Out With the Ming

Well he's managed to take us all by surprise. Only this morning, Deputy Leader (and now Acting Leader) Vince Cable was busy assuring everyone that the leader's position was secure - just the sort of accurate foresight we are used to from an economics spokesman. Now Vince, and Lib Dem president Simon Hughes, stands accused of wielding the knife against Sir Ming. But why stop at those two? Recent coverage from most media outlets has hardly been enthusiastic. Huhne and Clegg, the likely competitors for the succession, were busy running their leadership campaigns at the conference. And a range of Lib Dem voices have been raised against their - well, elderly - leader. Take this example from Norfolk Blogger, who adds further post-resignation thoughts here.

I heard the news whilst listening to ideas on defence and foreign affairs being debated at a political dinner this evening - a Tory one. The chairman announced that Ming had resigned, and told us that the information had come from Cable and Hughes, before pausing to wonder aloud whether the dynamic duo had actually bothered to inform Ming himself of his resignation. Ming's absence is certainly telling - while this news unfolds in London, he's back in Edinburgh, perhaps licking his wounds?

As to why Ming had to go, well, there aren't exactly a hundred theories - he was, as his own statement admits, seemingly incapable of raising the showing and profile of the Lib Dems. I'm not sure, though, that I think it's an age thing. More a dynamism thing. Ming Campbell was used, as foreign affairs spokesman for his party, to very deferential treatment from the press as the only senior politician to be able to consistently speak out against a war that the media, who predominantly supported it, quickly turned against. As leader, he was unable to translate this into the necessary charismatic vision to promote his third party. How he fitted in to a media age mastered by Blair, Brown and Cameron, and the implications of this, are fit questions for a whole thesis; in the absence of such a thing, they will be worth returning to in the coming weeks of the Lib Dem leadership battle between two much more image-friendly politicians.
BBC Online's Nick Assinder comments on the resignation here; Political Editor Nick Robinson has blogged only very lightly about this so far, perhaps reflecting the lack of information.
Oh, and it would be nice to see the comments thread take on some serious points from the various fiction characters who seem to have sprung into action. The thread on inheritance tax at least discusses ideas in detail!


Marc said…
He's clearly been shafted by his party, and jumped before he was pushed. He's been ineffective, overlooked and undervalued, just like the whole Liberal party for the last 50 years. Gone are the glory days of the Liberals that I learnt about in GCSE History at SGS many years ago.

What exactly the Lib Dems are supposed to do now that Cameron has re-invented the conservative party as as the New Liberals, I am not sure.

Now that both the two main political parties occupy the middle ground, the liberals have been squeezed out, and Campbell is the first casualty. Perhaps they should try appealing to nationalist facist communists (say that ten times fast)?
GM said…
Well, they need to try and fill a radical 'third way' niche, and at a time of mainstream party convergence, with so many people feeling unrepresented, you would have thought they might be able to do it! What about moving in to the gap left by Labour in representing the urban working class?
future tory PM said…
I think this is the worst move they could have made. It undermines the whole party because it is obvious that Campbell was forced out and so the next leader should expect the same! Kennedy forced out by Campbell and then he's forced out by Cable, Hughes, Huhne and maybe even Clegg. Karma anyone?
Cheeky Cheeky Boy said…
Campbell was constantly undermined post the liberal conference regarding his leadership by comments concerning his leadership from other senior party members. multi-lingual clegg seems the fair bet for leadership as he will appear more dynamic and media friendly and could pick up gains from the middle class marginals that ming lost. Other choices include Cheeky girl Gabriela quoted at 500-1 in the sun.
spin doctor said…
he definitely was pushed and most probably by cable and hughes, after all it does seem odd that he doesn't make a public announcement and only releases a statement, leaving the "pushers" to clean up and make the announcement
another reason for this view is that the resignation came into immediate effect which hardly happens anywhere, so surely this suggests that it had been planned for some time before the conferences as many high liberal members had been publically attacking his position, the only event that stopped this event from happening earlier was the prospect of a snap election.
however with this out of the way it was clear for the removal of ming to take place in a very unglamourous even by lib dem standards.
the upcoming election sees two main candidates emerge clegg and huhne both very competent candidates for the job, however clegg seems more likely to get it at this early stage because he is seen as the greatest threat to cameron and the tories, the party from which the seek to recover most of their lost seats from the previous election.
how long the next lib dem leader will last? well only time will tell but it does seem very likely that if he fails to perform and meet standards then he too could soon be on the way out aswell.

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