Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Kennedy in trouble

Charles Kennedy has problems. Actually, he has multiple problems. There’s David Cameron, a liberal-Conservative who could steal much of the reasonable centre ground. Then there’s an ongoing funding scandal where the Liberal Democrats, and Kennedy’s private office, took money from an offshore millionaire and possibility broke UK party funding law. Worst of all there is briefing from within his own party that he’s not long for the Liberal Democrat leadership.

That seems a bit perverse. After all Kennedy was re-elected leader unopposed just after the recent general election. He has delivered the largest number of Liberal Democrat MPs for decades. Why is he now under threat? The short answer is that British politics is changing. Tony Blair is waning fast; the loss of the vote in parliament on 90-day detention for terrorists and the manoeuvring over education reform has made that plain. Take that with the unexpected outcome of the Conservative leadership process and suddenly the Liberal Democrats are looking less relevant. The polls agree, with the party’s numbers trending down. It’s not a panic, yet, but it appears that someone reasonably credible in the Liberal Democrats thinks they can do a better job than Charlie. One knife, at least, is out.

Kennedy told to improve or resign

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