Savvy Campaigner Running to the Left

The Evening Standard (London, England), February 23, 2006 | Go to article overview

Savvy Campaigner Running to the Left


Byline: ANNE MCELVOY

COMMENTARY BY ANNE MCELVOY

THE RISE of Chris Huhne to bookmakers' favourite in the Lib-Dem race has confounded the party and those who know him.

Whether the betting men are right is still another matter altogether.

A competent economist but not a politician who projects distinctive views, he seemed marked out as a figure likely to accompany changes in third party politics rather than forge new ones. But Simon Hughes's cardinal error in denying that he was gay, only to be outed by a tabloid, allowed a gap in this leadership campaign into which Mr Huhne has crept.

A man of centrist economic views (in Lib-Dem terms) with a pronounced pro-European stance, he is running to the Left of Sir Menzies Campbell, the early favourite, with pledges to withdraw abruptly from Iraq and ruling out support for Trident - both touchstone issues for the Left of the Lib-Dems.

But he has also fought a savvy campaign to present himself around Westminster as the urbane "moderate moderniser".

Colleagues were amazed to see Huhne "come out as a millionaire", as one wryly put it, at a lavish party for journalists at his home. …

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