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Part of me would like Charles Kennedy to stay on as Liberal Democrat leader and part of me would like him to go ASAP.

Charles Kennedy is such a poor leader, he fluffs his lines, looks awful and always seems to be ill, tired or slightly the worse for ware. Kennedy would therefore lead his party to a pretty shocking election reslut in 2009/10.

On the other hand it would be quite good for him to go as it would force the Liberal Democrats to decide what they were. Were they an anti-war party that believed in higher taxes and big state, or were they a more classical Liberal party believing in lower tax and individual freedom. It would not be a pretty fight and would only do them more damage.

Simon Hughes would be a great choice for leader, he is so smarmy and smug and his views are pretty left wing. Menzies Campbell is a "respected" politicain but he may be thought of as too old and he has been in poor health recently. As for the other candidates...who are they?

I've got a couple of friends who are well placed in Cowley Street.

The stories they tell about Kennedy's behaviour are unbelievable. Any Lib Dem insider knows that he's only still there because his MPs fear Simon Hughes. Ming Campbell is the only person who could conceivably beat Hughes (because it's the sandal-wearing activists who decide) and his recent clean bill of health following cancer treatment has emboldened a number of MPs to try to push inadequate Charlie out.

At some point we'll start hearing about some of Kennedy's mishaps, thus far concealed. Trust me, they are extraordinary...

When Paddy Pantsdown retired (was it 1999?), Ming decided not to run for leadership, because he feared that losing would damage his status as the party's respected 'elder statesman'. I can't see why that shouldn't still be the case.

BTQW, loved today's Telegraph leader: "He [Kennedy] should contemplate doing the decent thing, or face the prospect of an early visit from the men in sandals."

There is now way Campbell will go for leader. Too old, too ill and too worried about being speaker...he simply couldnt take the pace of an election campaign - plus he sucks up to TB something rotten....look for a new younger relatively unknown leader, untested as yet, but embodying hope and optimism for the futu.....oh god deja vu all over again.....

Kennedy should definitely go. I would place good money on Simon Hughes winning the leadership and steering the Lib Dems towards electoral oblivion.
But on the other hand if Kennedy stays its still a winner for the Tories. At last the yellow peril is getting a taste of its own medicine. How many times have I read Focus newspapers smearing Tories as weak and divided. They deserve to roll in their own muck for as long as possible.

Lets just hope for a bloodly and painful leadership battle, where all the candidates lose.

"Kennedy should definitely go. I would place good money on Simon Hughes winning the leadership and steering the Lib Dems towards electoral oblivion."

I don't think it would be oblivion. I don't think people vote Lib Dem because they have sensible policies. They vote Lib Dem because they are sanctimonious. Simon Hughes will suit them nicely.

I assume we would want the Lib Dems to remain to the left of Lab, so Hughes would suit us, as it were.
I quite liked some of the stuff in the Orange Book.
Am I allowed to say that??

Could the Editor, or some other kind contributor, explain to the uninitiated why the 'Orange Book' Lib Dems are so called? I really ought to know because we're plagued with sandallistas locally!

Richard see below -

That's pretty comprehensive, Chris. I don't really think the yellow peril in your neck of the woods are very orange book though!

Mark Oaten seems to be the favoured choice amongst "orange book" liberals. He is very much a man the tories can work with.

With a centre-left Labour party and a centre-right Conservative party (are we?), one has to question the relevance of the Liberal Democrats in a Modern Britain.

Lets not forget that Shirley Williams and her gang of four would not have jumped from the equivalent of New Labour, they just lost patience and left Labour too early (i.e. before the Socialists in Old Labour were finally pushed aside).

Their mistake was to leave the party.

Pop Quiz - Who else has left a party prematurely for selfish or ideological reasons. I can think of a few recent ones, actually many...

Of course one could argue that there is a relevance to the LibDems. If one or the other party gets too out of touch, or loses the plot internally, then they are there waiting for nothing else than the protest vote. Keeps us honest?

The bookies are saying that Kennedy will have gone by the next General Election.

Just read this on BBC website: "High profile Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Opik has warned senior colleagues to stop their "cowardly" briefings against leader Charles Kennedy."

Wasn't it Opik who's been leading the charge??

What fun, eh?

We experts in leadership campaigns can now give the LibDems- and Labour- the benefit of our wisdom. I for one am really going to enjoy it.

Do we want Charlie to stay? Tricky one, but I guess what we need is a protracted leadership wrangle with the likes of Hughes and Oaten trying to prize Kennedy's fingers off the window ledge.

It's so wonderfully delicious I've set up special new blog to savour every precious moment:


Every time I see poor old Charlie's picture getting out of an aircraft (at the top of this blog) he seems to look worse and worse. Is this a case of art imitating life or is the Editor engaged in a bit of judicious 'touching-up'? I think we should be told!

I've got it! Charlie's just getting out of an 'extraordinary rendition' flight to face the cruel and inhuman punishment of PMQs. DO you think he deliberatley selected the tie to match his face?

I am shocked, violently shocked at some of the intemperate and unfeeling comments posted on this blog. Mr Weatherill - have you no shame?

In the spirit of working together, we should be rushing to the aid and assistance of poor Mr Kennedy, not indulging in cheap old-style Punch & Judy politics at his expense.

Clearly, the Editor must take a lead. I advise he launches a special Christmas charity: CRISIS AT COWLEY STREET:

• Do you have any surplus Alka Seltzer or Pro Plus you could give to someone with greater need than yours?
• Are you willing to go on a 24 hour whisky binge so you can feel the pain of an embattled and unbottled party leader?
• Do you share Charlie’s vision of dignity and security in retirement, and will you donate some left-over yoghurt to help him out?*
• Will you Stand With Us, and help prop up this distressed Scottish gentleman from Ross, Skye, Lochaber and all pubs in between, and keep him out of the clutches of the Men In Brown Sandals?
• Can you give up an evening of your time to go star-gazing for meteorites with Lembit Opik – who knows, one might just be heading for Charlie?
• Will you go back to your constituencies – and stay there?

Repent, repent. We are all sinners.

* incidentally, the Libs can’t spell “retirement” on the front page of their website, so their Education spokesman is clearly on the up (http://www.libdems.org.uk/)

Steady on chaps Charlie's doing a grand job leading the sandal wearers into nowhereland. What they need and want is a prolonged period of internal strife and division, loads of briefing against Charlie and Oaten and Hughes ---- just like we've had in our party since 1990.
Slangevhar (cheers to you Nottinghill folk) Charlie you're what the Tories have always wanted in a lib dem leader but were freightened to ask for.

Charlie going is an almost certainty. Hughes would win votes because of his personality and an 'Orange Book'er because of his policies.
Ive also heard rumours that the 'Orange Book' lot are swinging behind Nick Clegg and that he has a lot of support with big whigs in the lib dems. Clegg could be a problem for the tories in that he is 'cameronesque' as he is young and not been in parliament for v.long. Hughes would be good for the reasons someone else has stated, that he would take the party to the left and the tories could then pick up the 'orange book' type voters in the country.

Mea culpa! I have to ask for other offences to be taken into consideration too. When the dreaded Robert Kilroy-Silk (who he?) set up his Veritas party I did suggest, on the DT Letters page, that the Lib Dems should rechristen themselves 'In Vino'. (Hope it bears repetition.)

I think we should all remember that a Lib Dem leader is for life, not just for Christmas.

Charlie boy should stay.

The longer he is around the better it is for us Conservatives. All hail Kennedy, the best LibDem Leader the country could ask for.

"* incidentally, the Libs can’t spell “retirement” on the front page of their website"

Shhh! I noticed that a week ago and almost told someone but thought I'd see how long it took them to notice - I've checked several times and no-one seems to as yet!

Charlie's new song - courtesy of The Clash

Should I Stay Or Should I Go

Darling you got to let me know
Should I stay or should I go?
If you say that you are mine
I'll be here 'til the end of time
So you got to let me know
Should I stay or should I go?

It's always tease tease tease
You're happy when I'm on my knees
One day is fine, the next is black
So if you want me off your back
So come on and let me know
Should I Stay or should I go?

Should I stay or should I go now?
Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go there will be trouble
An' if I stay it will be double
So come on and let me know

This indecision's bugging me
If you don't want me, set me free

Exactly who'm I'm supposed to
I don't know which clothes even fit m
Come on and let me know
Should I cool it or should I blow?

Should I stay or should I go now?

Should I stay or should I go now?

If I go there will be trouble

And if I stay it will be double
So you gotta let me know

Should I cool it or should I blow?
Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go there will be trouble
and if I stay there will be double
So you gotta' let me know!
Should I stay or should I go

Ah Charles Kennedy, the one man leadership contest.

Just because he has a giant orange head doesn't mean you should pay him any attention.

You should remember that most people don't vote Lib Dem because of their policies, they vote Lib Dem to salve their conscience.

We should never make the mistake of assuming (pretending?) that just because certain policies suit ourselves better, that they will necessarily be more popular or appear more reasonable to the public.

Other parties do that to us all the time. They consistently assert that the only way we can be successful is if we are more like them (an idea which Cameron/Maude/May seem to have bought wholesale). I don't agree with that at all. I do *not* believe that centrist parties are necessarily more attractive to the public (besides which, there is the question over what is centrist).

If David Cameron *does* win the next election (I have my doubts) it will be because he comes across as nice and presentable; it will not be because he has good policies.

Ditto with the Lib Dems. Simon Hughes appeals to just the sort of person who would vote Lib Dem. It matters not a jot that his views are crazy (which they most certainly are).

We want him to stay!

Thankfully, the Lib Dems appear to be in a lose/lose situation. A "fresh young face" would just lead to accusations of apeing the Tories, and an older leader is unlikely to appeal to the casual Lib Dem voters.

If Kennedy - one of our greatest assets - is replaced by an Orange Book, aren't WE in trouble? I agree with them on almost everything! We should be praying for something like Hughes. Remember the London Mayoral elections (I hope the liberals don't). Also don't forget that the Orangemen/women probably still feel constrained to sound a lot more sanctimonious and libbish than they probably are- things would change if one of them were leader.

It's something for the BBC Bias websites innit. Imagine if the Tory leader had Mr Kennedy's, umm, image problems. Do you think we would be spared endless discussions on the Today programme?

The new intake of LibDem MPs are from traditional Labour areas, so they would have won by being to the left of Labour. Take Lynne Featherstone MP (Hornsey and Wood Green) - she would rather die than have the Orange Book implemented! Hughes is the favourite to succeed 'Chat Show Charlie' but that would be good for us as he's a turn off for middle-of-the-road voters.

Cameron against "Broon" and Ming Campbell? there is a contest for an Englishman to savour!

The push against Kennedy is clearly motivated by fear at what may happen in the local elections next May. As someone who has just helped welcome an LD Councillor into our Party I want more to follow and they would if Hughes led them so I am rooting for him.

Oaten would take them right and watch out for Clegg too. We in the East Midlands watched his cosy style as an MEP and I am sure he was partially responsible for Bill Newton Dunn leaving us in 2000.

"Do we want Kennedy to stay or go?"

Going, going...

"The intelligent and statesmanlike image of Menzies Campbell - although, perhaps, a little old - is the interim leader that could present us with the greatest challenge."

I imagine headline writers at The Sun (which despises the Liberal Democrats) are licking their lips in anticipation. They've already identified Campbell as the main threat to Kennedy so expect 'Ming the Merciless' headlines any time soon. Should Campbell become leader, we can expect an onslaught of headlines along the lines of 'Lib Dems Ming', 'Lib Dems Choose Minger As Leader' (although that probably applies whether Campbell becomes leader or not!) etc... Can anybody think of any more?

I'd rather let them know I'm not bothered! Tories should concentrate on their message instead of giving air to their competitors.

Oh what a sweet, sweet moment murmurs of discontent not from the Conservative Party, I love it. Soon we'll be the united party as the Blair-brown divisions still rage on and within the Libels a whispering campaign has started. Maybe, soon, there might be another Liberal split the rational members join the Conservatives and the lefties sink into oblivion, marvellous.

Difficult to call this one.

Ming definitely has the gravitas. You could sort of see him as PM if you've had a few because he's got that kind of bearing. But while he might punch out Cameron for experience, and may even present a strong personality (though I'm not sure I buy that), the youth vote that the LibDems have really locked onto in the last few years would be difficult to keep a grip on.

Hughes... people keep saying he has personality. Are they totally insane? He comes across as slimey and smug to me. Since I'd be quite happy to see the LibDems sleepwalk to the left and into a head-on clash with the Brown left-flank electoral juggernaut, I don't think I'd mind that. It might just tempt Brown leftwards so the centre ground opens up for Cameron. The downside is that if this strategy fails, Brown might feel vindicated in pursuing a more left-leaning agenda if the Tories don't get a majority.

Oaten I've heard of mainly because of his perilously close first election. Having the LibDems as potential allies may be useful, but the party is too left-wing in its make-up for that to hold.

Maybe there'll be an upset and Vincent Cable will get it. He comes across like Nosferatu in a suit so hopefully he'll alienate just about everybody.

Interesting analysis Ed. Certain parallels can be drawn between the Liberal Democrat leadership contenders and those from our recent leadership contest.

Ming (the Merciless) Campbell: Malcolm Rifkind?
(Simple) Simon Hughes: David Davis?
Mark (Nobody's Votin') Oaten: David Cameron?
Susan (Tamer) Kramer: Theresa May?
Vince (Unable) Cable: um, Iain Duncan Smith?
(Ok I'm struggling now...)

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