Continuing my run of pissing on the tent from the outside...
I feel I've been too harsh on old Huhne these past few days, so fuck it, let's give Clegg a well-deserved kicking too. The way I see it, if I attack them both, I'm bound to be in for job with whoever wins - I'm an equal opportunities bastard. It's also Monday, and I like to be mean on Mondays.
A long time ago there was Paddy. And he led the party for 11 years, had sex with his secretary, and could kill a man with his thumb... oh yes, and he took the Liberal Democrats to their best result since the Second World War. Then there was Charles Kennedy, who had one of those annoying "couldn't stand up straight nor stop giggling problems" (alcoholism), but who took us to even greater heights before being stabbed in the back by a Parliamentary Party tired of picking up his multi-million pound bar tab.
The elderly Ming Campbell hobbled on to the stage next, complete with colostomy bag, nurse and emergency resuscitation trolley. He lasted less than two years before having a Horlicks induced coma, and didn't get the chance to do anything much at all electorally speaking... except local elections.
And that brings us to the present day, with Chris Huhne in ill-fitting yellow shorts in the one corner, and Nick Clegg in tighter, but still yellow, shorts, possibly with a sock wedged down there for good measure, in the other corner.
The two contenders, or as I like to call them, egomaniacs, are essentially the same person - separated only by an age difference of 14 years - and, by their own admission, they broadly agree on policy... so they have to find ways of putting clear mustard-coloured water between them to give the electorate a choice - or at least to make it feel less like a game of "pin the tail on the donkey". Chris Huhne (or a member of his team) hit on idea of accusing his opponent of "flip-flopping" on certain issues, and so took a bunch of press-cuttings out of (or sometimes indeed, in) context and compiled them in a dossier called "Calamity Clegg". Dossiers in the UK don't have a fantastic history, and this one was no exception. When Huhne was confronted with it on the BBC Politics Show yesterday he first denied all knowledge of it, and then repeated the accusations verbatim. Cue lots of negative backlash and that, you would think, is that.
Except Nick Clegg has skin so thin Kate Moss is jealous and he's complained to his mummy - today taking the form of the party's Chief Whip, Paul Burstow. Of course this will prolong the story for a couple more days and presumably the thinking in the Clegg camp is that this can only be good for his campaign. But it isn't. It just makes him look weak - the type of person that will whine and moan over every slight against him, and when you're leader of a political party, you can't be that type of person as you'll just end up blubbing every morning over the papers... and then again in the afternoon when the Standard comes out. And probably at PMQs too when the Prime Minister turns some irrelevant factoid against you. So Nick Clegg, find a pair, man up or get out of politics.
Postscript*: James Graham has put up a summary of his interview with the crybaby this morning, and interesting reading it makes too, especially on how Clegg intends to take us out of our comfort zone.
* That's what "PS" means, and I'm so clever I've decided to type it out, letter by letter.