Monday, 29 October 2007

The age question

I heard Vince Cable, the acting leader of the Liberal Democrats, being interviewed on the radio this morning as I drove to work. Although I thought he was taking a rather utopian 'holier than thou' stance on Britain's relations with Saudi Arabia (which it is always easy for Liberals to do as they never have the responsibility of government), I did think that he put over his case very effectively.

He has ruled himself out of the Lib Dem leadership case because of his age. Of course, that was what did for Ming, although somewhow he looked older than his years, while Cable looks younger than 64. It's odd that with an ageing electorate, and with older people far more likely to vote, it's thought that the optimal age for a party leader is 40.

Of course, I know that technology and associated social mores are changing very rapidly, e.g., Facebook. Someone who is in middle age can perhaps still communicate with the young and with the older generation (although some young people communicate effectively with their grandparents).

Perhaps the relevant variable is experience. Even an older Lib Dem has no experience of government. But then neither does Dave Cameron. Tony Blair didn't when he became prime minister, although I think that was the source of some of his subsequent problems.

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