Saturday, January 07, 2006

Lib Dem Turmoil

I've just heard that Charles Kennedy has decided not to contest the Leadership of the Lib Dems.

This isn't a surprise, ever since last Thursday's announcement regarding his alcohol problem, and subsequent leadership race, his position became increasingly untenable.

As a Lib Dem member, I refrained from commentating on his announcement earlier, as I wanted to be able to allow him the chance to explain to me and the other members what he could offer to the party in continuing as leader.

While I'll acknowledge that he has done tremendously well in the past, I felt that recently he didn't seem to have the hunger for driving the party forward as he had in the past. In light of the Conservative leadership elections, which would have provided a boost for whoever was chosen leader, and the forthcoming Labour leadership contest/ shoe-in, the focus was always going to turn onto the Lib Dems and how Kennedy was reacting and what he was offering to the party and the general public.

This is not to say that the manner in which this has been conducted is appalling treatment, both before Christmas and especially within the last week. There are people within the party who have been encouraged by a frantic media to push things into the limelight that should have remained behind closed doors, be it confidence letters or an admission from Kennedy about his alcohol problem and treatment for that problem. The media, of course having a better than expected excitable Conservative leadership election, and with the knowledge that the Labour leadership question is still possibly 18 months away, wanted something to focus onto now, and the Lib Dems were perfectly poised for that.

The question about Charles Kennedy is now redundant, and the question about his alcohol problem and it's effect on his ability to do his duty, which shouldn't have been made public in the first place, as it was a personal issue he was dealing with at the time, is of concern no longer.

What needs to be determined now is that everyone will, regardless of the support for Kennedy or not, be able to unify behind the new leader. Yet the manner in the disposing of Kennedy, will leave indelible scars, which could be a lot longer to heal than the time it took to remove him.