Saturday, January 07, 2006

Kennedy's End

And so Charles Kennedy resigns as Lib Dem leader. I am very relieved, as I was worried that he would be unopposed in the leadership contest, and now someone will have to stand. I just hope for the sake of the party that the next person is someone with the drive to take them further.

I have been disillusioned with Kennedy for many months now. The General Election campaign showed a terrible lethargy on his part convincing me that he had to go. To be blunt, up against the appalling alternatives of Tony's Blair's Labour and Michael Howard's Conservatives, we should have done better than we did.

To give credit where it is due, this shake up is, I feel, mostly down to a very unlikely source - David Cameron, the new Tory leader. I've been reasonably familiar with the guy for years, as he is my home MP. I favoured him as Tory leader, even though I always knew that his election would make a Tory victory much more likely. He has an energy to him and policies which have made me feel quite jealous - if only we had someone like that leading the Lib Dems!

the repercussions have been clear. Spurred on by this new, dynamic opposition leader, Blair's probable successor Gordon Brown has been desperately signalling that he will be different from Blair, offering real checks on Government policy rather than Blair's "divine right" style. Whether that will be enough to make the public forget his disastrous misplanning of the economy remains to be seen. Meanwhile, the Lib Dem MPs have realised that Kennedy needed to walk, lest the party lose all credibility whatsoever. And so we have movement and intrigue in all three parties.

What we need is a strong voice, certainly. However, we also need something more. The biggest criticism of the Lib Dems is that we do not have any steadfast policy goals. It is time for that to end. We need to know what we stand for, and to put that forward at every opportunity. We need to stop making naive pronouncements and show the country that we have grown up. We need to make the United Kingdom proud to be a liberal democracy, and we need to earn our way back into mainstream politics.

We have the potential to be the party of the future. I just hope we take it.

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