The Apollo Project
Liberal Ideas for the 21st Century
Saturday, January 28, 2006
The case for Huhne
by chrisk

My enthusiasm was only sparked when I heard Chris Huhne was going to stand.

The first few days of the leaderhip contest were predictable. Many Lib Dems, myself included, met the announcements from the obvious candidates with a kind of bored scepticism.

Chris is a unity candidate. He shows that you can be economically sound without being right-wing: he can help address our biggest perceived weakness without causing storms of protest from our activists. The support he's receiving from relatively left-wing members of the policy commissions he's chaired bears this out.

He's also not yet put a foot wrong. In the selection campaign for the 1999 Euros, he came third in the ballot of the South East region and was only elected to Europe because of the gender balance rules. By 2004, he very comfortably topped the poll. He held us Eastleigh in circumstances probably more difficult than those in many similar Tory seats we lost. And in recent months, as our shadow Chief Secretary, you'll have noticed him stepping up to torpedo Cameron's credibility as well as defending Charles.

A lot of people are impressed with Chris (including, unlike some other candidates, the people who've worked directly with him); his constituency nominations were the first in, in twice the strength necessary. Some candidates started their campaigns months ago; Chris Huhne didn't. Given the lack of prior stitching-up of supporters, the depth of Huhne's backing shows some genuine excitement about his candidacy, and not just in the South East.

And, before stories about sex scandals started to break, Huhne was close to setting the agenda of the leadership campaign; shifting the agenda to the environment in the first week, for example. This is probably why the odds have slashed from a 8/1 outside chance when he declared to much less now.

The only caution I had was that I hadn't seen him performing live in a high-pressure Paxman-style interview. But he handled the first Sky interview well and I think the more broadcast exposure Chris Huhne gets the more members will like him.

It's still early in the contest, and I think Huhne will be not so much a stalking horse but a sprinting one.
posted by Apollo Project @ 1:31 pm  
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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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