tag : bright yellow-green apples: au revoir, chuckey bum

"I see little point in persisting in a discussion with one so obstinate as you" Martin White

Sunday, January 08, 2006

au revoir, chuckey bum

Events move fast, and I had been intending to write in support of Charles Kennedy's leadership of the Liberal Democrats. But it seems now we must all write obituaries, because he's been forced out. How dare they. The aggressive swivel-eyed tendency, the so called 'orange group', have had it in for him come what may - despite his being closer to real humanity than most of parliamentary front bench politicians. And nothing seems to satisfy them but to ape the worst of Tory policies - free markets and privatisation. We don’t need another right of centre party, as there are already two as it is. This was a collusion with a media that had little basis for getting at him than unspecific talk of his needing to go.

The frontbench spokesman Lembit Opik - one of the few to courageously speak out against the recent nonsense - put it best by saying: "They have violated the values of some of the party, and crucially they have given the impression their words and their views are more important than the electorate which chose him in the first place." I doubt I will be able to vote for the party for a long while, the way they’re going.


Anonymous James Stewart said...

That's a perspective I've not come across anywhere else. What makes you think it's neoliberal reasons that led to Kennedy's demise?

It seems to me, observing at a distance, like it's a pretty cut and dried case. He has a problem that is better dealt with away from the pressures of party leadership, he has lied to the media when asked direct questions about it, and he has not made the impact as party leader that his party hoped for.

I like Kennedy. I like the integrity that was apparent up until this particular incident. And I like the fact that the lib dems present something approaching a viable alternative to the two-party concensus in british politics. But I do think there are others within the party with a similar level of integrity, a similar opposition to unquestioning neoliberalism, and perhaps even a stronger personality (sadly so necessary in politics).

4:09 AM  
Blogger Martin said...

The reason you haven't heard it anywhere else, James, is because it's total nonsense. As much as I feel Kennedy's alcoholism is not an absolute barrier to his leadership as it would be to, say, being a surgeon, it is very telling that it is his MPs, who were closest to that problem, who declared their loss of support of him. Often tentatively and reluctantly. Take Matthew Taylor, for instance: close friend and ally, ran Kennedy's leadership campaign. Aggressive and swivel-eyed? No way.

I certainly don't feel that this is a coup designed to force in a more politically 'suitable' candidate, or as you seem to have bizarrely assumed, more right-wing. I expect the leadership contest will feature something of a tug between left and right, but don't presume the result.

James - the question as regards lying to the media is this: does an honest man have to answer honestly a question that should not be properly be asked? At the same time, the 'real humanity' he is supposed to have demonstrated on Thursday amounts to damage limitation before ITN said what he was going to say for him. It's what I'd have done too, but it was no sudden outburst of honesty.

11:17 AM  
Blogger ash said...

I think that's a tad harsh martin... I've always thought of him as a man of integrity who is more inclined to serve his people than to play politicks. Perhaps that is something only a minority party can do.

3:10 PM  
Blogger Martin said...

I didn't say he wasn't a man of integrity or that he plays politics. Just that this particular revelation was damage limitation because he was about to get bad press.

11:25 PM  
Blogger crystalvoyager said...

who the fuck doesn't lie about their alcoholism. He was the most successful liberal party leader in 80 years and a bit of a geezer to boot. I'm scared about getting to know whatever successor.

12:20 AM  
Blogger postliberal said...

I'm sure you'll all recognise, from the tone of the piece, that I was venting more than presenting a coherent analysis. For that, we have the correspondents.

James -

AS we write, it seems entirely possible that Ming Campbell will get the position. So you're right to point out the potential variety. But on the other points I might have to actually disagree with you for once. This wasn't a lie, but an attempt to deal with the issues in private - knowing full well that the hypocritical media elements would jump all over it. And I think his party has got a lot more driven and ambitious by the success that has come under his leadership. The trouble might come if they find themselves less appealing to the public in future, as they get less 'nice'.

12:38 AM  
Blogger postliberal said...

Martin -

But most of their response seems to be dogmatic. That is, it seems to have been decided come what may - despite being so successful under his leadership. They appear to have tried to force him out before the general membership got in the way, it's all so messy and cruel. Perhaps this is the price of success; they will get more like a 'real' party with time.

12:44 AM  
Blogger postliberal said...

Ash -

Oh he can play politics all right - and the last few days have shown him deploying all sorts of tricks in a tussle with the members of his frontbench team. The announcement, as an attempt to take control of the leak and make it his own, shows an example of this, as Martin has indicated. But by god, he's likable. They're going to miss that in the party.

12:47 AM  
Blogger postliberal said...

Crystal Voyager -

Hellow, and thanks for the comment. But more importantly, your gratuitous use of swearwords is especially welcome - it makes me seem almost contentious. I suppose we'd best get used to seeing new leaders coming in - Laboour'll be next.

12:50 AM  
Blogger Barnabas said...

It's a pity good old Charles has gone, I however felt that every time he spoke it appeared that he was appolgies, they need a leader with some go! I think Mark Oaten would be a good leader!

11:48 AM  
Blogger Martin said...

Laurence, I think the point they were trying to make was that it was they who came face to face with the consequences of his alcoholism every day, not the wider membership.

Anderson, don't say that! Whatever you do, don't praise Mark Oaten here! *head slams against wall*

5:17 PM  
Blogger Martin said...

Another point, while we're here. It is an important role of a party leader that people look at you and think you could be a prime minister. Someone with the nerve and ability to deal with stress in some unforeseeable crisis.

Thought of in that context, Kennedy's alcoholism could not be a purely private matter. It means that in May the Lib Dems had put him forward as a potential prime minister while withholding a disease that may affect his competency (although, as I have said, it doesn't automatically make him incompetent in the way that it would in many professions).

6:31 PM  
Blogger hatchris said...

"Whatever you do, don't praise Mark Oaten here! *head slams against wall*"

Best be careful not to offend the liberals :-P

Actually I'm no the biggest fan either, though at least if Oaten was leader I'd get the novelty of having a party leader in the constituency (Winchester) next to my own (Romsey).

Unfortunate though this episode has been for Kennedy, it is even more so for the whole party - I daresay this big mess, combined with the inevitable return of a lot of Tory votes, is likely to cost a few seats at the next election - unless the new leader pulls the party together and gives it integrity and direction.

7:57 PM  
Anonymous RobertB said...

Does anyone have a clue where Menzies Campbell stands on economic issues? I haven't heard a word yet, and it sounded as though the commentators on Today this morning weren't sure either. (Paddy Ashdown point blank refused to comment on the matter.)

Secondly, how the heck is his name pronounced? Informed opinion seems to think `Ming' (the Merciless?); but I heard what sounded like `Mingie' on the news today. Could it be the latter but informally abbreviated to the former, or was this an error?

P.S. I've no particular brief for/against Kennedy (sympathy for the underdog aside); but Churchill is surely a prominant example of a serious alcoholic who was perceived, rightly or wrongly, to have the nerve and ability to handle crisis! As Martin notes, it wouldn't seem to absolutely incapacitate one for the job. (What this says about the job I don't know.)

7:57 PM  
Blogger mary said...

*enters into strange world of testosterone arguement, for a moment, to say...*

but i swore gratuitously when filling in my diary and you never congratulated me for adding contention to your day, just told me to calm down. double standarding, i say.

but i agree with you on charlie boy, at least i think i do. on what i can understand before my brain screams in protest, and i go and dance to hard fi. good day.

*exits via a feminine exit (you can tell cuz of the flowers)*

10:53 PM  
Blogger postliberal said...

Mary -

Hoy you, don't be slandering my site as a male ghetto ;P Here're some lessor celandines to prove a point.

I like to think I can be flexible - and in that particular instance you needed to chill a little, rater than obsess about presentation (this, coming from someone who got in a right tis when his weblogg mast wouldn't appear. And you talk of double standards!) I'm sure you don't begrudge a stroke on the leg.
Good one for namedropping the Staines massive of Hard Fi, by the way.

12:17 AM  
Blogger postliberal said...

Martin -
I don't think this is so relevent to the May elections, since they are more about local government than national executive. Any link is more about the national headlines and prestige that might come from a good overall result. I suppose it must be wondered how far Kennedy's condition might have affected his ability to conduct the role, up to the next general election.

It's right that there should be a consideration for the co-workers of a leader. But there's still summit peculiarly distressing about watching the MPs go through so much fighting and jostling without the members getting much chance to express thier wishes, for a party that's supposed to be the epitome and voice of democracy in action.

12:31 AM  
Blogger Martin said...

Hat Chris - I have a major figure in the Labour government (Beckett) in my constituency. It's no great shakes.

Robert - it's pronounced Mingus, like the jazz singer. Also the Churchill Centre has an interesting take on the question of his drinking.

12:33 AM  
Blogger Martin said...

His being Churchill's, not Campbell's (isn't that soup?), nor Kennedy's for that matter.

12:33 AM  
Blogger postliberal said...

Robert -

There seems to be a consensus that, though he might be proved as fantastically competant and articulate on foriegn affairs, there are large swaths of home matters that we're all unsure about with him. I admit to liking him immensely, though mostly on the basis of how good he's been with international issues and his aparent personality. Which is not the surest basis! That's probably why a leadership election, with more than one candidate, is most needed - to get a measure of the potential leaders.

12:35 AM  
Blogger postliberal said...

Chris -

We have the opposition's chief whip - again, the kudos of this kinda thing aint great. At least we don't have a George Galloway, who considers reality tv escapades to be part of his job description!

12:38 AM  
Blogger postliberal said...

Anderson -

Perhaps I'm rather odd, but I enjoyed his fairly amiable approach. Having him on HIGNFY, for example, is a good indicator. Though he did have his fiesty moods, hehe.

12:41 AM  
Anonymous RobertB said...

Thanks for that fascinating link on Churchill's drinking. I'm not convinced by the argument quoted there that "no alcoholic could drink that much!", but I'm more than willing to amend to `habitual heavy drinker'...

2:33 PM  
Blogger Martin said...

I suppose Mary also regards Lady Tonge, Baroness Williams, Sandra Gidley, Sarah Teather, Susan Kramer, Annette Brooke, Lorely Burt, Julia Goldsworthy, Lynne Featherstone, Jenny Willott, Jo Swinson and all the other women who might have an interest in this as unfeminine then? Discussion of politics and political issues being a male dominion, after all.

After all, if this subject would clearly not be of interest to women due to their gender, perhaps they shouldn't be troubled by having the vote? Better we leave them with the flowers, and Mary with her stereotyping.

7:29 PM  
Blogger hatchris said...

Further to your replys to me it seems thanks to Oaten standing, the local news will have nothing but LD Leadership stuff for the next two months, probably from a biased viewpoint of wanting a man from the south to get the job (entirely so they can use it to generate news)

At least it might be better than 5 mins of todays news being given over to a man from Chandlers Ford who supports Forfar because he saw the place on a map once.

7:54 PM  
Blogger mary said...

martin -

i have no objection to women in politics. i was merely remarking on this conversation being entirely comprised of boys.

i don't usually comment on political things but that isn't cos i'm a girl, merely cos i don't feel i understand enough about it.

11:23 PM  
Blogger postliberal said...

That's never stopped me, yet! :)

12:53 AM  
Blogger Martin said...

That's because you've got enough testosterone to override the inclination not to comment on things you know next to nothing about ;-D

8:39 PM  
Anonymous Donna said...

Liberal Democrats around the globe seem to be going the way of the dinosaur. Sad. Truely sad.

11:10 PM  
Blogger postliberal said...

I would mourne with you, if I knew what it was we're mourning. The debate in the UK ones seems to mirror wider difference in opinion about the real implications of liberalism are. You just have to look at the Australian government, which is a Liberal party yet follows conservative/republican/right wing policies with great enthusiasm. Some of us might hope that they become a really energetic leftist fource, but there's no guarentee they're thus representing the heart of the liberal story as it's been ancted over the past decades...

1:06 AM  

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