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Lets hope that Simon Hughes gets in and splits the Lib Dems apart.

So there we go...two days and hes gone. The Lib Dems have shown they do have the ability to sharpen claws when necessary. That was a brutal assassination. Quite something.

Sadly with Kennedy going, the limelight will no longer be on Cameron. Cameron must start shouting louder now. Its probably time for a big announcement. The problem there is that we are in the process of coming up with policies. Hes got to do something, otherwise Kennedy will have killed off the Cameron momentum.

Interestingly Campbell is now acting leader...therefore he will be at PMQs!

Cameron must start shouting louder now. Its probably time for a big announcement. The problem there is that we are in the process of coming up with policies

So that's what it's all about,James?

Shouting loudly; dreaming up as yet undreamed of gimmicks; making sure that not a day passes in which Cameron's curious top-teeth-only smirk does not appear somewhere in the press...

The sad thing is, your're probably right.

And - yes - it's bad news for Eton Dave as well.

He's going to be fish-and-chip wrappings.

This is DC's first scalp. He's panicked the Lib Dems into dumping the only man they've got who can both hold together the Lib Dem coalition and appeal to the wider electorate.

What I was saying there is that if Cameron doesnt come out with something that attracts media attention either by shouting louder (problematic because shouting louder usually means breaking out Punch and Judy) or coming up wth new ideas (problematic because weve got 17 months to go for that-which doesnt help those of us involved in local elections one bit-what policies are we promoting?). Of course he could do a speech on a particular issue soon, maybe the CSA or some other poverty/family linked issue and use it to demolish Labours legacy on that issue. But it wont get as much publicity as a policy launch.

Ive been very critical of Cameron despite being on the same wing as him (as someone whos always been on the modernising wing I never thought Id disagree with them more than with those on the right). It would be great to be able to use some Conservative Party policies to beef up the election campaign next year locally but they wont actually appear until after the election!

Mike, as a UKIP member and candidate I don't think anyone here will be paying any attention to whatever nonsense you happen to post at any given time.

Perhaps you might be better placed removing the extreme-right BNP-sympathising comments from your CDA website.

I feel sorry for Kennedy because I think he really was a genuinely likeable politician, and the LibDems brutal 'assassination' is one of the most horrific political maulings I can recall -- even IDS didn't suffer in this way. That said, while I have full sympathy for his problems, he did lie to the electorate for eighteen months while he claimed to be seeking treatment and would no doubt have continued to lie as long as he could get away with it. Either he was too much in the grip of a terrible medical condition to be able to admit it (in which case, he might not have been capable to be leader), or he had acknowledged he had a problem but persisted in lying about it to the public.

At any rate, we're now left with an interesting field. I think Ming is the likely challenger. He hasn't impressed me so far but I've seen quite little of him. There's a good chance for Cameron to steal a march on the youth vote -- I suspect Ming will counter that by putting Clegg, Laws et al in very prominent positions. That means a widespread flight to the Tories is probably going to be stunted.

Hughes would be great. Best hope to sweep up the Orange Book MPs, but he's just such a creepy, repulsive individual that I can't believe even the LibDems could elect him. Oaten would be the most toxic for Cameron, but I think Cameron could dominate him pretty effectively -- Oaten just comes across as a bit dull and ineffectual. Still, an interesting possibility for the Conservatives -- who would Oaten-led LibDems ally with in the case of a hung parliament?

Mike, as a UKIP member and candidate I don't think anyone here will be paying any attention to whatever nonsense you happen to post at any given time

That, Iain, would not concern me in the least even if it were true, although your very comments clearly give the lie to this own allegation.

I do not promote my website and forums here because that would be extremely discourteous to the webmaster, but if you wish to study them and publicise them as you are now busy doing, then that is your business.

While I maintain a policy of near-total free speech I have a policy against racial abuse and 'holocaust denial'. If you believe that anything posted on my site contravenes this policy you are welcome to email me personally with a complaint.

While I have no particular objection to you airing such a complaint publicly, it would obviously be very much off-topic on this particular forum. I'm sure you realise that.

Please note that my email address is genuine, unlike that of the mysterious 'Beware' who has posted again today.

Mike Smith probably speaks for a large number of those Conservatives who voted UKIP in June 2004 - as well as former Conservatives who voted UKIP on May 5th.

Have you actually read the CDA website Sean? If we have shed people like that, then it is for much the better, much in the same way as Labour was better off without Militant.

I would say Kennedy wasnt Cameron's first scalp. Kennedy was on rocky ground before Cameron's speech. Remember the talks happened before the Conservative Conference, if not soon after May's election. This is a matter of Kennedy being taken out by his own rather than by the Conservatives.

Like others I hope Hughes stands and then after an an incredibly bitter and divisive leadership contest wins.Sadly however I think the Liberals will hand it to Ming on a plate if they have any sense.But do they?
Ming does have gravitas and is very plausible on foreign affairs which seems to be the only subject on which I've heard him speak.Anyone have any ideas on his domestic views?

I've got good news for you Iain.

The housing market has been livening up (a little) now that Christmas is over and I am going to be extremely busy next week following my prime calling as a surveyor and valuer.

Less time for our little jousts which seem to unsettle you so much.

You can be a happy bunny again.

I always found Kennedy to be irritatingly smug and pompous. That said I wonder to what extent his overthrow was a media-managed operation rather than a genuine rebellion at the grass roots.

This wasnt the grassroots though. This was the Parliamentary Party...all 62 of them. ITV had the story and forced Kennedy's hand so its a 50-50 affair I guess. Once the first statement came out, the Parliamentary Party rumbled on with the letter and the threats and that was it. You never know. Maybe an MP leaked it...

Indeed I have read the CDA website Ian (and occasionally posted to it). Some of the people who contribute to it are nutjobs but some of them, (including Mike Smith) are not.

What I had in mind were Mike Smith's comments to this site which seem pretty well-argued to me.

"What I had in mind were Mike Smith's comments to this site which seem pretty well-argued to me."

Indeed. I have no knowledge of his posts on the CDA, but what he's written here seems cogent enough and hardly deserves the whirlwind of ad hominem attacks that have surrounded him.

At risk of inviting a hail of abuse, I think Mike Smith's supposed BNP comment had a point, if only regarding their education policy. I read their 2005 GE Manifesto and I must admit that their support for traditional teaching methods and the restoration of grammar schools would certainly ring a bell with "traditional" Tories. One of Cameron's good points is he realises the superiority of synthetic phonics.

Personally I favour the more radical view of getting the State out of education all together but I accept this isn't going to happen in my lifetime, if ever.

Anyhow, back to Kennedy!

I too believe Charles Kennedy’s down fall was mainly the result of the rise of David Cameron and the electoral revival of the Conservative party. It is no coincidence that his resignation occurred at around the same time as a surge in polls support for the Conservatives.

It would appear that the stand in leader of the Lib Dems will be Menzies Campbell (whom I shall now refer to as ‘Ming The Merciless’.) Hopefully the Liberal Democrats will indulge in a period of bitter infighting and self-destruction – though this might be wishful thinking on my part.

Also, Cllr Ian Lindley - just because comments on the CDA website have exhibited supposedly "racist" or "discriminative" doesn't mean they should be taken down. Surely Ian you believe in Freedom of Speech and the freedom to express an opinion, even if you don't personally agree with it. Despite what others might say, to be discriminatory is part of human nature.

I too believe Charles Kennedy’s down fall was mainly the result of the rise of David Cameron and the electoral revival of the Conservative party

Hmmm. There's been discontent with Charles Kennedy's leadership in the open since the general election, and for at least a year before that in private. Remember that they tried to bounce him out of the leadership before the Conservative's conference, when David Cameron's campaign looked likely to be washed up.

Cameron's apparent success probably made the matter more pressing, but it was inevitable.

For the most part I do believe the election of David Cameron as Tory leader and our surge in the polls is the reason for various Liberal Democrat MPs becoming anxious and calling for Charles to resign.

Since the election of Cameron, and after the various changes he has implemented, the party is now much more attractive to Liberal Democrat supporters and voters. This then created fear within the Liberal Democrats and we’ve all seen what has happened over the past few days.

The reason for wanting to remove Charles now, though, is due to the local elections coming up. The parliamentary party want a new leader – who is a bit more on the right, no doubt – so to lessen the damage that Cameron would cause. I wonder whether this plan of theirs will work. It’s unlikely, though.

It will be interesting to see, however, who the Liberal Democrat members elect as their leader. Generally speaking, the members are more to the left, and so you would suspect would favour Simon Hughes, yet I’ve the suspicion they’ll pick Campbell – who is probably the best person they can pick (for their own electoral success), and who I also believe the parliamentary party want to win.

Mike can host whatever he wants on the CDA website - and I will continue to point out that he has no interest in a revived Conservative Party, and that the unacceptably far-right CDA has no connection with the Conservative Party.

So in other words, you'll play the man and not the ball.

Mike Smith is not a Conservative, James.

Whatever our disagreements I know you have the interests of the Conservative Party at heart, and I hope you would think the same of me. One, both or neither of us may be wrong but we both want to see the Party succeed.

(...continued from previous post (pressed post in error))

Mike is not a Conservative, he stood against a Conservative Party candidate in a marginal seat in May, and he clearly does not have the interests of the Party at heart. I do not take his views on the future direction of the Conservative Party any more seriously than I would a Labour activist. His comments need a huge spoonful of salt and I am happy to ensure that this salt is applied liberally. :)

Kennedy made a fatal error when he admitted to his "colleagues" that he had a drink problem. It was that admission which was fed to the ITN news researchers and was confirmed leading to the threat to go public with it. He could get away with "rumours" which he could deny but to give quotable remarks to colleagues spelt disaster. His fellow MPs could not keep a leader with a clearly admitted weakness. Having a "few too many" on occasions is generally acceptable, but being an alcoholic is beyond the limit. We can be sympathetic, but leadership - no.

Ming is the favourite to succeed him, but I would have thought [sadly] that he was too old to appeal to todays celebrity obsessed floating voters.

Mike Smith is not a Conservative, James.

He can however say things which are typical of disillusioned Conservatives (remember that in '97 it wasn't the switch of votes that necessarily determined the result, as it was previous Conservative voters *not* voting).

We've known that Kennedy had a drink problem for years, he was always one of the tick box reasons not to vote Lib Dem for my family. The Tories this didn't make this happen - the time for the Tories to make this happen was before the last election surely? But they failed to do so.

It was his own cabinet that forced the change.

and Iain most of us are adults on this site and can make our own minds up about what someone posts we don't need a nanny thanks all the same.

Can we talk a little bit more about CK Gone and a little less about Mike Smith?

"The Tories this didn't make this happen - the time for the Tories to make this happen was before the last election surely?"

Indeed not. It seems his own MPs had been pressuring him since 2004 at least, and some actually tried to force him out at their Conference. That was the first time their unhappiness became public, before Cameronism existed, and the polls show the public perception of his leadership has been sinking ever since.

Cameron's pollings and the iminent local elections have merely combined to force their hands.

Regarding the suitability of someone to post on this site - I don't believe it is a requirement that they have to be a Conservative, so it is quite likely that a number are not. It is interesting to hear the views of people other than Conservatives. Who knows, we may get them to join. In any case we may learn what we need to do to attract them.

Lib Dems returning home to Cameron’s New Conservative Party the trickle is becoming a flood……

After the treatment dealt out to Charles Kennedy by his own MP’s it is hardly surprising to discover that of the 16,000 new members that joined the David Cameron’s New Conservative Party 92% are former Lib Dem members.

David Cameron has been urging Lib Dems to return to their now new natural home in his New Conservative Party and this seems to be working.

The back biting, private briefing against the Lib Dem leader and the whispering dirty tricks campaign against Charles Kennedy by the Lib Dem MP’s to the media and Charles Kennedy’s forced resignation has played well into Cameron’s hand.

They, the young rebel Lib Dem MPs are right wing and want to ditch most of the Lib Dem policies on increased taxation to fund health and education as well as the local income tax. The young Turks tried unsuccessfully to outsmart Charles Kennedy at the Lib Dem Conference but the rank and file members who are keen to maintain their traditional policies snubbed them.

I have spoken to a number of Lib Dems who are expecting that the Lib Dem Party will fragment over the direction the new young Turks want the party to go and disagree with a lot of the policy changes and revisions they are planning to force through. This is causing major splits within the grass roots membership. They also feel that this takeover of the party by the young rebels and the leadership elections now to follow will be divisive and further alienate the rank and file activist and push them further into David Cameron’s camp.

Oh yes, the Lib Dem members I've spoken to think this is some Orange Bookers coup. They want Hughes. The question is, can he get the requisite number of MPs to nominate him?

He needs 7 MPs so Im reckoning he can get enough MPs to nominate him.

As well as the 200 or whatever members. Im sure his local association will find enough people.

Here are my views on the situation:

First of all - the Lib Dems need an election. If there is a coronation it will become very easy to portray this whole event as a pre-planned coup. Campbell will look like the victor in a messy plot, and the party will have no boost of electing its leader.

Second I am not convinced Campbell will be anything good for the Lib Dems - he wont be a disaster but I am not sure he will really take them onwards.

A: The young turks seem to be backing him as a kind of Howard option, allowing him to keep the party stable until they mature. But this totally misjudges the situation the Lib Dems are in. They were not close to a real problem, like us Conservatives were before Howard came in. They are not close to a General election and equally in 4 years time, they may not have the opportunities they had previously or even now - Cameron may well have chipped away at Lib Dem foundations and seats by 2009.

B: Campbell does show gravitas, he is a very good Parliamentarian and this will impress some Lib Dem voters and parts of middle England. But I cannot see him winning over those in Northern England, where I live. I cannot see his posh, old Scots really winning over many waverers. Against Cameron he will not look as energetic and like it or not (and I am not a fan) in today’s media world he cannot keep up with the Labour machine and the Cameron factor (presuming DC stays focused). Yes he looks like a respectable guy, who could be stable in a crisis - but does he look like a fresh guy to be PM? I think not.

Furthermore he seems to be a kind of politician who will not chase the student protest kind of politics the Lib Dems have built a lot of success on - so where is left for them to go? Finally some might argue Campbell would win over older voters, again I am not convinced. I would argue many older voters (my apologies if it seems ageist - it is not meant) would prefer to see a younger man in charge and take the country further. Why would they really want to vote for a man who will be 68 or 69 by the next election? This view is not based on a detailed survery, just my gut reaction.

However having said all this and not really knowing Campbell’s policies I would predict he will struggle to keep the votes won from Labour. He wont win over the North, or the Midlands. Meanwhile against the Conservatives with a youngish leader and centrist policies he may just look a little tired - why vote Campbell when you can get Cameron? Finally if he does not follow the protest policy options of the past and is squeezed between strong two parties - I think Campbell could struggle to make progress.

So as things are today these are my views. Campbell would be solid but not allow the Liberal Democrats to move onwards and chart a long term path to greater things. Those young guns waiting for a few years may then find, what they have to work with is far from as strong as it is today.

Campbell leadership = opportunity missed?
Campbell coronation = looks bad.

Thos of you who think the party is going to tear itself apart will be sadly disappointed. My local exec leans leftwards but all agreed CK had to go and are in the mood for reconciliation.

Furthermore, Hughes is not as popular with the membership, or even the activists, as the media think (and the Tories hope).

With regards to Sir Menzies' domestic politics, he is an unashamed Liberal.

Good analysis James M. You made the point very well. Campbell is fair enough but Blair will step aside in a couple of years time and if by that time the Lib Dems arent ready, theres going to be some serious problems with the next General Election, especially seeing the movement Cameron has caused.

He needs 7 MPs so Im reckoning he can get enough MPs to nominate him.

Hughes was nominated by two MPs in '99. The rule change to make candidates have 10% support in the parliamentary party was even dubbed the "Simon Hughes amendment" by some - i.e., can he get support to stand.

"With regards to Sir Menzies' domestic politics, he is an unashamed Liberal."

Which explains why he was twice offered a place in the Major cabinet!

Im sure he can find 7 out of the 62 to support him. Hes an intelligent guy, knows how to fight elections, has experience. Has a good amount of support within the party. If he doesnt get the seven, Ill eat my hat.

"The question is, can he get the requisite number of MPs to nominate him?"

Until Ming the Merciless has 56 MPs behind him, it's possible. Hughes the Useless hinted he was leaning towards running (no surprise) in a typically shifty appearance on C4 News earlier on this evening. For some bizarre reason, Hemming the Lemming (oh this is fun!) is seriously considering running, according to his blog. Mathematically, 8 people can put themselves forward.

The Lib Dems will be a spent force by the next election.

There are now two disparate factions pushing in opposite directions. The modernisers and the traditonalists. The same thing happened to the old Liberal Party.

Whoever they choose as leader, come the next election they will implode.

With any luck they'll split back into the two original parties, the Liberals following Ming down a blind alley and the 'young turks' re-establishing the SDP to forge the 'new future' yet again.

But really are they really any different that either the Labour party or the Tories we each have a single 'common-party' name and a single membership but within that membership are a multitude of factions with their own ideas and beliefs, have we not just seen the problems this has caused with our own leadership battle highlighting very different opinions on a wide range of subjects, who is to say where it will lead the Liberals or for that matter where Cameron will lead the conservatives.

I was advised that I should pin my colours to the party who most represented my views but this just gets more difficult, my views stay roughly the same but the parties that are available to select change constantly chasing swing voters all over the show. Three years ago I wrote my key issues down and ticked each box according to which party represented them it was an interesting exercise, let's hope Cameron's conservatives don't change too many of my tick boxes or it will start to give me more problems.

For those rank and file Lib Dems who want Campbell, the young turks of Lib Dem MPs did not carry out a coup only to allow "an old fuddy duddy" (with all due respect to Sir Menzies) to become leader. No they will want one of their own.

This is were the break up will start.

"For those rank and file Lib Dems who want Campbell, the young turks of Lib Dem MPs did not carry out a coup only to allow "an old fuddy duddy" (with all due respect to Sir Menzies) to become leader. No they will want one of their own."

It's widely believed (check out the comments on the Liberal Demoprat equivalent of this site, PoliticalBetting.com) that Campbell orchestrated all this, in cahoots with the younger lot.

"the comments on the Liberal Democrat equivalent of this site, PoliticalBetting.com"

I don't think so.

Political Betting isn't a LibDem clique, although Mike Smithson is a member and there are a disproportionate number of LibDems there.

I doubt Mike would have any qualms about betting against the LibDems if he thought it was worth the money...

Sorry I chose my words badly. I meant to say the nearest thing the Liberal Demoprats have to an equivalent of this site as a forum for political debate.

The LDYS forum - www.ldys.org.uk/forum - is occasionally mildly amusing, but they squirrel any serious discussion away on hidden forums.

From a strategic point of view I think (apart from John Hemming) electing Simon Hughes would be the best outcome as far as the tories are concerned.

I doubt he would take the party as far to the left as some people believe because of the realities of keeping a "shadow cabinet" together and united. However he certainly wouldn't be as radical in moving on to Conservative ground as some of the Orange bookers, leaving comfortable space for the tories to fight Labour on more maintream centre ground.

The dynamics between the tories and the lib dems will start to become interesting.

BPIX's poll in The Mail on Sunday has

Con 38
Lab 38
LibD 16

according to electoralcalculus.co.uk that gives

Con 258
Lab 352
LibD 6

with (I think) the Liberal Democrats getting wiped out except in Scotland! Watching the LibDems right now is so much fun. (though I feel sorry for Charlie)

38 is respectable but I think shows how far we have to go. We need to be comfortably into the 40s with a clear lead over labour before we can look with any confidence to forming a new government. As they say, change to win.

One only has to read a number of the comments above, together with the ridiculous assertion that 'Kennedy is Cameron's first scalp' to see that the Cameroons have once again lost the plot.

For a start, what Simon Heffer has rightly described as 'the Cameron publicity stunt' needs - like a 747 - the constant fuel of publicity to keep it in the air. A few days of being kept off the front pages could have a potentially disastrous stalling effect.

More significant, however, was the problem of Kennedy himself. I have always regarded the man as a likeable, lightweight buffoon, whose party succeeded in spite of him.

I might once have classed him - Ken Clarke style - as the kind of guy one might enjoy drinking with, but having recently spent a dire lunch hour in the company of an alcoholic, I'm inclined to revise that verdict.

Kennedy's drink and other problems are now past history, and by the dignified manner of his departure he gained public sympathy for himself and his party. I expect that Campbell will be the new leader. He is dignified and trustworthy, and his firm and effective stand against US militarism will give a fantastic new boost to his party.

I might add that since the jettisoning of traditional Tory and Labout principles has reduced all three parties to the state of soccer teams, to be judged purely on 'performance', there is little to prevent even 'right-wing' former Tories from supporting whichever party performs best at local level.

And in my experience the calibre of Liberal Democrat Councillors is immensely superior to those of the other main parties.

Charles Kennedy has just suggested that their must be a contest for his successor and has dismissed the prospect of a coronation.

It's conventional for the just departed leader to keep away from involvement in finding his or her successor. It looks as those Kennedy will involve himself thoroughly.

As a contest now looks certain, it's increasingly looking like a two way fight between Campbell and Hughes. Many people who would have been expected to back Oaten have already fallen behind Campbell.

As I’ve said before expect a pact, secret or otherwise between the Orange bookers and Campbell. He's there best bet, while Clegg, Huhne, Law et al are too inexperienced to challenge.

Oaten will challenge for the Deputy leadership vacated by Campbell in return for supporting Campbell and bringing his support with him. This would position him well for any post-general election contest.

Hughes really needs to re-position himself if he is to avoid being caricatured as the left wing candidate. Its interesting to see he's already said "we should avoid casting people as left or right wing".

The talk is that Campbell will offer Hughes the deputy leadership in return for his support. Is that possible though? I thought their deputy leader was elected? Would Hughes accept such an offer? He seemed to hint quite heavily yesterday that he would not favour a coronation.

According to the Mail on Sunday, Kennedy will back Oaten, who seemingly has Opik on-side as well.

Apparently there's a determination amongst Kennedy loyalists that Campbell is not rewarded for his supposed Machiavellian machinations, so I think we can expect a contest of sorts, the key question is: can the stop Campbell camp unite behind one candidate?

Personally, I'm hoping John Hemming carries through his threat to seek nomination as a candidate, purely on the basis of the entertainment that would provide.

I think Hughes will run if he can find enough MPs to back him (I suspect he will).

I think Hughes will then win the vote among the members. He suits them well, and I actually think he will be the most successful of their potential leaders.

Remember, Lib Dem voters don't want realistic policies. They aren't voting for a party they think will win. They want to vote for a party that makes them feel good about themselves. For that, Hughes fits the bill perfectly.

The deputy ledership is elected but I imagine the opinon of the leader would count for a lot. I simply can't imagine Hughes, already as party president wanting to run for deputy leader. He wants the top job and probably feels his time is now.

Who else has Oaten got though, the early backing and momentum seems to be with Campbell.

I'm certainly supporting John Hemming!!!

I think Hughes would actually be a very vocal and effective leader for the Lib Dems. Hughes would move the LibDems to the left and attack Blair and Chancellor Gordon Brown for toadying to business and the White House – and thus give Old Labour voters a rival place to go.

It may not please the Orange Bookers, but it would make some of the southern seats they contest very interesting. Here in Devon, Conservative or Liberal victory often depends on how firm the Labour vote actually is. If Hughes could make inroads into that, he could almost certainly compensate for any loss of more moderate voters.

"I simply can't imagine Hughes, already as party president wanting to run for deputy leader. He wants the top job and probably feels his time is now."

Indeed it's likely now or never for him. After the next election, someone like Nick Clegg would be a more likely front runner.

And of course the danger of a Hughes leadership for the Orange bookers is that he is likely to be around for a long time post 2008/9 election.

Hughes has to be very clever now and I would expect him to come out with some sort of commitment to run a party "of all the talents" on annoucing his leadership. The economic portfolios are crucial.

And of course the danger of a Hughes leadership for the Orange bookers is that he is likely to be around for a long time post 2008/9 election.

Hughes is far more of a danger to Labour, where he would put pressure on them from the left. Where as Campbell who could provide an attractive alternative to a youthful Cameron.

Sorry about the double posts!

"I'm certainly supporting John Hemming!!!"

You may like to visit the unofficial John Hemming campaign blog, which has been set up by a truly public-spirited individual *ahem* to campaign on John's behalf.

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