Tuesday, July 3, 2007

LibDems up one point to 18% in Times poll - let's keep our hair on!

The Times reports a Populus poll this morning that puts the LibDems up one point on 18%, with bad news for David Cameron.

Hat-tip to David Morton, who also makes some other good points about the current scenario.

I am a great fan of the Norfolk Blogger. His post on Ming is thought-provoking.

We were told when Ming was standing to be party leader that Ming's greatest assets were his experience and his judgment. I now believe that these were lies.

Ming has, for me, shown since his election that he lacks these.

I am still struggling with this opening paragraph. If a school pupil submitted such a paragraph to their teacher, I would expect the work to be thrown back into their face with red ink all over it.

I know the phrase is oft-used but how can someone "lack judgment"? You can have bad judgment or good judgment. You can lack sound judgment. But unless you are a human vegetable, you cannot actually lack judgment.

Putting the 'judgment' semantic element aside, Nich is saying that during the leadership campaign, it was said that one of Ming's greatest assets was his experience. Nich now says this was a lie.

I am sorry, what was a lie? Nich, are you saying that someone in Ming's campaign actually "embroidered" some of his CV - Jeffery Archer-like? He's not actually a QC, for example, perhaps? (Hold the front page!) Or are you saying that it was a lie to say that one of Ming's greatest assets is his experience, that is, that he has other assets which are greater than his experience? Or did they generally over-egg the pudding on the experience front? (They wouldn't be the first campaign team to do this but it is hardly lying).

If you are going to accuse your own party leader, or at least his erstwhile campaign team, of lying, it might be a good idea to be a tad more specific. I think it is fair to say that Nich, you now don't agree that Ming should have been elected on account of his judgment and experience. Fair enough. But to say that elements of the campaign were "lies" surely requires you to actually come up with something a little more specific, in terms of quotes which were used in the campaign, for example.

The press has it in for him.

Well, I have seen some positive coverage for Ming. I have also seen little waspish paragraphs about "party sources" at the bottom of Independent articles. But I have seen no vast campaigns against Ming in the press. He has not yet been depicted as a turnip or a light bulb on the front of the Sun, for example. You could say that the press, e.g The Daily Mail and the Daily Mirror (which together make up a massive circulation bloc), have it in for Cameron - in those cases with a real vengeance.

Okay, so Ming is great at Foreign Affairs. This is, however, no reason to elect a party leader.

I am astonished that this and other similar points are coming up now. They were all thoroughly ventilated during the leadership campaign and the party made the decision, overwhelmingly, to elect Ming. We should respect that decision of the party.

The reason the press have it in for Ming is that for all his experience, he makes mistakes and does not show enough consistency.

He has made two minor mistakes - the farrago over the conference speech spin and "hesitating" for two nano seconds before telling Brown where to put his ministerial jobs for LibDem peers. In terms of the scale of mistakes it's really time to get the microscope out with those ones. As for not showing enough consistency. Oh my goodness! Cue: Bateman cartoon: 'The Party leader who didn't show enough consistency!' Pass the smelling salts immediately. It's hardly Armageddon is it?

He should not even have considered Gordon Brown's overtures to have Lib Dems in government in Westminster.

Crikey. Get the microscope out again. He had a private meeting at which an unusual request was made (it was not a coalition request but asking for Peers to be in a few ministerial posts). He quite rightly asked for time to consult colleagues and came back with a firm "no". I really don't think this is any reason to strangle Ming.

This showed a lack of judgment on a massive scale.

"on a massive scale". Ah, there went Nich Starling's sense of proportion, flying out of the window. Bye, bye!

Now though, with Liberal Democrat Peers Lord Lester and Baroness Neuberger named as advisers to Gordon Brown and Shirley Williams set to follow we have Liberal Democrats working with the Labour government, something that Ming made clear this week that would not happen.

No. He said that LibDems would only act in independent advisory capacities and that is what Williams (if the role is accepted), Lester and Neuberger are doing. By the way, Roy Jenkins (Voting reform) and Paddy Ashdown (parades) have already acted as advisers to the Labour government. So also has Chris Patten (Northern Ireland policing).

All three of the peers in question have specific areas of expertise from roles they have carried out in the past. Lord Lester is a hugely respected QC who is an expert on the Human Rights Act and constitutional reform. It would be morally wrong to withhold his advice from Her Majesty's Government when it is requested. But it is a one-way street. He gives his advice. He does not have any responsibilities or power in return.

The fact that the other Lib Dem bloggers seem to be closing their eyes to this whilst the our opinion poll rating goes down the toilet (12% in one poll this week) should be deeply worrying.

Do stop it Nich. The "other Lib Dem bloggers" are a robust enough bunch to say what they think, when they want to. Had it occurred to you that some of us might actually think you are getting your knickers in a twist about very little? Or do we not have the right to have that opinion?

The biggest mistake I could make now is keeping quiet whilst the party carries on in this awful slide to oblivion.

Nich, the last thing I would expect and want you to be is quiet. The very thought of a silent Norfolk Blogger is inconceivable.

Something must be done now.

Too darned right. Let's all get our posteriors down to Ealing Southall and/or Sedgefield!

Certainly the Lib Dems are the clear challengers to Labour, but would a win just be papering over the cracks.

Oh so you don't want us to win, do you Nich? That's interesting. May I suggest that you at least humour the LibDem party and at least venture down to Ealing Southall and/or up to Sedgefield for a bit? Yesterday, it was marvellous to see the boys and girls in Ealing Southall working so hard and efficiently. I think it would do you a lot of good to see them also. I apologise if you have already been there.

It's time for people to stand up and be counted. We read about senior Lib Dem MP's and Peers being angry with Ming, yet all we get is rumour.

Of course, it is inconceivable, is it not, that this might just be the odd strand of straw in the wind which has been magnified out of all proportion by the press? Perish the thought.

I really do think it is faintly ludicrous to imply that LibDems are keeping quiet or will ever keep quiet regarding things about which they feel strongly. If LibDems feel strongly enough about things, they speak out. It really is absurd to build a thesis partly on the assumption that there is this vast sense of outrage boiling up but that noone is strong enough to speak out about it, except Nich Starling, Laurence Boyce and a few others.

You are not disloyal Nich. You are an exceptionally committed campaigner. I do not accuse you of disloyalty. I accuse you of making a mountain out of a molehill.

Gosh, and look at me. I supported Chris Huhne.


  1. A good critique Paul. Whilst my thoughts and rambling might have been sub-edited to make the more palatable, I stand by what I wrote.

    It's greatthat the Party has got a bounce in today's polls, and something of a relief. It doesn't alter the fact that there is a downward trend in the polls in reent weeks. I know these things are cyclical, so we'll see how they pan out long term.

    As for going to help in one of the by-elections, I am off work with a very bad back (a trapped nerve they think, but a 6 week wait to go to the hospital about it isn't good) and my wofe is due to give birth in 5 weeks so you'll forgive me if I don't leave her at the moment.

  2. Many thanks Nich. I am very sorry to hear about your back - get well soon. And best of luck to you and your wife with the impending arrival!

  3. We are now about fifteen months into the Campbell leadership. Wasn't it broadly the equivalent point in the Ashdown leadership that we had the 1989 European elections, when we got 4% and came fourth behind the greens? Kennedy also spent much of his first couple of years fending off people saying that they wished we had Ashdown back.

    If every time we fall back a few points in the polls (incidentally at a time when there is maximum support for Brown and his 'new government') we ditch the leader, I am not sure that expectations are very realistic or it is a very sensible or balanced way to run a party.

  4. Thank you James and anonymous