Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Equally cursed and blessed

A rather relieved Nick Clegg defied the laws of political gravity this afternoon to survive the curse of Opik.

The new Lib Dem leader held off the challenge of Chris Huhne to win by 511 votes despite having won the support of the former Welsh party leader Lembit Opik.

The Montgomeryshire MP had previously backed Charles Kennedy, Mark Oaten and Simon Hughes only to see their ambitions crumble rather soon afterwards.

Clegg's acceptance speech was straight from the Blair/Cameron model - lots of talk about the "new" (I've yet to find a politician who extolls the "old"). He's promised to get outside Westminster one day a week and listen to families who have nothing to do with politics.

After a cautious campaign, there's no clear sign of the direction in which he'll try to lead the Lib Dems, although he did make some potentially interesting comments about putting patients and parents in charge of public services.

Of course by the time he gets a chance of power he may be behind bars if he carries out threat to break the law on ID cards.

No word yet of how he plans to use the talents of Eleanor Burnham. Transport or Homeland Security might be inspired briefs.

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