Peter Hoskin

Oh, and the Lib Dems too...

Oh, and the Lib Dems too...
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Nick Clegg – who he?  According to a poll this morning, that's what two-thirds of the country will be thinking when they see the Lib Dem leader on their screens over the next few weeks.  But, regardless, he and his party are worth paying attention to.  Most importantly, of course, because of the possibility of a hung parliament.  But there's also the matter of the leaders' debates, in which Clegg will have a bigger platform than he's ever had before.  You sense that Lib Dems activists think they really matter this time around.

So all eyes on Cowley St, where Clegg kicked off his party's election campaign earlier.  Two things came out of it.  First, he reinforced the idea that he just couldn't ever work with Gordon Brown, saying that the PM is "directly and personally responsible for many of the things that have gone wrong in the last 13 years."  And, second, Clegg really can wobble on a set-piece occasion.  He was surrounded by Lib Dem-minded twenty-somethings, and kept spinning around to address them, face-to-face, eye-to-eye.  The effect, I assume, was to look young and conversational.  But, whatever, it just came across weakly – neither as direct as Brown's campaign launch, nor as slick as Cameron's.

It's sometimes a sad fact that appearances and presentation matter so much in British politics.  But, over the next few weeks, they'll matter moreso than usual.  Clegg will have to finesse his, if he expects to make a greater impact.