Monday, May 07, 2007

Liberal Democrat *leaders* in trouble

Going, going...The Liberal Democrats have officially denied that Sir Menzies Campbell's leadership is under threat. (BBC News: Lib Dem leadership threat denied) Clearly they've not been watching Yes Minister: "First rule of politics: Never believe anything until it's been officially denied." But Liberal Democrats turn yellow at the prospect of another leadership contest so will no doubt soldier on with a leader few have confidence in and who is widely ridiculed.

The same problems on a smaller scaleBut Ming can take comfort that he is not the only Liberal Democrat leader under fire. Michael German, their leader in the Welsh Assembly, is facing open calls for his resignation from 1/6 of the Assembly party, and it is widely reckoned the discontent involves at least half the grouping. (BBC News: No to coalition, says Lib Dem AM) Peter Black AM has been speaking out publicly (for instance in the ironically titled Speaking out inappropriately), calling not only for the party to reject all talk of keeping in place the rejected Labour administration but also calling for a leadership election. As he himself points out:

The leadership of course forms a integral part of the process he describes and therefore needs to be discussed openly as well. Nevertheless, I could always have taken the other option of secretly and anonymously briefing the media so as to undermine Mike's position. After all that is how the MPs got rid of Charles Kennedy. That, though, is not my style.
The leadership election has yet to be timetabled so it would be wrong to expect other names to declare now. But Peter Black is to be commended for speaking out so publicly at a time when many a Liberal Democrat will be thinking about how to get their arses on ministerial limo seats.

Dissent is growing (see for instance Aberavon & Neath Liberal Democrats: Peter Black AM: Speaking out inappropriately) and it's been noticed elsewhere. As put in Blamerbell Briefs: Auf Wiedersehen Mike:

As you can tell from the numbers above, the Lib Dems only have six assembly members. Three of them are agitating for a change of leader, one of them is keeping quiet (because she's the person they are agitating on behalf), another is staying loyal to Mike German and the last one is Mike German. If that's an endorsement, it's ringing about as loudly as a lonely castanet.
German has also received the worst endorsement any Liberal Democrat can get - the support of Lembit Öpik. (Peter Black AM: The curse of Lembit) But it's not plain sailing for Lembit either. As one comment on Black's blog puts it:

A Cheeky Boy in trouble
I think a lot of us are fed up to the back teeth with 'Mr. Celebrity'. He seems to be trying to carve a position for himself as being some kind of elder statesman of the Party without ever having done anything to merit anywhere near that. IMPO his position is something that needs to be discussed by the Lib Dems in Wales as to why we did not move forward in this election.

Every time I see him on the TV, hear him on the radio or read about him in the newspaper I turn over, turn off or turn the page.
So once again the Liberal Democrats have done what seems to be the one thing they do well. Fight each other.

Does anyone want to place bets as to who will last longer - Campbell or German?

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