Rumours swirl around Westminster about the possibility that Vince Cable is trying to change the rules around who can be leader of the Liberal Democrats (ie, make it so that a non-MP can take the role) in order to guide Gina Miller into the job. This could all be completely invented, I hasten to add, yet the story has at least caused me to think seriously about what could save the Lib Dems.
What the party really needs right now is a high profile new leader who has the following attributes:
- Comes from outside of traditional, front line politics
- Well-known, even to non-politicos
- No previous history with the Lib Dems (in other words, no baggage)
- Notably anti-Brexit, and further, has some traction with Labour and Tory remainers
- Preferably a woman
- Preferably BME
If you hadn’t noticed, Miller ticks all six boxes. Further, she may well be the only person in the universe who does. The hardest thing for me to believe about the story is that she would want to do it, but if she does, Jesus, the Lib Dems should praise the fact that they have a new saviour. It would give the Lib Dems a shot at real relevance again and would make them THE anti-Brexit party, the one no one involved with reversing the 2016 referendum decision could avoid.
But even if Gina Miller did want to take up this herculean task, weirdly enough, the Lib Dems wouldn’t go for it. I need to explain this to non-Lib Dems reading this and laughing. One, it would involve a rule change, and changing the rules of the Lib Dems, particularly on something this big, involves six committees, nine sub-committees, and several votes at successive Lib Dem conferences. And most Lib Dems won’t vote to change this rule, I suspect. It would mean accepting the reality that the party is a mini-party, like the Greens, as opposed to one that is going to get a majority in parliament – it’s taking over a hundred years, but the party is getting there, my friends.
So, if you’re a Remainer, politically homeless at present but thinking that if Gina Miller became leader of the Lib Dems you’d forget all the tuition fees and whatever else and sign up immediately, I’m here to let you down as easy as possible.