Thursday, March 02, 2006

Congratulations Ming

Menzies Campbell wins the Lib Dem leadership election.

Congratulations to Menzies, and may you be truly merciless towards the forces of illiberalism.

While I was backing Chris Huhne, I said at the start of the contest that the important thing was that the next leader of the Liberal Democrats be someone who thinks that Liberalism is more important than local campaigning. I have no doubt that Menzies Campbell is such a person.

What happens next? I imagine that there will not be major changes to the shadow ministerial lineup - Ming was always a continuity candidate, even if he does now have a mandate that a coronation would not have given him. Chris Huhne has gone from nobody to heavyweight as a result of his campaign and 32% voteshare, but there isn't an obvious vacancy for an economic heavyweight that is senior to his current position. I expect Nick Clegg to get Ming's old job as Shadow Foreign Secretary, which is a position he is eminenetly qualified for. Alexander Carmichael was Menzies Campbell's choice as acting leader to replace Oaten, so no change expected there. Paul Burstow presumably gets a prize for being the winning agent, but I would expect that to be leader's PPS rather than a shadow cabinet post.

I imagine that any attempts to change the direction the Party is going in will wait for the Meeting the Challenge report to come out (in time for Autumn Conference). In any case, Menzies was never the candidate who was going to rip up the Kennedy plan and try something new and different - and didn't have to be, given that the old Liberal Democrats worked just fine as long as the leader could be kept off the booze.

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