Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A narrow victory...

Well I have to admit that Huhne did very much better that I expected in the Lib-Dem leadership contest. Clegg's eventual victory was by the narrowest of margins considering he started the contest as the run-away favorite.
Part of the reason for Clegg's disappointing result must be his lacklustre campaign as he toured the country 'stirring up apathy' to use Willie Whitelaw's phrase. However, Huhne, for once, did cut it. Long-term Huhne watchers may not be surprised that his campaign team fought a bit grubby at times (the 'Calamity Clegg' clip is compulsive viewing for political anoraks) or personal, accusing Clegg of 'flip-flopping' over policy but he articulated policy differences too (Trident, housing, education for instance). During the course of the election, Huhne defined himself as the greener, more left-leaning candidate.
So what now for the Huney-monster? He gave a generous and graceous speech conceding the leadership so presumably he will get his reward of shadowing the chancellor from the Lib-Dem benches. Of course a feiecely ambitious Huhne will be sorry that he came so near and yet so farfrom grabbing the crown. One person who certainly will be relieved is Maria Hutchings. Leaders of national political parties rarely lose there seats and Ms Hutchings as the Conservative Party candidate for Eastleigh must be eyeing Huhne's notional 502 majority.
Clegg too gave a good speech upon his election but he has a mountain to climb. Squeezed by the Tories who unashamedly have parked their tanks on his lawn, he will be compared at every PMQs to the surprisingly deft performances of his predecessor. The need to develop distinct and populist policies for the Lib-Dems especially now the Iraq war is hopefully in abeyance has never been greater. Personally, I doubt they are up to it- but then the Lib-Dems always seem to have a capacity to surprise!


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