The Apollo Project
Liberal Ideas for the 21st Century
Saturday, January 07, 2006
Not so much who but how
by Peter

I´m writing this before hearing the 3pm statement. I can only believe that this will be a resignation statement. It will be a sad end to a successful period as Leader. I hope we will see Charles on the front bench very soon.

Two questions arise: who will lead us, and how?

My preference is Campbell, and if not Campbell, Clegg. Either we take the fight to a new area where we can win (gravitas) or we find someone who is younger, better-looking and smilier than Cameron. But all of the candidates have their merits. And as Alex Sweet has said (see below), the idea that one or the other will lead the party in a distinct direction is probably overdone. We all believe that the State has some role in helping people, and we all believe taht you can have too much of it.

How do we go forward? It is traditional to hope for a more collegial style of leadership - and I´m a traditionalist. We have a huge amount of campaigning resources available these days: many more elected officials and researchers. Many more people who command the attention of local and regional media. We could be doing a lot to get this pointing in the same direction.

It is also traditional to want a strong leader - and I´ll go for that too. I want a performing economy to be part of our platform - and that will mean saying that some things just can't be paid for.

Finally we need a leader who will reach out and expand the number of people who feel themselves represented by the Liberal Democrats. We have a great deal of talent in the parliamentary party. I´m optimistic for our future.
posted by Peter Pigeon @ 2:21 pm  
  • At 07 January, 2006 17:46, Blogger Tristan said…

    I agree with that.
    I would like to see the party setting out a Liberal agenda, drawing from the whole of the history of the tradition.
    As Charles Kennedy said in his statement, Liberalism is even more vital today than it has been for a long time, and as he has said for a long time, its not a matter of left or right, but a matter of Liberalism.

    The strong economy is vital, as is a small state, we should not shirk away from these because the Tories finally caught up with a little bit of Liberal thinking (they still havn't got the fundamental ideas though which is why Cameron's appeal is so absurd). We need to reassess the role of the state, Social Democracy has brought us Tony Blair, it did some good, but ultimately it is Socialism and tends towards authoritarianism in the long run.

    Its About Freedom: that is the best statement of Liberalism I've heard for a long time. And this is about individual freedom, not the doublespeak freedom of New Labour, let the party unite behind this, promote a Liberal future (not the ill-fated thinktank though :-p) for this country and the world. This is what Charles Kennedy appeared to be aiming for, lets let this continue and let us form a new vision for politics in this country based upon democracy, plurality, the division of power, equality under the law and individual freedom and responsibility. It will be a long hard road, but it can be done.

  • At 07 January, 2006 18:04, Blogger Stephen Glenn said…

    Peter I'm going to stick my neck on the line especially as I am a Scottish Liberal Democrat. I was in a room last night where the question was being asked, if Charles step aside who would be best to take us on. Obviously Ming was mentioned quite a lot. However, other like myself took the line of wait and see who is standing and then make a decision.

    At this stage we are looking for a leader who will be facing Gordon Brown and David Cameron in the next election. While Ming will be good in certain areas where we need to make progress unlike the other two he will lose out in an essential area in which we do well ie the younger voters.

    He will also be seen as merely a stop gap and people will be looking beyond him to his sucessor from the day he takes office focusing on that instead of our message. For that reason I do not feel that Ming is right to take us forward.

    Your second choice Nick Clegg however is someone who if he decides to stand will be ideal and a horse I would enthusiastically back.

  • At 07 January, 2006 19:13, Blogger MatGB said…

    We need to reassess the role of the state, Social Democracy has brought us Tony Blair, it did some good, but ultimately it is Socialism and tends towards authoritarianism in the long run.
    In it's authoritarian form, it brought us Blair, but it also brought us, among others, CK himself, Roy Jenkins, Shirley Williams and others. Wait, it also brought us the modern party itself.

    Rename it Liberal Socialism and accept that socialism needn't be either statist or centrist and you get a form that many liberals wouldn't object to at all; Waitrose anyone?

    I don't think Ming would be a good idea, for the stop gap reasons among other things. We need someone that can reach out to disillusioned Labour voters without scaring off the former tories we've already picked up. Ming won't do that.

  • At 07 January, 2006 22:03, Blogger Liberal Neil said…

    I don't believe that we (or any party) does well amongst younger voters because the leader is young, I think we do it because the policies, and the attitude, are young.

  • At 07 January, 2006 22:35, Blogger Stephen Glenn said…

    Actually Liberal Neil I quite agree, I just don't think Ming the person to convey that attitude to the young. Michael Heseltine who is far older or Paddy Ashdown who is the same age are more able to do that than Ming. I'm not saying fully that Ming would be incabable of doing just not when David Cameron and Gordon Brown are the alternatives.

  • At 08 January, 2006 12:21, Blogger Peter Pigeon said…

    I don´´t think there is an ideal candidate out there. Campbell would be better if younger, Clegg better if more experienced. I hope (we always say this, don't we) that we can work better as a team in Parliament in the future.

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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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