The Apollo Project
Liberal Ideas for the 21st Century
Friday, January 20, 2006
Nick Clegg takes the Mat GB shallenge
by Peter

Nick Clegg has a piece on the Guardian site that responds pretty well to the terms of the MatGB challenge (scroll down).

Why (re)join the Lib Dems?

Nick says

the need for a forceful, independent Liberal voice to challenge the two larger parties has never been greater. Who else would have opposed the invasion of Iraq when Labour and the Tories both supported it? Who else would have opposed the expensive and illiberal proposal for ID cards when Labour and the Tories agreed (even though the Tories have now executed a welcome U-turn on the issue)? Who else would have spoken up in defence of the environment before Labour and the Tories decided it was trendy to do so? Who else will campaign against the bossy top-down system of government, barely accountable to parliament or the country at large, which Tory and Labour governments over the years have done so much to defend?
These aren't piffling questions. They go to the heart of what Britain is, and what Britain could aspire to be. If people want a Liberal Britain - tolerant, diverse, moderate - then everyone has an interest in seeing the Lib Dems grow in strength.

Why support his candidate?

Ming Campbell is, in my view, by a long way the best candidate to lead the Lib Dems in these circumstances. Having worked as his deputy in the House of Commons since I was elected, I have seen for myself his enormous political and personal strengths. A man who held the 100 metres UK record for seven years, rose to become a QC, defeated cancer, dissected Blair's ill-judged decision to rush into war in Iraq, and remains one of the most respected MPs in the country, has the steel and flair to give the Lib Dems the clout to win.

Meanwhile, in The Independent, Vince Cable is toying with some interesting ideas on taxation.
posted by Apollo Project @ 11:32 am  
  • At 20 January, 2006 15:15, Anonymous Pip said…

    ... One of the most obvious lessons I extract from the messy fall of Charles Kennedy is that the party cannot afford to have another leader who does not enjoy the unambiguous loyalty of the overwhelming majority of his parliamentary colleagues. A leader who spends his time looking over his shoulder to make sure his own colleagues are on side cannot be effective in making advances against the other parties.

    I'm not sure I like the inference of this - that Nick thinks the membership should simply do as they're told by the largest number of MPs and support Ming.

    Added to the barely coded suggestion to Mark Oaten (after he withdrew) that he could kiss goodbye to any possibility of a frontbench position unless he endorsed Ming, then it looks to me as if we're seeing a nasty streak of internal authoritarianism from young Clegg.

  • At 20 January, 2006 17:47, Blogger James said…

    I have to admit, I had concerns about that paragraph as well.

  • At 20 January, 2006 20:20, Blogger Stephen Tall said…

    Surely Clegg's just stating a fact? (Like it or not.)

    I'm proud that we as a party have always championed one-member-one-vote. But let's not pretend it doesn't create some problems - one of which would be electing a leader who didn't enjoy the confidence of the MPs, the people s/he will work alongside every single day.

    The current rules mean it is quite possible for the party to end up with a leader for whom 55 of our 62 MPs did not vote.

    I don't think it's unduly authoritarian to question if this is necessarily a good thing.

  • At 20 January, 2006 21:49, Blogger Peter Pigeon said…

    As the day to day job of the leader is to lead the parliamentary party, this really is a statement of the obvious.

    And my newspaper says that all the leadership candidates have said that they will have Mark Oaten on the front bench.

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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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