Thursday, October 11, 2007

This won't be quoted in the Independent

Stephen Tall on LibDem Voice has highlighted an article in today's Independent just above the motif saying "Now wash your hands". I don't blame journalists. They have editors on their back and they are lazy just like the rest of us. Why actually try to work out what is going on when you can just quote a blog which fits what your editor wants? Why try to get your head around policy? It's boring rubbish, isn't it?

Jo Hayes wrote a posting called Time to take stock. The salient passage, relative to Ming's skills, read:

The truth is that in the hard world of national politics Ming has had 18 months to gain acceptance as a potential Prime Minister by the general public, but he has not gained it. And I do not believe he is going to gain it by doing a bit of work on his approval ratings. We can argue until we are blue in the face that it is ageist to criticise Ming, but it is not a question of his age. It is a question of his energy levels, of his charisma or lack of it, of whether people are at ease with him, whether they feel he understands the country's problems and their own problems, above all whether he has the mix of qualities to run the country well, the toughness to withstand the sustained stress and pressure of the job, to be good in a crisis or in the series of crises that it is part of the job to cope with. It is a question of the whole man, the whole image, whole myth, even, of a human being considered by others as their potential leader.

I have to resort to that old quote which was, perhaps tentatively, attributed to Voltaire: "I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend, to the death, your right to say it".

In more normal language I think Jo is repeating what is always said about Ming and has always been said. I speak from a different viewpoint. I think he has shown great energy. He works 18 hour days some days. He is extremely sparky in interviews and on the telly, as anyone who has bothered to watch him recently will testify. He is a liberal through and through. A man of great integrity with a track record of leadership (he was a PPC and won in what was a no-hopish seat). He has actually shown great leadership skill in the last year in steering us through big debates such as green taxes and Trident. He has not made any significant mistakes. He has brought on a great team - which is a feat unheard of previously in LibDem leaders. He is well able to act in a crisis as several crises have shown.

He does have charisma and he is very authoritative. He doesn't talk cobblers and people respond to him well (see last week's Question Time). His opinion poll ratings have been increasingly good and at one time, when he had exposure, he was more popular than Cameron. He does have toughness and people are at ease with him. And the things that people complain about (not making a party political broadcast when he is asking Brown questions, for example) actually increase the respect the public have for him, because he is acting like a trustworthy human-being, rather than a slippery politician.

Give him a break! And for the sake of all that's sacred let's start talking about what matters - policy! Did I mention recently that the Liberal Democrats want to decrease the standard rate of income tax down to 16 pence in the pound? 16 pence!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That's the lowest rate since Lloyd George !!!!!!!!!!!!! and more !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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