James Forsyth

The challenge for Clegg

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A chastened looking Nick Clegg has just delivered his first speech as Lib Dem leader. It was actually a pretty decent performance, trying to tie both Labour and the Tories to Britain’s ‘broken politics’. It was also refreshing to hear him put social mobility at the top of his agenda.

There is, though, no getting away from the fact that this result is the worst possible start to his leadership. Clegg actually received fewer votes than Chris Huhne did in 2006. If Clegg trips up early on in his leadership he could find himself being written off before he's really got started. The margin of victory means that he is essentially on probation for at least the first six months of his tenure.

ps Clegg has clearly revived the Lib Dem doctrine of equi-distance, at least sartorially. He was wearing a pale blue shirt and a red tie. 

Written byJames Forsyth

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

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