbell and Huhne are going to slug it out to the last vote and I still think that it is too close to call. My guess is that Huhne will just about slip past the Minger, with the Hughes second preference votes just pushing him into a majority, but it will be close.

Last week saw a hatchet job on Huhne by Michael Crick - a journalist who has made a career out of savaging politicians. Crick's persistent assaults on Jeffery Archer were a sight to behold and made Lord Archer lose his cool in front of a camera in a most impressive way, so once the news got out that Crick was going to monster Huhne, then Newsnight was going to be a must-see for us political geeks. Sadly, it was a bit of a non-event. To summarise, the worst scandal to be found was that Huhne used some of his EU money to fund pre-election newsletters in Eastleigh. Yawn. Crick also failed to get Huhne to admit how rich he really is - Huhne doesn't seem to know if he qualifies as a multi-millionaire (hey - John H and Lynne Featherstone both are, so there's no shame in being a rich kid playing at politics in the Lib Dems). In terms of damage, this was nothing more than a slight dent in the Huhne campaign - hardly a Hughesian/Oaten implosion - and the 'revelation' about Huhne's student radicalism will probably add to his kudos with the sandalistas rather than cause damage.

There's still a persistent rumour that there may be mud to be slung at Campbell, but it would seem to be too late for that to have any effect on the campaign. If there is anything to come out, it is probably on hold for maximum impact.

Campbell is continuing to proceed serenely along - despite the kiss of death that is an endorsement from Hemming. Not as bad as having Lemsip Obit on your side, but hardly a triumph.

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