Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Finding a Purpose

Sir Menzies Campbell
Time for a new challenge?
Yes, the title could apply equally to the Lib Dems in general, as well as their latest ex-leader, but I thought it was time to do the obligatory Ming piece (no rhyming slang intended).

In one sense I'm a bit disappointed to see the departure of Ming, and not from the standpoint of someone who is broadly a Conservative supporter and has liked the poll numbers, but as someone, who, as I have posted earlier, I felt brought a lot a certain dignity to party leadership, something Brown will never have, but perhaps Cameron can learn. That said, he really had to go, and while it hasn't been exactly pretty it could have been a lot worse. A media narrative had become unstoppable, while most people know other issue were in play, I will give a lot of credence to Ming's claim that these were a major issue in his decision.

Another figure I think is worthy of some defense is his deputy, Vince Cable. He seems to figure prominently in most people's lists of likely knife-wielders, but as one of the few MPs I've ever met personally, albeit briefly, it doesn't seem to fit. Sure, he made a rather damaging statement on the leadership, but I've got a feeling he would have been in the loop, rather than leading the pack.

On one side you could argue that he was a big loser from Ming's bizarre attack on people who's incomes, by his own constituents standards would be very modest, but while he may put his hat in the ring, most likely outcomes from the latest Lib Dem upheaval will be not positive for Cable. At heart, he's never seemed much of a politician, in the prejudicial sense of the word, and I think the role attributed to him in recent events seem most unlikely.

As for Ming, I can't imagine that beyond the natural bluster about staying at the heart of politics, that the Commons will hold much appeal to him for any great length of time. I can't help feeling there is a role for someone of his ilk, who seems to have a very genuine commitment to public service, beyond being an occasional voice in the upper house. Even as someone who is, too all extents and purposes, a Conservative, I would more than happy to see him step in to one of those roles in national life where neutrality is essential, and political controversy a certainty.

The historical example of chairman of the BBC governors isn't around, but something of that nature would seem ideal, just like Ashdown's role in the Balkans. He's a good man and deserves something meaningful, and although disagreeing with him on many things political I know there are roles I would be delighted to see him in, if and when they become available.

Best wishes Sir Menzies. Now for the Lib Dem donkey derby.

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