In fairness to Vince Cable, he’s probably the only Liberal Democrat MP with any kind of profile.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Nick Clegg took the party into a coalition government with David Cameron’s Conservatives. It was the dawning of a new era where three-party politics would be more representative of the nation.
The end result was the Liberal Democrats took more than their fair share of the blame. No-one was in a forgiving mood in the 2015 election and the party found itself wiped out at the polls.
Not only that, but the United Kingdom Alternative Vote referendum in 2011 saw the dream of proportional representation, a central plank of the Liberal party since anyone can remember, was overwhelmingly rejected.
Clegg looked at the political abyss and fell over taking the party with him. Vince Cable rode into the rescue, mainly because there wasn’t much competition once Menzies Campbell resigned in 2007.
But Vince is on his way out as well. In September 2018, he announced he intended to step down once Brexit was resolved. It means we’re likely to see a leadership election next month.
So, who are the runners and riders in the Liberal Democrats Handicap, the main handicap being they don’t have many MP’s?
Swinson is the deputy leader and despite Cable’s reform of opening up the Leader role to non-MP’s, there’s no likelihood of it happening if the Party wants to be taken seriously in the Commons.
The Member for East Dunbartonshire is young at 39 and a savvy media operator. She remains a strong candidate even if she is undecided herself with the concern over how it will affect her young family.
As the progressive party on these issues, it cannot be beyond the wit of the Liberal Democrats to accommodate these issues.
Odds on being the new leader:5/4 with Red Zone Sports
Moran, it’s claimed, is the ‘Establishment’ candidate. The MP for Oxford West and Abingdon holds a slim majority of 816 but would certainly benefit from Cable’s reform allowing non-MP’s to lead the party were she to lose at the next election.
The party spokesperson for Education, she performs well on the rare occasions the Liberal Democrats get their opportunities to speak in the Commons.
Odds on being the new leader:15/8 with Paddy Power
Unfamiliar to many, he is the highest-ranking non-MP in the odds. Rennie is the Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats and would be the first MSP to lead a British political party while not an elected member of the House of Commons.
He has spent time at Westminster, serving as MP for Dunfermline and West Fife between 2006 and 2010.
His appointment may not sit comfortably with some. Rennie created a commission to create a blueprint for Home Rule and “fiscal federalism” following the Scotland Bill 2011. A strong nationalist leading a British multi-country party? It’s manna from heaven for his opponents.
Odds on being the new leader:80/1 with bet365
Davey has government experience having been Energy minister in the coalition.
This is his second spell in parliament having lost in 2015 but he bounced back in Theresa May’s ill-judged 2017 election when was once again victor in Kingston and Surbiton.
Odds on being the new leader:9/1 with Betfair
Like Davey, he was a junior minister in the coalition with responsibility for Care and Support after serving as Under Secretary of State for Employment Relations, Consumer and Postal Affairs and Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister.
MP for North Norfolk since 2001focuses on the number of GPs falling while also being concerned about the impact of a no-deal Brexit on homelessness.
Odds on being the new leader:18/1 with William Hill
Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right
There are, as ever, some outlandish candidates in the odds but you asked, and the bookies delivered:
Nick Clegg 50/1
But the favourite of this motley crew is Lembit Opik at 500/1. However, we’d like some assurance he’s bringing the Cheeky Girls with him, to be the party spokeswomen on arts and foreign affairs…