Lembit would have my vote

Update at 23.30pm “Lembit Opik stands down for Liberal Democrat presidential bid.” So the bastards won.

The Liberal Democrat leadership are said to be moving heaven and earth to stop Bangor -born Lembit Opik from capturing the party presidency. Lembit has attracted more labels than any politician I know. The Cheeky tendency for his relationship with Cheeky Girl (“Touch My Bum) Gabriella , the Curse of Lembit for backing leadership candidates who fail – like Mark Oaten for his gay romp and then Chris Huhne; and Asteroid Man, a title explained by rottweiler profiler Lynn Barber:

“He is 43 going on 14. He confides, unnecessarily, that he is ‘a bit of an anorak’. He owns 15 harmonicas. His big hobby is flying – he has a private pilot’s licence – and he courted his Cheeky Girl fiancée by taking her to the Science Museum on their first date. He famously believes that the Earth will be hit by an asteroid soon.

“Opik got the asteroid bug from his grandfather, a famous Estonian astronomer who fled to Northern Ireland at the end of the Second World War and worked at Armagh Observatory. His son, Uno Opik, Lembit’s father, became a research physicist at Queen’s University, Belfast. Born in Bangor, Lembit was raised in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and spoke only Estonian until he went to school”

But Lembit is far more than a figure of fun. He won respect as a decent and passionate NI spokesman, bringing personal knowledge to the job. Affection for him runs deep in the Commons. I watched and later joined in, as speaker after speaker commiserated with him on the sudden death of his brother three years ago. How many MPs are shown such affection? But the Cheeky Girl image no longer suits, it seems. As the election draws nearer, the Lib Dems are polishing a graver image. What is it about the Lib Dems and sex? Lembit was upfront about his girl friends, Mark Oaten, a likely leadership candidate was caught with a gay prostitute. And what about the shiny new leader himself, with his thirty lovers? Lembit is a modest guy by comparison. Too much personality or too little, what is a politician to do?

  • Peking

    Is it not possible for you to raise an issue without grabbing the opportunity to boast of who you have met, mingled with, conversed with… etc etc etc.
    Constant name-dropping is a bit juvenile, and really very tiresome.



    Who pissed on your cornflakes?

  • Lempit can come across as a bit of a loon at times and is fond of appearing on the tv light entertainment shows.
    Mind you the tory buffoon and all round fun punch bag Boris Johnson holds the higest office of any tory politician at the moment.
    Its no wonder the tories think its in the bag if Boris can get elected then anyone can.
    Unless the british adopt pr voting(fat chance)or there is a hung parliament the liberal democrats are destined to wander in the desert forever

  • Nathan

    Oh deary me, Mark Oaten is quite the continental bisexual

    Whatever next??

  • dewi

    Lembit might want to focus a bit more on Mongomery. An excellent Tory candidate (on hand held so can’t link but “A view from rural Wales” is Glyn Davies’s super blog). The May local elections saw unprecendented Tory gains in the Welsh speaking quarter of the seat. Dumping Sian Lloyd hasn’t gone down well in Llanbrynmair.

  • Rory

    The lad’s “youthful”, isn’t he? He’s “cheeky” (geddit?) – “cheeky”, (yeah! geddit now?). He looks really weird. No one will ever accept him as a serious political figure. He doesn’t own a black Labrador dog. Step forward, Lemby baby – you are a natural for Lib Dem prez.

    “Dumping Sian Lloyd hasn’t gone down well in Llanbrynmair.”
    Maybe not, but it’s gone down well in Tottenham. Puts me in with a chance. I’m no metorologist, but I am a Paddy and I know from rain already.

  • dewi

    Rory – get lost – she’s mine!
    Code- likely – probably the most inappropriate code in world history.

  • DC

    Mark Oaten and Cheeky Girl situations are but a true reflection of the goings on out there, and I was glad to see that the Lib Dems didn’t implode.

    Better to have a party that puts concern about sex and sexual relationships in the right House and room, the bedroom, rather than moralise over sexual goings on either same or different sex which are but part and parcel of UK life, it isn’t America after all. Thankfully.

    As for Lembit Opik, the wider populace in Britain I would gather have a bit of concern with him, aren’t that big into him really.

    This is the Lib Dems real chance to do a better and more caring New Labour, get those that can be viewed as ‘media idiots’ out of the way and probably work with a view of hung parliament. No time for image problems whenever image and style are important in today’s politics and the Lib Dems have cultivated enough substance already to supplant New Labour. Should it go terribly wrong at that red end.

    The Lib Dems are but one steroidal shot in the arm away from electoral success if Nick Clegg can tighten up his focus and criticism of New Labour’s botched values and complacency when in power linked to inaction on absurd house price inflation. The ground is clear for the Lib Dems on which to have a running attack, the detritus of failed markets lies arguably around New Labour and Tories to explain hard a new way through that.

  • dewi

    DC – you are even madder than the rest of us. Lib dems in huge problems in South West and Scotland.

  • DC

    Dewi – It’s a mad world these days; but you have to realise too that in terms of image and style Cameron and Clegg are neck and neck, the Tories have a credibility gap re its substance, the Lib Dems less so. If you are talking fairness and social justice do you really think Tories are better placed?

    I’m saying ultimately that there is probably no better chance to cultivate Clegg and the Lib Dems and that that steroidal shot is needed to make him go on the offensive and take it to both parties. Of course the winning substance in terms of line of attack is up to those people within the party to conjure up, but there’s shit loads to choose from in today’s catastrophic environment – economic slowdown soon to follow.

    Really Cameron and Clegg are both public school boys swimming in the same political shoal trying to push out a similar narrative. But in today’s climate you have to ask that from an ideological perspective just really where do these huge problems really rest, is it with New Labour, Tories or Lib Dems.

    It is up to the Lib Dems to make the case and win it. That’s all I’m saying, can they do it as is and with the ridicule attached to them from previous image problems? Well it’s a tall order but I would say there’s no better chance for them as a party.

  • Dewi

    DC – OK – Substance and ideology – let’s hear it.

  • Rory


    There is only one thing to understand about the LibDems (and their predecessors, the Liberals ) and that is that they will be all things to all men in any given place and time.

    If we take your belief of their strong moral position on the freedom and acceptance of private adult sexual practice I can only say, “Don’t be a fool, kid. They’ll hang you for it next season once fashions change.”

    But don’t listen to me. I’m prejudiced, by experience mostly. Hang around and find out for yourself.

    And for fuck’s sake never adopt a black Labrador dog as a family pet.

  • DC


    Tories and free markets – ideology: harmed
    Tories substance to free market failure – none so far.

    New Labour – ruined its vision by removing house prices from equality and social justice measures – skewing the gap from rich to poor.
    New Labour – over reliance on deflationary economics which was decoupled from house price inflation – asleep on the watch.

    Line of attack for Lib Dems in that New Labour has focused too much on families and left aside individuals from benefit drives; Lib Dems could argue against stealth taxes, criticise Labour for big and bulky forms of socialist mismanagement from the centre. Lib Dems could refine this a refined form of socialism, perhaps better individual managerial responses pumping up better social relations within the government and thus better inside the public services. Think Cleggs relationships with women, think one of people, think the diversity within Lib Dems, diverse enough to handle complex managerial responses rather than old dogmatic failed New Labour bulky socialism?

    Tony Blair – not team player, sofa government not keen to coalesce around his democratic government, work democratic committees and play out debate across Commons; played fast and loose, just like Tories would do re foreign policy, ignoring wider public mood; Lib Dems don’t.

    Tony Blair and New Labour too light on driving forward policy deep enough to work (biting off too many issues to stay in power through power of argument alone: think tough criminal justice problems, botched transport policy, botched education policy): u-turns on pensions; u-turn on schools – choice but standards as per Blair not gone up (Grammar schools still hankered after – poor education system as per media recently); therefore, failed on education, education, education:

    As for tough on crime – tough on the causes of crime: New Labour and Tory ideology but too tough on crime and no answer to the causes of crime. Lib Dems could argue to stop over-criminalising social problesm, better contact with social actors needed, better personalities and management needed to intervene not punish (prison full – over populated – crime down because economy was better). Tory would back punishment as per New Lbour.

    TB and Brown un-coordinated across government?

    New Labour perhaps distrustful of people(Ruth Kelly’s 3am resignation!!): think pushing out civil servants and pulling-in too many specially handpicked personal advisors instead, therefore lack of confidence in the political system – so much for public sector!! Also gnoring key advice: think PFI and lack of trust in public sector to manage contract re London Tube (Tories are into private finance too – trust business not people in public sector).

    Cameron a copy-cat Blair – cut and paste these problems too to Mr Cameron.

    Also, New Labour is about to implode both as a result of poor team attributes, team players and personal management plus at party level a lack of self-belief in New Labour concept itself (counter charge that blame with Cameron in trying to copy all of that).

    New Labour too Atlanticist, too light on Europe – reset the balance – neo-liberal markets and neo-con foreign policy both attributable to New Labour which the Tories backed up; single energy market in Europe – lack of progress on energy; New Labour spoiled relations in Europe and Conservatives have no partners there to effect change – change likely to be needed in Europe over energy security:

    Environment and energy key themes in Europe – and world.

    These are few lines of attack!

  • DC

    “If we take your belief of their strong moral position on the freedom and acceptance of private adult sexual practice I can only say, “Don’t be a fool, kid. They’ll hang you for it next season once fashions change.”

    It’s not that ‘moral position’ per se, it’s knowing that sexuality sits in a sphere of its own outside that of political decision-making, the marriage thing was the problem for Oaten, that’s what collapsed any case going for him. But in the end it was a personal choice.

    Oh yes Dewi, more for you: think Brown bully, grumpy ineffective socialist, think Blair never listened think likely Cameron will be like that too: think why vote in Cameron for a repeat of the last 12 years or so.

    Btw – I’m not arguing a pro-Lib Dem case here I’m just saying that it’s a mad world we live in today, mad enough for those once seemingly mad parties?

  • Dewi

    DC – all good – but what’s the absolute philosophical reason to join the Lib dems?

  • DC

    I dunno, I’m a centrist and liked New Labour shame they didn’t keep their eye on the ball, scattergunning media initiatives as a substitute for more effective social policy.

    I think there is still something durable in New Labour…but perhaps rather than the Tories picking up the best bits of that the Lib Dems under the auspices of better individualism and democratic managerialism plus the better European policy might put Britain back on track. Where New Labour deviated off around 1998 onwards! Or perhaps the Lib Dems are more flexible and thus credible in being able to do so???? Isn’t being liberal about being progressive, a more personal government?

    Key values Blair let down post 97 and Lib Dems keep up: Europe, freedom, anti-war, energy and environment. And of course democratic accountability – which Blair and Brown ran away from throughout the sorry Iraq-bound-to-troops-on-the-ground era.

    The Tories were and are mired in the worst bits of New Labour (heavy on war and heavy on criminalising – light on regulating and not tighter on redistributing from higher up to down), whereas Lib Dems might right the wrongs and offer a more accountable personalised journey. A slower one with more bite sized approaches to longer change, than soundbites, less spin and more substance. Who knows??????

    Of course the outcome of the fall out from the markets and lack of ethical regulation will affect debate, but Labour cocked this up, and I know the Lib Dems are arguably pro-market (so too though New Labour and Tories) but they could come at this from a ‘social liberalism’ viewpoint thus refining centrism – balance between state and capital.

    It’s hard to say, but Clegg offers a better hope and indeed equal hope as to Cameron. For feck’s sake, Cameron cycles around and then gets his official car to drop his papers off. Warning – false!

    It’s all to play for.

  • Clegg dropped a real clanger when asked how much the state pension was and came up with £30 as his answer.Are the leaders of the political parties so far removed from the realities of ordinary peoples lives.
    Sometimes with some of the stuff they come up with I believe that they are under the impression that we all have personal assistants.

  • A pedantic anorak writes:

    It’s Öpik, dammit, Öpik. That’s Unicode 00D6.