For those with ears to hear public caterwauling, Ming Campbell lost much of his attraction once he tottered to the helm of the Liberal Democrat sloop and laid a veiny paw on the woodwork. His Question Time appearances would never be the same again. Opportunities, many might think, for a distinguished obscurity and a learned oblivion were missed. By laying his liver-spotted fin on the steering mechanisms, poor Ming's credibility was totally shot through.
Not me, however. My interest fizzled out when I learned that this "elder statesperson", prone to prosing on matters international and indulging in stultifying rhetoric absorbed at the dusted knee of Edinburgh's Faculty of Advocates - made a habit of appearing in licensing cases. For me, the vision of a Great Man died moments later. A soul with philosophy on its tongue and in its head couldn't trouble itself with such things. Nor, as it transpired, could he work out how to work the Liberal Democratic tiller.
I was interested then, to see that apparently he objects to the Clinton/Salmond moment, inventively, originally and insipidly insisting "This is no time for a novice." The next bit, I thought, at least had the benefit of a healthy dose of condescension:
"These are difficult times, they require experience and sophistication –and its best to leave it to those who have both these qualities."
Quite who the Rt Hon Sir Menzies Campbell CBE QC MP MA LLB LLD is referring to here is something of a mystery to me - although no doubt he includes some healthy self portrait in this indulgent picture of the gerontocratic hero of our time. Of course, what is touching about the suggestion is that at least our dear Licensee admits that the Maximum Eck's meetings are significant enough to go significantly wrong. Sounds like progress to me. Nevertheless, I must confess a sneaking suspicion of agreement with the first part of this small stiletto to the spleen-
Stick to licensing.
"Menzies Campbell sounds like a pompous ass. He has never been in office in his life, and was so bad as Liberal leader that he wasn't even allowed to fight a general election. For the few dozen Liberal delegates who were there to hear him, this was less Ming the Merciless, more Ming the Meaningless – the Liberals are in such a bad way they can't even think of their own silly jibes anymore. His daft and negative remarks indicate exactly why the Liberals are in such a parlous state in Scotland, struggling to get into double figures in the polls."Surely there's some small licensing dispute in Falcrack or Buckie which the tremulous old cove could shabbily resolve? Play to one's strengths, darling.
Stick to licensing.