Sir Menzies Campbell stood down partly because he was “irritated and frustrated” by the media’s “fixation on age”, the former Liberal Democrat leader has said.
In a series of broadcast interviews, Campbell said his treatment in the press was one of the reasons why he chose to stand aside, prompting yet another leadership contest in the party.
“There were seven consecutive days in which there were seven consecutive stories or reviews about my age,” Campbell said. “It became very clear to me it was going to be very hard to get out from under that.”
The 66-year-old MP for North East Fife said his irritation was directed at journalists who wanted to write about “what colour socks you have”.
He said sections of the media had had an “obsession” with how old he was, and “such was the fixation on age, [the party] would not have been able” to pursue Lib Dem policies if he had remained leader.
Campbell said that at the recent party conference in Brighton, he did six interviews and the issue of his leadership had come up in all six.
He insisted he had not been forced out by elements within the party and that no one had asked him to stand down.
“I had no sense that there were people wanting to move against me. If I had decided to go on and anyone had tried to move against me then I would have dealt with them pretty sharply,” Campbell said.
“This was my decision. I took this decision, based upon my assessment and also based upon my understanding of what my responsibility to the party has got to be.”