Can Ming withstand the media barrage?

Can Ming withstand the media barrage?

Ming PMQ.jpg

    How important is a good PMQ performance?

Amidst all the big political stories at the moment there’s a special focus on Ming Campbell who, if you read some columnists, is on the critical list.

After going through the trauma of ousting Charles Kennedy Ming finds himself under the media microscope every Wednesday when, as Lib Dem leader, he is allowed a maximum of two questions at Prime Minister’s Questions.

The scrutiny has been going on since his lacklustre performance at his first appearance in January and yesterday he answered questions about it on the BBC’s Daily Politics. His response was: “Politics in this country is not prime minister’s questions..It’s important to all of us who live in the Westminster village, but it’s not the issue on which people decide how they are going to cast their votes”.

Well is it? I’m not so sure. The problem for Ming is that the issue is always raised whenever his party is being assessed. After the local elections on May 4th the lack of progress for the Lib Dems, however unfairly, was partly put down to this.

No doubt we’ll see the same when the Bromley by-election is being examined?

    Ming needs to give PMQs the same attention and careful preparation that Tony Blair and David Cameron give it. He also needs a strategy for dealing with the barrage of noise immediately as he gets to his feet.

My sense is that, as his comment above shows, he does not attach the importance to getting this right that he should. He gives the appearance of being irritated by it.

Meanwhile although he has barely been in post for two months and already there’s a spread market on how many months he’ll survive as well betting on who will be his successor. The current spread is 25-27 months which mean a buy bet will come good from June 2008 onwards while a sell bet would stay in profit until the end of March 2008.

Provided his health holds I cannot see many in the Lib Dems having the stomach for another leadership contest this side of the General Election. Ming, I believe, will fight a good campaign.

Mike Smithson

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