A New Way to Lead the Lib Dems

I’m afraid that my own less than favourable opinions of Jo Swinson were shared by the wider electorate at the December polls, and her own local electorate it seems. Jo was a fine MP, would have made a fairly good middle-ranking minister but was never Prime Minister material, and she should not have invited ridicule by suggesting she was. As a leader she was not inspirational, aspirational, or charismatic. Lightweight with a gender-related chip on her shoulder, calling out sexism where it did not exist was very irritating, preparing the excuses before the failure. Sturgeon didn’t have that problem. Clearly the burden of leadership caused her to spend less time on campaigning for her own seat than she needed to.

A major issue with Lib Dem leaders is that they need to be selected from a quite narrow pool of less than inspirational MPs. Davey was not my choice for leader last time and he won’t be my choice next time either. The Greens, SNP, Plaid Cymru, and DUP do not feel the need to elect their leaders from members of the Westminster Parliament, and it hasn’t done the SNP any harm at all. So next time around we must not limit ourselves.

We need a charismatic leader, one that can carry arguments in big debates. We need a leader who has the time to lead without the shackles of constituency or Parliamentary duties. We need a media-friendly leader with new ideas, one not encumbered with a Coalition legacy. The next Paddy Ashdown / Charlie Kennedy. I guess I’m making the case for Chuka Umunna. But it need not be him. Just someone like him that can latch onto centre ground Labour supporters who are currently disenfranchised.

In Parliament our MPs should select their own leader, the one they feel most able to get behind, and who would automatically become Deputy Leader of the party overall. I think you could make a case for Daisy Cooper but I don’t think it is for the members to choose.