And so, alas, we have to say goodbye to Charles Kennedy as our glorious leader. I freely admit that I didn't vote for him for the leadership when he won, but I grew to respect his political judgement, something that I had been suspicious of when he was declared the victor. On the key issues, his instincts have always been liberal, and I've been comfortable with the direction the Party has gone in during his tenure.
As a junior and extremely minor member of the hierarchy (I sit on an English level committee, English Council, the London Region Executive and chair my Local Party), I presume that I can expect to hear from the candidates sooner rather than later, unless this turns out to be a coronation rather than a battle.
I am a truly uncommitted elector at this point, and really want to see what is on offer before I commit one way or the other. By that I don't mean "what's in it for me?", rather "what will you do for the party to help it win?". I have felt that those standing behind Charles haven't always had the best interests of the Party at heart, instead tending towards seeking control, even dominance, over the wider Party and the democratic structures that maintain it.
But if you are planning to run for leader, and are sad enough, or keen enough, to be measuring opinion across the Party, please note that, as a Returning Officer within the Party, I like a clean contest. Anyone who deviates from the moral and ethical standards I hold dear can expect little sympathy...
So let battle commence!