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Was Sir Menzies right to go?

  • Newsnight
  • 16 Oct 07, 03:58 PM

menzies203100.jpgFormer leader of the Liberal Democrats Sir Menzies Campbell has told BBC News that he was "irritated and frustrated" at his treatment by parts of the media, claiming some of them were "obsessed" with his age. He stood down, he said, in the interests of the party.

Speaking to Political Editor Nick Robinson he said he regretted not being able to fight a general election as leader.

"I think our policies and our principles and our values would have been right at the very centre of the political agenda. What we call fair, free and green -- fair on taxation; free, dealing with this authoritarian Labour government; and green of course, putting the environment right at the very centre."

He also suggested that some members of his party should not have spoken out publicly in the way they had prior to his resignation.

So was Sir Menzies right to have resigned? Was the media overly obsessed by his age - or had he lost the support of key party members?

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 04:29 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Dafydd Lewis wrote:

Yes and no. Campbell was the voice of reason in the House of Commons in many instances, and what he says about experience is absolutely true. On the other hand I suspect that the Lib Dems will have picked up on Gordon Brown's vulnerability to aggressive questioning and want someone more aggressive for the public face of their party. They smell blood!

  • 2.
  • At 04:30 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Nick Stroud wrote:

Sir Menzies was our best hope for getting some *wisdom* into our political life. We seem to be obsessed with youthful energy now, even after the disastrous Blair decade where his lack of wisdom gave us spin and the Iraq war, among other things. I'd rather follow a wise old leader than a young energetic one any day!

  • 3.
  • At 04:31 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Peter wrote:

Of course, Menzies had to do the honourable thing. He is a gentleman as well as a politician. For that reason alone he was going to suffer - his media presence would not be as forceful as his assassins!

I wish him every success - he is still relatively young and his presence in the political arena is essential.

  • 4.
  • At 04:32 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Patricia Stoughton wrote:

It looks like we have become rather ageist as a country.
Unfortunately Sir Menzies' age was the media 'story'. Pity because we need a few mature politicians with a sense of history.

  • 5.
  • At 04:34 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Christine Halpin wrote:

I think the media has been very cruel, after all Gladstone was in his 80s when he was Prime Minister and Winston Churchill well into his sixties (as well as liking a drink and a cigar or two) when he became Prime Minister. The House was also very unkind, which makes the age discrimination legislation a bit of a joke. As we are all living longer and in better health, why can't a politician make a valuable contribution if he is over 60?

  • 6.
  • At 04:34 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Robert Galloway wrote:

He was driven out by media speculation and pressure.
I am sorry that he has gone.

Please bring back the days when the media reported and did not manipulate.

  • 7.
  • At 04:37 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Andrew Collingwood wrote:

He was right to go, as it became obvious that he was not the right person to lead the party to the next general election.

His age was not the issue, but his presentation was. No one comments about Tony Benn's age when he speaks because he has the ability to grab the audiences attention. Ming simply did not have the magnetism required for a leader.

I voted for the Lib Dems at the last election but had not intention of voting for them while Ming was leader. He was dragging the party to the right and alienating those from the anti-war movement by refusing to rule out replacement of Trident.

  • 8.
  • At 04:39 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • geva blackett wrote:

"was Sir Menzies right to have resigned?" - he had no option did he? The long knives were out.

  • 9.
  • At 04:40 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Patricia Stoughton wrote:

It looks like we have become rather ageist as a country.
Unfortunately Sir Menzies' age was the media 'story'. Pity because we need a few mature politicians with a sense of history.

  • 10.
  • At 04:43 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Ian Hart wrote:

Menzies Campbell is an intelligent man full of ideas and charisma. I think it is a real shame the Lib Dems did not ditch Charles Kennedy earlier when Ming could have made a real difference to the Lib Dems prosepcts, particularly by driving home the Lib Dems' foresight on Iraq. Shortly after David Cameron came on the scene the whole landscape had changed and the Lib Dems were doomed to be squeezed out. I think it's rather unfortunate that their failure to gain a bigger share of votes under the auspicious circumstances Kennedy enjoyed is rarely contrasted with Ming's sterling efforts to maintain the party's strength through more challenging times.

  • 11.
  • At 04:44 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • mark shepherd wrote:

No he shouldn't.
He should have gone to Eddie Izzard for some applying face make up techniques and some voice projecting classes...

  • 12.
  • At 04:45 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Eduardo Reyes wrote:

He's an honourable and respected figure, and any Lib Dem (myself included) will hope this episode doesn't send Ming into 'hiding'.
But he seemed to lack a leader's ability to connect with people when putting the message across (even during his election campaign). He saw a central mess behind the scenes in the party, and did a good job of clearing it up. But whilst doing so, I think the leadership lost sight of what was being projected to voters. We never did need a Chief Operating Officer as leader.
I think Nick Clegg has some similar failings, and it'd be a mistake for us to choose him next. I'm not sure why he's being described as 'charismatic'.

  • 13.
  • At 04:46 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Gareth Jones wrote:

Sir Menzies Campbell was an excellent shadow Foreign Secretary, with real authority and dignity, and a sense of principle lacking in his opponents in other parties. However, he has been a poor leader of his party, and it is right that he should go now. It is a great pity that at a time when ageism needs to be fought strongly, his age, and not his lack of inspiring leadership, should have been such as issue; much of the media is at fault here.

  • 14.
  • At 04:47 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • COLIN WILKINSON wrote:

Mr Cambell should rejoice at turning his back on the trough. Ridding himself of the surrounding hoards of greedy snouts will allow time to contemplate the infinite beauty and complexity of this magical world.

  • 15.
  • At 04:49 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • M D wrote:

Ming has shown far more integrity than the so-called colleagues who have been carping about him to the media.

  • 16.
  • At 04:50 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Popo Pruthi wrote:

He has gone with dignity and decorum. He was right to go as his own party had indicated that he had lost their confidence and voiced it publicly. The other parties are praising him now but he was let down by his own party. Some ambitious guy/girl maybe felt they could step into his shoes. Best of luck to them and Ming. The media - nearly all foreign owned - doesn't care a damn. They are a parasitical lot and only interested in monetary gain achieved by selling newspapers. The country is much poorer by his exit. We should be feeling sorry for ourselves.

  • 17.
  • At 04:50 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Paul Evans wrote:

As he was potentially the next Prime Minister, I feel it is a pretty poor show that he felt he had to go because the media said he was too old. If he really believed in what he was doing he would stand and fight his corner and prove them wrong. I think all he has done is prove them right that he wasn't up to the job and he is using the media as a scapegoat. The party has no focus or direction and a new leader who the public aren't interested in isn't going to change that. He has looked tired for a long time and it's not his age. I know many people of 66 who look fitter than him. He isn't well so it's better he goes now.

  • 18.
  • At 04:55 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Tony Telford wrote:

Sir Menzies Campbell is one of the most trusted and respected men in British politics today. This is certainly my view but it is not based on prejudice but on the writings and radio/television statements of many colleagues, friends, opponents, and enemies.

Over more than 40 years of professional and political life he has distilled a political philosophy based not on whim but sound wisdom.

He is a man to be trusted.

Here was a man who stood out against the Iraq War in 2003 when most in the House were content to buckle under Tony and Alistair. I haven't witnessed any stand based on possible personal preferment; I hsave seen many based on what Ming thjought to be right for world, country, and party.

In a world where politics were reported in Hansard and in the middle pages of "The Times" Ming could have continued as Gladstone continued. But Gladstone's world is long gone and national politics are conducted within the goldfish bowl of 24-hour television and 24-hour news programmes. A stutter in the House, a not-up-to-par PMQ is not brushed off quickly but is chewed over by commentators for days afterwards.

Ming was not at his best in the House. He is no orator and his gestures and repartee are not always slick. Any third party leader has the disadvantage of not being able to lean on a despatch box, hide the script, and lean for effect.

I am 65 and am not as lively as when I was 45 and I'm sure that my students are very kind with me. I would not like to go through a General Election campaign in 2 years time. Ming, perhaps, thought the same. He has resigned for the god of his party and that means his country.

What do we do with him now? That must be up to Ming. He is not a leader at 66 or 68 or 70. To dispense with his talent would be cruel, stupid, and politically very damaging. He has still much to offer and were he to ber offered a seat in the Lords I'd very much hoope he would take it. He and Shirley Williams would, I'm sure, make a splendid and effective duo.

Tony Telford.

  • 19.
  • At 04:56 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Roger Hutchinson wrote:

I have listened with interest all of the assertions by Lib Dem MPs and members about the timing of the resignation.

They say that had there been an autumn election he would have led the Lib Dems into it with the full backing of the Party.

Now that it is clear that there won't be an election for, probably, at least 2 years he needs to stand down and let someone younger in.

Did he really stand for election as Leader in the hope that there would be an election in the Autumn of 2007, even though that wasn't a possibility at the time?

  • 20.
  • At 04:56 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • David Nettleton wrote:

I wasn't troubled by Ming Campbell's age - I'm 63 myself - it's the policies I don't like. The proposal for a local income tax shows that the Party has no idea about council funding. Why do they think the poll tax failed?

  • 21.
  • At 04:57 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Colin wrote:

I believe that in this, as in so many other cases, much of the blame must be laid at the door of the media. I do not exclude any of you from this; whether Nesnight, or Today, the other various news programmes, or the newspapers. The media sometimes seem to create a story out of thin air, then pick it up and run with it for all they are worth or until they get the result they want. Nothing anybody says is ever taken at face value any more, there is always an "ah, but" added by the media as they continue to run with whatever story it is. I have listened and watched you for many years, and you are all tarred with the same brush.

  • 22.
  • At 05:00 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Martin Gallehawk wrote:

I think its bad that he has left to me he was a very honest polictian and
you dont find many of them these days.
The Liberal party want to try and look
younger like the consertive Party so thats the real reason why he resigns

  • 23.
  • At 05:12 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Ralph wrote:

The media are the problem. They have an important part to play but are not responsible in the way they do it. Governing the Country is a very difficult thing to do and let's face it no one is really good at it, so if someone is doing a reasonable job of it for goodness sake give that person a chance. The Media are out to hound and crucify anyone who makes the slightest mistake instead of leaving them to get on with things. Take Gordon Brown, a decent enough guy, very able, means well and is doing his best which so far has been good. He is now being hounded left right and centre over the decision not to hold an election. Who in their right mind would go for an election when the oppinion poles are against them?

It was not perhaps his actual years, which are not so great, as how elderly he appeared in his presentation of himself. He seemed to be from another age - and how could that not matter?
AW

  • 25.
  • At 05:19 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Mullerman wrote:

I blame the media, how can the Tories go up in the polls ten points with one tax policy that effects 6% of the nation?, collusion by the media so as to make the next election more exciting? For the 60% who bother to vote the 'poltics' that Nick Robinson et al talk about, theres no depth, no cutting edge investigation to it, just Westminster gamesmanship. Is it no wonder there is such a low election turnout?

  • 26.
  • At 05:29 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • mervyn wrote:

yes to nice you cannot be a nice person you have to have great amount of a rouge in you you only have to watch they on TV its like viewing the muppets.

  • 27.
  • At 05:32 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Paul Daniel wrote:

No
It gives his party and the media no credit that he was hounded out of his post. His party should have had more guts to stand up for the man that they elected and the media should stop trying to be king makers. If this does not stop, all our potential leaders will soon be Tony B. Liar showmen with attendant courts of spin doctors, pushing 'fast fix' soundbites and sporting a permanent false smile. Yuk.

  • 28.
  • At 05:34 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • morrie wrote:

Ming was a man for all seasons. He was afable,well educated, a jolly good chap don't you know !! But, new politics require more TV dashing splashing whizz kids with new ideas and new policies for the present day. Sadly there is now no place in Politics for elderly statesmen however eloquent they may be. Sadly we have reached a new low with sleaze and spin the new tools of the trade.

Trust sleepy old auntie beeb who it seems has obviously been taken completely by surprise to raise yet another ground breaking question - 'SHOULD MING HAVE RESIGNED ?"

Is there any hope for the future ?

  • 29.
  • At 05:34 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Bernard Dawson wrote:

Ming was/is a gentleman. That probably contributed to his downfall as he was seen as too 'gentle', or not sufficiently aggressive for modern politics.
The other factor was ageism. 60 is not old (although Ming looked and came across as older than he actually was) and should never have been raised as an obstacle which could prevent him from doing his job as leader. In interviews where I heard him talk coherently on a number of issues, inevitably the interviewer raised the subject of his age. Why was that? I feel sure that the public in general saw him as 'old' but did not believe this meant he was less able.

  • 30.
  • At 05:50 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Peter L. Walker wrote:

Campbell is a victim of circumstances not the media.

Would the senior statesman have been elected if pecadillo's hadn't imploded the other candidates? Somehow I don't think so, he was needed at Foreign Affairs, just as Cable is needed at the Treasury to assure sensibility and gravitas.

Salute a good man who had the misfortune to be catapulted into role for which he was ill suited. His party owes him a debt of gratitude melt down would have been the only other option.

Peter L. Walker

  • 31.
  • At 05:51 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Lewis rory Mcleod wrote:


The media and the political parties are engaged in shameful Ageism. The law of discrimination should be applied. Its not just ruthless competition. Its blatant opportunist career party politics.All good for the media sales ratings. Ming had respect more than Brown. He was no spinner. We all hate control but its opposite- Freedom doesn't mean you can do what you like. There are norms of civilised behaviour.

  • 32.
  • At 05:54 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Paul Johnston wrote:

I think Ming Campbell realized that he had no choice but to step down.He was damaging the party every day he remained in the position of leader.
To be honest I'm confused as to why the Lib Dems elected him in the first place.It was painfully obvious to everyone with any sense that he was the completely wrong choice.Never mind questions about his age, it was the man himself who just could not hack it as party leader.
So now it's time for another new face.Lets hope they take their time and choose carefully.They better had because I doubt the party can survive another round of this musical chairs leadership game.
The Lib Dems need to get their act together.Put out some decent policies instead of the current crop like their laughable and baffling position on the referendum for the EU treaty.
I will probobly never vote for the Lib Dems but wish them well as strong opposition in politics is always a good thing.So good luck yellow's.
P.S They should get rid of Vince Cable as well.If he gets anywhere near the leadership the Lib Dems are doomed!!!!!!

  • 33.
  • At 06:00 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Jane wrote:

No, he was wrong to go. I feel that he was bullied. Wisdom comes with age. We need wisdom.

  • 34.
  • At 06:05 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Mike Elston wrote:

I'm sure that if Sir Menzies thought it right to go, then he was right to act on it. His political instincts have always been good, and his judgment trustworthy.

But in answer to your questions - yes, the media were overly obsessed by his age; and probably yes, he appears to have lost the support of key party members. Both of which I lament.

It seems clear that his position became untenable when the media generally concentrated on his age rather than his policies (and in this the BBC have been little better than the tabloid press). Sadly, we do appear to have acquired an ageist bias — there was certainly very little objective criticism of his policies or opinions, one might have hoped for more from a responsible press. So if he was right to go, I believe the reasons for that suggest something seriously wrong in our society. Have we really been indoctrinated by the Blair years to expect our party leaders to be "presidential" rather than "magisterial" in style? Is appearance now more important than substance? (I suspect that the present PM is suffering too, by the same token.)

Sir Ming has been the best foreign affairs spokesman the Lib Dems have had for many a decade (and I believe would have been a better Foreign Secretary than any this government has provided in 10 years). He would have had the experience and the self-confidence to stand up to the U.S., qualities which it seems the last Prime Minister lacked. (And the thought of young D Cameron facing up to the world stage on our behalf is frightening...)

It's true he suffered at the start of his leadership. As Tony Telford says above (4.55pm), Sir Ming was not at his best in the House, but he seemed to me to be growing in stature fast (belying his age?). His performance at his Party Conference was every bit the equal of David Cameron's at his.

So I'm sorry to see him resign the leadership, as I can see no one his equal in the party at present (I hope to be proved wrong!). I hope very much he will remain in the Commons and on the LibDem front bench, and continue to give his support to (and be listened to by) whoever succeeds him.

  • 35.
  • At 06:06 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Michael Harris wrote:

Although not a LibDem I must say that Ming was probably one of the most upright and honest people in parliament and a man of courage. Sadly he closely resembles in appearance The Prime Minister who is a sad weak loser, self interested and without principle. Perhaps people were confused?

  • 36.
  • At 06:06 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • oulwan wrote:

Nick Stroud (No 2 above) said it all.

  • 37.
  • At 06:09 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

The manner of his departure has shown he had no leadership mettle.

He ran off without a word to his PPS or Simon Hughes or Vince Cable.

He's very upset & doesn't want cameras pointing at him.What if he'd been PM in a crisis?.....would he have run back to Elspeth ?

  • 38.
  • At 06:10 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Simon Rodrigues wrote:

I think its absurd that the blame has been passed onto the media, if you can't hack the media's comments then what on earth are you doing in a political party. I feel that this smells much like an excuse to make a sharp exit, lets hope the next candidate can take the criticism or otherwise what’s the point in trying to representing the country.

  • 39.
  • At 06:28 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Yasmin Zalzala wrote:


He was right to go.

He became leader with an agenda to reform and make the party more professional. These were his own words.

He failed miserably and ended up swimming with the tide.

If you are wondering what I am getting at then it is this: The Liberal Democrats Party's current constitution allows for ethnic cleansing of candidates. i.e. a female muslim from an ethnic minority told her race is a liability and moved out of the way to be replaced by a white man.

This has happened and in my my view only Ming Campbell had the gravitas and moral authority to correct it. But he was overwhelmed and his age became a factor.

I doubt if the person who will replace him will change anything so the Liberal Democrats will continue to have 'ethnic cleansing' of candidates.

  • 40.
  • At 06:41 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Malcolm J Bell wrote:

I think it was wrong to push Ming out the way they did, just because he is a bit older than the rest of the political leaders and perhaps did not look the part. The trouble today is that people are too concerned with celebrity rather than concentrating on what a party does and stands for

  • 41.
  • At 06:44 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Jean Hardy wrote:

I think that it is mainly the vociferous members of his own party who are responsible for Ming's resignation. I believe that it was necessary for him to go but what a disgusting way to ensure this. They did not have to air their thinking in public and by doing so they have probably lost the goodwill of people like me.

  • 42.
  • At 06:45 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Brian J Dickenson wrote:

The manner of his going left a lot to be desired. He may be a gentleman of the old school, something to his credit, but he should have left in a more honourable way, not sneaking away like d a whipped dog.
As for his party, I'm of the opinion that at best they are a token third major party, who are as likely to be elected to govern our great country as I am to abseil down the north face of the Eiger.

  • 43.
  • At 06:59 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Mark Beaumont wrote:

Whether or not he was pushed out by one side or another is neither here nor there - politics is a backstabbing business anyway and that is an occupational hazard.

I am just pleaseed that I will no longer have to listen to Menzies being pronounced Ming or Mingis any more by the idiots in the media.

  • 44.
  • At 07:11 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • shella wrote:

Poor Sir Menzies! Too old for to rule, too young to play the fool! Politics has become like some rather daft game of trivial pursuits, run by the media, and watched in disbelief by the rest of us. Its a wonder anyone with any "wisdom" ever gets near power in the UK. Charles Kennedy may have liked a drink, there are numerous bars in Westminster - so he's not the only one is he? The way he was got rid of was mad, as he was an articulate and popular politician, the first one in the Liberal Party since Jo Grimond! Then they choose someone out of ark, like Sir Menzies, who simply gave the Liberals a drab old fashioned image, not the new dynamic image it needs!

He was right to resign for his own sake, as well as his party, as he would have lost them seats. Age comes into it, but is not the only factor. He just should never have replaced Charles Kennedy as the contrast was just too much, and gave them a totally backward looking image. He is probably a very intelligent man, we never really found out, but that means nothing in British politics any more!

We still have the two other dorks to deal with as well, Brown and Cameron. No-one can persuade me they have an ounce of "intelligence" between them! Can't the media concentrate its considerable vitriolic power on them, and maybe we could lose them as well, with a bit of luck!

  • 45.
  • At 07:30 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • mebosa ritchie wrote:

menzies campbell went because he was not up to being leader.
he was an average lib dem spokesman but one could not ever imagine him holding any high office.
i am rather sickened by the comments posted that he was a man of honour and integrity.
have you all forgotten that he stabbed charles kennedy in the back when he was ill with alcohol problems.
he wielded the dagger and has now received it how fitting
i shall not miss or even remember what he did for british politics unless someone tells what he achieved

  • 46.
  • At 07:36 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Steve Cartmell wrote:

I thought age ism was suppossed to be illegal.Not apparently in the Media.....but then again it is rife everywhere else Especialy in london with the old "Too Old" replaced with "Does not display the right image"(used in my experience with a very large company ..the name of which would surprise many ..but then again maybe it wouldnt!!) etc etc.I am no Liberal by any means but i would prefer an adult with experience and integrity rather than some insincere,shallow,superficial,plastic faced,permanently grinning baffoon who simply reads from an autocue with contents that have been written and examined and sanatized by twenty or so more grinning snotty baffoons.Which is a change from "gottle of geer" but is no more useful.
I suspect that many of the people making the too old comments may one day in fact grow old themselves.......Soylent Green is just round the corner by the looks of things.......

Ambivalence! Ambivalence!! Ambivalence!!!: A part of me thinks "what goes round, comes round". Minky should stop moaning; after all, some of us reasonably believe that he knifed a dying man to attain the office, albeit that is ancient history now. However, as an addicted BBC News and Newsnight viewer, whenever I'm in the UK or in any part of the world where Internet connectivity (more specifically: bandwidth) allows, one is sometimes utterly exasperated at the incessant mentioning- or allusions -to his age (either directly or insinuatively)in your reportage about him or the Lib Dem

One wonders if your editorial teams- News at 10's and Newsnight's -have anything against the man's age at the expense of the rich, but sometimes opportunistic, arguments he brought to bear on the Iraq war.

I must say though, that with the one or two reservations one sometimes has for the subtle agenda you nurture in your editorial content, the Beebs is still my most trusted global news channel.

Thanks.

  • 48.
  • At 08:03 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Idris Francis wrote:

Delighted to see the back of Ming Campbell - though I fear his successors may well be as bad or worse.

Having sat through several hours of his speeches I know that he is utterly determined to hand over government of this country to Brussels, STILL wants to join the euro and is blind and deaf to all the problems the EU represents.

In those hours I never once heard an original thought, a new idea or anything other than regurgitated politicial claptrap.

Age was not the problem - incompetence was

  • 49.
  • At 09:04 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Carole Cleverdon wrote:

No I don't think he should have resigned but I do understand why he felt he should have, for a Country that champions the mature person we have failed him miserable, I only hope that it wont happen to the one's who felt the need to make there voices heard, if only they knew it most likely will happen to them. They will justly deserve, will they be as understanding.

  • 50.
  • At 09:08 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • nick ruddock wrote:

It has annoyed me for weeks, leading latterly to anger, some time last week when Robinson, and or some others of the televisual media, put the question to Menzies yet again.

I have possibly liked, certainly respected Mr Menzies, indeed I think I remember him as a runner in the 50s. Does this make him too old? Apparently so, according to the 'dictatorship of the fourth estate', which we seem to be enduring in this phase of democracy.

'Free Speech' being interpreted as 'Free Interference', by these interrogators that seem unable to differentiate between personality nonsense; the factors which should be uncovered because they may be personality flaws and daily gossip, tittle tattle, eye colour, favourite food, having a baby; which are issues that are singular and private of no consequence to Politics nor the elector.

I think the media is extremely important, relevant, and potent; but for reasons which escape me, and possibly to do with Editorial direction, even the private agenda of the journalists; almost wickedly they pursue issues which are irrelevant, although they know it has nil significance.

Frankly it isn't their call; the electors can eliminate what they disapprobate. Tony Benn has frequently criticised the various medias for their over indulgence in the superficial. You should all take stock, since such criticisms are also made through others, and their is no smoke without heat.

However, should he have quit? He had little choice, but the criticism that he lacked vigour is correct. Nevertheless he had many other appropriate traits.


  • 51.
  • At 09:11 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Ruth wrote:

I'm deeply saddened to see him go. When he was chosen for leader my first thought was, "finally politics has grown up". I can't say how disappointed I am to find that puerile superficiality has won out yet again. I don't blame him for being irritated and frustrated; so am I.

THE CURSE OF PARTY POLITICS

Another example of the destructive nature of party politics. Ming is clearly experienced and even a bit principled (for a politician) but it is all about tribal power, not good governance, so he had to go.

  • 53.
  • At 12:04 AM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Anna wrote:

I am one of the people who voted to elect Sir Menzies Campbell as leader of the Liberal Democrats and am thoroughly disappointed in those members of the party who felt the need to make unnecessary comments about his performance as leader, after all it was he who was elected and not them.

His age is a question which should never have been raised, the impression I have been given is that he is one of the most dynamic and youthful MPs in the party. I think it is a shame that he felt he had to leave but I cannot blame him, politics today is that fickle because the electorate are, and then we spend our whole lives complaining about the way politics is.

My only hope is that those members whose comments which exacerbated the instability of his position as leader do not profit from their treachery and are not elected as leader, I will not be voting for them.

  • 54.
  • At 10:38 AM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Doreen Richards wrote:

Of course he was right to go, the silly Lib Dems don't deserve him, he spoke more sense than all of the rest put together, don't forget it was the Young Turks that got Brown into bother and now we have the young libs clamouring for his job silly silly people, Sir Ming is well rid of them, he was the only member of that party that gave me any leanings towards them

  • 55.
  • At 10:39 AM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Doreen Richards wrote:

Of course he was right to go, the silly Lib Dems don't deserve him, he spoke more sense than all of the rest put together, don't forget it was the Young Turks that got Brown into bother and now we have the young libs clamouring for his job silly silly people, Sir Ming is well rid of them, he was the only member of that party that gave me any leanings towards them

  • 56.
  • At 10:43 AM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Doreen Richards wrote:

Of course he was right to go, the stupid Lib Dems dont deserve him, he spoke more sense than any of the others put together, what does age matter, in fact it was the younger element that got Brown into trouble, will they never learn, Sir Ming was the reason that I had leanings toward the Lib Dems, No more

  • 57.
  • At 01:51 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Stephen Solley wrote:

I can understand and indeed share some of Sir Menzies frusrations. Here we have a politician who is sincere,respected, believeable and is uncomfortable with the spin culture. None of these qualities were enough.Apparently all modern politicians have to fit into the rather bland Blair, Brown, Cameron spin controlled environment that currently exists. It is the countries loss, maybe we are not as tolerant as we boast.

  • 58.
  • At 01:53 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Stephen Solley wrote:

I can understand and indeed share some of Sir Menzies frusrations. Here we have a politician who is sincere,respected, believeable and is uncomfortable with the spin culture. None of these qualities were enough.Apparently all modern politicians have to fit into the rather bland Blair, Brown, Cameron spin controlled environment that currently exists. It is the countries loss, maybe we are not as tolerant as we boast.

  • 59.
  • At 01:58 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Stephen Solley wrote:

I can understand and indeed share some of Sir Menzies frusrations. Here we have a politician who is sincere,respected, believeable and is uncomfortable with the spin culture. None of these qualities were enough.Apparently all modern politicians have to fit into the rather bland Blair, Brown, Cameron spin controlled environment that currently exists. It is the countries loss, maybe we are not as tolerant as we boast.

  • 60.
  • At 01:59 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Stephen Solley wrote:

I can understand and indeed share some of Sir Menzies frusrations. Here we have a politician who is sincere,respected, believeable and is uncomfortable with the spin culture. None of these qualities were enough. Apparently all modern politicians have to fit into the rather bland Blair, Brown, Cameron spin controlled environment that currently exists. It is the countries loss, maybe we are not as tolerant as we boast.

  • 61.
  • At 02:11 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Stephen Solley wrote:

I can understand and indeed share some of Sir Menzies frusrations. Here we have a politician who is sincere,respected, believeable and is uncomfortable with the spin culture. None of these qualities were enough.Apparently all modern politicians have to fit into the rather bland Blair, Brown, Cameron spin controlled environment that currently exists. It is the countries loss, maybe we are not as tolerant as we boast.

  • 62.
  • At 02:12 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Stephen Solley wrote:

I can understand and indeed share some of Sir Menzies frusrations. Here we have a politician who is sincere,respected, believeable and is uncomfortable with the spin culture. None of these qualities were enough. Apparently all modern politicians have to fit into the rather bland Blair, Brown, Cameron spin controlled environment that currently exists. It is the countries loss, maybe we are not as tolerant as we boast.

  • 63.
  • At 12:30 AM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • bluetonyrome wrote:

When Gordon Brown did not go for a snap election, Ming knew his time up. That was the only reason why Ming wanted a snap election, to sustain his leadership rather than for the welbeing of the party. End

  • 64.
  • At 03:07 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • stephen solley wrote:

I can understand the frustration of Sir Menzies. The frustration should be widespread and apparent to all no matter what your political persuassion. It is no longer sufficient to be sincere, honest, courteous, respected or experienced. Especially if you are over sixty. Tolerant society? Only when it suits, we will end up with the country and media we deserve.

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