Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Leadership frenzy

For months - almost since he got the top job - the political world has been agog with rumours about the party leadership.

The verdict from the voters was, at best, mixed. Speculation about the man at the top was never far away whenever the party's politicians and activists were gathered together.

A fixture on the political landscape for so long, could the leader survive demands to make way for a young pretender who could re-vitalise the party?

Should he stay or should he go?

Now we know.

Mike German will step down as leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats this autumn.

The only party leader from the original Assembly still standing, he announced his decision today.

"I said earlier in the year that I would stand down when it was sensible and practical to do so, and having received this request from the party's senior officers, I have decided that I will resign following the debate on the constitution at our Autumn Conference."

(Can there be a more appropriate way for a Lib Dem leader to leave than after a debate on the constitution?)

Mr German's announcement has fired the gun, as we hacks say in these circumstances, for the race to succeed him.

You will doubtless find detailed analysis of the potential candidates elsewhere but I will be taking a passing interest in the campaign.

Regular readers of The National Assembly for Wales - The Record of Procedings (always devoured chez Cornock over breakfast) will be aware that Eleanor Burnham has recently been stressing the breadth of her experience.

Not content with regularly throwing the "as a former magistrate" into speeches, EB JP has also spoken recently "as a former teacher of underachieving disaffected 14-16 year olds" and "as a former hospice fund-raiser".

Her campaign team will be hoping that come the autumn speeches do not begin "as a former future leader......"

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