Friday, October 21, 2005

Sorry- Am I Going Bonkers?

A clean contest- no argument about that.

But look- are we seriously thinking of electing a leader who's been an MP for just four years, has been in the Shadow Cabinet for six months, and who, it now turns out, has only been at the dispatch box four times?

Dear old Anthony Seldon gives us the historic context:

'No one in modern times has become leader of a main party after such a short period as an MP. William Pitt the Younger became First Lord of the Treasury in 1783 at the age of 24 after just two years in Westminster. But this was far from normal even in that aristocratic age of politics.

All of his successors were more than 20 years older on becoming party leader or Prime Minister. The youngest leaders since Pitt have been Lord Liverpool, who became Prime Minister in 1812 aged 42. But he had been an MP since the age of 20, and had gained three years’ Cabinet experience as Foreign Secretary...Robert Peel was 46...Earl Derby was 46...

The youngest leader of the 20th century was William Hague, three years younger than David Cameron. But Mr Hague had been an MP for eight years before, and had served in Cabinet for two years. In other ways, Mr Hague is not exactly an encouraging precedent.'

No wonder Seldon concludes that 'the experience of history is that Mr Cameron does not have Ben Nevis to climb, but Everest, and up its most inhospitable face.'

And yet...and yet.

Or is it just me?


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