Chris Who? bids to lead Lib Dems

OUTSIDER Chris Huhne has launched his daring bid for the Liberal Democrat leadership, pointing to David Cameron's success in the Tory leadership election, and insisting he had the experience to lead the Lib Dems even though he has been in Parliament for just eight months.

OUTSIDER Chris Huhne has launched his daring bid for the Liberal Democrat leadership, pointing to David Cameron's success in the Tory leadership election, and insisting he had the experience to lead the Lib Dems even though he has been in Parliament for just eight months.

At the heart of the agenda of the Eastleigh MP is the environment and promised to put up taxes on pollutants and use the cash to cut the tax burden on the poor.

Mr Huhne, 51, is the fourth candidate to enter the race along - he joins acting leader Sir Menzies Campbell, home affairs spokesman Mark Oaten and the party's left leaning President Simon Hughes. Although he has only been in Parliament since the last election, he spent six years as a Euro MP.

Former party leader Charles Kennedy, who resigned last week after admitting he had an alcohol problem, put him in charge of revamping the party's public services policies in 2002 and made him an economics spokesman as soon as he arrived in Westminster.

At his campaign launch held at the National Liberal Club in Westminster, Mr Huhne said he had enjoyed six years as a parliamentarian in Europe. “I don't think anybody should be arguing that I am inexperienced in politics.

“Looking at what happened to David Cameron during his election, this is the year of the outsider.”

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A so-called Orange Book economic liberal on the right of his party. Mr Huhne called for a radical shake-up of taxation with “fairer taxes, not higher taxes.” This is in stark contrast to the discredited Lib Dem election policy of spend and tax, which advocated a local income tax to finance local government and a tax rate of 50p for those earning in excess of £100,000 a year.

Mr Huhne called for a switch in the burden of taxation with a big increase in environmental tax to tackle global warming. “That will of course hurt, it is actually going to be painful for some people - for example through their fuel bills, on people who are heavy users of petrol and other fuels. But it is essential if we are going to make the planet sustainable that we curb the use of fuels which create greenhouse gases.”

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