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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

No move to the right

Welsh Party Assembly Leader, Mike German, in the Western Mail this morning, speaks for the majority of Liberal Democrats members when he argues that the party should not shift to the right to counter the rise of David Cameron. "The party," he says, "is fundamentally about helping people to help themselves but also supporting the freedom of the individual."

Mike also gives his support to Charles Kennedy, though I suspect that like the rest of us he wants to see a much higher profile from him in 2006. Kennedy of course is busy fighting off a so-called grassroots revolt with an on-line petition claiming to have accumulated several thousand signatures calling for Mr Kennedy to quit. The organisers are claming that the signatories include one in twelve (375) of the party's Councillors.

The problem for those organising the petition is that there is no method of checking who is signing it. There are already reports of people signing on behalf of someone else without seeking permission. There are no checks whether signatories are Liberal Democrats members and in fact in recent days supporters of Charles Kennedy have gone on-line to sign up as Mickey Mouse and have had their signature accepted just to prove a point. There is also no verification of email addresses. I recently came across one Councillor who had an e-mail from the organisers thanking him for signing and encouraging him to go public. However, that particular Councillor had not subscribed to the campaign.

So as to underline these points Ian Ridley has set up his own on-line petition calling on arch-conspirator, Ben Ramm, to stand down as editor of "The Liberal" magazine. With thanks to Jonathan Calder for running with this particular ball. I would encourage a 100% turnout of Disney characters in supporting this cause.
Whilst I don't agree with Ben Ramm's approach to issue of CK's leadership, he is at least allowed his opinion. It is a democracy and freedom of speech is a British institution.

The new petition asking him to stand down as editor of "The Liberal" magazine may be a funny rapid reaction. It however smacks of blog mob point scoring /revenge but to what aim? The best thing would be to let the matter play itself out.

The issue of CK's leadership will be decided one way or another. Now that Tom M has added his comments to the mix, perhaps some of those who have been stabbing Charles's in the back anonymously will come out in the open.
I think the point of the petition directed against Ben Ramm is to highlight the flaws in his own effort rather than to demand his resignation as editor of a deeply insignificant magazine. Thus it is designed so that anybody can sign it posing as anybody else.
Must admit to enjoying all this CK stuff.....so heres a confession. During the last Lib dem leadership campaign I was helping Jackie Ballard come fourth.During the course of which I leaked a report i wrote to michael White at the guardian

...the report detailed responses that had come from telephone canvassing after an article in the guardian about Kennedy(it was less than flatering) ...the phone canvass showed a raise in ABC voters (Anyone But Charlie) which Michael White duly reported.

An outraged Lord Mcnally wrote to the guardian saying how marvellous Kennedy would be as leader etc. Ironic that he is now damning kennedy with faint praise...but for the support of mcnally Campbell and others kennedy would never have become leader.....as an opponent I am longing for the lib dems to have Campbell as leader he has a track record of strategic incompetence...
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