There were major movements in the prices of Lib Dem leader hopefuls Sir. Menzies 'Ming' Campbell and Simon Hughes yesterday as the markets digested what has been reported as a "disasterous" start from Ming, primarily at 12pm Prime Minister's questions. So what actually happened?
Ming and Hughes were both present on the Lib Dem front bench (Oaten,desperate to kick start his pondering campaign was busy doing TVinterviews) in a knockabout PM Q's session where an on form Blair made easy jokes about the current flux state of the Lib Dem bench.
Blair could hardly conceal his glee as Ming, questioning the PM's progressin education reform asked the question why ""one in five schools do not have a permanent head". Parallels to the Lib Dem party's current state (and Ming) were obvious and the house fell into chaos as Labour and Tory MPs fell about into uproarious laughter. Blair also turned his guns on Hughes and Oaten - asking where "the other one" (Oaten) was.
The press and Campbell's rivals - Hughes, Oaten and now Chris Huhne will be quick to declare that the leadership battle is now "wide open".
What's our view? We're still backing Ming to win this. We do not believe this is Ming's "David Davis" moment - one poorly thought out sentence from a seasoned andeloquent speaker is not the same as a whole awful speech that leaves your own party members cold.
The problem for those that hope Hughes can win is that he is only half as popular as Ming according to yougov's poll of Lib Dem members.
The problem for those who hope Huhne, Oaten or an undeclared such as Ed Davey can win is that none of them are Nick Clegg - described by many as Ming's deputy.
A vote for Davey, Oaten or Huhne means voting against popular Clegg and blocking him for leader for the next decade at least. Nick Clegg, an Orange Booker who many see as the party's future has closely aligned himself with Ming and so is unlikely to need to risk standing against him.
Commons experience is the the only thing many believe former MEP Clegg lacks - a problem that will be swiftly solved by a senior role in the "Ming Administration".
According to today's Telegraph, Simon Hughes, the party president, will announce today at least seven public backers - including Steve Webb, the health spokesman, and PaulHolmes, the parliamentary party chairman - for his leadership bid. Tim Farron will run Hughes’ campaign. Richard Younger-Ross, Annette Brooke, Mark Hunter andPaul Rowen are also "set" to back Hughes.
Mark Oaten, the party’s home affairs spokesman, submitted his nomination papers signed bys even Lib Dem MPs last night, but with mystery surrounding his backers. A fourth potential candidate, Chris Huhne, a Treasury spokesman, received his first public backers when Lynne Featherstone, the MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, and Martin Horwood, the MP for Cheltenham, indicated that they would back him if he stood.
Chris Huhne - David Howarth will run Huhne’s campaign according to the Times with Martin Horwood, StephenWilliams, Lynne Featherston and John Pugh set to back him.expect all the candidates who have names to lodge to do so by close of play Friday, if not Thursday, as they will be keen to speak at at
Who they support? A useful breakdown from the Indie on which MPs support who;
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