What is it that repeatedly makes them choose losers?
I am coming to the conclusion that there is something in the DNA of those who manage to climb the greasy poll to become MPs that makes them such terrible judges when it comes to who should lead their parties.
Can anybody explain why 313 current members of the Parliamentary Labour Party should have signed Gordon’s nomination papers to give him a free run last year when there was so much evidence that he would prove to be an electoral disaster. His poll ratings were appalling and it was clear that simply being a good “number shouter” was not a sufficient quality to lead a party of government into a general election.
How do you account for the collective madness of Conservative MPs who in 2001, after their second general election disaster, connived to stop Michael Portillo from becoming leader? They were barmy to fix it so that Portillo did not even get on the final ballot for the membership. At least the Tories are ruthless enough to admit mistakes and fix it.
And what about Labour during what was for them the dark period of the four term Tory government? Neil Kinnock is a nice guy – but he’s a windbag and simply did not have it in him to compete for power against Maggie and then John Major.
It was obvious from early on that Major himself simply did not have it and the reason he won in 1992 is that his Labour opponent was even worse. Heseltine or Ken Clarke would have promised ongoing Tory electoral success in the post-Thatcher period.
And what about the Lib Dems – now on their third leader in this parliament? It was right that Kennedy’s problems meant he had to go but from the point that Ming Campbell flunked his first PMQs it was clear that he was not going to be able to hack it.
I was going to put Nick Clegg on the picture strip above but decided against. I’ve found him far from convincing but I’ll give him a little bit more time yet.