Millennium Elephant brought a copy of London Lite along to the bloggers’ meeting last night, and pointed his fluffy foot to the inch-and-a-half at the bottom of a round-up column recording Clegg’s expected win. That was how much press we got yesterday.
Happily, yesterday’s papers will have gone to press hours before the announcement and this morning is a different story. Here follows a handy aide memoire for the lazy (or just those who want to buy a Danish with their capuccino, and not all the newspapers), lifted from the ever-excellent ePolitix Press Review:
Mr Clegg is a fresh face on the national scene whose manner will incline voters to give him a fair wind. If he is to make the impact that his party desperately needs, he will have to make clear precisely what he means by his promises to deliver “change”, “ambition” and a “liberal future” – words that could have been uttered by both Gordon Brown and David Cameron.
Now that the Liberal Democrat primary is over, Mr Clegg should talk directly to the electorate. He must ignore Westminster tacticians and deliver his own agenda. A hung Parliament may be an outcome. It should not be a strategy.
The Liberal Democrats have elected the younger, more telegenic, slightly more right-leaning of the two candidates. Accepting the job, Mr Clegg set out an admirably concise account of himself. He noted, rightly, that the party has been at its best when it challenges conventional wisdom and consensus. If this is how he intends to carry on, that is an excellent sign.
More than anything else, Mr Clegg must define himself as something other than a second Cameron. He will not get far by hoping that the Tory party is found out. He will need to dive into the news with the sort of audacity Vincent Cable showed during his temporary leadership. That has raised the bar for Mr Clegg, which is good. Daring can pay off.
Mr Clegg must now unite the party and raise his own profile – which will not be easy, judging from a straw poll we publish today, showing he is recognised by fewer than one in six voters… If he fails to inspire, the Lib Dems are back to being what they were for most of the 20th century, a fringe party of protest with no hope of ever becoming a major force in British politics.
We wish him luck… he’ll need it. Support for the Lib Dems has halved, even with livewire stand-in Vince Cable keeping them in the spotlight. They’re counting on fresh-faced Nick to win back voters charmed by David Cameron’s new-look Tories and grab the balance of power after the next election.