In a different time and place, when Sir Menzies Campbell was young and so was I, I was involved in student politics for a while. I was a member of what we now call the Liberal Democrats, although I think the party went through several name changes during my involvement with them.
At that time every student organisation was guaranteed a visit each year from one of the smattering of MP’s the party then had. One year our visit was from Charles Kennedy and a very pleasant chap he was too; my abiding memory was discussing Pink Floyd and The Green Party over a pint in Bradford University’s Biko Bar; an association I doubt he would thank me for.
During that time there was a kind of running joke amongst us Lib Dem student activist; whatever else you wanted, you didn’t want your precious MP’s visit to be from Menzies Campbell. In a political party often lacking charisma Campbell took the biscuit.
And so to today, and the one MP you wanted to avoid at all costs has become the leader of the party, but my opinion of Ming hasn’t changed over the intervening years. Where some see an elder statesman, a safe pair of hands, gravitas, I can only see an ineffective and ineffectual bumbler, a lacklustre mediocrity. He may be an expert on foreign affairs, but if so it is a talent he keeps well hidden.
Ming’s age has nothing to do with this; as I have explained my opinion of him was formed many years ago and nothing he has done since has changed it. If anything I think his age has benefited his reputation; it can only be because of his advanced years that he is seen by some as a respected sage, a wise old head. It certainly cannot be down to his mundane performances in parliament and across the media.
Some may say that he is a welcome antidote to the slick emptiness of Blair and Cameron, but if so he is about as refreshing as a dose of cod liver oil. Hopefully British politics can manage to get well again on its own; I think my interest in the subject is going into retirement.