“I believe that I have fulfilled my objectives”

Earlier today, Ming Campbell stepped down as Leader of the Liberal Democrats. Here is his letter of resignation, addressed to party president Simon Hughes MP.

The President
The Liberal Democrats

15th October 2007

When I was elected Leader of the Party in March 2006 I had three objectives. First, to restore stability and purpose in the party following my predecessor’s resignation and the leadership campaign itself, second to make the internal operations of the party more professional, and third to prepare the party for a General Election.

With the help of others, I believe that I have fulfilled these objectives, although I am convinced that the internal structures of the party need radical revision if we are to compete effectively against Labour and the Conservatives.

But it has become clear that following the Prime Minister’s decision not to hold an election, questions about leadership are getting in the way of further progress by the party.

Accordingly I now submit my resignation as Leader with immediate effect.

I do not intend to hold a press conference or to make any further comment.

Yours sincerely,

Menzies Campbell
Leader, Liberal Democrats

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58 Responses to “I believe that I have fulfilled my objectives”

  1. Matthew Clark says:

    you were a superb leader Ming and we will miss you badly. Shame on the media and some shamefull Mp’s for their actions on this. Good luck and we wish you the best. You were unlucky in the timing of your leadership with the surge and the called off election which left the media hungry. You were a great leader with great commitment. Good luck.

  2. John Marshall says:

    Sorry to hear todays news about your decision to step down as Libdem leader. I thought at last we had someone ‘at the top’ with some maturety, although age seems to be not regarded as strongly as it might ? When ‘tribe elders’ were in charge their society held together better than ours seem to ! You had my vote, although not a strong Libdem man in the past, I can only hope your successor carries on in your footsteps.
    One day the Media may even be the voice of the true public !!! (but dont hold your breath)
    Best wishes for your future
    J Marshall

  3. Pamela Donaldson says:

    Funny old life Ming! I have voted Conservative since becoming eligible back in the sixties, but for the first time since then I was planning to transfer my support to the Lib Dems. This was because of your leadership and having listened to your calm and sensible comments on various programmes including Question Time. I do so wish you good health and happiness. You will be very much missed.

  4. CONNER HUGHES says:

    Ming will be sorely missed by all the party. It is a shame the country & especially the media have become ageist and have not recognised his talent, experience and wisdom. He has done the party a great service over the last couple of years and we wish him all the best in his future endevours

  5. Matthew Clark says:

    i agree with mike hancock. and i meant squeeze not surge, sorry

  6. Tina Louise says:

    I am sad to see you go – I believe the party needed you for a longer period in order to develop stability and clearer definition of purpose. Thank you for what you tried to do and I do hope you will still play an active role in the party – there is a wisdom with age that exceeds surface charisma.

    Tina Louise

  7. Linda Mesney says:

    So sorry to hear the news but hope you will still be asked to comment on events, especially international ones, as otherwise we will all suffer from the loss of your wise and trustworthy perspective. Thank you for leading the party that continued to say it, courteously, as it is instead of joining in the political games we can all see through. Enjoy your additional freedom – our loss but I feel with politics today your gain.

    By the way, aren’t the various innuendoes about the age factor by the media and some politicians illegal now under British employment law?! I was amazed the BBC/press allowed such discussions.

  8. Stu Fletcher says:

    A grand man, he has been a steady stream of common sense, valid comment and genuine forward thinking about the political course of this nation. Lesser parties have hogged the limelight scoring points by highlighting the others weakness and really doing nothing more than damage control.

    And I still haven’t had the opportuntity to vote Lib Dem.

    Good luck and Godspeed sir.

  9. Dr. Anita Noguera says:

    What a great loss to the Lib Dems. Ever since we heard someone in the media refer to you as “too decent for politics”, my partner and I had considered changing our vote and joining your ranks in the next elections. However, the media has managed to destroy all your hard work and good will, not to mention your image, by means of its constant, cruel and stupid “ageist” comments and cartoons. You are a fine politician, with the wisdom of maturity and are an example, not simply to the rest of your party, but to politicans in general.

    Please stay in politics, Sir Menzies, our country, our discredited and sleazy Parliament and your ungrateful party need people like you far, far more than you need them..

  10. Andrew Aegon says:

    I will be the first to admit that I did not vote for you as my first preference in the leadership election that was chris huhne however you have done a wonderful job as leader and your last conference speech was the best of all the 3 main party leaders. You will be a hard act to replace and should not have allowed your fellow MP’s to hound you from office. All the best for the future for you and Elspeth.

  11. David Summons says:

    I must say that i echo the sentiments of previous posters, i feel you were a superb leader and will be sorely missed. I think you brought something to the liberals, bringing them in many peoples opinions into a more feasable choice for government. I think your departure will be great loss to the lib dems, you were a true politician and i feel that is what was needed in a leader and what the lib dems are now without.

    Good luck

  12. Jackie says:

    I feel incredibly sad tonight at the loss of a true gentleman leader. May your name be forever linked with decency, Ming. God bless a thoroughly good egg.

  13. George Ferzoco says:

    I think it’s a shame that a man of integrity such as Ming Campbell should be chased out of his position, particularly following the shameful manner in which his predecessor was dispatched. The Liberal Democrats need to look very hard in the mirror, and those holding the dagger — everyone knows who they are — should for once take responsibility and, for the sake of the party, go elsewhere.

  14. BARBARA IZZARD says:

    As a lifelong Conservative I have to say that I have been saddened to witness the treatment that you have received from various quarters and apologise for it on behalf of all decent people.I feel strongly that over the years some of our most respectable and well mannered politicians of all parties have been forced to give up, and their experience and wisdom has been lost.Our country so badly needs strong ,moral , ” old fashioned ” leadership which will remain constant and firm regardless of the challenges so loudly expressed daily.My family join me in wishing you and your wife a long and happy future away from the worries of Westminster.

  15. David Mills says:

    Now what will we do? You are worth more than Gordon Brown and David Cameron put together! You have wisdom, integrity, charisma and an understanding of life and the economy, and the Liberal Democrat Party will be so much the poorer without you. I feel that you have been very badly treated, especially by the Press and some members of your own party and I’m sure you’re very upset by what has happened to you. Let me wish you health and happiness for the future, and my kind regards to your lovely and supportive wife.

  16. Howard says:

    Just wanted to echo what’s been said here so far. I joined the party on Ming’s elevation to the leadership and nothing that’s happened since has made me think that I did the wrong thing… perhaps until now, but we’ll have to see what happens and where the party goes from here. I do hope that Ming’s departure has nothing to do with health worries and that he is able to continue to play a prominent role in politics. Those of us who can tell the difference between politics and Pop Idol need people to represent us!

  17. ian wood says:

    Whenever you spoke, whether inside or outside parliament, you raised the quality of the debate. Your voice is one of integrity and reason. Please do not leave politics – please continue to make your voice heard. Thankyou, Sir Ming.

  18. Ashley Byrne says:

    The media was never going to give you a fair crack of the whip. I am a journalist and we, collectively, had a role to play in all of this. We allowed ageism to thrive. I am appalled by my own profession – and even more appalled by the way it can never admit its role in events. I do hope you will continue to play a significant role on your party’s frontbench!

  19. Red Stewart says:

    What’s wrong with good old-fashioned integrity and straightforwardness? Perhaps it’s not as exciting as pillow-biting, pants-downing ,whisky-wallowing, shirtlifting etc but it is much more edifying and inviting. Well done Ming. The buggers that have forced you out will regret it,

  20. Maria Cormack says:

    Can I firstly say that I have no political opinion on the liberals or any other party, but I do feel that Sir Ming has shown himself to have been a decent man not given a fair chance in politics simply because of his age. Sir Ming appeared to embody the epitomy of a man intent on public service, a quality not noted amongst too many other MPs. I think it was completely shameful that he could not voice an opinion about anything without his age being brought into the debate – how can mp’s and the media have behaved so shamefully?! I think that we would have been suitably outraged if an MPs race or gender was derided every time they stood to speak in the commons, but for some reason, age is regarded as fair game. This is a sad state of affairs in 2007.

  21. Ian Tandy says:

    With just an 11% pole showing, pressure from the media, and total silence from his party, Ming made the correct decision. WIth party support like that I find all the positive comments now a little hollow.

  22. Lisa says:

    You should have stayed on to fight Age Discrimination (it’s such a huge issue these days). It’s a shame that your party didn’t give you the moral support you needed to turn the it to the advantage of the party. You could have helped people more in this country. I don’t think I’d want to vote for the Lib Dem again after this shameful episode.

  23. Annie Farquar says:

    So sad to see you go, Sir Ming. I am one of the most faithful of the Party faithful and I am so ashamed of some of our MPs, led by the media to give way to ageism. What a bunch of back-stabbers we have!
    Please continue to give us the benefit of your wisdom and experience, particulalry on defence and foreign affairs where we most need principled politicians (if that’s not an oxymoron). I wouldn’t mind betting that once the furore has died down you will again be in demand by the media for your informed and intelligent comment.

  24. Ludovic Tolhurst-Cleaver says:

    I support Ming and do not believe his departure to be in the interests of the Party. When I voted for him in no.1 place as Leader, I hoped that his maturity and experience would distinguish the Lib Dems from the other two main parties. Sadly, the media’s coverage of Ming has focused only on the negative aspects of his age, without any justification.

    Ming was exceedingly active in campaigning on a wide range of issues and his departure really does not reflect his personal performance as Leader.

    The parliamentary party’s pressure on him to step down goes quite clearly against the wishes of the majority of party members, who voted for him decisively only a year and a half ago.

    We were supposed to be getting away from this chopping and changing leaders nonsense that has so plagued the Tories. I hope this does not happen a third time.

    I congratulate Ming on a job well done.

  25. Sir Robert Nogs says:

    On behalf of myself and Lady Nogs, I wish to express by deep sadness at Sir Ming’s decision to step down. It is not often that I am moved to tears, but this is one such occasion. The injustice of Ming’s treatment by the media, and even some erstwhile colleagues, leaves a nasty taste in the mouth.

    One hopes that Ming will continue to stride the political stage like a collosus.

  26. PS says:

    By today’s standard, a healthy 66 yr old with a sound mind is NOT old. Age discrimination is a very serious problem in this country (it puts a lot of strain on the UK economy). LibDem had the great opportunity to help fight Age Discrimination and stood a chance to shine, yet it chose to join many an ignoramus instead. What a shame!!!!

  27. Charlie Hedges says:

    It was with great shock and sadness I heard of your resignation. Your departure is a great loss to the Liberal Democrats. Your ability ability to speak with common sense, clarity and to the point is a sign of honesty and wisdom. Too may politicians deliberately use obfuscation as a tool to hide their incompetence and their deviousness. The lack of calm forethought based upon practical experience is a cause of many problems, such as the Iraq conflict. Sound judgement coupled with honesty used to be the quality which elevated politicians into statesmen: you posses it . Genius recognises talent: mediocrity only sees itself. I wish you every success and happiness and hope you continue giving your wise counsel to this country.

  28. Alan Poynton says:

    Dear Ming,

    I have not previously been a suporter of the Liberal Democrats. I did however have great respect for you, both from your time as spokesman on foreign affairs and during your time as leader of your party. I sincerely hope that you continue to have a significant front bench role as your knowledge, experience and sincerity are needed more than ever in these times of “spin”.

    I am 35 years old. To me, your age was nothing but an asset. Why others in your party did not agree with this I do not know.

  29. Jeff Myhre says:

    Dear Sir Menzies,

    As a friend of the British people and an ideological supporter of the Liberal Democrats, I wish to express my admiration for your service to your party and your country. The events of the last couple of days were, no doubt, painful and difficult, but it is clear that you have placed the interest of the whole above personal ambition. I agree with Alan Poynton that your age is an asset, but you are in a better position to judge that than we.

    You have been a rare thing in Parliament, a statesman rather than a politician.

  30. Member of the public says:

    I am very upset that Sir Ming has resigned as leader. I thought he was a great man for the Lib Dems and the country. What’s more Lib Dems, don’t even think about bringing Charles Kennedy back. If Charles Kennedy needed any further evidence that his position as Liberal Democrat leader was no longer sustainable – some 18 months or so – ago – he only had to listen to the comments made by many of his senior lieutenants after his confession that he had sought treatment for alcoholism.

    If my memory serves me correctly. “A dead-man walking” was the killer phrase used by Chris Davies, the party’s leader in the European Parliament. Senior backbencher Nick Harvey said that Mr Kennedy’s position was “untenable”, and frontbencher Sandra Gidley questioned his ability to confront the “triple demons” of a resurgent Conservative Party, Labour and the bottle.

    But these criticisms paled into insignificance compared to the letter of ultimatum issued by 25 MPs, more than one-third of the Parliamentary party, requesting Mr Kennedy. Either he quit or they would have withdrawn their support en masse. At the time they were certainly not the words of embittered MPs speaking anonymously. They were the on-the-record words of prominent, and respected, Liberal Democrats. And, in speaking out, they were speaking not just for themselves, but for the future of their party.

    They knew that Mr Kennedy, despite his protestations to the contrary, could NOT lead a party when half of his Shadow Cabinet have signed a letter imploring him to consider his position. How would he be able to look them in the eye when they next met to discuss policy?

    Not only that, Kennedy repeatedly denied his alcoholism. He lied to Jeremy Paxman on national television. He lied to the public. He missed meetings and couldn’t remember his own policies. If he does not want to cause any further irreversible harm to the future prospects of the Liberal Democrats, I think he must stay away from any leadership contest – period.

  31. Mark Foster says:

    Well it comes to something when the only thing people can critisise your leader is for looking too old, I mean what a sad indictment of the media-led British polictical system! Ming was the best out of the three main party leaders, better than Blairclone and Flash Gordon.
    Remember Ming is only four years older than Debbie Harry, the most attractive and talented singer in Blondie!

    Ming sorted the Liberal Democrats out, got us on a winning track!

    Ming, you will make an excellent foriegn minister in the Liberal Democrat government that gets elected in 2009!!

  32. EW Byrne says:

    What hope is there for politics, when good men are hounded out? Young Turks are all well and good, but sound judgement comes with experience. The only silver lining is that I note from Wikipedia that Alan Beith may consider running for the leadership.

  33. COLIN RIDSDALE says:

    Sir, you are a gentleman. Because of your seniority, you brought manners, experience and politeness to PMQs, but unfortunatly these qualities appear to be wrong for todays Britain. I write as a 67 year old, just to thank-you for trying, on my behalf, to promote the cause of Liberalism. You will make much better use of your time I’m sure. Leave the bear-pit to the bears. It’s no wonder that the country is full off cynics, when one observes the happenings of the last few days, and politics in general.

  34. Paul says:

    Ming was one of the finest most genuine members to lead a successfull party to date his departure was a shell shock to me when i turned the news on last night but i am sure ming will have thought long and hard about his choice ming i wish you every happiness for your life ahead to yourself and your family take care dear friend and thank you i will now and always vote and support the party that you lead

    regards Paul

  35. Julia says:

    Firstly, I think it is sad that I, as a 17 year old, is one of few that think that 66 is old!

    More importantly, I want to convey the disappointment of my friends and I at the resignation of Ming Campbell. We all like him and were excited by his policies, which is appearing to become increasingly important to politicians as we are the ‘youth vote’.

    We are saddened by the loss of Ming as Liberal Democrat leader and feel that he deserved MUCH better.

  36. Jon B says:

    Thank you for such a great job. I am sickened by the ageism that lay behind your problems. Some of the papers, particularly cartoonists, were reprehensible in their depiction of you. Dammit, there are millions of we oldies now, with lots of life and experience to lend our younger folk.

    Don’t be too depressed, you still have a lot to give society, in politics or elsewhere if you choose.

  37. J Lewis says:

    A sad day and a sad reflection on our current ageist Society, but Ming you have been beacon of light, go on a shine your light helping to further create a fairer and more equal society where all persons are valued and respected ~ thank you and bless you Ming Campbell x

  38. J Lewis says:

    A sad day and a sad reflection on our current ageist Society, but Ming you have been beacon of light, go on a shine your light helping to further create a fairer and more equal society where all persons are valued and respected ~ thank you and bless you Ming Campbell x

  39. Tom Harrop says:

    At the very least, I think Sir Ming led the Lib Dems with style, honesty and bravery. He left office in a calm and dignified manner. Unlike Jeremy {ahem} Thorpe, Paddy ‘pantsdown’ Ashdown and Champagne Charlie Kennedy of course.

    I think the Lib Dem plotters, will come to rue the day of what they’ve just done. 🙁

  40. J Costello says:

    It is a sad day when i realise that this country, My home is still blind and regards age as a negative.
    I am disgusted with the media and the british people who would consider experience to be a handicap in this day and age.

    Winston Churchill once said:
    “The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.”

    A sad day indeed. But thank you for restoring my faith in the Lib dems as you conducted yourself as all great leaders of our country should.

  41. J. O'Leary says:

    My feeling over this resignation is more of relief than sadness. Ming is a decent man with an honourable reputation, now that he has left in a dignified manner and his decency and reputation remain intact. I wish him well in the future and hope that his parliamentary career has many fruitful years left in it. Ming for Speaker!!!

  42. Sally Robinson says:

    A 30 yrs old lib voter and a very unhappy one here! I am so terribly sorry to see this party throw away their best leader. The shameful antics of some in the party in their age related insults is a terrible low for the liberals. Ming you were and are a sensible, thoughtful politician, which is what one needs in my mind, not a young hothead with something to prove.

    Everything wrong with our political make up in this country is shown by this latest effort to gain popularity by the liberal party. . I cannot believe people would rather have youth over experience, intelligence and political know how.

    I am now unsure who to vote for, this has really upset our household as we are liberals but cannot support bigots who show their prejudice on national media with no shame.

    We shall miss you as our leader and yes Ming for speaker!

  43. Anthony says:

    The party did not throw Ming away – he wasn’t able to cut through the media obsession with his age. This meant that our poll rating has almost halved in the course of two years. Yes, he’s sensible and thoughtful and has made improvements to our organisation and its stability – but this is the right decision. Ming said himself he wasn’t pushed – so why do you want to believe the worst of our other elected representatives who just want want Ming wants – a better country?!

  44. Lisa says:

    Anthony, Ming was in an impossible situation. It’d be a miracle if he could fight ageism by himself without the support of his own party. If he had the support that he needed, he could have turned the situation around. We are an ageing population, we can no longer afford to discriminate. Being an alcoholic is self-inflicted, growing older is a natural process. Nowadays, a healthy 66 years old with a sound mind is not old. It was a great opportunity that the LibDem had foolishly missed. The LibDem could have used Ming to their advantage to make a real impact to Britain. With this shameful episode, I really can’t see how the party could turn things around. Empty words mean nothing. Prove me wrong in the next election, if you could.

  45. Diane says:

    Whilst I may not have voted to Ming, I feel disappointed that yet again the party is back stabbing the “leader” or making snide comments. Ming is right when he says that the party needs to look at itself if it wants to compete against Labour and the Conversatives. Let’s do something right. Thank you Ming for all you have done for the party.

  46. Anthony says:

    It’s a sad situation but Ming’s age was the story for the press, and nothing that the party could do or say has really been able to get through that over the last two years. I know enough about journalism and journalists to take with a massive pinch of salt the “senior Lib Dems” briefing against Ming. Remember the Telegraph story about a grass roots Lib Dem website being “swamped” by people calling for Ming to go recently? There were about 5 or 6 posts out of 25 or 30 on the website calling for his resignation. These were mainly anonymous, and probably weren’t even Lib Dems (they might even have been the same person!) – and the article just quoted them as its “evidence”. This story was then produced almost word-for-word in the Guardian.
    Ming said himself he went of his own accord. I respect him enough to take him at his word. He did the right thing. It’s a shame it had to be – but it was the right thing none-the-less.

  47. Lisa says:

    Anthony, I somewhat agree with what you said EXCEPT the last point. I do not believe Ming’s resignation was the right thing to happen, willingly or otherwise. People would have looked at LibDem in a different light if they had persisted! Whether you admit it or not, most people off the record will tell you the “LibDem will never win”. If the LibDem keep making the same mistake, they will just keep getting the same failed result. Nothing will change. Either they go do something spectacular out of the ordinary or might as well forget about it. Ming was the only one who stood out and his age could have been an advantage if only the LibDem applied a bit of lateral thinking: make people think about their own future (I’m not just talking about handouts benefits, I’m talking about how to encourage the older generations to stay healthy/ successful/ independent/ interesting and pass on their wealth of experience to the next generations so the Nation could prosper. So that we have something to look forward to when it is our turn.) I say, if you bring Ming back u can contact me again and I’ll help the LibDem to win!!! otherwise, just another missed opportunity and many more failed elections to come. I used to have hope …

  48. Anthony says:

    I’m sorry Lisa but the polls have collapsed since Ming took over – and as I’ve said, I don’t think that was because the Party failed to turn Ming’s experience into an advantage, on the contrary, that’s exactly what we did try to do. I’ve grown sick of the number of people who’ve said to me “When are you going to get rid of Ming” and “I’ll join the Party again when Ming’s gone” because they bought into the nonsense of the press and media who would *only ever talk about* things in relation to his age. At the last conference, Ming gave an amazing, positive, liberal and enthusing speech. Do you know how the BBC reported it? “Ming: I’m not too old” – they made it look desperate and defensive. If the BBC are supposed to be impartial, how are the partial newspapers and media going to do so. With us on 11-15% in the polls we have to find a new way to get our messages across. It’s awful to let the press win. But Ming’s got the dignity to go when he needed to.

  49. Lisa says:

    Anthony, the interim polls mean little. The general election is the real thing, everything else is just being used for manipulation. Those losers u mentioned, d’u really want them back in your party? What u said about the press and the media manipulating everything out of context, is all true. With Ming resigning, it just showed that the LibDem was weak, easily knocked down. My point is that, why on earth did the LibDems not take that as an opportunity to show the Nation how strong u could be (what u said in the msg). Ming could persist only with the support of his own party. I’m sure the silver voters would give him plenty of support too if he were given the chance. People would have more respect for your party.

    The LibDems had already missed one huge opportunity a few years ago (remember when the Govt was at its lowest point?) by electing the wrong leader who had absolutely no chance whatsoever (seriously wrong, see my prev msg). I can’t believe that they r missing it again.

    There were some pretty awful Labour politicians at the top, but they won the elections: their leader “categorically” implied black was right, right to the very end! the msg was so persistent and convincing even he believed it himself! I’m not suggesting the LibDems to be immoral as well, just to play smarter. That man might be the worst PM ever but he showed how strong he was (and the voters like that). Your party could have made it. (If I had known Ming was resigning, I would have tried to write my suggestion policies earlier. Not that u would listen to me … 🙂

    Can u honestly say that by Ming going, the LibDem will stand a better chance to win the next election? hmmm … I think not.

  50. Correction from Lisa says:

    [ re my last msg] Oooops! I meant “black was white” not “black was right”, and oh … wipe that awful smiley off my msg. It looks like a dork!

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