Lembit Opik – Not Welsh, Now Go Away.
Poor Lembit Opik, or at least that is what we once used to say. Always one of the more obscure politicians, who you would be hard placed to put a policy or a decent PMQs contribution to his name, yet despite being an almost non entity in Parliament, we all knew about him. Thanks to his entertaining personality, his political irrelevance was always something we could find a way to look beyond. Then the worst thing happened to someone in the public eye, he began to believe his own hype. Worse perhaps, he seemed to make a concerted effort to live the lifestyle that his audience (those of the gossip columns and salon gossips), rather than his constituents, expected him to.
As time went by, and more and more stories and pictures emerged of Lembit doing everything apart from his job, our collective sympathies began to wilt. Even after he lost his seat, there was a modicum of support, a sense of ‘never mind Lembit, we’ll look after you’, and then came the stand up career, another sad reflection of ‘believing one’s own hype syndrome’. Sympathies might have survived had he stayed in a state of political retirement, but no, an abortive attempt at the London mayoral seat soon followed.
One wonder who is advising Lembit these days, though it would seem a safe bet to conclude that he is largely advising himself, because had he of actually taken the Liberal nominations, it would seemed to have been an impossible task for him to make any meaningful dent in the actual Mayoral campaign. Nominated or not, another defeat would have followed, another battering to a broken political profile. Still, we might have been of a mind to say ‘well done for having a go at a comeback’, were it not for the Mandela line. Again, issues of advise spring to mind, as for Lembit to blurt out a comparison with one who ranks amongst the greatest of political figures of history, seems baffling and idiotic.
Now, there is a good chance that Opik meant this as a joke, and he has certainly attempted to play it that way following his use of the Mandela line. Yet, as the results of his stand up career might indicate, it was not a joke destined to be well received. In many respects, Opik’s constant reliance on falling back on funnies is an indictment on his current approach to politics. He seems out of touch with anyone who might be voting for him, and devoid of idea and strategy. Frankly, patience has run out with this plucky bizarre little former MP. For his own sake, one must hope that he takes his own advice, and embraces some wilderness years, and maybe take the time to acknowledge that, thanks to the choices made in recent years, there is no political future for him anymore. Time to hit the hay Lembit, and leave the scene while there is some faint trace of sympathy remaining – because there is not much left.
Now, it’s worth dwelling on why Lembit is being discussed in a Welsh blog, and why this blog is so keen to see the back of him. Simply, Lembit is still seen as a Welsh politician, and many still turn to him as a political voice of Wales. Let’s be clear, Lembit Opik, is not Welsh. He is not a Welsh MP or a Welsh AM – and seems to have no interest in becoming one. He does not represent Wales, he does not speak for the people of Wales. The fact that he still does is the main reason for this column wanting him to quietly leave the stage. Embarrassing yourself is one thing Lembit, but with every gaff and political folly, you embarrass Wales as well. We seem incapable of shaking you, when we would dearly love to do so. As a result, it is indeed time to take your wilderness years, take them and go far away. Hopefully, by the time you come back, should you do so, the taint of Opik on the Welsh political scene will finally have been washed off, and we will no longer have to put up with the London media holding you up to be the clinical example of a Welsh politician.
Thanks for the laughs Lembit, but please go away now.