Friday, January 06, 2006

Cards About To Collapse

He sure ain't going quietly, and seems to believe he can ignore his colleagues and cling on by appealing directly to the members.

The immediate question is how will those colleagues deal with it? And it seems that after all that unattributable briefing, they're now flocking to be interviewed on the record.

Chris Davis, LD leader in the Euro Parliament says: "Charles must now take this weekend and come back on Monday and, for the good of the party, say he will step down. Charles has the support and sympathy of party members across the country, but that is simply not good enough. Charles is a dead man walking."

Monday's the day, and now the first member of his Shadow Cabinet, Andrew George, has announced he will resign if Charlie doesn't go. Others among those 11 signatories are likely to follow- perhaps before today is out.

Vince Cable- apparently the organiser of that famous pre-Christmas letter- says in his usual measured tone:

"He has been a very good leader, but we have had a slow hemorrhaging of support and confidence. A lot of damage has been done and I don't think that the leadership is sustainable.''

He's right- a lot of damage has been done, not only in terms of the party at Westminster, but also more widely in the country. Lying Liars are the same whether they are from left or right, drunk or sober. And ineffective Lying Liars are even worse.

But the real question is how much more damage is Charlie prepared to inflict in order to cling on? Technically, even if his MP colleagues pass a no-confidence motion, he can still stay on pending the membership vote. All he needs are seven MPs to support him and he can stand in the contest.

And who knows? LibDems are a strange ill-assorted bunch, and the members might well vote him back in. Particularly if the likes of Ming and Oaten stay on the sidelines. Remember, this is not like the multi-stage Tory process where the real candidates can hold back pending the outcome of the first round (as Major did in 1990). This is sudden death by membership vote.

And if Charlie did get returned, what then? The LibDems are a house of cards: the archetypal protest party held together by wishful thinking. Does anyone really imagine the likes of Laws, Oaten and Clegg would hang around in some dysfunctional busted flush party led by a hostile, maybe-so-maybe-not-too-early-to-tell recovering alcoholic?


David Cameron must be sending out the Tory party application forms already.

PS That dependable LibDem watcher Iain Dale has done some excellent, entirely objective, posts on the whole fiasco. Like Guido I particularly like his post on Daisy McAndrew's role in knifing Charlie. It was her ITN scoop that outed him, but as Iain points out: "At no point during her report did she mention the fact that she used to work for Kennedy. She should have. I hope there aren't too many mirrors for her to look into when she gets home tonight." That must merit a place in the "Selling Your Own Granny" Top Five.

Picture: Trading Tribe


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