As mentioned a few times recently, I don't believe that British politics can change significantly unless the cosy two party FPTP voting system is abolished. As such, I'd really like to see the Liberal Democrats doing well; a hung parliament with a substantial Lib Dem presence seems to be the only possible route to genuine electoral reform. As a bonus, the Lib Dems often adopt policies which I'm broadly in favour of. I normally vote for them in general elections for those two reasons. I would not, however, describe myself as a Liberal Democrat.
So then, what of the untimely demise of Sir Ming?
First of all, I'm saddened by the way his age became the defining issue of his time as leader. Much of the media seems to believe that any visible signs of advancing years are an abomination to be mocked mercilessly. Media attitudes towards Ming's age undoubtedly became a significant factor for him and for the Liberal Democrats. It did not make for comfortable viewing.
On the other hand, there were other failings and the party was not doing well under his leadership. He might have done a better job if his age hadn't been the issue it was but that's not relevant now. In the real world, more column inches were devoted to Ming's sock garters than to Lib Dem policies.* It simply wasn't working and there was no sign that it could be made to work. If the party was to have any chance of doing well at the next general election, he had to go
Ming ability to face the reality of this situation and act on it rather than dragging things out in the vain hope of turning things round is quite refreshing. He's done the party a favour. I hope they make the most of it.
Whoever the next leader is, it'll be an enormously tough job. Leading the third party is much more difficult than leading one of the big two, especially when they're a bunch of bloody liberals who don't take kindly to being led and insist on being allowed to vote on policies. What kind of democracy is that...
Much more problematic is the fact that the new leader will face a ridiculously uneven playing field. The grossly unfair system used to elect parliament in this country puts the Lib Dems at a huge disadvantage. At the last election, the Liberal Democrats got 22% of votes cast and 9.5% of the seats; Labour got 35% of the votes and 55% of the seats.
What kind of democracy is that?
* This might possibly be a very slight exaggeration....