Would Lamb be the “Stop Huhne” contender?

Would Lamb be the “Stop Huhne” contender?

Is he worth a 14/1 bet?

I’ve been getting a number of requests for my view on whether Clegg will survive a disastrous series of results on Thursday and whether Huhne, Farron or AN Other would be the likely successor.

I believe that Clegg has an extraordinary level of resilience and if he wants to carry on then he will do so – any observations I make here on the leadership have to be seen in that context.

A key figure if it is indeed a bloody 72 hours for the LDs after the polls close is Paddy Ashdown and I would be very surprised if he wasn’t totally supportive of the leader in both public and in private.

In the event of Clegg standing aside then the views of Ashdown and fellow grandee, Shirley Williams, would be crucial. The coalition would still be in existence and they would give their backing to the contender best equipped for Coalition 2.0.

I’ve got a hunch that they would avoid current betting favourites Farron and Huhne and opt for Clegg’s chief parliamentary and political adviser, Norman Lamb, the man, who it is said, was black-balled by Andrew Lansley for a health minister job when the coalition government was being formed.

Lamb is a very safe pair of hands and a good communicator with very few enemies within the party. Three and a half weeks ago Lamb came to the fore when he said he’d resign over aspects of Lansley’s controversial NHS plans – a move that would position him well if there was to be a leadership election.

Lamb who walloped Iain Dale at the 2005 election in North Norfolk and went onto to retain a solid five-figure majority last May is well placed to be re-elected however bad it gets for the yellows as this Tweet from Dale at the weekend indicates.

Ladbrokes have Lamb at 14/1 which seems reasonable but nowhere near as good as the 25/1 that was available on Monday. Even so it might be just worth a punt.

Mike Smithson

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