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Could Lembit solve Ming’s London problem?

July 30th, 2007

    Is this the man to take on Boris and Ken?

lembit cheekie girls.JPGWhile all the focus has been on Cameron’s poll ratings little attention has been paid to Ming Campbell’s position. Last Friday’s YouGov poll had Lib Dem supporters saying by 54% – 24% that he should be replaced by someone younger.

On the list of Ming’s current problems is next May’s London mayoral election and finding a candidate who’ll manage to get noticed amidst all the media focus on Ken and Boris. A disaster for the LDs next May in London is going to put further pressure on his leadership.

Who can they choose who has what it takes to get more than a rare look-in when the media are likely to be obsessed with Johnson-Livingstone confrontation?

Until the Boris as candidate notion emerged Ming’s party could take comfort from the problems David Cameron was having finding someone to be the Tory flag carrier. But now that has all changed and the party needs someone good with electoral appeal to be in place very quickly.

A characteristic of this election is that it is very personal and in the last battle in 2004 about one in four of the voters who had supported the Lib Dems in the London Authority elections switched to Ken for the mayoral. With two high profile candidates in the frame for the main parties you could see even more seepage of the Lib Dem vote.

One possibility that is being talked about within the party is Lembit Opik who is eloquent, great with the media and has what appears to be a main requirement for the role – a colourful reputation! Lembit is also hugely ambitious and with no element of self doubt.

But would Lembit run? One factor is that he has got an eye on the next Lib Dem leadership contest and running for mayor would certainly increase his profile amongst the party membership. He might even look more serious when compared with Boris. Lembit might just be tempted.

Mike Smithson

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