miss_s_b: (Politics: FU)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
Every time there's a Lib Dem Conference the media indulges in leadership speculation. Far be it from me to suggest that this is because they have a limited repertoire of stories and can't be arsed to actually embed in the culture of the party enough to tell people what's really going on. They lazily repeat the lie that our polls are crashing (despite the ongoing ICM results - and ICM are always spot-on when it comes to us). So every six months they ring round every Lib Dem they can think of till they find one who is prepared to say we'd be better under another leader, and then they froth it up into feverish backstabbing rumblings...

Meanwhile anyone with half a brain cell can see that Clegg is perfectly safe as leader because:
  1. No other high-up member of the party is stupid enough to want the poison chalice he is currently clutching
  2. even if they were that stupid, none of the high-up members of the party is actually suitable for leadership
I'm no Clegg apologist, and I suspect most of you know that. I cringe every time he goes on about the entrenched privilege afforded to rich white cis men in this country without adding "like myself" to the sentence. I detest his "I'm raising my voice; you should clap now" method of speech delivery. I really fucking can't stand the way he says "crate" when he means "create".

But, when it comes to leading the Lib Dems, what are the alternatives?
  • Vince Cable - I love Vince Cable. I love him so much that I go all blushy and coy and starstruck whenever he is in the room. He is one of the most intelligent men in government, if not in the country. But, although he is wicked smart and an incredibly competent and prescient economist, he's not party leader material. Yes, on the economy he is second to none, and his heart is in the right place. But a leader needs skills in ALL policy areas, not just one. The tuition fees debacle was at least as much Vince's fault as it was Clegg's, for example, and while Clegg has very sportingly taken the flak for it (which IMHO is another sign of his suitability as leader - he recognises the buck stops with him) Vince is currently riding a false wave of popularity rather like Clegg had prior to the 2010 election. The press would love for Vince to be leader, and have been building him up for ages. This is because they know he would be easy to knock down - what Carl Minns refers to as "giving him a Minging" after what happened to Ming Campbell. And he would be easy to knock down. And that would make me cry.

  • Chris Huhne - made a good fist of the leadership contest with Clegg, but is too tainted, and even if he wasn't, too wonkish. And I say this as a Huhne supporter from that leadership contest.

  • Tim Farron - Tim is another party high-up I have a lot of respect for. He's a fantastic speaker, has a sense of humour, and is great at rallying the troops. In a lot of ways he reminds me of Simon Hughes. But, like Hughes, he's too prone to lapses of judgment. He shoots from the hip, and while I love him for it, and I love his willingness to hold his hands up when he gets something wrong, a leader needs to get things wrong less often than Tim does.

  • Lynne Featherstone - Lynne is the embodiment of the old idiom that a woman has to work twice as hard as a man to be thought of half as good. While the media have been all over the Westminster bubble crap for the last two years, Lynne has been quietly beavering away in her department, bringing us lots of little Liberal victories that have pretty much slipped under the media radar until it's too late for them to be changed. I'd love to be in a Featherstone-led party... But I don't think the party would accept her. I'd love to be proven wrong on that, but I don't suspect I will be.

  • Jo Swinson - still has the mindset and attitude of a backbencher. Has the potential to lead, but in ten years or so, not now.

  • Charles Kennedy - hands down the best public speaker in the party, if not in any party. Instinctively liberal, and great with the nuts and bolts of party dealings.
    But too unreliable.

  • Paddy Ashdown - a much-loved former leader. Has the kind of sex appeal that makes everyone who has the slightest inclination towards men sigh wistfully when he walks into a room, even now he's in his seventies. Was the architect of a lot of what the party is today and brought us up from literally nothing in the polls. Has the sharpest liberal instincts of anyone I have ever met. But, even if he wanted it, which I suspect he doesn't because if he did it would have happened already, crowning Paddy as leader would be seen as a massive retrograde step. I'm really glad he'll be steering our next election campaign because that man knows what he is doing. But I don't think we can go back to the halcyon days of a Paddy-led party.

  • Ed Davey - no. Just no. Do I really have to spell it out? He's a crap speaker, gets confounded by media interviewers far too easily, and is too reminiscent of Wayne Rooney.

  • Julian Huppert - a one man campaign for science and reason in government. We need more like him - a lot more - in our party and in all the others. But still a backbencher in heart and mind.

  • David Laws - too tainted, perceived as too right-wing. Would split the party.

  • Danny Alexander - George Osbourne: the ginger edition. No.
Basically, if the Lib Dems were the Starship enterprise, Clegg would be Kirk. Sure he has his annoying qualities, but he is perfectly placed to lead McCoy (Cable), Spock (Huhne), Uhura (Farron), Chapel (Featherstone), Chekov (Swinson), Scotty (Kennedy), Sulu (Ashdown) and all the random redshirts (Davey, Huppert, Laws, Alexander et al) because he can mitigate all of their failings and bring out the best in them. Kirk would be nothing without his crew, but the crew would fall apart without Kirk. What we're looking for, in the Lib Dems, is a Picard or a Janeway. Not for McCoy to be put in a leadership position he's not suited for and cock it up for everyone. Jo Swinson might grow into a Janeway, but for now, I reckon Clegg's secure.

Date: Thursday, September 27th, 2012 10:57 am (UTC)
gominokouhai: (Default)
From: [personal profile] gominokouhai
> Clegg would be Kirk[...] What we're looking for, in the Lib Dems, is a Picard or a Janeway

You'll need to wait about eighty years, then.

Date: Thursday, September 27th, 2012 11:01 am (UTC)
gominokouhai: (Default)
From: [personal profile] gominokouhai
Of course Sulu went on to command the Excelsior....

Date: Thursday, September 27th, 2012 11:41 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] zoeimogen
No mention of Sisko? :-)

I'm wondering what other SF we could compare LibDems to. BSG, who gets to be Baltar?

Date: Thursday, September 27th, 2012 12:56 pm (UTC)
ext_51145: (Default)
From: [identity profile] andrewhickey.info
Doctor Who. Vince is the Hartnell Doctor, Clegg is Ian, Farron is Barbara and Danny Alexander is Susan.

Date: Thursday, September 27th, 2012 02:08 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] magister
Or is Clegg late period Tennant? "I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry."

Date: Thursday, September 27th, 2012 02:11 pm (UTC)
ext_51145: (Default)
From: [identity profile] andrewhickey.info
That would be far too cruel a comparison.

Although it is fun making leader-Doctor comparisons, in which case Clegg *would* be Tennant. Paddy would be Pertwee. Charles is Tom Baker. Ming would be McGann.

Date: Thursday, September 27th, 2012 03:02 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] magister
If Clegg is Doc 10, is he going to go apeshit and proclaim himself Lib Dem Victorious?

Date: Thursday, September 27th, 2012 03:08 pm (UTC)
ext_51145: (Default)
From: [identity profile] andrewhickey.info
You mean right before getting into a huge fight with all the other Lib Dems and trying to destroy them all, before lingering on long past the time everyone wanted him to go?

Date: Thursday, September 27th, 2012 01:18 pm (UTC)
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)
From: [personal profile] matgb
who gets to be Baltar

Lembit.

No contest whatsoever.

Date: Thursday, September 27th, 2012 01:54 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] magister
At some point in Lib Trek, someone'll ask where Lembit's gone and a few seconds later hear over the intercom the strains of "I'll take you home Kathleen" played on the harmonica from engineering, where he's barricaded himself in.
Edited Date: Thursday, September 27th, 2012 02:06 pm (UTC)

Date: Thursday, September 27th, 2012 10:57 am (UTC)
sir_guinglain: (Spock_annual1975)
From: [personal profile] sir_guinglain
I don't think I needed the image of Tim Farron in a short red dress with a small coiled spring in his ear at this time in the morning, or indeed at any time... but thanks for this sensible listing. Clegg until after the election, then - and who knows who our dysfunctional electoral system will leave on the Liberal Democrat benches then?

Date: Thursday, September 27th, 2012 11:06 am (UTC)
yoyoangel: (Default)
From: [personal profile] yoyoangel
I don't think I needed the image of Tim Farron in a short red dress
I was particularly pleased when reading this post that Jennie wasn't making assumptions that all the roles were gender-specific.

(And I'm not sure I can picture Tim Farron in a dress, but I wouldn't object to it if I could... :-)

Date: Thursday, September 27th, 2012 12:59 pm (UTC)
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
From: [personal profile] rmc28
Also, did you see Jo's speech? One of the big highlights for me that, and the next most impressive was Sharon Bowles. Hopefully you can iplayer them or something.

Date: Thursday, September 27th, 2012 11:06 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] zoeimogen
Alastair Carmichael? Would be interested on your thoughts there.

Tom Brake and Lorely Burt? Probably not a high enough profile to be a serious contender. Sarah Teather probably no longer a rising star.

I agree with you on Jo and Julian 100%. I might actually be upset if Julian took a government post, I'm mentally split on that issue. He has a lot more freedom where he is right now.

I'm assuming we'll exclude past leaders and the Lords, and anyone who might get booted into the Lords soon.

Date: Thursday, September 27th, 2012 11:12 am (UTC)
pseudomonas: Dragon from BL manuscript of C14 French Ḥumash (Default)
From: [personal profile] pseudomonas
Past leaders: I think Charles Kennedy was demonstrably sorted-out re alcohol it's not entirely impossible that he might return. It's a great shame that we don't have more options though.

Date: Thursday, September 27th, 2012 11:35 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] zoeimogen
I don't think given he's Deputy Chief Whip that you're supposed to see any impact from Alastair, so in a way that means he's doing his job well!

Going up against him with questions and supplementaries at conference, he was impressive. Gave a comprehensive answer that shut the door on most of the obvious supplementaries. (Unlike Tim Farron or the FFAC chair) He'd certainly be a different style of leadership from what we're used to, but perhaps one that is more suited to where the party is going.

(Plus he said hi to me at the train station and I'm new enough to politics to still get a kick out of the fact that government ministers greet me by first name. This automatically makes me do the fangirl thing.)

Date: Thursday, September 27th, 2012 11:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thepotterblogger.blogspot.com
In my experience Alistair Carmichael is funny and charming - but can be a right little bully when people do things he doesn't like. You only need to watch him a short while on facebook to see that.

Date: Monday, March 4th, 2013 02:39 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Tessa gets marked down in my book after the liberal youth conference where she talked about women's involvement in politics, starting with a fun icebreaking request for a show of hands of "who here is male... who here is female... and is there anyone who isn't sure hahaha".

Jen

Date: Thursday, September 27th, 2012 11:07 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
You're probably right that Clegg's the only one for the job (not necessarily a compliment).
But I have to take issue...if this were Star Trek, Nick would be the ensign that gets taken over by the strange alien presence and forced to things he would never have agreed to in his right mind.
As for Kirk, I'm not sure who he his but I bet he's got his phaser out ready to point at Nick's chest when the opportunity arises...

Date: Thursday, September 27th, 2012 11:17 am (UTC)
ext_390810: (Default)
From: [identity profile] http://www.nickbarlow.com/blog/
I agree with most of your analysis, and it echoes what James Graham wrote at the weekend - in terms of leadership potential, we've got a dearth of talent waiting on the benches, especially when the most obvious alternative (Huhne) is ruled out because of his legal troubles. I wonder if it's because of the way people become MPs in the party? I can think of lots of people who'd make great leaders except for the fact that they're not MPs - and the reason they're not MPs is because they can't put in the insane amounts of time and effort needed to become a Lib Dem MP unless you get really lucky and handed one of the tiny number of safe seats.

In terms of your analogy, I'm wondering Clegg's gone from being the Kirk of the original series to the Kirk of the odd-numbered movies, and we need some way to reboot him into Chris Pine.

Date: Thursday, September 27th, 2012 11:36 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] zoeimogen
"I can think of lots of people who'd make great leaders except for the fact that they're not MPs - and the reason they're not MPs is because they can't put in the insane amounts of time and effort needed to become a Lib Dem MP unless you get really lucky and handed one of the tiny number of safe seats."

This. With sugar and a cherry on top.

Date: Thursday, September 27th, 2012 01:10 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] sassy_scot
This is absolutely brilliant and I agree almost entirely with it.

Although I think you should hang your head in shame for describing Huppmeister J as a random redshirt. He's surely got to be in science, for a start, and they don't wear red shirts.

Jo, I think, is developing faster as a potential leader than you suggest.Her 3 conference speeches this week showed off her party and campaigning knowledge (touching the activist base), her understanding of history and philosophy and her clear ability to turn principle into action in government. And I think she's more a Beverly Crusher than a Janeway. We could skip a generation.....

You are possibly also being just a tiny little bit unkind about Danny. Just a little.

Date: Thursday, September 27th, 2012 02:08 pm (UTC)
pseudomonas: Dragon from BL manuscript of C14 French Ḥumash (Default)
From: [personal profile] pseudomonas
I've never recovered from the catchiness of this.

Date: Thursday, September 27th, 2012 02:13 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
"They lazily repeat the lie that our polls are crashing (despite the ongoing ICM results - and ICM are always spot-on when it comes to us)."

ICM were always spot-on - the future is yet to be proven. There is some evidence that they aren't reporting the same as pre 2010 - eg:

May 2007
ICM 21%
Est national vote share in the locals: 26%

May 2008
ICM 19/20%
Est national vote share in the locals: 25%

May 2009
ICM 19%
Est national vote share in the locals: 28%

Compare with

May 2011
ICM 15%
Est national vote share in the locals: 15%

May 2012
ICM 15%
Est national vote share in the locals: 16%

What has happened is that the "premium" we were getting over and above our ICM rating in the local elections has disappeared. Anecdotal and other evidence from campaigns suggests that we continue to have such a premium in local elections (though whether to the same degree is hard to tell).

Doesn't necessarily mean that ICM is wrong but it does suggest a change that isn't being accomodated in their methodology. It is possible (and I think likely) that ICM is over-representing our position as they apportion DKs on the basis of previous vote so I think people who think "it's OK coz ICM have us fairly high" may be taking false comfort.

Hywel

Date: Thursday, September 27th, 2012 05:39 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I think your comments on Farron are a bit harsh. Shoots from the hip - I don't think he does. I think he needs to be our next leader in imo. He's charismatic, passionate and a proven campaigner. I'd take Vince now but Farron post 2015.

Jo was impressive at Conf but I hear things from people who know her a lot better than I do and they are not all positive. Plus I think she won't be an MP in 2015.

I like Lynne and she's good, I want to see what she's like at Dfid.

I think Huppert is fab. I take a Farron - Huppert ticket in a second.

Finally Hames is a better bet long term I think than Swinson. But that's just my view.

Date: Friday, September 28th, 2012 12:16 pm (UTC)
lizw: photo of Blake with text: "reality is a dangerous concept" (Default)
From: [personal profile] lizw
I have a fondness for Tim, but I think either incarnation of Uhura would run rings round him. He's Tom Paris, surely (of whom I was also rather fond back in the day.)

Date: Friday, September 28th, 2012 02:56 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I wasn't at this conference but was at spring, and I was really impressed by Hames - though I think possibly because he looks a lot like my on-off boyfriend and I therefore irrationally assume him to have all the same qualities (OOB is a very responsible doctor) combined with being a Lib Dem and a good public speaker. So I need more exposure to be sure.

Jo I have literally no idea why everyone rates her so much - I'm willing to be persuaded, and all the body confidence stuff is good, so if anyone knows how she became seen as the leader-in-waiting then do let me know. But in this parliament all I've seen her do is support Clegg in all his bad decisions. I was also unimpressed with her about-turn from being one of our biggest anti-fees campaigners, to voting for the fees increase - especially given that most of her constituents won't pay them. I think she'd be Clegg 2.

Featherstone is my dream leader. She's worked incredibly hard at her dept, she's done good liberal things in it, she's communicated them well, she hasn't made any horrendous misjudgements, she's got local government experience, good solid campaign experience (all of which will be useful in a difficult election and rebuiild phase). She also combines experience in government (useful if we want to project ourselves as a Grownup Responsible Party) with not having been one of the main architects of the coalition (good if we want to project ourselves as having learnt from the mistakes we've made). She's also a slightly-older woman, which would be a nice contrast with the overgrown schoolboys that currently lead all three parties, and I think she has the steel to cut through the yah-boo element of our politics.

My only downside is that her voice isn't very authoritative, but that can be worked on a la Thatcher.

Why don't you think the party would accept her?

Date: Friday, September 28th, 2012 03:53 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Fair enough. Depressingly, you're probably right. But I really hope you're wrong.

I actually think her biggest disadvantage, by far, is that she's not considered a 'contendor' - it's Jo, Tim, and the men in suits. Which makes NO SENSE because basically all our other ministers are talked of as options, certainly all those that have been there from the start. So yeah, it's definitely because she's a woman.

I think the thing that would most help her is to become generally accepted as a future leadership contendor in the same way that Jo is (seriously, someone must know how that happened?), so that when there is a vacancy, if she does stand, then people take her seriously.

So I think we should all plug it really hard wherever we can, so that she at least makes the runners and riders list. And then other people might notice that all the 'problems' the others have aren't there. Then good things can start to happen.

Why couldn't they have moved her to foreign instead of International Development, at least :-(

Date: Monday, October 1st, 2012 01:21 pm (UTC)
ext_51145: (Default)
From: [identity profile] andrewhickey.info
I would *LOVE* to see a Featherstone leadership, but I think it would be a bad idea for her -- speaking to people in her constituency, it seems like she's lost a lot of the support she'd built up, because she's been concentrating on her ministerial role to the detriment of her constituency work, and a lot of people who were formerly her strongest supporters now don't have a good word to say about her because of that. I'd hate to see her take on more responsibility only to lose her seat as a result...

Date: Saturday, September 29th, 2012 09:01 am (UTC)
daweaver:   (Default)
From: [personal profile] daweaver
It appears to me that the media is still cursing itself for missing the decapitation of Mrs. Thatcher at the 1990 conference, and would rather run a million different stories saying "Leader X is in trouble!" than cock up in the same way twice. Indeed, the media's collective wittering about leadership challenges has done a lot to cause instability at the top of all parties, and helped to build up a cult of personality preventing rational consideration of the policy alternatives offered and not offered. Well done, everyone!

For what it's worth, council by-elections suggest Lib Dem support is currently in the low-to-mid teens. Again, there's a perception problem caused in part by the media's relentless desire to fill its pages with anything no matter how low the quality. SkewGuv - the preferred pollster of the Murdoch empire - publishes a very slightly different number every day, but because they have 24 polls while more reputable pollsters have one or two, their methodologically-flawed numbers dominate discussion.

By and large, I agree with the original poster's description. Dr. Cable is the best chancellor we're not going to have. We only have to look at Dr. Brown's career to see that a competent chancellor doesn't make for a competent prime minister.

Lynne Featherstone has enemies in the party ranks, she's made friends, and I think she'd do well in the public consciousness. Don't count her out. Kennedy and Ashdown are of the past, Swinson and Julia Goldsworthy are of the future, but not The Prime Ministerial Debate contenders this side of 2025.

Once again, this year's conference has left me thoroughly impressed by Brian Paddick, a sharp critic of everything woolly about the police. If he wants it, he'd be a valuable addition to the Commons team. And possibly a leader.

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