…and therefore the press don’t need his bio. Either that, or The Purge has begun:
Turnout was a whopping 72%.
As a good “citizen journalist“, I took notes at the Edinburgh leadership hustings to type up later. I don’t think that’s going to happen – I’m still full of cold and not up to long posts. Stephen and Richard were there and have written good summaries.
Two aspects of the hustings I will mention. The first was the turnout. The room was so full that the Dyanmic Earth fire regulations meant there had to be an overflow room and the candidates repeated their speeches to the people who couldn’t get in the main hall. In an age of apparent political apathy, it was great to see so many people – some of them not even party members – turn out to hear politicians speak.
The second thing that I noticed at the hustings was that it wasn’t a pro-Ming rally. I had, perhaps naively, assumed that Ming’s home town would be lined up behind their local candidate, but there seemed to be a good split of supporters in the room, along with many people who were undecided. I felt that Chris Huhne’s speech won the biggest round of applause, which came as a pleasant surprise. Ming did his “I’ve got a speech but I’m not going to make it” turn, which seems somewhat less sponataneous when you’ve read other reports of it – he did it again last night.
The candidates were pretty well matched when it came to questions and I suspect that, as the hustings have gone on, they’ve adopted some of each others policies and turns of phrase to fill in gaps of their own. None of them scored a knockout blow, although I was pleased to see that Huhne has started reference Ming’s U-turn over Iraq. Huhne stickers appeared to be shifting well after the event.
I went to help me decide how to cast my second preference. Cracking a few jokes and being fairly genial, Ming was good enough to convince me that he does deserve to be my second choice. Simon did well on the day, but he did nothing to convince me that my concerns about him are unfounded.
Having voted, I worked out today that I could offset my disappointment if Huhne loses by betting on both Simon and Ming. I may not have got the best odds available, but with Simon at 16-1 and Ming at 3-2, I’ve placed my bets in such a way as to ensure a profit if Chris loses. And if he wins, I’ll be too pleased to notice.
I know I’ve already mentioned this once, but Ming’s demonstrated his U-turn again on Question Time last night.
He now says that setting an absolutely deadline (and I’m not sure either Simon or Chris demanded an absolute, no-going-back, final date) for the withdrawal of our troops from Iraq would be irresponsible. He also says we should stick around and help rebuild the country. But just one year ago, he co-wrote this:
Moreover, the longer we remain in Iraq the more our occupation becomes part of the problem for the security situation rather than the solution. The heavy-handed deployment of US firepower in urban areas, against repeated British advice, has not weakened the insurgency but strengthened the ambition of most Iraqis for an end to foreign occupation.
The UN mandate expires in a year’s time with the completion of the timetable for direct election of a representative government under an agreed constitution. Both Britain and America should inform the assembly elected this weekend that we expect to leave by the end of that UN mandate. Both the assembly and the occupying forces must then each do its part to fulfil the necessary political and security tasks to meet that timetable.
That seems as sensible a position now as it was when the article was written, and Ming Campbell, Robin Cook and Douglas Hurd – two of them former foreign secretaries – were lauded at the time for writing it. It’s also the view that Chris Huhne has been espousing during this leadership election. Is Ming now saying that he, Cook and Hurd were wrong?