Saturday, January 07, 2006

Bowing to the Inevitable

I have just returned from the Livingston and Murrayfield by-elections thank you party (as I pledged yesterday I remained on soft drinks all night). I have been forthright in my support for Charles Kennedy over the last 24 hours and have received over 160 visitors to this blog since his statement on Thursday evening.

However, whilst I was heading to the party the news that 25 members of the Parliamentary had removed their support for the leader, 19 being spokespersons, brought me to a sad conclusion. While I and other members of the party at large may still be prepared to fully support Charles, the people he has to lead through division lobbies and from the Lib Dem benches cannot see themselves doing so. The fact is that the 25 signatories of todays statement are not fully inclusive of the original 11 signatories spoke of greater depth of feeling than the numbers conveyed.

I feel the person who is most able to lead and inspire the activists on to greater achievements, and most able to convince non-Lib dems to vote for us, is being forced out. However, in order for anyone to be able to do these things they must have backing in the commons.

Fortunately in my time involved with the Liberal Democrats the party has grown very considerably thanks to the efforts of Charles and Paddy Ashdown before him. We are no longer conceived or believed to be a one man band with a few interlopers. We are a party with a lot of good, experienced people in positions of responsibilty who are up for the challenge of such a task.

Therefore it is with sadness that I can see no other option this evening than for Charles to make a dignified exit and allow an open contest between the people best able to bring credibility back swiftly and in the long term. Thus releasing any who feel bound by a code of honour to take their place at the start line.

Charles I wish you all the best in your battle with the bottle and reiterate my pledge stay off the drink for the remainder of this year as a sign of my support in that aim.


Anonymous said...

I had not realised the true extent of the dissatisfaction within the parliamentary party. Even now I do not fully understand it. Complaining about Charles’s poor performance while issuing press releases about Santa’s reindeer? Words fail me.

If it were (as I ignorantly supposed it to be only 48 hours ago) a matter of a handful of malcontents, I would still urge Charles to stand, face down his critics, and have a punitive reshuffle on being re-elected by the membership. Now I know that there would be hardly anyone willing to take up the vacant portfolios. How on earth could Charles come out of the last PP meeting believing that he had overwhelming support? Is this another example of an alcoholic’s ability for self-deception? Or were colleagues too oblique in their criticism, fettered by their sincere regard and sympathy? Whatever the reason, a man cannot lead if none are prepared to follow.

Charles should resign. If he insists on going ahead I, regretfully, could not vote for him.

Peter Pigeon said...

Well done, Stephen.

Anonymous said...

Interesting fact found in the Sunday Times:

Of the 25 Liberal Democrat MP's who signed the letter calling for
Charles Kennedy's resignation, 10 MP's were elected only last May.


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