Thursday, December 15, 2005

New for Christmas: The CK Boxer

It's not been a great week to be a Liberal Democrat here in the UK.

While we have long enjoyed the Conservative Party's perennial bouts of fratricide and civil war, it's now time to admit there's a bit of egg on our face, as Charles Kennedy is surrounded by a media storm over his future. The press appear to be feeding off negative briefings from senior MPs, who regardless won't speak of their concerns to Kennedy's face.

While we can console ourselves that these days our party is one worth fighting over, it comes as little encouragement. At the end of the day, this is not good news and discredits us seriously. Our members of parliament should grow up and realise that this is not the way to register their concerns about the leader. I am ready to cast off all my pre-existing opinions of our front benchers, and will judge them- especially in any future leadership race -by the sole criterion of whether they were self-serving disloyalists during this last week. One day, I'm sure we'll find out who did these dark deeds, and I sincerely hope their future in the party will be over.

For now? I think Charles Kennedy is well on the way to being made an excellent Prime Minister-in-waiting. He does need to stamp his authority on the party more, and I would positively encourage him to start picking fights on matters of principle, with either the Shadow Cabinet, or the party membership. We need direction, and I think Kennedy's resilience in the last few days shows that he can be the one to begin knocking us into shape.

For a long time Kennedy claimed he was a chairman, by nature, not a leader. That's fine- but now I hope we're going to see the chairman bring the discussion to a conclusion and impose a consensus on the different opinions in the room. And certain individuals need to learn to respect the public dignity of the chair- our leader -regardless of their personal and internal concerns. If Kennedy's critics won't honestly confront him in the ring, then they should stop taking potshots from the over of their cowardice.