Monday, 4 February 2013

Taxi for Mr Huhne

There'll be a number of people enjoying the fall from grace of Chris Huhne today, not only within the Conservative and Labour ranks, but also within his own party. His party leader has expressed his shock and sadness (here) at the resignation of the former Environment Secretary, but in reality I suspect his sadness i will be tinged with just a little bit of relief. Chris Huhne has long been a potential replacement for the top job within the LibDem ranks, having fought and lost twice in the past, and as late as December 2012 was still being touted as another great white hope to challenge Clegg if he could only wriggle out of the small matter of the criminal charge against him. here Sadly, for Mr Huhne at least, this was not to be, and a blow from his own corner has sent him crashing to the canvas.

Huhne's resignation will trigger a bye election in Eastleigh and the Tories are already gearing up a full frontal assault in what they see as a chance to gain revenge for a LibDem betrayal over the boundary changes. Nigel Farage, ever the self publicist, has already announced he may challenge for the seat himself. Farage will no doubt do better than the 952 votes he received when he stood for the seat in 1994, though I doubt that even he could pull off a UKIP coup in what has essentially been a Lib Dem stronghold since then. Huhne, despite his inability to slow down, increased the LibDem vote to hold on to the seat in 2010.

But Huhne's fall from grace marks an interesting footnote in the history of the LibDem 2010 power-grab as he becomes the fourth, and so far, the most damaged, of the  "Gang of Five". Of the original LibDem ministers, only Danny Alexander has so far avoided the embarrassment of either a resignation (Laws here and Huhne here) or a public apology (Cable here and Clegg here).

Whether this is the end of Huhne's political career remains to be seen, though I suspect Huhne, like many before him, will seek to resume his career in time, particularly if he avoids prison. What can be beyond doubt however, is that since climbing into bed with the Tories back in 2010, the LibDems have been either incredibly unlucky, or completely naive, in the choices they have made in their party leaders.

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