Bit bored today. Chris Clegg and Nick Huhne are too difficult to distinguish.

Guido got a press release from John Lewis telling him that they supply the Huhnie monster with his suits. Says it all really.

08:30 UPDATE : Clegg is launching his “glitz-free” campaign in Sheffield today.

His website www.nickclegg.com will go live immediately afterwards. His pitch is going to be that he can reach out beyond the LibDem comfort zone. Translated : “I’ll take votes back from Cameron”.

TEXT UPDATED 10:30 : With many potential candidates ruling themselves out yesterday the three clear front runners are Huhne (13/5), who has declared, Clegg, the odds on favourite (1/2) who will launch his campaign tomorrow. Steve Webb has withdrawn this morning and endorsed Clegg. John Hemming’s odds have dramatically come in (from 150/1 to 65/1) and he is drumming up nominations for his tilt. He is talking about Kant in his campaign.
There is apparently a “keep it clean” agreement between Clegg and Huhne. Just as there was an Orange Book cadre understanding to install Ming as a caretaker leader – before Huhne ran last time. At yesterday’s campaign launch Huhne did one of his characteristic sly jibes (remember that pious knife twisting he did to Hughes when he was outed). “Ming”, Huhne claimed, was the “victim of a Camelot obsession”. Who is the JFK of this race that he is blaming for Ming’s fall? Guido will give you a clue, it isn’t John Hemming.

08:00 UPDATE : Ashdown is the first LibDem grandee to come out and endorse Clegg.

11:25 UPDATE : Hemming has reconfirmed he is still in the race and his hat remains firmly in the ring.

+++ STEVE WEBB WITHDRAWS AND ENDORSES CLEGG +++_

Unconfirmed.

UPDATE : Oops, the Beeb had it 20 minutes before Guido. See that £3.5 billion doesn’t all go to waste.

Huhne Site is Up

Well that didn’t take long did it? It is almost as if they were ready before Ming went…

Chris Huhne banner

Presumably he wants “people in charge” as opposed to Alien Lizards? What does he mean?

Not much to report this morning, Ming has hinted that the Huhnie monsters could have been behind his demise. Huhne himself is expected to launch his campaign today. The Cleggies are texting all and sundry – Shane Greer has a screenshot of the hastily hidden, soon-to-be launched Clegg campaign site.

Some are speculating that the 29 year-old Julia Goldsworthy might run as a marker for the future. So after arguing for 18 months that age (he was 66) and experience (of sprinting) trumped looks and charisma, they could switch to a photogenic reality TV show contestant as leader – Julia is 40/1 on Betfair. Excellent idea, it couldn’t be any worse…

UPDATE : A co-conspirator says she has told her local rag she definitely won’t be running. Boo.

UPDATE II : John Hemming, who has confirmed he wants to run, is a mere 180 /1 on Betfair. He tells Guido he expects to get 5 nominations already!

UPDATE III : Vince Cable has ruled himself out this morning. Telling Nick Robinson that given “the current irrational prejudice about age… an older candidate is not electable”. Rationally, the 64 year-old slaphead is almost indistinguishable from Ming to voters.

UPDATE IV : Steve Webb says he has enough nominations, but is coming over all coy and pretending he is not sure if he really wants to run.

Betfair have opened up a market on the LibDem Leadership -

Clegg is hot favourite at less than evens.
Huhne is 13/5
Steve Webb is 15/1
Ed Davey is 36/1
Charles Kennedy is 40/1
Julia Goldsworthy is 40/1
Vince Cable is 50/1

Cable’s price seems to have some value here as an outsider. Guido has put a fiver on him as a trading bet.

Incidentally, Guido covered all his “Tories to be the biggest party” bets at a profit last night. If Clegg wins he may enjoy a honeymoon at Cameron’s expense…

EXCLUSIVE : The indefatigable John Hemming has sent round an email to LibDem MPs throwing his hat in the ring! Yes!

He has sent out a position statement which is basically steady as she goes, neither right nor left etc., concluding with -

I am one of the few Members of Parliament who have the practical experience of having successfully led a political group from opposition to a position of power (in Birmingham). On issues of diversity I have delivered. As far as extra parliamentary considerations are concerned I am almost certainly the only successful entrepreneur in the parliamentary party that is also a member of a Trades Union. I will be taking soundings following this position statement.

That should sew it up…

Lynne Featherstone isn’t running.

Timetable:

31st October: nominations close.
17th December: the new leader will be announced.

Nick Robinson has got the first Ming interview.

But remember, leading the LibDems isn’t just for Christmas….



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Quote of the Day

Chuka has been trying to spin the Siemens row:

Chuka Umunna: It’s no different from Sky News quoting a business leader.

Adam Boulton: Except yours says ‘VOTE LABOUR’ at the bottom.

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