How dangerous is Cheadle for Charlie?

How dangerous is Cheadle for Charlie?


    Could the by-election determine his future?

With the build-up to the Olympic decision and the London bombs we’ve not really looked at the position of Charles Kennedy who only last week had to warn his fellow MPs about the whispering campaign against him.

This was followed by last weekend’s Mail on Sunday investigation about the alleged “upgrades” he got on his honeymoon – though the very idea behind the story that somebody should think that the leader of the Liberal Democrats is worth influencing is the best news the party has had in weeks!

The latest move – on the day of the bombings – from the Lib Dem youth wing saying that even Lib Dem supporters “laugh” at the idea of him becoming Prime Minister looks really problematical. On another news day this could have been a bigger story.

    The hard question is what would Kennedy’s future be if the Cheadle by-election goes horribly wrong? What result does he need to fight off the critics?

Certainly losing the seat would be very damaging. But what about a reduced majority which we think is the most likely outcome. Could that be used as a stick to beat him?

Whatever this is really dangerous time for the former TV presenter. The betting, in what remains a very light market, continues to move against the party. If there was a lot of confidence on the ground then activists would start to have a punt even at the current level of 2/7.

Mike Smithson

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