My week: Simon Hughes MP

The president of the Liberal Democrats on his battle to win the leadership of the party
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The Independent Online


Spend the morning in Southwark campaigning ahead of the local election campaign this May. Last time we took control away from Labour for the first time ever. For the last hustings of the leadership campaign, we visit Brentwood - a place where the Lib Dems have run the council before. Good turnout. It shows that the members have been actively engaging in the campaign.


Early this evening, there's a launch event for the Festival of Muslim Cultures which is beginning now and will last for the next year and a half. Before leaving Westminster, there are lots of intense discussions about the policy proposals on the future of Royal Mail and the Post Office. This will be the most controversial policy in Harrogate this weekend.


Last shadow cabinet of the interim regime. Happily, it's friendly and without rancour. We all go off to do the BBC lunchtime politics show, but sadly they are, as always, almost entirely negative. The last team meeting for D-Day follows.


After PMQs, I attend a great event in Westminster Central Hall organised by a coalition group called Stop Climate Chaos. I'm quizzed on my views and policies about climate change and curbing emissions. Meanwhile the voting is stopped. I can't do anything about the outcome now. So it's back to the Commons where our newest MP, Willie Rennie, who led us to victory in Dunfermline, makes his maiden speech and reminds everybody how, even without a new leader, we are making successful raids into Labour's backyard.


The wait for the phone call. Obviously I'm expectant but completely calm. Will be great to win but I've got two jobs even if I don't. Chris Davis, my good friend and agent, phones about 1.40. Leadership isn't coming my way this time. This means I'll be using speech A, not speech B. The declaration ensues. One announcement and three speeches later, it seems Elspeth Campbell, in her amazing dream coat, is clearly the new star of the show. I think she's great. I'm actually fond of both of them and very pleased for Ming. We will remain a close and supportive team.


Catch the train to Harrogate. Tomorrow, the president welcomes the new leader, and liberal democracy moves seamlessly on.

Interview by Lesley Wright