Campbell accuses leadership candidates of blind ambition

MOST CANDIDATES in the Liberal Democrat leadership contest have been blinded by personal ambition and are out of touch with reality, Menzies Campbell suggested yesterday.

Mr Campbell, the party's foreign affairs spokesman, levelled the charge against his fellow MPs as he called for the field to be narrowed from the seven at present to just two or three candidates.

In a scathing assessment of some colleagues, the MP for Fife North East, who pulled out of the race recently, made clear he believed that some were not suitable to replace Paddy Ashdown in the top job. "Ambition has overtaken realism to some extent in this contest," he told Breakfast with Frost on BBC television.

The leadership battle has seen six hopefuls throw their hats into the ring since Friday: Charles Kennedy, Jackie Ballard, Simon Hughes, Don Foster, Malcolm Bruce and David Rendel. The party's chief whip, Paul Tyler, has also indicated he may stand.

Some of the candidates, particularly Mr Bruce, Mr Rendel and Mr Tyler, are regarded as having little chance of success and have been urged to pull out to prevent the contest descending into farce.

In a clear reference to Ms Ballard's frenetic campaign to become leader, Mr Campbell said that he would wait to see who finally declared before backing one candidate.

"There's a lot of talk, a lot of people dashing around the country in helicopters and other things, but I want to wait and see who's actually in the field," he said. "There are clear qualities for the leader of the Liberal Democrats: Parliamentary experience, political courage - which Paddy Ashdown obviously had - good judgement and personality.

"And I think some of those who have put themselves forward are perhaps making rather optimistic judgements about the extent to which they possess all of these qualities."

Ms Ballard suggested that some of her rivals would drop out before nominations close later this month. She told GMTV's Sunday Programme. "I'm not putting pressure on anyone but I don't suspect all seven will run." The Taunton MP made clear the party would remain "independent" under her leadership and would never merge with Labour.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back