The result of the Liberal Democrats leadership ballot was announced overnight. The party’s membership have chosen what I see as the safe option, going for Sir Menzies Campbell by a reasonably comfortable margin – 29 697 to 21 628 for the second placed candidate Chris Huhne.
Just over 52 000 of the party’s 73 000 members voted, with the first round of voting showing Campbell at 23,264, Mr Huhne 16,691 and Mr Hughes 12,081. I assume Simon Hughes mid-campaign controversy about his honesty regarding his sexuality harmed his changes. Hughes is also seen as the more ‘left-wing’ of the candidates, and although these sorts of labels are as much a matter of perception and nuance, it still signals that the party will probably take more of a safe, centrist position over the next few years. Having said that, I still think they have far more dynanism, belief in community empowerment and a longer-term vision than Labour or the Conservatives.
For a bit more background on Menzies Campbell, you can read his victory speech here, or have a look at this Ask Aristotle entry. One would have to assume this result makes it very unlikely that Simon Hughes will ever make it to leader, although the performance of Chris Huhne, a rank outsider at the start of the contest, suggests he will be strongly in the frame next time around – quite possibly as soon as 3 or 4 years time, after the next UK general election. Some from the next generation, such as Nick Clegg, may be seen as ready by then too.
Combining the topics of two recent posts – one on e-democracy and one on the Liberal Democrats – this article details the way the three leadership candidates used blogs, podcasts and the web as part of their campaign.
Another initiative which is endeavouring to use the internet to link politicians together is the e-parliament. I don’t think this has got the critical mass or developed a sufficient sense of connection amongst a wide enough group to reach its potential, but it’s always worth examining the different things that people are trying.
PS The Liberal Democrats membership are very active bloggers. For their reaction to the result, go to this aggregating site and take your pick. As this entry on the well named “No Geek is an Island” site details, they are already planning a get together to see what campaigning lessons can be learned from the various e-campaigning techniques used during the leadership contest.