It looks very much like there will only be two MPs challenging me for the leadership of the Liberal Democrats.
Mr Hewn has launched his campaign and now Mr Clogg has launched his. They have gone "head-to-head" at the Southern Regional Conference and appeared side-by-side on Mr Andy Marrmite's BBC sofa.
It is a difficult thing to have to choose between them: brains and charm, beauty and the beast – and Mr Clogg is just as good!
Mr Nick Assinder wonders: Will We still be the "Lovely Party" at the end of the contest?
The answer is OF COURSE WE WILL. This is not going to cause a falling out: in fact there are hardly any policy differences between them. Though that is hardly surprising since both of them have spent much of the last two years putting these policies together under Sir Mr the Merciless.
(Though I was SLIGHTLY disappointed to hear that both of them agree with Sir Mr the Merciless' policy of not needing a referendum on the Reform Treaty. It would at least have made a way of choosing!)
There is certainly no room for a third candidate to squeeze through the middle… no matter how fluffy and squashy he might be!
The media seem universally agreed that the only choice has to be Mr Clogg. But in spite of that Mr Clogg has VERY MANY good points. However, there is NOTHING more guaranteed to make the Liberal Democrats get ORNERY than telling them they MUST do something, even when it is OBVIOUSLY in our best interest.
I cannot help but remember that the media are the ones who gave a VERY UNDESERVED pummelling to Sir Mr the Merciless. But do we want to risk slapping them in the face? If we choose Mr Clogg we will be pushing at an open door of media support.
But then, I cannot help but remember that the media also told us it had to be Sir Mr the Merciless in the first place. So it may do us not a jot of good anyway.
Mr Hewn seems like the outsider, the maverick, the underdog – all traits bound to appeal to a Liberal elephant's fluffy feelings. His background in economics may be just the thing that is needed to go toe-to-toe with HEAVYWEIGHT CHANCELLOR turned Prime Monster, Mr Frown. He also – and this counts for a lot with me – has the support of Ms Featherweight and Ms Kramer-vs-Kramer. And of course he was brave enough to stand in the last contest, and in many ways it was HIS policy package that won the arguments and transformed the party. His enthusiasm for taking the Green Environment brief is very encouraging too.
Mr Marrmite asked them both who their Liberal Heroes were, and I thought that their answers were very telling. Mr Hewn chose Mr Lloyd George (Liberal Superpower: World War Winner) – that is a BRAVE choice, because Mr Lloyd George is seen as a bit DIVISIVE by many party members. But Mr Hewn DEFENDED him, saying not only was he a GREAT Prime Monster during World War part One, he was also one of the few to really understand what was needed during the Great Depression.
This was telling because it was saying: "look, I am the economic brainiac".
Mr Clogg though trumped him by claiming as his Hero Mr Clarence Henry Willcock (NOT a relation of Daddy Alex, except in SPIRIT) (Liberal Superpower: not being invisible). Mr Wilcox back in 1950 was, as you very well know, the FIRST person to say "No2id". Ironically, there is some confusion over his IDENTITY: the Observer naming him as Trevor Wilcox while the, er, Grauniad has Clarence Willcock. Either way, it did my daddies no end of good to hear Mr Clogg choose HIM!
THAT was telling because it was saying: "I am the ordinary guy, the ordinary guy with the IMPLACABLE Liberal instinct.")
In fact Mr Clogg's answer to the first question was also very good, and in the same vein. "People call you Mr Balloon-lite," said Mr Marrmite. "What do you say to that?"
"Well the only REAL similarity is that we're about the same age," replied Mr Clogg, "which means that for both of us, our political opinions were formed during the era of Queen Maggie. Now I saw that heartless, desperate, soulless Conservatory vision and, where Mr Balloon chose to embrace it, I was appalled it. That made me a Liberal for life."
I thought that Mr Hewn got a slightly worse deal from Mr Marrmite, since he was asked fewer questions – even if one of those was an EASY one pitched by Mr Clogg. But he DID get to put forward his vision of us as the REAL RADICALS – unlike the "Tory Twins", the other two parties rushing to adopt identical positions. We are the ones who want to go beyond changing the Government and change the entire SYSTEM: give the power back to everyone.
Anyway, OBVIOUSLY all of the MPs actually wanted to nonimate ME, but I have persuaded them that at least a few of them ought to back Mr Hewn or Mr Clogg, so that – unlike the Labour – we can have a PROPER CONTEST.
And may the best FLUFFY ELEPHANT win, I say!