Saturday, January 14, 2006

When shall we four meet again... 

Some thought from the first mini-hustings at Facing the Future… I am giving ‘impressions’ of the candidates performance as I think a semi-interested outsider might have seen them. More detailed analysis on content another time perhaps.

There were clearly four Libdems up there so sucks to the wedge wielders.

On the delicate matter of ‘Past Events’ Mark Oaten scored the big risky hit of the day by (in effect) calling on us all to make the Facing The Future review a positive memorial for Charles Kennedy’s hard work as leader. That hit a certain button and grabbed the audience. There has been some niggling about Mark’s performance in this campaign so far, in cricketing terms alleging some careless strokes playing and missing outside the stumps and edging a ball just short of slips. But this was a hit into the stands of Pietersen quality inclkuding the 'oh no' moment when the ball goes into the air. It made Chris Huhne’s complete non-mention of Charles (as far as I could hear – apologies if I got this wrong) more noticeable.

Mark also walked away from the lectern for some of his contribution, giving a sense of dynamism and command of the stage. Good professional presentation techniques well executed. The others stuck to the lectern, Huhne being the most immobile and most nervy looking of the four. I have heard him speak a bit better. One problem might be that his speech was essentially his launch speech from yesterday (Friday) and I (and everyone else there probably) had just read it off the web and it also might have gone a bit flat for him internally. In hard content it was probably the strongest.

Simon Hughes – well it was a Simon Hughes speech which means good and he knows exactly what to say to rally a LibDem audience. But I have seen a lot more speeches by Simon than for any of the others so it was familiar in tone, presentation and humanity.

The revelation was Campbell. Ming was alive in every word of his speech, clear emotion backing up every position. I have never seen him like this before. Forget the careful buttoned down image of TV shorts interviews. Ming looked unchained, full of energy. I hope it is not controversial to say liberated.

So, all in all, nobody dropped a brick. Everyone made a decent case for their own positions without stabbing at each other – no circular firing squads (yet, anyway). Hughes performed with the decency and competence we expect so goes on steadily. Chris carried on from his launch and keeps his momentum (but probably hasn’t added to it yet). Ming is casting off the age issue.

At this stage everyone can make decisions about what to do next with respect and dignity.

On the trivia front though just imagine the excitement if Mark Oaten had been the only contender to turn up in a blue tie…

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