Ed Davey got a bit over-confident when nominations closed last night in the LibDem leadership race. He claimed that nearly 60% of members were backing him to be leader, actually that was the percentage of the nominations he got. Voting has yet to begin and his tweet was deleted minutes later. Is that nominations tally even that much of a strong performance?
The establishment candidate has the advantage of the marketing database he built up during his last tilt at the leadership and his effective incumbency advantage. So you would expect him to sew up the nominations. Punters however think he’s the underdog. Who knows? Who cares?
When Guido was the first to break the news that the LibDem leadership election may be delayed because of Coronavirus he was heartbroken. It was a joyous surprise, therefore, to now hear their leadership election is back on. In fully digital form…
The leadership race – for which there is currently only one hat in the ring – will kick off on July 30th, featuring “online hustings and online voting”, with the new leader being announced one month later on August 26th ahead of their virtual September conference.
So far, Layla Moran is the only declared candidate, having been criticised by acting leader Ed Davey for focusing on her leadership campaign in spite of the pandemic. Guido understands Davey – who has now been interim leader for over two weeks longer than Jo Swinson’s tenure – is also expected to launch a campaign (originally scheduled to launch after the cancelled local elections) which will be a “rehash of what he did during Jo Swinson campaign”, with some added extras such as “decarbonising the economy”. By complete coincidence, today Davey has also tabled a vainglorious bill calling for a two-year extension to the Transition Period that will play well with the base…
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.
It 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.
: 20,736 votes (72%)
Lembit Öpik: 6247 votes (22%)
: 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.
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…