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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 September 2007, 13:19 GMT 14:19 UK
Delegate views: Lembit Opik
Lib Dem MP Lembit Opik has appeared in celebrity magazine Hello! with his girlfriend Cheeky Girl Gabriela Irimia. Meanwhile, at a Lib Dem conference fringe meeting, he called for more "characters" in politics. Delegates in Brighton give their views.


Suzanne Knight

Characters are a dying breed. There have been a great many characters in politics and if there were a few more who were highly visible, like Lembit, we might benefit.

I always think that if we mix private lives up with politics that's wrong.

Lembit is a wonderful person. When you go to hear him speak, you always end up having a laugh.

But he's also an excellent politician and a great servant to the party.

I don't think he did this [dated a Cheeky Girl] to get publicity. He's obviously in love with this young woman.


Roy Abraham

The public see politicians as dry people who are unresponsive to their needs.

Politics should be exciting. That's what brings people out and gets them involved.

Unless we get people engaged, we make them think politics doesn't affect them.

We have to use modern forms of communication, which young people read, so that we can reach out to them.

They are not going to read the Financial Times, so you've got to appeal to them, as long as you try to get some serious issues into your message.


Jo Shaw

We need politicians who are real people, not just characters. People need to take politicians seriously.

For instance, if Boris Johnson becomes mayor of London, he will have to deal with some very serious issues, such as if there was another terror attack. I wonder if he could.

Lembit Opik has an awful lot more to offer than Boris. He has a very passionate side that's not necessarily what the media see.

It's more about being genuine than being a character and Lembit is a genuine person.


Kevin Dawes
When I first took an interest in politics there were some very real characters, like Tony Benn and Michael Foot and Dennis Skinner, who's still going strong.

The Liberals had Cyril Smith, who was great. They were characters and some were mavericks.

In the modern era, Lembit is more serious person than someone like Boris Johnson and he's a very, very good communicator.

Personally, I don't see him as a future party leader. People like Nick Clegg and Chris Huhne may seem more credible but they don't yet have as much character.

Lembit is young and people change over time. So who knows?


Alan Butt Philip

We have had a fair few characters in the past, both as Liberals and Liberal Democrats.

Lembit is in that tradition, but you sometimes wonder what his wonderful constituents in Montgomeryshire make of it.

On the other hand, they really want someone who's quite an independent-thinking person.

I didn't think he needed to appear in celebrity magazines, but I hope there was no harm done.

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