I’ve noticed that the temperature of the contest has been raised somewhat in recent days. If that had been because the two candidates were going at it hammer and tongs to demonstrate their suitability for office (and who’s to say that they aren’t), I would be delighted. Unfortunately, the heat that I’m referring to is within the blogging fraternity, where tempers appear to be fraying just a little.
I’m going to claim to be the first person to publicly muse over the Huhne campaign’s apparent move towards negative campaigning, so perhaps I am guilty, to some extent, of hypocrisy (in fairness though, when I wrote my comments, I was still to make up my mind). However, it is perfectly legitimate, within the rules, for this to take place, and I am of the view that the sudden, perhaps co-ordinated, burst of outrage from declared Clegg supporters is ill-advised. Politics is a rough game, especially at the level where Chris and Nick play, and they, and their campaign teams, must remain true to their convictions, fighting the campaign that they believe will bring success to their man. It is then for the members to decide whether those attributes highlighted by the campaigns are the ones that they feel are most suited to leading the Liberal Democrats.
In all hard fought contests, particularly where the stakes are as high as they are here, the campaign will develop edge. Frankly, whilst that makes me personally uncomfortable (and you'll note that I'm not running for leader...), it is exactly what this party needs if we are going to successfully assault the dual forces of conservatism currently masquerading as the Government and the (overly) loyal official Opposition. The ability to get tough with illiberalism will certainly help to get our message across.
Negative campaigning will put some people off if they become aware of it. Some people will be attracted by a candidate who demonstrates what Lynne Featherstone so bluntly described as ‘cojones’. You pays your money, you takes your choice…