The British Liberal Democrats have a new chairman: The 64 year-old Menzies (that’s “Ming” to you, thank you very much) Campbell won a membership ballot with 58% of the vote.According to the BBC, Campbell’s great advantage in the contest was that he was not seen to be too closely associated with any of the party’s two main factions and that he holds considerable authority in the House of Commons.
In an age obsessed with youth – Campbell could easily be the father of Conservative leader David Cameron – electing a leader who is well above 60 is an interesting move. In recent years the Danish Social Democrats and the British Conservatives went for the same solution by electing Mogens Lykketoft and Michael Howard as party leaders – and both parties failed miserably at the next elections, perhaps – but not only – because Lykketoft and Howard were seen as interim solutions.
The next move by both parties was to elect chairmen who hadn’t yet turned 40.
On the other hand Campbell is still 9 years younger than the legendary Konrad Adenauer was when he took office as German Chancellor in 1949 and as we all know, Adenauer turned out to be more than a one-term solution.Correction: As a colleague pointed out, Adenauer was born in 1876 and not 1879. That made him 73 when he took office as Chancellor of the FRG in 1949. In case you don’t believe me, read Adenauer’s official biography at the Deutsches Historisches Museum.