Keith Watts

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Whitchurch in Hampshire Learn more

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If ever we needed a charismatic Liberal Democrat Leader it is now

by Keith Watts on 28 June, 2015

I have my ballot paper. Who shall I support for Leader of the Liberal Democrats?

The two candidates are both sound Liberals. They fought for their seats in Parliament, didn’t get them as gifts from previous campaigners, unlike the two we had to choose from last time. I will look past their leadership campaigns, candidates can’t be blamed for who chooses to support them.

I have ingrained suspicion of charismatic Leaders. Having watched Paddy Ashdown’s journey through the salons of the Liberal Party I voted for Alan Beith, who had been beavering away at the detailed work that made him the great Parliamentarian that he is. I didn’t warm to Paddy until his speech about Hong Kong passport holders. He eventually inspired us to emerge from the dark place that we had crept into in his first year as Leader.

This year’s result is much worse than 1970 because we lost so many “workers and winners” from the Parliamentary team; we must cherish every one of the eight survivors. But the opportunities are so much better than 1970 because we have the infrastructure in place to rebuild and we have hundreds of new volunteers eager to join in. This is no time for navel gazing (rebranding?); with inspiration, dedication and organisation we can continue as a major force in British politics from top to bottom.

If ever we needed a charismatic Liberal Democrat Leader it is now. I shall vote for Tim Farron