Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Tremendous damage done by Guantanamo Bay cannot be ignored

Thursday, February 23rd, 2006

Ming Campbell MP, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats, responding to Tony Blair’s comments about Guantanamo Bay at his monthly news conference, said:

The Prime Minister at last seems to be moving publicly towards the condemnation of Guantanamo Bay. But what no one must ignore is the enormous damage it has done to the reputation and credibility of the United States and the United Kingdom.

Guantanamo Bay violates every accepted principle of law. It is hardly surprising that it has proven to be a fertile source of propaganda for Al-Qaeda and their associates.

Ming Campbell understands the need to tackle the over concentration of power in Westminster.

Wednesday, February 15th, 2006

Readers of the Guardian’s letters pages may have noticed the following letter from Liberal Democrat council leaders across the UK backing Ming Campbell:

Dear Sir,

We are Liberal Democrat Leaders of Councils from across the country.

Despite the many obituaries written for our party over the last few weeks the stunning result in the Dunfermline by-election has demonstrated the potential for further advances.

Now the party must decide who is best able to realise that potential and lead us to further success. We are backing Ming Campbell as the best candidate to lead our party forward. We believe that he has the experience, judgement and credibility necessary to capitalise on the by-election and galvanise the party with a clear sense of purpose.

Ming Campbell understands the need to tackle the over concentration of power in Westminster. Giving power back to local communities and trusting them to take the decisions that affect their lives stands in stark contrast to Labour and Conservative.

Ming Campbell has the leadership qualities needed to unite our party and provide the principled liberal opposition to both Brown and Cameron as they fight over the Blair inheritance.

We urge local party members to give him their wholehearted backing.

Yours faithfully

Cllr Cathy Bakewell,
Leader of Somerset County Council

Cllr Gill Ferguson,
Leader of Waverly Borough Council

Cllr Cheryl Green,
Leader of Bridgend District Council

Cllr Brian Greenslade,
Leader of Devon County Council

Cllr Heather Kidd,
Leader of South Shropshire District Council

Cllr John Morrison,
Leader of East Dunbartonshire Council

Cllr Derek Osbourne,
Leader of Royal Borough of Kingston

Cllr Simon Partridge,
Leader of North Norfolk District Council

Cllr Paull Robathan,
Leader of South Somerset District Council

Cllr Tony Robertson,
Leader of Sefton Council

Cllr Andrew Smith,
Leader of Chichester District Council

Cllr Mike Storey,
Former Leader of Liverpool City Council

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson,
Leader of Portsmouth City Council

Campbell says to Brown & Cameron “we’re ready to take you on”

Friday, February 10th, 2006

Ming Campbell, acting leader of the Liberal Democrats and the front- runner in the Lib Dem leadership campaign will speak in Cheltenham tonight following the party?’s success in unseating Labour in yesterday?s historic Dunfermline by-election.

In his first speech since the victory for his former agent Willie Rennie, the Lib Dem?s acting leader will address a hustings meeting with Lib Dem members from across Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire and the West Midlands.

As well as meeting local members, he will make a speech spelling out how, under Labour, centralisation is eroding local democracy and undermining personal responsibility. He will say last night?s result marks the ?end of the road for the Prime Minister and the start of a difficult road for Gordon Brown?.

Ming Campbell will be hosted on his visit to Cheltenham by the town’s former MP Nigel Jones, now Lord Jones of Cheltenham. The leadership contender and acting leader, who was spending today (Friday) in Dunfermline with supporters, will be joined on the panel at Gloucestershire and Cheltenham College (Gloscat) by Jenny Willott who became one of the party’s youngest MPs when she triumphed at Cardiff Central in the 2005 General Election. Jenny Willott is one of 31 MPs who have so far declared their support for Ming Campbell’s leadership campaign.

Lord Jones of Cheltenham said:

I shared an office with Ming Campbell for five years and I have seen him in operation. Throughout his life, he has been a team player and a team captain – he was in the Olympics and he will be for us.

In his speech Ming Campbell will say:

Last night?’s win was a fantastic victory for Willie Rennie and a fantastic victory for the Liberal Democrats.

It was a victory which marks the end of the road for the Prime Minister and the beginning of a difficult road for the Chancellor.

After all the boasts of the Tories and all the bluster of Labour it was the Liberal Democrats united, credible and professional who showed how to campaign and how to win.

We are back in business and let the message go out to Gordon Brown and David Cameron ? we are ready ? we are ready to take you on ? because we can win anytime, anyplace, anywhere.


Andrew George MP: Ming’s political judgement has always been impeccable and his knowledge, authority and experience commands tremendous respect

Thursday, February 9th, 2006

Andrew George MPI have worked with Ming during the last year in the Party’s Foreign Affairs Team and have known him as a fellow member of our wider Parliamentary team since May 1997. His political judgement has always been impeccable and his knowledge, authority and experience commands tremendous respect across Parliament and the country.

I am sure that Ming has what it takes to take the Party forward to even greater success than that achieved under the excellent leadership provided to the Party by both Paddy Ashdown and Charles Kennedy and under his leadership we will go on to greater successes and higher achievements in the months and years ahead.

Nick Clegg: Ming Campbell … by a long way the best candidate to lead the Lib Dems

Friday, January 20th, 2006

The following article appeared in the Guardian on January 20, 2005.

So, they’re off. Even though the deadline for nominations for candidates hoping to become the next leader of the Lib Dems is still a few days off, we already know the three names which will appear on the ballot paper: Campbell, Hughes, Huhne.

After months of debilitating tension and soul searching leading up to the unhappy resignation of Charles Kennedy, Lib Dem MPs are keen to get away from the Westminster hothouse and hit the campaign trail on behalf of their favoured candidates. Leadership contests can be divisive for political parties. After the unsettling events in recent weeks, everyone will do their utmost to make this one a spectacularly polite contest.

But politeness should not topple into tedium. There is much at stake. Not only will the future of the Lib Dems be shaped by the outcome, but also the direction of politics in this country. As David Cameron swiftly morphs into a pale imitation of Tony Blair, the need for a forceful, independent Liberal voice to challenge the two larger parties has never been greater. Who else would have opposed the invasion of Iraq when Labour and the Tories both supported it? Who else would have opposed the expensive and illiberal proposal for ID cards when Labour and the Tories agreed (even though the Tories have now executed a welcome u-turn on the issue)? Who else would have spoken up in defence of the environment before Labour and the Tories decided it was trendy to do so? Who else will campaign against the bossy top-down system of Government, barely accountable to Parliament or the country at large, which Tory and Labour Governments over the years have done so much to defend?

These aren’t piffling questions. They go to the heart of what Britain is, and what Britain could aspire to be. If people want a Liberal Britain – tolerant, diverse, moderate – then everyone has an interest in seeing the Lib Dems grow in strength.

Which brings me back to the candidates. I have a clear idea of what the party needs from its new leader: someone who can provide the essential missing ingredient which has eluded the third party in British politics for so long – credibility. There are interesting and important debates to be had about specific party policies. But policies alone do not win elections. As it happens, most opinion polls show that voters are generally positive about Lib Dem policies. What prevents voters from supporting the Lib Dems in greater numbers is an electoral system which favours the two larger parties and makes it so difficult for a third party to transform popular support into seats at Westminster. Voters want to know that the party they support can win.

So the challenge for any new leader is to broaden and strengthen its political appeal beyond its present level of support. We need to supplement our policies with greater authority, professionalism and credibility. We need someone who can persuade voters that we are serious in our ambitions.

But credibility doesn’t come out of thin air. It requires experience. It also requires a united party behind the leader. One of the most obvious lessons I extract from the messy fall of Charles Kennedy is that the party cannot afford to have another leader who does not enjoy the unambiguous loyalty of the overwhelming majority of his Parliamentary colleagues. A leader who spends his time looking over his shoulder to make sure his own colleagues are on side cannot be effective in making advances against the other parties. This, I should perhaps add in answer to a little media speculation, is one of the many reasons why I never entertained the idea of standing in the contest myself. A rookie MP, barely arrived in the House of Commons, would need to spend far too much time establishing his authority in Westminster. We need a leader who has got the clout to hit the ground running, make bold decisions, from day one.

Some people say the Lib Dems should play catch-up with the Conservatives and find their own version of David Cameron. I disagree. The Conservative Party was seeking someone to save them from the prospect of terminal decline. David Cameron is a product of a party which has suffered over a decade of crisis, one failed leader after the next. He is frantically trying to distance the Conservative Party from its past by refusing to talk about the things which matter to Conservatives – patriotism, tax, asylum and immigration – and babbling about things like the environment and third world development which, until now, rarely exercised the Conservative Party. This superficial repackaging exercise is tolerated because Conservatives hope that it will deliver electoral success. My hunch is that, in the coming months, Cameron will face a bumpy ride as his conversion to mainstream politics proves light on content, a presentational sleight of hand.

By contrast, the Lib Dem party is not in crisis. There was a crisis of confidence amongst MPs in the face of Charles Kennedy’s health problems. But the underlying sense of purpose in the party is strong. And that strength gives an authoritative leader the chance to push the party onwards and upwards.

Ming Campbell is, in my view, by a long way the best candidate to lead the Lib Dems in these circumstances. Having worked as his deputy in the House of Commons since I was elected, I have seen for myself his enormous political and personal strengths. A man who held the 100 metres UK record for seven years, rose to become a QC, defeated cancer, dissected Blair’s ill judged decision to rush into war in Iraq, and remains one of the most respected MPs in the country, has the steel and flair to give the Lib Dems the clout to win.

Ming has assembled a formidable team of supporters around him, from household names like Shirley Williams and Paddy Ashdown to a large group of the party’s youngest MPs and activists. Teamwork matters in politics. Leaders can only do so much on their own. The most successful leaders take great care to nurture the best talent available to them, and Ming has made it clear he wants to act as a bridge to the future, drawing on the enthusiasm of a younger generation of MPs and supporters. He will be an experienced leader of a youthful team – experience and youth will contrast well with the inexperienced youth of Cameron’s leadership, not to mention the somewhat joyless prospect of Gordon Brown’s leadership of the Labour Party.

I have made my own choice of candidate. Over the next few weeks the party’s 70,000 members will need to make their own choice too. All the candidates will need to prove themselves in this open, democratic contest. Let’s hope they enjoy it.