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Tuesday, June 14, 2005


What election?

Did you know that the Liberal Democrats held a leadership election yesterday? Neither did I, until I read this report:

Kennedy unopposed as leader

Charles Kennedy has been returned unopposed as the Liberal Democrat's leader.

Under the party's rules, the leader must be re-elected within 12 months of each new parliament.

Mr Kennedy said: "I am delighted to be returned unopposed as leader. This is a reflection of the unity of the Liberal Democrats and the internal strength that lies at the heart of the party, something which cannot be said for either Labour or the Tories."
Steady on, Charlie. I don't think we can attribute such qualities to an internal election that hardly anyone knew about.

Indeed, this election was so discreet that even the leader's own staff were unaware of it. Andrew Pierce observes some lessons for the Tories in today's

If the Tories are serious about becoming popular again, they should abandon the decision to inflict yet another leadership contest on us and copy Charles Kennedy’s example.

Kennedy yesterday won his own four-week leadership contest which even most Lib Dem MPs did not realise was taking place. Under the party’s constitution a leader has to be elected or re-elected within 12 months of a general election. Kennedy, leader since 1999, announced the election in the Liberal Democrat News adjacent to advertisements for a memorial service, second-hand books and bird watching in northeast Fife.

Nominations closed on June 10. There was only one: Kennedy’s. Yesterday was the final date for withdrawal of nomination papers. Despite the criticism of the Lib Dem failure to make greater headway at the election, Kennedy did not withdraw and is now the only leader certain to be at the helm of his party by Christmas.

This was news to some in Kennedy’s office. "What election?" said one official, when I rang. "I think you are mixing us up with the Tories. We are not having an election." Swifter-minded colleagues were quick to issue a statement. So the Lib Dems have spared the rest of us from their election for less than £200, the cost of the advertisement.
Clearly in future we must all pay more attention to the classified ads in Liberal Democrat News.

I saw the advert in LibDem News, and would hope that ALL our MP's are at least reading it, if not subscribed.
Indeed. The party constitution is quite clear that there has to be a leadership election within 12 months of a general election. Nominations are open to any MP who (from memory) has to be proposed and seconded by two colleagues and advertised in Lib Dem News.
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