Thursday, 9 October 2014

Nick Clegg, hair today, gone tomorrow

There was speculation in a couple of journals (probably triggered by Paddy Power) that Nick Clegg was to use his conference speech to announce his resignation. This was never going to be the case. For one thing, he has repeatedly said that he would lead the Liberal Democrats into the next election. After the continuing bad press he has received for going back on pre-election pledges (not to go into coalition with the Conservatives, to vote against tuition fee increases) he is not going to present another hostage to fortune. (Funny how David Cameron gets away with repeated lies, though.) For another, there is no obvious successor now that Chris Huhne has been shamed out of parliament.

There are also signs that, in some parts of England at least, he is no longer ballot-box poison. All three commentators on last Sunday's BH praised him for the decision to go into coalition. The manifesto will be tweaked as a result of conference decisions, but it will remain heavy on aspiration, which will go down well with what used to be classed as the Mondeo family. Nick can also point out that, even after the kerfuffle over increased fees, more people in England - and not just young people - are going to university as a result of Vince Cable's improvements to the loans system than in Labour's last years.

But just for fun, let's look at the supposed challengers. Vince Cable, Tim Farron and even Steve Webb can be ruled out on grounds of follicle challenge. The necessity for the presentation of a good head of hair is evidenced by the way the prime minister has his own barnet carefully sculpted to hide his bald patches and even his deputy's has unnaturally darkened over the years of government. So that would appear to leave only Danny Alexander and Jo Swinson. Would the electorate be ready for another Scottish party leader?

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