Lembit for London

There is a LibDem establishment campaign to prevent Lembit Öpik becoming their candidate for London Mayor. This is a mistake. The LibDems are likely to be annihilated in the Mayoral race if they put forward a nonentity candidate.

With Lembit they will get media coverage in what will be a battle of strong personalities, without him they will be ignored. Like Boris and Ken, Lembit has single-name recognition, he is media friendly and will hold his own in hustings. If the LibDems choose anyone else they will be shooting themselves in the foot.

LibDem Youth Teeny Totty Tantrums

libdem-girlsIt seems Nick Clegg is having trouble with the kids, after personally launching the rebranded Liberal Youth movement last year, the kids are now biting the hand that feeds them. Their election for a new chairman has descended into the kind of fight that only student politics can. The incumbent chair, Elaine Bagshaw, is a Labour defector (pictured here raving) who has been compared to Vicky Pollard by Quentin Letts. Opponents say she is playing dirty to secure a second term.

Her libertarian leaning opponent Sara Scarlett (pictured smiling), has resigned from the kids club executive after rounds of furious bitching* chronicled by the Tory Bear blog.  Mind you she managed to slag of the sheer “corporate incompetence” of Cowley Street before she went.  In an illiberal move worthy of Trotskyite splinter group, Bagshaw is now trying to get her opponent kicked out of the party to clear the way for her re-election.

Both candidates for the top job have  called for Liberal Youth the organisation to be scrapped – does that show leadership potential?

*There was a  Downfall spoof video, a must have for any political bitchfight these days, sadly that disappeared after talk of legal action.

LibDem’s Choose Dullest Candidate to be Party President Lembit Goes Nuclear

Guido despairs of the sandalistas sometimes. Why choose someone so dull and weak? Ros Scott burst into tears at one hustings because the questioning was mildly tough. They had a choice between someone who has a high media profile, someone energetic and someone who is nice but completely in the LibDem comfort zone. They opted for the latter when the problem is the LibDems are in serious trouble electorally. They have just lost their deposit in a by-election. Membership is at the lowest it has been in living memory, down to just a mere 60,357.

Presidential Election Votes Cast
Ros Scott: 20,736 votes (72%)
Lembit Öpik: 6247 votes (22%)
Chandila Fernando: 1799 votes (6%)

Lembit now says is going to campaign for some of his hobby horses – one of which is a “reassessment of our [LibDem] attitude towards nuclear power”. Presumably he wants to move the LibDems towards supporting nuclear power.

The Other Presidential Campaign

Believe it or not there is another Presidential election campaign running. The three candidates for President of the Liberal Democrats are Baroness Ros Scott, Lembit Öpik and Chandila Fernando. The ballot papers have been sent out and the race closes November 7.

Ros is the establishment candidate and is favourite to win. She is seen as a safe pair of hands.

Lembit is having another go after losing out to Simon Hughes last time. He has hardly any support from his parliamentary colleagues who see him as anything but a safe pair of hands. His campaign manager is hoping that his celebrity status will give him high name recognition with the membership that will translate into votes.

Guido wonders if the brief friendship between Ros’ daughter and Lembit gives an added twist to the competitive edge between them.

Chandila Fernando is the young outside candidate running an energetic campaign. He comes from the Orange Book faction and is very much the insurgency candidate. Expenditure limits are £7,500 per candidate, Chandila – as massively the lowest profile candidate – wanted to blow £5,000 of his budget on adverts in the party’s LibDem News internal newspaper, but bizarrely this was blocked by the party.

If only they were so choosy about taking that £2 million from Michael Brown into the party coffers…

Clegg : the FCS Days, Denials and Delays

Calamity Clegg is denying this story that he was a member of the Cambridge University Conservative Association, unfortunately nobody believes him. Greg Hands MP says “There was only one Nick Clegg at Robinson College, and Nick Clegg was a member of CUCA.” He should know, he was counting on Clegg’s votes in the internal CUCA elections.

The Huhnie monsters accused Clegg of having a Tory past during the leadership election, something he denied at the time, as he does now.

Changing the subject, his press team told Guido a few weeks ago they would be publishing his expenses about now. Now Hannah in his office says they didn’t tell Guido that, and they will be publishing his expenses in “a few weeks”. Just as well, because Clegg himself warned us nearly a month ago that “Any delay will only add to the British public’s distrust in their politicians.”

+++ MING IS ALIVE +++

Seen at the LibDem leadership announcement. Not looking too spritely or cheerful…

UPDATE : Clegg won (no surprise) and gave a speech worthy of, errm, Al Gore. There were only 500 votes in it out of some 40,000 cast.

The LibDem leadership race is dragging on for another fortnight. Guido put a large bet on Clegg immediately after Ming’s election, assuming that Clegg was the heir, because he seemed appealingly telegenic and modernising.

Throughout this leadership contest Guido has however reduced his exposure to Clegg. It has to be said that Huhne, who has a limited likeability factor as a human, is a better campaigner. He has positioned himself on the clitoris of the activist base, painted Clegg as inept, lightweight and Cameron-in-yellow. He has also smartly jumped on Donorgate to put himself in the news. All in all, he has shown the ruthless determination of a politician who wants to win.

If he wins it will put the LibDems in the position the Tories were in under IDS. Universally derided as he was by the end of his leadership, people forget that IDS had activist adoration for his traditional Conservative views and hard line on Europe. The parliamentary Tory party was dismayed that they were saddled with IDS. Huhne has tacked left to appeal to the LibDem activists, who are far to the left of their parliamentarians and the party establishment machine.

Guido thinks it would be strategically better for the Tories to have Clegg as a leader, despite the fears that he will compete for Cameron’s votes. The most likely outcome of a general election is still a hung parliament. Clegg will be more amenable to a deal with the Tories. Guido is also beginning to wonder if Clegg might actually be a weaker campaigner than Huhne.

Vince Cable : “From Stalin to Mr Bean”

It has come to something when even the LibDems are taking the piss out of Gordon’s competence at PMQs. Vince has been very impressive on Northern Rock, military funding, the economy and slapping down Gordon. Some may wonder if the the LibDems have the best choice before them…

At last a little bit of excitement has developed in the LibDem leadership contest. The Huhnie monsters released a campaign briefing entitled “Calamity Clegg”. Guido (of course) has a copy of the now withdrawn document for you to download here.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

Chris Huhne’s campaign website had an article by the ex-Somerset Council leader, Sir Chris Clarke, backing Huhne and attacking Clegg as a crypto-Tory. It has now been edited out, but what is the betting that a quick-witted Labour staffer will have a copy to re-use at a later stage?[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

Perhaps irritated by Simon Hughes coming out for Clegg we learn that Huhne has been characteristically bitchy about his rival in a GMTV interview. He doesn’t quite say “Clegg is crap” but you know what he means.

Huhne says Clegg is similar to Cameron in age and looks before laying into David Cameron in a way that sounds like a proxy attack on Nick Clegg.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

Clegg – ID Cards – “I Will Defy Law”

LibDem politics is so very often the politics of gestures. Huhne’s position on Trident isn’t of any consequence since he won’t have a dog in that fight.

But the politics of the personal is a place where their gestures are more significant.

[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

Bit bored today. Chris Clegg and Nick Huhne are too difficult to distinguish.

Guido got a press release from John Lewis telling him that they supply the Huhnie monster with his suits. Says it all really.

+ READ MORE +

08:30 UPDATE : Clegg is launching his “glitz-free” campaign in Sheffield today.

His website www.nickclegg.com will go live immediately afterwards. His pitch is going to be that he can reach out beyond the LibDem comfort zone. Translated : “I’ll take votes back from Cameron”.

[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

TEXT UPDATED 10:30 : With many potential candidates ruling themselves out yesterday the three clear front runners are Huhne (13/5), who has declared, Clegg, the odds on favourite (1/2) who will launch his campaign tomorrow. Steve Webb has withdrawn this morning and endorsed Clegg.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

+++ STEVE WEBB WITHDRAWS AND ENDORSES CLEGG +++_

Unconfirmed.

UPDATE : Oops, the Beeb had it 20 minutes before Guido. See that £3.5 billion doesn’t all go to waste.

+ READ MORE +



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