Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Thoughts on the presidential election

For once, this isn't about Obama v McCain, but instead the contest to become the next President of the Liberal Democrats.

This is not something I've talked about publicly before, mainly because it seemed quite a long way off. But now it's getting towards decision time.

I'm going to look at the three candidates in turn. First up, Chandila Fernando. Chandila is not someone I know much about and I suspect most people in the same party are in the same boat. All I know about him is that apparently he's the director of Liberal Vision, a group which seeks to get the Lib Dems to adopt an extreme libertarian position. His politics are probably anathema to the vast majority of party members. And if you look at his website, all you'll see is contact details and a big picture of him. If you try to click on the enter site button, nothing happens. Frankly, not only is his political stance questionable, but if he's unable to get a proper website up and running which gives some indication of what he would do as president, he's really not worth voting for.

So, what about Lembit Opik MP? Now, I have to say that I quite like Lembit. He can be funny and charming and he is a natural liberal. I think he does have a fairly good political brain and a good understanding of the world. I also remember one time, before he became an MP, when he came to visit my university Lib Dem group to give a talk about the situation in Estonia, which was then in the throes of takings its first steps as an independent nation again. He is also someone who does work very hard for the party, often doing things which aren't immediately visible to many people.

Unfortunately, Lembit does have his down side. Although he is undoubtedly one of the best known Lib Dem MPs, what he is best known for is being Lembit. The celebrity girlfriends, the Hello spreads, the appearances on TV entertainment shows featuring men doing strange things with their manhood, the asteroids, the paragliding and the Segways. It all gives the impression of an ego-driven desire for attention, rather than someone who is serious about getting across a Lib Dem political narrative.

Which brings us to Ros Scott. I must say, I had hardly heard of her this time last year. But then she launched her candidacy for the presidency at last year's party conference and since then I think it's fair to say that she's become one of the best-known figures in the party. I've been impressed by the dedication she's put into her campaign, by the hard graft she's put in travelling all around the country. I happened to go to a couple of fringe meetings at Lib Dem conference at which she spoke, and she is a good speaker. She gives the impression of being approachable and of listening to what the members say. Unlike Lembit, she has the advantage of being able to devote herself full time to being President in a way that a constituency MP can't. Her website also looks good, in contrast to Lembit's rather staid affair, and she also has her own blog.

So what it comes down to is this. Lembit, I'll do you a deal. Knuckle down and prove you want to be a serious politician rather than just a C-list celebrity and in 2 or 4 years time I might consider voting for you as party president. But this time, I'm 4 Ros.

1 comment:

Stephen B said...

Could you put a warning next to the link for Mr Fernando's site? It frightened the bejeesus out of me. It's the online equivalent of opening your front door and finding an agitated John Prescott with a croquet mallet immediately on your door-step.

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