Opening Leadership Election Thoughts

Last night I was invited to support Bloggers 4 Steve. My initial reaction is yes, I could well be persuaded. So persuade me.

Specifically, my reservation is this:

I think this leadership election is not really about policy. I think the party’s policy machinery stand it in good stead to reign in the excesses of any one leader, and I think that most important for the party right now is to select a leader who is engaging, and has the drive and energy to get out there and sell our policy. Given that this is the case, I don’t see any point having a left of the party token in the race.

Now, I am not saying that is all Steve Webb would be. I like Steve a lot, I think he speaks engagingly and is articulate without being stuffy. But I would want to see and hear evidence that Steve really wants to be leader, and really thinks he’s up to it, and that he’s not simply standing to give the press some (very slight) policy differences between the candidates to point to. So for now, I guess I’m waiting to see if he announces, and what he says when he does.

Whilst I’m commenting on the leadership, though, I might just say right now that I will not be supporting Chris Huhne over Nick Clegg, despite my residing fairly firmly on the centre left of the party. Like I said, I don’t really see this election in terms of policy. The idea that to the majority of the electorate, Huhne can even compete with Clegg in terms of “just coming across well” is a joke. Every one of my friends who is interested enough to know who the two are agrees with me here. I could be persuaded otherwise, but only by some pretty dynamic performances by Huhne on the campaign trail. And I don’t really expect to see them.

One general plea: Whatever course the contest runs, can we not conduct it through the prism of which candidates are perceived as being “good to take on Cameron”, “good to take on Brown”, “too much like Cameron”, etc. People can make whatever statements they like about whether or not the public like the Blair/Cameron “type” of politician, or any other type of politician. The fact is, the public are fickle, and there is really no point in trying to think this way. A good leader is one who communicates who we are as well as possible. It is not someone who tempts a particular type of voter to us by appealing to things they like about the other parties. It is someone who convinces all voters that there are things they like about us.

Oh, and one last thing. The candidate who promises an end to Lib Dem barcharts will have my vote instantly.

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