What the papers say: Ming Campbell off to lukewarm start

The crowning last week of Sir Menzies Campbell as Liberal Democrat leader finally put the party back on a positive footing after the string of revelations that followed Charles Kennedy’s resignation.

Widely seen as 'the safe bet – the elegant, hot water bottle candidate' (The Guardian, 2 March), Campbell was careful to stress that as well as bringing strong leadership to the party, he would overhaul its policies, take risks and generally confound expectations that he would be a mere caretaker: 'He's competitive, he's tough' (Guardian, 3 March); 'Ming's moment' (The Times, 3 March); 'Menzies: Here for keeps' (The Sun, 6 March). 

The glory was marred by inevitable mutterings about his age, health and ability to take on opposition whipper snappers: 'Sir Ming in charge... has the effect of making Gordon Brown look like a fresh-faced potential PM' (The Times, 3 March). Even The Guardian warned he was 'a bit long in the tooth' (2 March). 

Yet performance in these early days, pushing through a Post Office privatisation motion and proposing higher green taxes, suggest the Campbell-led party could gain territory in the centre ground come the next general election.

Analysis conducted by Echo Research from data supplied to PRWeek from NewsNow.

www.echoresearch.com www.newsnow.co.uk

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