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Thursday, January 05, 2006

Kennedy calls contest

Charles Kennedy, the leader of the UK Liberal Democrat Party has called a leadership election after many rumours and sniping within his party. At the same time he has admitted that he has a drink problem (though has been dry for 2 months and has been seeking help). His drinking has been a standard joke (without concrete proof it seemed) for quite some time and it remains to be seen how the media will treat this story. It seemed to have little effect on his ability to lead.

Strangely this all started brewing (no pun intended) shortly after the Tories swapped leaders for
Blair-lite (all the charisma, only half the dictator) and it did look like band wagon jumping, especially since Kennedy has brought some of the biggest victories to the Lib Dems in their short history. Under him the party has grown such that people see it as more of a contender than they ever did under Paddy Ashdown, who was one of the most well-liked modern-day politicians in Great Britain.

So who will the liberals choose to replace Kennedy? Here are the likely suspects though Mark Oaten has already ruled himself out of the race. I suspect that the frontrunners will be Simon Hughes and Sir Menzies 'Ming the Merciless' Campbell. Do either of these men have the charisma to attract the country? My best bet for a leader who could appeal to the people is Lembit Opik, but I am betting he will not run.

Who knows, with the Conservatives swapping out, and the Lib Dems likely to do the same maybe Labour will start having ideas...

UPDATE: So how wrong can you be? Seems that old Ming has elected (see what I did there?) not to stand against Kennedy. His statement seems to have split the party into senior and activist camps; some of the latter support him the former do not. Was the announcement a massive gamble, an attempt to stir the sympathy vote? How can anyone oppose him without looking like a big meanie?

UPDATE2: Heh. ITV (who dug up the drink story) seem to be doing the 'blogger dance'. You know, the old 'this would not be happening if not for us'. In fact the whole tone of the ITV news is much harder on Kennedy than the Channel 4 news was, really playing up his past denials (lies) over his drink problem. I wonder whether the same is true of the BBC.

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