There are very few things that genuinely annoy me; people who pack their shopping at self-service checkouts after they pay; people with Welsh names who mispronounce them; bad suit and tie combos.
And, I’m afraid, this is the bracket the ill-timed ‘Lib Dems 4 Change’ petition falls into.
But, before I say why, I feel this needs to be said outright – those who have signed the petition have genuine concerns and it would be wrong to dismiss or belittle them. However, everything I have issue with is related solely to the orchestrators of this plot, and I don’t think it fair to confuse the two groups.
As it happens, I like Clegg. Sure, he’s not done everything right, but that was never really going to be possible – coalition or not. I joined after 2010 because I appreciated there was a party above tribal loyalties, who understood grown-up compromise and put the country first.
Though, my personal opinions on this are irrelevant, as it’s the logic behind the campaign that is the truly baffling.
Firstly, the setting up of a website to oust your leader on polling day/results are announced. Yes, I know it only takes a few minutes to do, but was it wise? Not only does it suggest a pre-planned coup – regardless of results – but it was obviously going to anger activists who spent a lot of time working hard to get people elected.
And then there’s the practicality of a leadership election. What better way to go into an election year than spend three months wanking over our internal politics and factions, cheerleading MPs for leader?
That’s time not spent talking to voters; time spent giving other parties their leaflet lines – “If Lib Dems can’t trust ‘x’, why should the country?” … “If they didn’t agree before, why keep him so long?” … Sacking him now is opportunistic and cynical”
It’s possibly even time spent giving the Tories a chance to call a snap election (there is provision for it in the Parliament Act after all.
Not to mention encouraging signatories to get lapsed members to rejoin just to sign the petition (as it happens, our membership is increasing these last few quarters, so it’s not as bleak as some would make it out to be).
We do need a discussion on how to best communicate our policies and beliefs to voters, of course we do – but by dumping our leader now, all we would be doing is making things worse. And we simply can’t afford to be doing that.
So, let’s have that discussion – without the silly coup talk – and get on with working towards keeping our MPs in 2015.