How does he go with dignity and consistency?
The main interest in Ming’s closing speech to the Lib Dem conference in Brighton today will be whether it sounds like a valedictory. Certainly from the briefings that have come out it is starting to look that way.
Ming’s problem is how he gets round his previous statements that he would lead the party into the next general elections. If he goes early it would looks as though he had been forced out. My view is that the lack of a 2007 general election, if that is indeed the case, gives him an excellent opportunity.
The resolute way Ming has been attacking Brown for not going to the polls immediately provides a powerful argument. He’s not going early – Ming will be able to say – it’s Brown’s fault for failing to go to the country when he should have done.
Thus Campbell would be able to be consistent with previous statements and he can attack Brown at the same time. The fact that ICM yesterday was reporting the Lib Dems back at 20% and that David Cameron is even more unpopular than he is will make the move much easier.
Added to this has been Ming’s apparent laid-back view of Nick Clegg’s activities. Would his shadow home secretary have used the conference as a platform to set out his leadership intentions in such an obvious way if he had felt that this would undermine Ming?
So we had the crazy situation yesterday where Chris Huhne, who upset the party grey suits by running last time, was attacking Clegg’s “premature” statements while Ming himself appeared to be giving them his backing. In a Radio 4 interview the leader said:-“I like ambition. I am totally relaxed.”
The betting possibilities. My favourite is Betfair’s ” Next General Election: Party Leaders” market where the options are which of the current three will still be there on polling bday. You can get 3.6/1 on Brown and Cameron and 4.5/1 of Brown alone. Both might be worth a flutter.