Huhne Dares But Doesn’t Win!
Today came the news which was as shocking as it was unsurprising; that senior Lib Dem MP and millionaire Chris Huhne had been lying for the last year or so following his resignation from the Cabinet. When Huhne resigned from government over allegations that he had coerced his former wife to take speeding points for him in 2003, he vehemently denied the accusations and declared that any Jury would clear him when they heard the evidence. On 3 February 2012 after being charged and resigning from the Cabinet as Energy Secretary Huhne said “I am innocent of the charges. I am going to fight this in the courts and I am confident a jury will agree.” He appears to have gambled on being able to get the charges dropped and the fact that as he once said “99% of offences don’t lead to a conviction”.
He continued to protest his innocence right up until sometime yesterday when he reportedly telephoned Nick Clegg to inform him of his intention to change his plea in court to “guilty”. Reports today have also stated that he twice sought to have the case dismissed on technicalities and only when this failed he decided to stop lying and admit his guilt. Also released today were texts between him and his son Peter who pleaded for his father to come clean and stop blaming the offence on his mother. Chris Huhne eventually plead guilty to perverting the course of justice, a serious offence which can attract a maximum sentence of Life Imprisonment. The Judge today indicated that following his guilty plea Huhne faces a prison sentence, but it is more likely to be 6-12 months.
Huhne is one of the few “big beasts” in the Liberal Democrats. In 2007 he contested the Lib Dem leadership for the second time and would have been the winner had the postal strike not delayed the arrival of several hundred ballots which arrived after the deadline. Nick Clegg won the contest by just 500 votes and many Lib Dems must today be thanking their lucky stars! When the Coalition was formed Huhne was one of the five Lib Dems to enter the Cabinet but he quickly made himself unpopular with many of his coalition colleague and (I am told) many of his civil servant, due to his imperious manner and brusque approach. Many who formerly worked with and for him would have been struggling to suppress a cheer when the news broke today.
The Eastleigh Parliamentary seat which Huhne has represented since 2005 is a marginal between the Lib Dems and Conservatives. The Lib Dems have built a formidable position in what was previously a Conservative voting area. The Lib Dems run the local Council and hold every single Council seat in the Eastleigh constituency. Whilst the Lib Dem national polling rating has plumetted since 2010 their ability to hold on in areas which they control locally cannot be underestimated. It is impossible to quantify what damage will have been done to their local reputation by the revelations that Huhne is not only a cad but also a liar. However, they must start the by-election campaign as marginal favourites to hold the seat.
The Conservatives have an incumbent Parliamentary Spokesperson in Maria Hutchings who fought the seat in 2010 and who is well regarded locally. She lives in the heart of the constituency and I understand she will be our candidate in the by-election. Conservative Campaign HQ are going to fight hard to overturn the Lib Dem majority and major resources will be diverted to win the seat.
Huhne (Lib Dem) – 24,966 (46.5%)
Hutchings (Cons) – 21,102 (39.3%)
Barraclough (Lab) – 5,153 (9.6%)
Finch (UKIP) – 1,933 (3.6%)
Pewsey (Eng Dem) – 249 (0.5%)
Stone (Ind) – 154 (0.3%)
Lowe (Nat Dem) – 93 (0.2%)
At the 2010 election Labour’s support collapsed by 11.5% while the Lib Dems rose by 8.2%. If most of this support reverts back to Labour the Lib Dems will be in trouble.
While we await the sentence to be passed on Chris Huhne watch the clips below which take on a new perspective: