Thursday, August 2, 2007

Ming 'Over-promoted'? Who promoted him?

Linda Jack is a diamond in the LibDem blogging jewel box. We should respect and cherish her.

She says “Unfortunately it’s the case where (Ming) has perhaps been over-promoted”.

That’s an interesting one, isn’t? Is the phrase “over-promoted” or indeed “promoted” apt for someone who has been elected? I have never heard, for example, someone say that George Bush was “over-promoted” or referred to an electorate in the same way as a promotion board.

The concept of promotion is normally one which relates to companies or the armed services. It refers to a boss making a decision to promote someone, or a board of senior people making such a decision.

Such a system has, over the years, come in for a lot of flak. People are often promoted for the wrong reasons, in companies and the armed services. If I had a penny for the number of times I have heard someone being described as having been “promoted out of harm’s way”, I would be a very rich man.

And of course, there is The Peter Principle: “In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence."

So, in the case of Ming, who promoted him?

The answer is here:

First round:

Sir Menzies Campbell 23,264 votes 44.7%
Chris Huhne 16,691 votes 32.1%
Simon Hughes 12,081 votes 23.2%
Turnout 52,036 72.2%

Second round:

Sir Menzies Campbell +6,433=29,697 votes 57.1%
Chris Huhne +4,937=21,628 votes 41.6%

So, after a long, hard-fought campaign, Ming had 38% more votes than his nearest challenger in the first round of voting. Then he had 37% more votes than Chris Huhne in the second round.

So, Linda Jack needs to address her “over promotion” charge to the 29,697 people who gave first or second preference votes to Ming. That was 52% of the people who voted. This by the way, was with a remarkably high 72% turnout!

Ming hasn’t changed. He didn’t put on an act during the leadership campaign. Everyone had their chance to see what was on offer and they chose Ming.

Nick Clegg said he didn’t feel he was experienced enough to stand. He is in the best position to know this. And with David Cameron we have seen what happens when someone too inexperienced becomes a party leader. Relative disaster, after a shiny start.

We have the words “Democrat” in our party title. Let’s act like Democrats and respect the decision of our party membership.

The Linda Jack rebellion was emblematic and, I think a water-shed, for the party because it was such a damp squib. The huge resources of the British Broadcasting Corporation scoured the blogosphere and rang hither and thither, all over our kingdom. But all they could manage was to get a relatively mild quote phoned in two minutes before their programme began from someone who isn’t a parliamentarian or an assembly member, who isn't a councillor and who isn't a PPC but who used to be a councillor and used to be a PPC and is on the Federal Policy Committee – not even the Federal Executive.

The fact that the BBC couldn’t get anyone else to speak, that the interview afterwards was brilliantly handled by Vince “safe hands/straight bat” Cable and that no one else joined in on the airwaves, speaks volumes for our party. Well done LibDems!

It’s not much to do with "not fitting a media agenda". It’s August for goodness sake! The Sun is so desperate they turned the sighting of a harmless basking shark off Cornwall into “JAWS 2”. The Linda Jack rebellion story made the BBC’s own online service and The East Anglian Daily Press. The story had legs shorter than those of Ronnie Corbett.

There is one essential element conspicuously missing from a few quarters of the naval-gazing environment of the LibDem blogosphere. I would put it like this by modifying the words of John F Kennedy:

..Ask not what your leader can do for you—ask what you can do for your leader.


  1. You're quite right, Paul, to point out that it was the party membership that elected Ming; however, i strongly believe we were mis-sold.

    Ming pitched himself as a "safe pair of hands", when in reality he has not been so; sure, there haven't been any massive disasters, but instead we have endured a steady but sure slide in the opinion polls, some electoral performances that were mediocre at best, and relentless mockery of Ming's lack of charisma or decisiveness.

    You just have to witness the laughter from the audience when the issue of Ming's leadership is raised on Question Time to see what i mean.

    You're quite right to say that we elected him democratically (although i personally was not a member at the time and could not vote), but that is no reason not to get rid of him.

  2. I fear, Leo, that if you were old enough to remember the aftermaths of the previous general elections and the previous leadership elections, you would recognise the pattern in the opinion polls.

    We shouldn't have to go through the rigmarole of another leadership election just so you can have the fun of voting that you missed out on last time.

  3. I think you mean "navel-gazing" - I seem to be the only Lib Dem blogger who mentions naval matters much.

    Share the sentiment though.

  4. Paul as usual you are absolutely right.

    Leo - As I've said elsewhere, I think you need to look at the fact that Lib Dem poll ratings have dipped slightly in the first couple of years of all our three leaders' periods of office, as well as normally at this stage in a Parliament. This has not stopped the previous two from leading us to new heights at the next GE (when they get much greater exposure). I think this is quite relevant context...

    Paul - I enjoyed very much your comment that Linda "is on the Federal Policy Committee – *not even* the Federal Executive"! (my emphasis).

  5. Thank you very much Leo, Anonymous, Chris K and Jeremy.

    And Chris K - funnily enough I was thinking as I drove home - did I spell navel correctly?

    It reminds me of the old Bob Monkhouse joke:

    "I was in the Naval Air Force, you know. But I gave it up because it was hell trying to force air through a navel."

  6. Yes Paul I totally agree the BBC really scraped the barrel with me didnt they?! (Mind you given the lovely things you say about my blog I am putty in your hands!) Actually the reason they rang me had nothing to do with my blog (not mentioned, doubt they know it exists) being a mere has been or FPCer (sorry Jeremy - our excellent vice-chair I hope you didn't feel tarred with the same brush!) but because someone a fair bit higher than me up the barrel had passed them on to me, because a few people very close to the top of the barrel were not prepared to speak publicly. But, this is a storm in a flippin thimble, as evidenced by a funny email I received from someone "close" to Ming today, they are taking it all with a pinch of salt.

  7. Well I sure as hell didnt promote him. Oh and democracy is about the protection of minority views not trampling them by majority voting.

  8. "Well I sure as hell didnt promote him."

    Nor did I, Peter. He was third preference on my ballot paper.

    "Oh and democracy is about the protection of minority views not trampling them by majority voting."

    Who has been "trampled on", and in what way? And what course of action would have ensured they weren't trampled on, Peter?

  9. It was a reference to this passage:

    "We have the words “Democrat” in our party title. Let’s act like Democrats and respect the decision of our party membership."

    Getting a majority in an election should not mean that everybody has to stay mute for ever afterwards.

  10. Of course, not Peter. And If I have inadvertently suggested that, I apologise. If I believed in muting people I wouldn't allow completely unmoderated and uncensored comments on my site here.

    But there is obviously a fine line between not staying mute and doing damage to the party through the media.

  11. Thanks Linda. Yes, an inclement ten minutes in a three-in-one oil cap, I agree.

    "someone very close to the top of the barrel were not prepared to speak publicly"

    By "not prepared" - what do you mean?

    What? They didn't have their notes written out?

    They had a frog in their throat?

    They had to go to the hairdressers and were in too much of a tizzy to talk to the BBC?

    Or were they chicken, were they?

    Or were they trying to sustain a career in politics beyond 1.20pm on Tuesday?

    Who is this mysterious Svengali/Doctor No character who you have a direct line to?

    You get mails from people "close" to Ming do you?

    You really do move in exalted circles, I'll say that for you Linda!

    Your comments just reinforce the statement of our own dear Queen, who once said: "There are forces at work in this country of which we know nothing".

  12. I've commented on this on my blog, but would simply say we need to back Ming now and look at the matter again following a GE. Results matter !

    This is from someone who rated Ming 3rd out of 3 candidates and has been uninspired and unconvinced by his leadership thus far.

    Linda, you speak for more in the party than you perhaps realise !

  13. That's the problem - it's the party membership who elected Ming, not the activists, who I suspect were almost equally divided between all three. The price of democracy is ????