The Apollo Project
Liberal Ideas for the 21st Century
Thursday, January 19, 2006
And they say a week is a long time in politics - updated
by Peter

Yesterday I was preparing to write an update (prevous post here) on the leadership campaign which was going to offer the controversial view that Mark Oaten had not had a bad week really, and might be advancing. My argument was going to be that the further from Westminster and Cowley Street you were, the better Oaten looked. The leak about the Kennedy e-mails in the Independent struck me as a bit of a wild-card - not really in Oaten's best, long-term interests.

And then the news broke of this police involvement and the Kennedy denials broke - very bad news for Oaten.

Today the newspapers reflect this. The Independent writes that

Mark Oaten's leadership campaign descended into farce after it emerged that he enjoyed the public backing of only one MP.

Of the seven MPs who formally nominated him for the leadership, only his campaign manager, Lembit Opik, remained publicly backing him yesterday.

Meanwhile the Times has this:

As Sir Menzies Campbell shone in the Commons, the ‘Oatengate’ scandal was unfolding outside it

THE race to lead the Liberal Democrats took a bizarre twist as one of the candidates said that documents had been stolen from his Commons office and called in the police.

Mark Oaten, who appears to be trailing in fourth place, said that an e-mail, apparently showing how Charles Kennedy was helping his campaign, was removed from his office and leaked to the media.

The row intensified as Mr Kennedy’s closest aide accused Mr Oaten’s own team of being behind the leak in an attempt to boost his chances by claiming that he had the former leader’s backing.

Personally I thought it better that Oaten particpates in the contest. But it is hard to see that he can continue to do so on this basis.

The other politican who is beginning to take a few blows is David Cameron. This is what the Times had to say on Prime Minister's Questions:

Ming was better than David Cameron. For the first time at PMQs, the Tory leader seemed fuzzy and lacklustre. He spouted the same barbs that Michael Howard used to and it sounded tired. Also Mr Blair, who had been so meek with Ming, was razor sharp when dealing with Mr Cameron.

Mr Blair is never in a hurry when he sizes up an opponent. For the past few weeks, he has been biding his time, trying to get the measure of the man who is Dave. Now it is clear that Mr Blair thinks he has nailed him as a chameleon.

He kept demanding to know what Dave’s policy was on this and that. Mr Blair never does anything by chance and, finally, the Tory leader took the bait and snapped back that Mr Blair was not the one who was supposed to be asking the questions. The PM allowed himself a secret smile and hit right back. “I do apologise for asking these policy questions,” he said with deadly sweetness, “but the fact is that your policies change so very quickly, on almost a day-to-day basis, that sometimes it is good to inform myself to keep up with where you are at any one time.”

We can expect a lot more of that in weeks to come. Over on the Lib Dem benches, King Ming was looking relieved. For yesterday his cup runneth over and he was grateful for it.
posted by Peter Pigeon @ 9:03 am  
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"What is Liberalism?: I should say it means the acknowledgment in practical life of the truth that men are best governed who govern themselves; that the general sense of mankind, if left alone, will make for righteousness; that artificial privileges and restraints upon freedom, so far as they are not required in the interests of the community, are hurtful; and that the laws, while, of course, they cannot equalise conditions, can at least avoid aggravating inequalities, and ought to have for their object the securing to every man the best chance he can have of a good and useful life." C-B.


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