What a Difference a Few Hours Makes

So only a few hours ago I was writing about the current crisis in the Liberal Democrats, and then within hours it has all changed.

Both yesterday and today, Kennedy was going to stick it out, and let the members decide, and the real prospects for a new leader were all remaining loyal, offering the prospect of a total unknown as the opposition put forward by the rebel MP’s. Then this afternoon, Kennedy did what ultimately is probably best for the party, and during a dignified and statesman like press conference stood aside.

Sir Menzies Campbell is now acting leader, and has put his name forward for the leadership election. There is talk that nobody will stand against him, but I believe that would be a mistake, certainly I would be keen to see Simon Hughes put his name forward.

However, I think the words of Lembit Opik sum up what a lot of people are thinking at the moment:

Unfortunately some fellow parliamentarians felt it was in their gift to force him out without an all-member ballot…

It has been divisive, and I have got some very strong words to say which I will now share quietly and privately, about the performance of some of my colleagues.

They have violated the values of some of the party, and crucially they have given the impression their words and their views are more important than the electorate which chose him in the first place.

And that, I do not think, was very constitutional.

And Alex Salmond, leader of the SNP has also been quick with his response:

Charles Kennedy confronted his problems and appealed for support – but his MPs have responded by knifing him in the front.

Julius Caesar was better treated by Brutus than Charles Kennedy by his colleagues.

My only hope now is that the party can be pulled together and get back on track pretty quickly, and can put this behind them – rather than this being the start of a slow slide into Conservative style arguments and quick change leaders. Certainly a look at the comments on the BBC News Have Your Say show a large number of people who are just as disgusted with the treatment of Kennedy as the person I know who is considering their membership. There is a lot of work to do to get back on track, fingers crossed it can all get done and it’s not another eight decades before the Liberal Democrats get another good result.

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