Chris Huhne - A Great Strategist With A 'Mean Streak'

Chris Huhne - Great Strategist With A 'Mean Streak'

It's easy to forget that we could be talking about the deputy prime minister at this point, so close did Chris Huhne come to securing the Lib Dem leadership in 2007. He lost by the narrowest of margins to Clegg, and although considered one of the most politically-savvy members of the Lib Dems, Huhne has often lacked the charm and warmth of his boss.

One Lib Dem staffer told HuffPost UK: "One day in 2007 when Huhne was running for leader he came to a drinks reception. I was standing in a circle with some colleagues. He came over to me, introduced himself, saying 'Hi, I'm Chris, nice to meet you,' then proceeded around the circle, doing the same to my colleagues. Only once he'd gone round the circle did he reach me again and say, 'Hi, I'm Chris, nice to meet you,' again to me. If we hadn't stopped him he might have kept going round and round."

And while not exactly a straight choice of style over substance, many Lib Dems believed for a long time that the better strategist lost the election in 2007.

A Liberal Democrat insider told HuffPost: "Chris Huhne has the sharpest political mind of the Lib Dems in the Cabinet. That's why the right-wing press want to hound him out. But it's also why he has the mean streak and character flaws of too many great strategists - and these are what have landed him in this mess."


Like Clegg, Chris Huhne was born into privilege. The son of a businessman and amateur actress - who was for a time the voice of the speaking clock phone service - he attended the exclusive Westminster School (as Clegg did) before Oxford.

After a few years in journalism, writing on business for the Guardian and the Independent, he began a short but stellar career in the City, becoming a multi-millionaire in his own right.

He married Vicky Pryce in 1984, having met her while he was working at the Guardian. Over the years the couple have had three children.

Election to the European Parliament for the Lib Dems came in 1999, before winning a marginal Commons seat in 2005. He stood against Simon Hughes and Sir Menzies Campbell for the leadership of the party in 2006 and came second, but was rewarded by Ming Cambpell with a series of front-bench positions for the party.

Shortly after the coalition was formed in 2010, revelations of an affair by Huhne emerged. He'd cheated on Vicky Pryce, his wife of more than 25 years, with a bisexual press aide Carina Trimingham. Pryce formally left him in September 2010 and is currently divorcing Huhne.

Number 10 has always insisted that Huhne's problems with his private life have not affected his work as energy secretary. But arguably some fairly key policy decisions on green energy and climate change have been occluded in the media by the more scurrilous stories. But Huhne has published ambitious goals for increasing renewable energy in Britain, and passed the Energy Act 2011, which will compel landlords and other premises to be much more energy efficient by 2018.

Regardless of the outcome of the speeding-ticket revelations, Huhne's political career carries further uncertainty down the line. Boundary changes to his Eastleigh seat - which has always been marginal - are viewed by some as making his survival as an MP impossible. Although the changes haven't been passed into law, even if Huhne survives the next few months, further difficulties could be just around the corner for him.


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