Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Nick Clegg: auditioning for the leadership or simply being auditioned?

There are those who would have you believe that young Mr Clegg is the leader-elect, and some are quite blatant about their desire to see him replace Ming Campbell, sooner rather than later.

And so, I attended a meeting of a new group this evening to see Nick in action. Now, readers of this blog will be aware that I've seen a fair bit of him recently, and might wonder whether or not I'm a member of the fan club. In all honesty, the answer is that I really don't know and besides, not only is there not a vacancy but the field of contenders is hardly obvious.

Nick spoke for approximately thirty minutes in his usual erudite manner and expanded further on his recent theme of a new narrative for Liberal Democrats before fielding questions for nearly an hour. Given that the audience comprised almost entirely of twenty and thirty somethings, most of whom presumably have ambitions to go further in politics, the questions were linked to ideas and strategy, leaving the elephant in the room unaddressed.

On the other hand, I'm not young or ambitious, and, perhaps out of a sense of mischief, I asked Nick whether or not he felt that he was being auditioned for the leadership and how he felt about that. His answer was exactly as one might expect, noting the dangers of another leadership contest and stating categorically that he certainly wasn't auditioning for the role. In short, the very answer you would want to hear, regardless of your stance on his potential.

I may be being naive, and in fact I almost certainly am, but I really can't tell whether or not he is actively preparing the ground for a future leadership bid. If he is, he is adhering to the discreet route of profile raising amid declarations of loyalty. And frankly, what's wrong with ambition anyway?


Mark P said...

But did he tell his Clement Freud joke?

Mark Valladares said...

Yes, and I hadn't made the badges we discussed... maybe I ought to...