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.
Isn’t a bigger issue that all political parties basically work on the idea of ‘paying your dues’? You have to come in at the bottom, trudge around delivering leaflets, become a local councillor, stand for unwinnable seats a couple of times, finally become an MP… and only then have you earned the right to presume you can stand for leader.
For a celebrity to come in right at the top and be allowed to skip all the boring drudgery that everybody else has had to do, just because they were famous, well, that would generate massive resentment in any party, wouldn’t it? Not just the Liberal Democrats.
And no leader can lead if the great majority of their footsoldiers resent them…
Phil Beesley says
“What the party really needs right now is a high profile new leader…”
“Preferably a woman
Whatever happened to equality?
Why is it important to you, Nick, that politicians fit in a niche?
Trevor STABLES says
Actually Nick. Layla Moran ticks all those boxes and halpens to be an MP!
Paul W says
For a party to be successful it needs to be more than a leader with a voter-friendly manner, good intentions and positive values (though that all helps). But being anti-Brexit and ticking all the boxes doesn’t seem quite the right approach to selecting a leader either: it’s putting the cart before the horse.
A party that means business needs to represent a coherent and fairly stable coalition of social and economic interests too – and not just for the period between now and December 2020 – but over the medium to long term too.
So what are the distinctive values, social and economic interests that the Liberal Democrats seek to represent that are not catered for already by the other parties to some degree or another? That’s the first question to ask, not whether Gina Miller could be a plausible party leader.
That aside, as I have said before, comparing notes with a fairly similar and *successful* sister party like the Liberal Party of Canada is not such a bad point of departure.
Phil Beesley says
If one was to define the Bonham Carters, one might question insiders and outsiders.
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
Cory Bin says
Layla Moran fulfils all but 1 and 2, and I don’t particularly see why 1 is significant. The only previous leader who wasn’t in politics was Natalie Bennett and she wasn’t great.
I did not know that Gina Miller is a member of the Liberal Democrats. It would not be a complete surprise if she were however I think from memory at the last election, her stance was more unaffiliated.. Has she ever addressed Lib Dems? When was it?
Nick Tyrone: When you write “This could all be completely invented” would that be some kind of confession?
I do think you are tabulating; since there have has been talk of new parties, a more realistic possibility would be that Gina Miller might decide to spearhead a new group,
Besides, you would be amongst the first to mock Lib Dems for having no visible leader in parliament. Perhaps it does not matter so much for the SNP that almost no one knows of Ian Blackford. At least Nicola Sturgeon has an important role, but a non-MP Lib Dem leader would be on the par with the Liberal President (you know the one I mean) and I am not sure how the two roles would be distinguished.
That was supposed to be ‘fabulating’.not tabulating