Kennedy denies leadership reports

I see that the well-known cerebral newspaper, the News of the World, reports that Charles Kennedy is preparing a challenge to get his old job back as leader. Reports of regular “secret” meetings with aides are the basis of this. The Press Association also report on this, with details of the people who are supposed to be at the meetings.

All this is described as “fanciful” by Kennedy.

On balance, I believe Kennedy’s denial. I don’t think we should give much credence to News of the World forays into political reporting (alongside ‘Michael Portillo’s romps in Commons with City babe‘)

On the other hand, the denial would sound more credible if Kennedy refers to Ming by his name next time he is interviewed, rather than as “my successor” (as he referred to him on Question Time). And, the conspiracy theorist in me would not be surprised if there is a grain of truth in the story – at least regarding a challenge after the election.

The News of the World article is headed “Kennedy plot to oust ‘Ming'” and starts: “Former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy – dumped because of his drinking – is plotting to get his old job back. He is holding secret meetings with top aides in a bid to replace bumbling successor Sir Menzies “Ming” Campbell…”

However, it is not all sweetness and light for Charles. The story also mentions a “new biography of Kennedy coming out this summer…The book will detail Kennedy’s drinking and paint a picture of a man who was not in control of his party.” Perhaps he needs “secret” weekly meetings to work out his damage limitation strategy for the publication of that book.

The News of the World report ends by saying “However, other friends have warned Kennedy that he’s deluding himself, and that such a (leadership) move would make him a laughing stock. ‘He had to quit because senior MPs said at the time they would not serve under him,’ one said. ‘Even if Sir Menzies was deposed I just can’t see them supporting Charles again.’ “

I can’t find the News of the World report online (they only seem to cyberfy their more salacious stories). So I had to don dark glasses and mackintosh (hot in this weather) to buy a copy.

Cameron's ratings at all-time low – 'Tories no better than under IDS'

David Cameron’s ratings are at an all-time according to YouGov. My graph below shows a massive dip down to just a two point net rating. Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Anthony King commented:

“The Conservative Party increasingly resembles a tired runner panting along in sweltering heat. He is ahead in the race but only because his main rival is even more exhausted…

The Tories today are no better off than they were under William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard.

David Cameron’s election as Tory leader last December has so far made remarkably little difference. An initial tick upwards has been followed by several ticks downwards…

Mr Cameron has still failed to make a personal mark. To be sure, more people think he “would make the best prime minister” than think the same of Tony Blair, but the margin between them is wafer-thin -26 per cent to 25 per cent -and the largest single proportion of voters, 41 per cent, can offer up only a despairing “don’t know”…

People at first seemed impressed by Mr Cameron’s performance, if not as a potential premier, then at least as leader of his party. Six months ago, a healthy 46 per cent of YouGov’s respondents thought he was “proving a good leader of the Conservative Party”. That figure has now fallen to 35 per cent…

The proportion who reckon he is not proving effective has nearly doubled from 19 to 33 per cent. The proportion of voters unable to make up their mind about him remains high: 32 per cent.”

Cameron’s ratings at all-time low – ‘Tories no better than under IDS’

David Cameron’s ratings are at an all-time according to YouGov. My graph below shows a massive dip down to just a two point net rating. Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Anthony King commented:

“The Conservative Party increasingly resembles a tired runner panting along in sweltering heat. He is ahead in the race but only because his main rival is even more exhausted…

The Tories today are no better off than they were under William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard.

David Cameron’s election as Tory leader last December has so far made remarkably little difference. An initial tick upwards has been followed by several ticks downwards…

Mr Cameron has still failed to make a personal mark. To be sure, more people think he “would make the best prime minister” than think the same of Tony Blair, but the margin between them is wafer-thin -26 per cent to 25 per cent -and the largest single proportion of voters, 41 per cent, can offer up only a despairing “don’t know”…

People at first seemed impressed by Mr Cameron’s performance, if not as a potential premier, then at least as leader of his party. Six months ago, a healthy 46 per cent of YouGov’s respondents thought he was “proving a good leader of the Conservative Party”. That figure has now fallen to 35 per cent…

The proportion who reckon he is not proving effective has nearly doubled from 19 to 33 per cent. The proportion of voters unable to make up their mind about him remains high: 32 per cent.”

Time for us to shape up

I am a great fan of the energetic and wide-ranging blog of Peter Black AM. I read his blog entitled “It’s time for Ming to shape up” with some sympathy. It has now been covered by BBC News.

However, the focus of the article is wrong, in my opinion. I have read many blogs like that.

Quite frankly we should be saying to ourselves – it’s time for us to shape up. Each one of us in the party should be asking ourselves – are we doing enough? Enough leaflet delivering? Enough casework? Enough residents’ surveys?

Ming went to Bromley four or fives times during the campaign (I can’t find the actual number but it was something of that order). If we had all gone there as many times as Ming we would have won and we wouldn’t be in this situation.

One line on which I do agree with Peter is that before the conference I would like to see a Paddy-style tour of the country by Ming.

Cameron's ratings at all-time low – 'Tories no better than under IDS'

David Cameron’s ratings are at an all-time according to YouGov. My graph below shows a massive dip down to just a two point net rating. Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Anthony King commented:

“The Conservative Party increasingly resembles a tired runner panting along in sweltering heat. He is ahead in the race but only because his main rival is even more exhausted…

The Tories today are no better off than they were under William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard.

David Cameron’s election as Tory leader last December has so far made remarkably little difference. An initial tick upwards has been followed by several ticks downwards…

Mr Cameron has still failed to make a personal mark. To be sure, more people think he “would make the best prime minister” than think the same of Tony Blair, but the margin between them is wafer-thin -26 per cent to 25 per cent -and the largest single proportion of voters, 41 per cent, can offer up only a despairing “don’t know”…

People at first seemed impressed by Mr Cameron’s performance, if not as a potential premier, then at least as leader of his party. Six months ago, a healthy 46 per cent of YouGov’s respondents thought he was “proving a good leader of the Conservative Party”. That figure has now fallen to 35 per cent…

The proportion who reckon he is not proving effective has nearly doubled from 19 to 33 per cent. The proportion of voters unable to make up their mind about him remains high: 32 per cent.”

Max Clifford: "The most powerful man in tabloid Britain"

I enjoyed the article, entitled “Circus Maximus” in the Observer magazine yesterday about Max Clifford. However, the strapline was ridiculous. It said: “He’s the most powerful man in tabloid Britain”

The article’s writer Carole Cadwalladr kept quite objective throughout. So I suspect she did not write that strapline.

I just think of Rupert Murdoch, Sly Bailey and Viscount Harmsworth. They can sack editors, close down/buy/sell newspapers, close down printing presses etc etc

Can Max Clifford do any of that? Can he ‘eck as like.

It speaks volumes that someone at the Observer has fallen for this man’s line in self-publicity.

Murdoch pooh-poohs Cameron

I just happened to spot Saturday’s Financial Times in a newstand. Not my normal reading. There was an interesting front page story on Rupert Murdoch’s view of David Cameron.

Previously, the spin was that Murdoch thought Cameron was the best thing since sliced bread.

Now, when asked what he thinks of Cameron, Murdoch says “Not much”.

He adds: “He’s totally inexperienced. He’s going around the country making speeches which . . . must be hugely upsetting to a lot of his older followers”.

I also notice that Tony Blair is jetting off to address the News Corporation clan gathering at Pebble Beach. It seems that David Cameron has not been invited.

Thank goodness for British criticism of attacks on Lebanon

Foreign office minister Kim Howells has said about the attacks on Lebanon:

“The destruction of the infrastructure, the death of so many children and so many people: these have not been surgical strikes. If they are chasing Hizbollah, then go for Hizbollah. You don’t go for the entire Lebanese nation…I very much hope that the Americans understand what’s happening to Lebanon.”
I could not agree more. I cannot understand why viaducts, mobile phone masts and roads need to be blasted, and children and innocent civilians need to be killed in scores, to find the terrorists who have captured two soldiers. Mossad have been specialists in surgical assasinations over the years, how come their skills have suddenly deserted them?
The destruction of the Lebanese infrastructure is even more depressing because the Lebanese have spent years rebuilding their country after it was flattened in the 1980s.
Of course, the attacks on Israel by Hizbollah are disgraceful but the Israelis seem to specialise in destroying their own case through over-reaction.

Rain, Panama hats and hot stairways

With every passing day of hot, clammy weather I have become more and more like Test Cricket umpire Steve Bucknor. I move very, very slowly.

Today’s downpour was such a relief! I don’t think I have ever greeted rain with such enthusiasm.

I bought a Panama hat a few weeks ago. I needed it to do an impression of Hercule Poirot at Newbury Carnival. It then came in handy for my visit to Lord’s for the joyous first day of the first test against Pakistan.

Since then it has been an absolute Godsend. When you are like me and have to pay a search fee to the barber, protecting one’s bonce from the sun is all-important.

This morning was a classic. I did one of my dawn raids on the tradesmen’s bells of Newbury to deliver leaflets. While the air outside was cool, the air in the stairways of the blocks of flats was terribly warm and close. So much so that I had to take the unusual step of having cold showers between bundles!