Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Storing up trouble

Ming Campbell's days were really numbered by the very first question he asked at PMQs. Not only was it unintentionally funny, referring to the iniquities of stand-in heads of primary schools at a time when he was himself a stand-in leader, but the delivery was awful. Nervous, twitchy and unable to command the attention of the House, Campbell didn't look a leader.
So the Lib Dems are presumably much happier now they have Vince Cable, who regularly bests Gordon Brown (not that that's particularly hard these days) and today brought the house down by his comparison of Gordon Brown to Mr Bean. He looks confident, he's more or less guaranteed a hearing, which is more than Ming ever was, and he comes up with some good questions that discomfort Brown.
But this, in fact, is a massive problem for the Lib Dems. Cable, of course, isn't standing for the leadership. The two contenders, in a campaign that has been desperately underwhelming, are Clegg and Huhne, neither of whom are especially noted for their oratory, and neither of whom have much experience of speaking in the House. Whichever of them wins (and I know I can't wait to find out which) will face an immediate pit fall. For while either of them would almost certainly have been an improvement on poor old Ming, there is absolutely no guarantee that either will be as good as Cable. If they fall flat at the first time of asking, that will be the primary response of friend and foe alike - why on earth didn't Vince Cable become leader.
I doubt whether this is news to the Tories: one thing that has been noticeable about Cable's stint at PMQs is that the Tories are remarkably supportive. Expect that to change sharpish when the new boy is in charge. And expect the biggest story about whichever of them it is to be how they aren't as talented as Cable when it comes to PMQs.

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