Tuesday, 16 October 2007
Strictly Lib Dems
Was Sir Menzies Campbell a victim of ageism? Some of the newspaper coverage of the party conference, particularly the cartoons, was cruel but was it unfair or just politics today?
At 66 he's not exactly old - much younger than some past prime ministers and two years younger than the current Welsh First Minister and the Australian Prime Minister.
Perhaps it goes down to appearance. Sir Ming may once have been an Olympic athlete but a serious illness makes him look older than he is. Sir Cliff Richard was 67 two days ago. Perhaps if Sir Ming had tried Botox and dyed his hair he might have got away with it.
The age factor was used to justify criticism of Sir Ming's failure to make an impact with voters.
Some have suggested that the leader of the Liberal Democrats needs to convince voters that he'd be a credible prime minister. I think this is a slightly novel approach - few voters ever assumed Charles Kennedy was a likely future PM but they liked his conversational style as a contrast to that adopted by the Labour and Tory leaders.
Lib Dem MPs have queued up to praise their formal leader - which raises the obvious question of why they got rid of him.
The two favourites to succeed Sir Ming - Nick Clegg and Chris Huhne - both went to the same school, Westminster, which may leave Gordon Brown as the only UK party leader not to go to public school.
The new leader will be announced in the week beginning December 16, having been chosen by an exhaustive ballot of Lib Dem members.
Now that they've decided to make leadership elections an annual treat, perhaps they should be turned into TV shows with viewers allowed to vote.
Strictly Lib Dem Fever anyone?