The LibDem leadership race is dragging on for another fortnight. Guido put a large bet on Clegg immediately after Ming’s election, assuming that Clegg was the heir, because he seemed appealingly telegenic and modernising.

Throughout this leadership contest Guido has however reduced his exposure to Clegg. It has to be said that Huhne, who has a limited likeability factor as a human, is a better campaigner. He has positioned himself on the clitoris of the activist base, painted Clegg as inept, lightweight and Cameron-in-yellow. He has also smartly jumped on Donorgate to put himself in the news. All in all, he has shown the ruthless determination of a politician who wants to win.

If he wins it will put the LibDems in the position the Tories were in under IDS. Universally derided as he was by the end of his leadership, people forget that IDS had activist adoration for his traditional Conservative views and hard line on Europe. The parliamentary Tory party was dismayed that they were saddled with IDS. Huhne has tacked left to appeal to the LibDem activists, who are far to the left of their parliamentarians and the party establishment machine.

Guido thinks it would be strategically better for the Tories to have Clegg as a leader, despite the fears that he will compete for Cameron’s votes. The most likely outcome of a general election is still a hung parliament. Clegg will be more amenable to a deal with the Tories. Guido is also beginning to wonder if Clegg might actually be a weaker campaigner than Huhne.




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John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, says….

“The UKIP vote is going to the Tories. That’s the story of the first week of the campaign.”

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