James Forsyth

A benchmark for Clegg

A benchmark for Clegg
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The Lib Dem leadership result will be announced this afternoon and the general feeling in Westminster is that Nick Clegg has won, although folk aren’t ruling out an upset. The first test for Clegg will be whether he beats Chris Huhne by a more comfortable margin than Ming Campbell did in 2006, when the score in the final round was 57-42.

Clegg’s next challenge will be to seize the news agenda, something that he was surprisingly poor at during the leadership contest. As Charlie Kennedy argues in The Guardian today, Vince Cable has been particularly good at this as he did not have to worry about his long term prospects and so could instead play things for short-term gain. But Clegg will have to be prepared to take risks if he is to make an impact.

The Guardian reports this morning that Clegg will start being radical as soon as he’s crowned. His acceptance speech is apparently bold on public service reform and his reshuffle will be eye-catching. We will see. The timing of the leadership race, though, has done whoever wins no favours. Any momentum they build up over the next few days will be halted by the holidays. 

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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