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  1. Politics
19 October 2007

Machiavelli and the Lib Dems

Owen Walker traces the coup against Ming Campbell, from its early stages

By Owen Walker

A month ago, Dizzy Thinks speculated Nick Clegg and his Sheffield Hallam predecessor, Richard Allen, had registered the nickclegg.com domain as part of an early coup against Ming Campbell. Shane Greer furthered the allegation this week when Clegg’s leadership website was launched.
 
While political bloggers weighed up Machiavellian theories of Lib Dem backstabbing, Iain Rubie Dale unveiled what he believed to be a major factor behind Ming’s departure: “It occurred to me today that perhaps Ming’s leadership didn’t last as it broke the sequence of Scot, non Scot leaders we have had back as far as 1935.”
 
The Norfolk Blogger was invited to appear on PMi, the podcast which supports Radio 4’s PM show. He was accused – as a practicing blogger – of playing a key role in Ming’s demise.

He said: “I do feel, and made clear a number of times to the interviewer, that bloggers are more of a litmus test for the party, and whilst we didn’t fire the shots, we might be guilty sometimes of loading the weapon.”
 
Man in a Shed assessed the chances of the two pretenders to Ming’s crown, which made painful reading for Lib Dems: “The problem for Lib Dem MPs is that most of them are either facing Labour or Conservative threats, not both.

If the Lib Dem message heads right (elect Nick Clegg as leader) then they will haemorrhage support to Labour, if they head to the left (elect Chris Huhne as leader) then they can’t stop the Conservatives.”
 
Iain Dale revealed rumblings within the party suggest there may be a third candidate on the horizon: “The candidate who may set the contest alight is the 29-year-old Julia Goldsworthy.

It may seem ridiculously sublime to go from a 66-year-old to a 29-year-old but I gather Ming wants her to stand – not because she will win (she won’t) but so she can put a marker down for the future. She’d certainly liven things up.”
 
Towards the end of the week, Chris Huhne launched his campaign website. Bloggers questioned his curious choice of slogan: “People in charge”. Thunder Dragoon asked: “Who the hell does he think has been running the Liberal Democrats? Little green men from Mars? Pod people? The Mighty Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassic Maxarodenfoe (aka Max)?”

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