Friday, February 17, 2006

How Important is Your Leadership Vote?

Earlier today when Barrie Wood posted that our voters wanted Simon Hughes as leader it sparked the following response from Jock Coats that our voters don't get a vote in the leadership election. This is a valid point. However, that makes the decision of us political anoraks and insiders all the more important.

One thing we all agree on is that we want to see our party make real progress in future elections. To do that we need someone who is able to quickly convey our party ideology and emphasis in the short sound bite attention span of the modern media. Therefore while Chris Huhne is a brilliant mind he takes to long to wamr up in all the debates I've seen to get his message across. Anyway the people who get our message across in most depth are the actual candidates on the doorstep answering hte particular inquiries of the electors they meet.

Most of us activists actually miss the media converage of the election campaign because usually we are out in our constituencies getting hte message across the hard way to people on their doorsteps. However, there is very little discussion of policy on the television what there is is reduced to sound bite sized chunks and then a focus on where the leaders were for the day.

Therefore while Chris is excellent at coming up with ideas is he able to convey those in the short time that the media will allow him, if leader, at the next general election. I'm not sure.

Of the other two candiates who is able to give a piffy one liner that sums up our ethos on a event, news story or policy? As leader, and come to guy of the press core, this is what they will end up doing on a daily basis. Simon definitely has that skill in abundance.

Maybe some of us are thinking too intellectually about who can lead our policy forward and not looking at who can present it. After all it is the party as a whole that leads our policy forward. There is nothing wrong with Chris Huhne presenting a policy at conference when he'd have more time than the rest of us with our 4 or 3 minute allotment.

The leader is the public face of the party, the person they connect to. We have a lot of deep thinkers in the party machine I wouldn't want all of them to be our top target seat candidates as some of them lack the people skils to be a constituency working and listening MP, however I do love to hear some of these people contributions on conference debates. They can sometimes pour new light on something that seemed so straight forward before.

If I was to look at the three candidates objectively as someone outside the party machine; as someone who lends us they support come election time but no more, or even as someone who is thinking of voting for us for the first time. Who would I be most likely to vote if I only saw them on TV, only had a brief second of their time during a target seat walkabout? Undoubtedly my answer would be Simon Hughes as he would enthuse Liberal Democracy at me in that fleeting moment.

I've still to finalise where my second preference is to go. No doubt I will make up my mind after the Scottish Hustings on Sunday.

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