Why we should not underestimate Chris Huhne.

For anyone who saw Question Time last night you will have noticed a certain Lib Dem minister taking a lot of flack for Coalition policy (nothing new there, eh!). But what was different was that it was Chris Huhne. Chris has come under media scrutiny in recent times due to alleged driving offenses, although after last nights television appearance this was very much an aside to what was discussed. As I said, Chris took a lot of criticism for Government policies being implemented but the responses were not your typical Lib Dem responses.

Often, whilst watching Question Time, I find myself clenching my fists and holding back the frustration when our very own ministers find it a difficult to explain and defend policy clearly to the public. I have even been in the audience to experience such painful experiences, whether it was Simon Hughes on tuition fees or Jo Swinson on…oh wait, tuition fees. But last night Chris seemed like a man on a mission. He is often criticised for shutting out others in a debate and rubs people up the wrong way with his manner of not allowing others to speak. However, this felt almost needed last night. Too long have we sat back and allowed ourselves to be tossed about and spoken down to without any sign of retaliation. Chris Huhne clearly noticed this and was very much on the offensive. He commanded the debate from the beginning and would never stop until his point was put across. He even achieved something Liberal Democrat representatives rarely achieve on Question Time, which is draw applause from the audience. He managed to point the economical blame at Labour without labouring (excuse the pun) the point too much.

Chris Huhne has never really recovered from his tense leadership election battle with Nick Clegg and the criticism his campaign drew from that period. It is almost surprising that “calamity Clegg” didn’t stick in the media like you’d quite possibly expect it to in this time of Clegg-bashing. Huhne, although never shying away from a media appearance, has almost been in the shadows since 2007. You cannot blame him as there may well still be bitter feelings towards Clegg since the leadership election, but this may be a time to finally let go. Chris is an intelligent and forthright individual who the party needs at the forefront to fight for a strong Lib Dem influence in Government (he was part of the Coalition dealmakers after all).

So what does the future hold for Huhne? My view is that has too much value for the party to disregard. He may not be the sort of Clegg loyalist we see in the likes of Danny Alexander, but he is most definitely a party loyalist. I think Chris Huhne needs to be valued for exactly the reasons he proved last night; that he is one of the best Liberal Democrats at putting across the message of a strong Lib Dem voice in Government, as well as being a great commander of debate. Chris Huhne I salute you!

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