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Liberal Democrat Leadership Contest
This article was written & published on 15th January 2006

The leadership contest for the Lib Dems is in full swing. This article looks at each of the contenders from an astrological point of view: their connections with the Lib Dem party chart, and their transits for the contest. The purpose of this is to better understand the leadership crisis that has occurred, the unfolding process that the party is in the midst of, and what each candidate brings to the party in terms of leadership potential.

Charles Kennedy's resignation

The party's pressure on Charles to stand down built behind the scenes, and in the last year he has had to struggle to keep the party's loyalty three times. The flashpoints were mid-June, 19th September, and 13th/14th December. In December he received a stay of execution from the party's MPs until the new year. That execution was carried out on 5th January when Charles was forced to publicly admit that he had been dealing with an alcohol addiction.

At first Charles said he would stand to be re-elected as leader, but the party MPs were having none of it, and forced him to resign for good. Charles announced his resignation on 7th January.

This sequence of events can be traced back to several transits, but the main one is from Neptune, ruler of alcohol, treachery, and resignation. From February '05 until September '05, and then from December '05 until January '06, Neptune was making a sesquiquadrate aspect to Charles' Ascendant, his MC, and his lunar node. In fact, Neptune was on the Asc/MC midpoint.

In the Liberal Democrats birthchart Neptune was again the main planet showing this leadership crisis. Neptune was semisextile the party's Sun (the leader, the figurehead) from March to August, and turned retrograde just after the General Election in May. The planet was also semisquare the party's Saturn (authority, the boss) from the start of the year up to September, and then came back within orb at the end of November/early December, remaining there until January '06. Supporting this, Uranus has been sextile the party's Mars (leadership) for most of the year, up to and including January '06.

Lib Dems shifting to the right? Cosying up to Cameron?

During 2006, straight after the party has chosen its new leader, transiting Uranus will oppose the party's MC and conjoin its Sun. This latter aspect will be present, on and off, from March until 2007. This is therefore a year of leadership turbulence and leadership u-turns. It could be a very unstable, fractious and fragmentary time. It suggests that the leadership crisis is unlikely to end even though a new leader will have been chosen. There is a real chance of splitting in the party, and unity amongst diversity will be the constant challenge. This transit lends credence to the idea that the party has been bitten by the reinvention bug. It needs to be careful that, in the rush to be keeping up with the Joneses, it doesn't jettison its authentic identity in favour of a 'flavour of the month' persona.

Other major transits for 2006 suggest mixed messages, confusion, perhaps scandalous information, or else just plain carelessness with details and facts. 

There are reports in the media of the Lib Dems shifting to the right. David Cameron's election as leader of the Conservative party has stirred up UK politics, and it has affected the Lib Dems whose ambition to overtake the Conservatives as the official party of the Opposition suffered a great set-back when David Cameron won the Conservatives' leadership role.

Looking further ahead, in 2008 when Pluto moves into Capricorn the Liberal Democrats are due a major overhaul in terms of policies and power structures. The parts of the chart that signify 'liberal' and 'democrat' will, in fact, undergo profound change, possibly destruction, but equally possibly renewal and resurrection - a rebirth of sorts. If, during 2006, the party lurches to the right and in doing so fragments its very purpose, losing its identity and watering down its message, the party could be in serious difficulty in the next few years.

Leadership contenders: An astrological guide

The leadership contest timetable is as follows:
  • 4pm on 25th January - Nominations close
  • 6th February - Ballot papers sent out
  • Noon on 1st March - Deadline for receipt of ballot papers
  • 2nd March - Count and declaration take place
  • 3rd March - Spring conference
Here is an astrological guide to the contenders, in alphabetical order by surname. Note that the birth times of each are unavailable, so the all-important Ascendant, Midheaven and house cusps are unable to be calculated. The Midheaven in relates to position in society, so being unable to look at this chart factor puts us at a disadvantage. However, we can still get a lot of information from the remaining chart factors.

Menzies Campbell (Definitely standing)
Update 2nd March: It has been announced today that Menzies Campbell is the new leader

Menzies Campbell was first written about on this website back in May 2005. On re-examining his chart in light of recent events, the conclusion remains the same: Menzies is unlikely to be seen by the party as a good leader. His chart does not link with the party's chart in a way that indicates a natural leader-follower relationship. In fact, if he is elected as leader he is likely to find it a frustrating, difficult, and cumbersome role to hold, and the feeling amongst the party is likely to be the same. Astrologically, Menzies is more suited to communications and policy-development roles within the party, where he can guide and inspire.

Menzies' transits on 1st March: Jupiter opposite Saturn correlates with authority and responsibility being highlighted, but Neptune square Saturn is undermining and shows a need to surrender authority. Several inner planet transits support the gaining of power and confirm a competitive mood, however without the outer planets suggesting the gaining of power, Menzies is not particularly strongly placed at this time.

John Hemming (Considered standing in order to guarantee a contest would take place, rather than a coronation of Menzies Campbell, and withdrew from the nomination process once this was secured. He intends to stand for election as party leader at some point, however.)
John's birth chart has some strong connections between it and the party's chart in terms of leadership - his Sun conjunct the party's lunar node and trine the party's Ascendant, his Saturn sextile the party's Sun to mention but three - as well as other aspects that reinforce the general strength of the relationship between the two. His nodal axis is almost the exact reverse of the party's nodal axis. The node is to do with associations, as well as one's developmental path through life, so to have this link-up reflects a tight bond to do with mutual growth. The solar conjunction with the node magnifies this tremendously; he is able to influence the party's unfoldment at a core level, and the party in return could easily consider him as having leadership potential.

John's transits on 1st March: With Pluto square the Sun, Saturn semisextile Pluto, Jupiter square Mars, Jupiter sextile Saturn, John has a mixed bag of outer planet transits in terms of leadership, suggesting a cautionary note, perhaps mixed feelings, and a 'stop-go' situation. There are a couple of inner planet transits that could work in his favour should he choose to stand, but it is not a particularly clear-cut set of transits.

Simon Hughes (Definitely standing)

Astrologically-speaking, Simon's relationship with the Lib Dems is one of opposites: this provides a basic tension to the interaction of person and party, and can either result in conflict and disvision, or balance and reflection. The danger is that Simon could be seen as an open enemy of the party, cast into playing the role of antagonist. More constructively, he is likely to make an excellent devil's advocate, strategist, and stimulant to growth. The party's nodal axis lines up with Simon's Sun, and so again there is a tight bond between the two, that could translate into leadership potential.

Simon's transits on 1st March: Simon's transits are similar to John's in that they are a mixed back. Numerous outer planet transits signify power and authority issues to the fore: Pluto quincunx the Sun and Mars, Pluto square Saturn, Neptune opposite Pluto, Jupiter square Pluto, Saturn trine Jupiter. The same interpretation of mixed feelings and doubts applies too. The Neptune transit can signify power slipping through your fingers, the Pluto transit can correlate with loss of power as well, however Saturn trine Jupiter is more helpful to Simon's goal, and the other aspects do not preclude success.

Chris Huhne (Definitely standing)

With his Pluto in square to the party's Ascendant axis, and strong links between his Mars and various of the party's planets, Chris would be a force to be reckoned with inside the party. He would, however, probably catalyse power struggles and discord. Saturn sextile Saturn, and Mars trine Jupiter are both indicative of the desire to lead and shoulder responsibility, but with Sun opposite the party's Mars in combination with the aforementioned Pluto square, internal strife is likely to make uniting the party difficult.

Chris's transits on 1st March: Chris doesn't have a particularly strong set of transits for this date. Apart from Uranus trine to the Sun, the outer planets are not pointing to an increase in power, however there are a couple of inner planet transits that support an increased profile for Chris at this time.

Mark Oaten (Definitely standing - update: is now out of the race due to not receiving enough support from Lib Dem MPs)

Mark and the Lib Dems have the Sun (leadership) in the same place of the Zodiac. That in itself shows a cohesion of identity that can make for a 'strong marriage' and a capacity to lead. Interestingly, Mark's Venus is also in the same place as the party's Venus, so two out of ten planets are reinforcing this close identification. Jupiter in Mark's chart is just 7.5 degrees away from Jupiter in the Lib Dems' chart, so there is a link-up there too, albeit not as close as the first two. This tells us that Mark and the party are 'in sync' in a very profound way. Mark's Mars conjunct the party's Sun greatly reinforces the desire and capability to lead, as does its placing with the Sun at the root of the party's chart (the IC). His nodal axis also closely lines up with the party's Mars, again highlighting leadership, and there is a two-way Mars-trine-Pluto aspect. All these connections are very strongly supported by the midpoint contacts too.

Mark's transits on 1st March: With Jupiter trine his Sun, Uranus opposite Pluto, Pluto sextile Saturn, and various supporting inner planet transits, Mark is particularly strongly placed at this time, although the Uranus opposition to Pluto can symbolise reversals and instability of power, as well as a new beginning in terms of power. Only time will tell.

Phil Willis (Thought to be considering standing)

Phil was born during a Saturn-Uranus conjunction, just like the Liberal Democrat party itself, however the interconnections between his chart and the party's chart are not at all conducive to leadership. There are some midpoint connections that do point to leadership, but without the fundamental chart connections there are not enough factors present to say that Phil would be a good leader for the party, or that the party would indeed consider him suitable for such a role.

Phil's transits on 1st March: With Uranus square the Sun there is the possibility of u-turns about standing for election. Saturn conjunct Pluto can signify limits to power, but also the attainment of power; there is no way to tell purely from the astrology. There are inner planet transits suggesting competitiveness and the desire to win, however without a more supportive arrangement of outer planet transits, Phil is not particularly strongly placed to win power.

Related articles:
(1) Charles Kennedy [read] - written & published May 2005
(2) Menzies Campbell [read] - written & published May 2005

Applying astrology to political life Tony Blair, Charles Kennedy, David Cameron, European Union, USA, War on Terror, Uranus in Pisces & Neptune in Aquarius, & more

Applying astrology to business life Euro Currency, NHS, BBC,
USA economy, Ofcom, Concorde,
W Edwards Deming, European Central Bank, Anita Roddick, & more

Applying astrology to people's lives Health, emotional intelligence, zodiac elements, understanding change, Angelina Jolie, Gwen Stefani, Germaine Greer, & more

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