26 January 2006

Lib Dem troubles

In my previous post I defended the press on the grounds that they had to supply what their customers wanted. On the other hand, they clearly have, and exercise, the ability to set the news agenda. And I can't help noticing that someone seems to have it in for the Liberal Democrats.

In a matter of about three weeks, three of their senior figures have been "outed" in the press - Kennedy as an alcoholic, then Oaten and now Hughes as homosexuals. Certainly in the first two cases, and possibly in the third, the facts were known for a long time, but someone chose to make them public now. Why now?

There is an echo of the occasion when the then leader, Paddy Ashdown, was exposed as an adulterer in the run-up to an election. The information in that instance may have from a burglary of a solicitor's office, and political skulduggery was suspected.

There is not an election coming up now, so what is the reason? The Tories have a new leader, one who has a chance at winning over some Lib Dem voters... is there a connection?

Alternatively, Iain Dale suggests that betting on the leadership race might be the reason.

On the subject of Simon Hughes' continuing candidacy, it has been suggested (by Jonathan Freedland among others) that his sexuality is not a problem, but his past dishonesty concerning it is. I don't think that is a reasonable position: One can say now that he should have been open, but like any senior politician, he has been around a couple of decades, and being honest in the 70's or 80's would have been a less realistic option than it is now. Note that, according to the Wikipedia article, in the 1983 Bermondsey by-election, even Hughes' opponent Peter Tatchell tried (unsuccessfully) to cover up his homsexuality.

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