I have been watching today the BBC Parliament coverage of the Power Enquiry. I know I’m rather behind the times again on this one, but nonetheless I found it engaging viewing. I learnt a few things:
1. Saira Khan is a drivelling idiot. She couldn’t open her mouth without some horrendous, almost Prescott-like, ill-formed sentence wresting its way out. That wouldn’t be so bad necessarily (indeed, I find it quite endearing in Prescott, where he is usually quite self-deprecatingly honest about it). Unfortunately, her tone and facial expression made it clear that she felt she was giving voice to a profoundly beautiful flight of oration that cut through all the crap and spoke directly to the masses. This is, however, not the case. She simply waffled her way through a lot of pretty worthless platitudes.
2. Ming Campbell has some views that I especially like. For the first time since he became leader, I was able to sit watching his speech and his subsequent Q&A session with a real sense that he was genuinely hitting the nail on the head regarding what I believe. In the past few days, that, plus his principled stand on the current Lebanon crisis (in stark contrast to all but a few MPs from Labour and Conservative benches) has reassured me that I am in the right party. What frustrated me, however, is the sense that I was seeing something unusual.
Ming is quite capable of delivering a storming speech (indeed, he gave a pretty good one on the one occasion I have seen him speak in person, at the Cambridge leadership hustings), and he does so from time to time. For whatever reasons, though, he is not getting the traction he needs in the national media. I don’t know why, and as today’s dissappointing story in the Guardian makes clear, the party is suffering. I can’t really find it in myself to blame Sir Ming for this, though. Whenever I see him do anything, it’s almost without fail something that I wholeheartedly support his doing. It’s just the “seeing him” part that’s the problem.
As a Lib Dem member, I see more than most of his leadership, and even I don’t see all that much. Very simply, he desperately needs to whore himself out to the press a bit more, force his way into TV studios, etc. Maybe he is, maybe it is all the media’s fault in their failure to portray much of it. That is, after all, a popular refrain of Lib Dems since time immemorial. I don’t honestly know. What I do know is, it’s a problem. It’s his only real problem. Ming has a sound political head on his shoulders, and an engaging style when he’s on form. It’s just a matter of connecting.