The case for Ming Campbell:
authority, credibility, unity

A strong, distinctive and respected third party is of value to everyone in Britain: even to those most committed to New Labour or the Conservatives.

For those who doubt such a claim, the last three years stand as evidence. Had a strong liberal party not existed, no political party would have opposed the most controversial decision made by a British Government in living memory. There would have been no political party to represent the fierce opposition of millions of British people to the invasion of Iraq.

The popular demand for a strong third party is confirmed by the 22% of votes won by the Liberal Democrats in 2005.

At the next General Election, the electorate will be faced with a confusing choice. The Conservative Party will be led by an inexperienced politician, with little knowledge of the real world and whose true political instincts remain obscure. The Labour Party, too, will be under new and untried leadership. It will be increasingly difficult to distinguish between these two parties on points of policy and principle. Both will rely almost wholly on personality and negative campaigning.

So the question that faces the LibDem membership is simply this:

Which leadership candidate can most confidently be trusted to lead a principled and united party in the next General Election – and earn more votes, more Members, more power in the land?

The decision we make is of national importance.

A strong leader

Ming Campbell is one of the most respected figures in British politics. He has earned such respect.

As athlete, he competed in the Olympics, captained the UK athletics team, and held the British 100 metres record.

As Lawyer, he has been one of the leading figures at the Scottish Bar.

As Shadow Foreign Secretary, he has been a formidable critic of the war in Iraq.

His authority and statesmanship are admired by every one of his parliamentary colleagues, recognised by the media, and feared and respected by our political opponents.

In Ming Campbell, the Liberal Democrats have a credible Prime Minister, able to lead with unity and authority.

Strength with purpose

Ming Campbell entered politics in the 1970s, with a determination to tackle the division and failures evident in Britain. Today, that determination is as strong as ever.

He has no time for the media-driven view that we must either lurch to the left or lunge to the right. Given the progressive liberal agenda that Liberal Democrats represent, he sees these terms as meaningless.

As a principled radical, his priority in the party’s policy review is to pursue the war on poverty.

As an instinctive liberal, he is a passionate advocate of civil liberties, equal opportunities and political reform.

As a committed internationalist, Ming Campbell will be relentless in his emphasis on the environmental crisis that is engulfing our planet. Under his leadership, Liberal Democrat will drive forward policies to tackle global climate change: locally, nationally and internationally.

As a true democrat, he is committed to the reduction of an over-centralised state. Critical local services such as schools and hospitals must be freed to respond to local needs.

A strong campaigner

Ming Campbell relishes campaigning.

After inspiring local activists through local government success and leading them through three General Elections, he won his own seat in 1987 – ousting the Conservatives and taking the Liberal Democrats from fourth place to first.

Since then, as their MP, he’s helped thousands of local people with their own personal battles – and winning an increased majority at every general election.

Locally, he has helped pioneer many of the party’s most successful campaign techniques – contributing to the strongest third party in Britain for over 80 years.

And he knows from national experience that every campaign is different; every campaign demands new strategies, new ideas, new energy. Only by putting in place the most up to date techniques can we expect to deserve new victories.

Strength through teamwork

The Liberal Democrat party, in both Parliament and the country, contains a wealth of talent: some of long-standing, much of it new.

It is Ming Campbell’s determination to unite and harness this talent.

In Ming Campbell, we will have a leader who has the experience and authority to lead, unite and engage all the talent in the Liberal Democrats.

In Ming Campbell, we will have a leader with the passion and credibility to inspire voters, and persuade them our radical policies are the practical answer to their concerns.

In Ming Campbell, we will be led by an acknowledged winner.