Clegg anger over 'ageism' against Ming
LIB DEM leadership contender Nick Clegg has criticised the treatment of former party leader Sir Menzies Campbell, claiming the 66-year-old was the victim of "ageism".
Speaking at an unofficial leadership hustings last night, Clegg revealed that the former leader - who he described as "one of my closest friends in politics" - telephoned him the evening after his resignation last week.
Clegg said: "I think it was an enormous shame that he was treated in a pretty shoddy way, even when he was so self-evidently a man of enormous integrity and courage. I don't think it speaks very well of politics that that fate befell him."
Sir Menzies was treated "absolutely appallingly" and subjected to "barely disguised ageism", he added.
Meanwhile, Campbell could be given the task of overhauling the UK's constitution by Gordon Brown. After resigning as Lib Dem leader last week he is widely expected to be handed a key role by the Prime Minister.
Gordon Brown is pledging a full-scale review of the country's constitutional arrangements, including the possibility of forming a written constitution, setting out people's rights and the roles of government and parliament. Campbell may be offered the task of taking the plans forward.
Campbell is said to want to focus on foreign affairs in the years ahead, but he would be unlikely to turn down a request from Brown, who is a close friend.
Friends of Campbell insist he harbours little resentment over quitting as Lib Dem leader, pointing out that the decision was his and his alone.
Meanwhile, friends of Campbell's wife Elspeth say she viewed her husband's departure "philosophically".
However, one close friend said: "He has survived cancer. He got through that when they both had a hell of a time. Standing down as leader of the party is nothing in comparison."
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