That Chris Huhne has resigned as Cabinet minister is horrible news today for the Liberal Democrats, who haven’t had the easiest year and a half, politically speaking, in the Coalition. But it’s just the latest in a long string of unfortunate scandals, personal and public, that have beleaguered several of the Lib Dems’ brightest stars.
Huhne, who lost two narrow leadership elections, the first in 2006 to Menzies Campbell and the secon in 2007 to current leader Nick Clegg, had been one of the younger rising stars among the Liberal Democrats, serving as Spokesman for Home Affairs from 2007 to 2010 and was serving, until today, as Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change under the Coalition government.
His resignation as Cabinet minister, which comes as it was clear that he would face charges of perverting the course of justice, namely by pressuring local police for lenient treatment in relation to a 2003 conviction of using a mobile phone while driving, will deprive the Lib Dems of another high-profile star.
David Laws was briefly Chief Secretary to the Treasury for the Coalition government in 2010 when he resigned after just 17 days following the revelation that Laws had claimed expenses in realtion to second home costs for his then-undisclosed same-sex partner.
Simon Hughes, who was once favored to win the 2006 leadership contest, lost some support after The Sun outed him just four days after Mark Oaten, another leadership candidate, withdrew from the race after it was disclosed that he had paid for sex with male prostitutes. The 2006 contest itself was precipitated by an admission that then-leader Charles Kennedy’s he had recently sought treatment for his drinking problem.
It ain’t easy being Lib Dem!