The Apollo Project
Liberal Ideas for the 21st Century
Sunday, February 12, 2006
Two Takes on Huhne
by Steve Travis

I noted two snippets in today's Observer concerning Chris Huhne. The first is a rather catty dig at his former car-purchasing habits by Nick Cohen:

Can this be the same Chris Huhne who led an unseemly scramble for company cars by Independent execs all those years ago? And picked a BMW which was such a flash motor that Ian Jack, the most fastidious literary journalist of the time, wrote 'This Car Is Very Vulgar' in the dust on the bonnet? If Huhne wins, Lib Dems shouldn't be too surprised if he orders a stretch limo and private jet.

The second is the paper's lead article, which could have been penned by our own Paul Lloyd:

The person best placed to see off David Cameron is Chris Huhne. The Tory leader's strategy in the next election will be to sell himself as the candidate of energy over experience; 21st-century liberalism over 20th-century leftism. David Cameron's claim to represent those things will look most inauthentic next to Chris Huhne, the genuine article.

But there is a problem. Huhne broke from the pack of new Lib Dem MPs to run for the leadership, but then his courage failed him. He has squandered his time in the spotlight talking up his experience as an MEP and fiddling around the margins of tax policy. His manifesto offers a broader vision. He must learn to express it with real passion.

Sir Ming would be the safe choice, but safety is not a winning strategy. Huhne would be the bolder choice and a risk worth taking if only he could show boldness himself. The vacancy is for a new champion of British liberalism. It needs a man of stature. Chris Huhne must raise his game if he really wants the job.

Chris has spent a lot of time talking down his orange book credentials, probably to outflank Simon. Were he to win the leadership, I would urge him to ensure the Liberal principles he showed in that volume come to the fore once more.
posted by Apollo Project @ 9:18 am  
  • At 13 February, 2006 11:08, Blogger Richard said…

    A contribution to the Orange Book does not mean he agrees with the other chapters; indeed, Chris abhors Laws's private health insurance scheme.

    I think you are expecting him to return to a form you've imagined, rather than a form he has ever actually established himself.

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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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