A Timely Reform by Ian Ridley

Blog & web site of Ian Ridley

Are we heading for Ming’s Coronation?

So Charles Kennedy has gone, although he may well be back on the front bench in the future.

Meanwhile the Lib Dems need a new Leader (we are not leaderless at the moment as Menzies Campbell is Acting Leader)

As I write potential candidates Mark Oaten & Nick Clegg are both backing Ming, who has already declared his intention to stand.

We could be heading for a coronation but if someone else throws their hat into the ring, it will interesting to see what Oaten & Clegg do. The only reasons for MPs allying themselves with a candidate is:

  1. They want a quick move to a new leader and think the candidate will be unopposed – a leadership election can take up to 10 weeks so would end sometime in March 2006;
  2. They don’t have enough MPs to get themselves nominated;
  3. The don’t want to be Leader anyway.

In my opinion Oaten & Clegg fall into Category 1. If the election is contested then that becomes irrelevant. And they won’t have to worry about splitting the vote. The AV voting system used (a single-winner version of STV) means that if they don’t get enough votes to be among the leading contenders, then the other preferences of their voters will be counted (this is not a very good way of putting it but for more detail see the Wikipedia article) . It’s a far more elegant and quicker method than the repeated ballots the Tories use to allow their MPs to whittle down their leadership contenders

Personally I hope for either a coronation of Ming or a completely open contest in which all the major players are on the ballot paper. I think Ming vs. a couple of outsiders will just distract from the normal campaigning activities of the Lib Dems.

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