The Nick and Brian Show
Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 29th April, 2008
Earlier this evening, Nick Clegg and Brian Paddick did a double act at a meet-the-people event at London Metropolitan University in the Holloway Road, chaired by the LibDem PPC for Islington South and Finsbury, Bridget Fox. Nick has been shuttling round the country recently, making himself accessible, while Brian is looking remarkably perky in the final straight for the London mayorals. It must have been all that training for the London Marathon.
Nick reached out to those people who are turned off by politics, acknowledging the high level of cynicism that exists among the British electorate, which largely explains the low turnout in recent elections. And he bluntly set out the real challenge facing him as leader of Britain’s third party: ‘How do you turn being right into being popular?’ For too long, the LibDems (and the Liberals before them) have waited like surfers for the wave of disaffection with either Labour or Conservatives to sweep them high up the beach (my analogy, not his!). The crucial test will be to build a sufficient swell of people who vote for LibDems for positive, not negative, reasons.
Brian (who has an op-ed in tonight’s Evening Standard) reiterated his message of persuading people to use the opportunity of the two-vote system in the London mayoral election to give him first preference, and then to give their second preference to whichever of Ken and Boris they dislike less. Journalist Pippa Crerar of the Evening Standard tried to pin him down as to which of the two he personally preferred, but he wisely said that on his own postal voting paper he had chosen someone who was neither Ken nor Boris (though he wouldn’t say who) for his second vote, thereby neatly avoiding what both the other leading candidates have been salivating for: his endorsement.