Friday, May 26, 2006

Ming - can it get any worse?

Any more bad news?He came to power following a brutal overthrowal of the previous leader. Since then it's been one disaster after another for the Liberal Democrats under Ming Campbell.

First the Lib Dems couldn't make up their mind on their flagship tax. Then the leader came under fire from a senior figure on his own side. Then it was revealed that ordinary party members may have to dig deep to repay a major loan and it's questionable whether they can raise the money. Then Mark Oaten put his scandal (if not his dirt) back in the public eye. Then Campbell began making dangerous accusations based on dodgy evidence at Prime Ministers Questions. Then a former parliamentary candidate defected to the Conservatives. Then despite limiting their hopes to "net gains", the local election results were poor and Campbell was forced to try and pretend he wasn't on test. Then in an attempt to boost his profile as a Campbell went on a Question Time panel with a man who entered the Cabinet in the 1970s and didn't come out on top. The problem of Prime Ministers Questions recurred, leading to the strange public announcement that attempts would be made to improve Campbell's performance leading to heavy disquiet amongst the Lib Dems with MPs predicting Campbell going within a year. Problems grew as commentators across the spectrum began writing Campbell off. In a sideshow Simon Hughes' own performance at party president also came under fire. Meanwhile Campbell's leadership received the kiss of death that is support from Lembit Öpik. In an attempt to assert his authority Campbell had a "full and frank" discussion with Hughes that brings to mind the quote "like being savaged by a dead sheep". And then this week local Liberal Democrats in Bromley and Chislehurst were exposed starting the by-election campaign before the late MP had even been buried.

And now there's more disaster in the week of Campbell's birthday. Iain Dale describes the problems today:

...the YouGov poll... showed the Lib Dems on 16% and told their leader that only 8% of people thought he would make the best Prime Minister, the lowest score for any LibDem leader since the Party was formed.
It was the first part of a day in which the Party hopes to show that it is not soft on law and order. My spy at Charing Cross tells me that things did not get off to a good start. Only one camera and two photojournalists showed up, and the first thing they filmed was the Lib Dem leader getting out of his car and immediately stumbling. Luckily he quickly regained his composure. Apparently one of the journalists present found it deeply ironic that the Lib Dems were having a law and order day on the day after it was revealed they might have to repay a £2.4 million donation from a man who faces a very long stretch in prison.
So can it get any worse for the Liberal Democrats and Ming Campbell? The party seems to be in unstoppable decline. Meanwhile the real alternative to Labour goes from strength to strength.

P.S. What did people think of Nick Clegg's performance on Question Time last night? Should the Lib Dems be replacing Ming with him?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I thought Clegg was quite good on QT last night, but thats in comparison to Hoon who was useless as usual.

I think he needs more experience before standing in a leadership election, so if ming hangs on for 1/2 years he could appear to be the 'saviour' leading up to a general election.


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