Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Messiah has arrived!

After Chris Huhne's speech at tonight's Bristol Western region hustings, the chair announced breathlessly that "Nick will be roaming". Wow! The Messiah has arrived. Complete with vast photo billboards of his crisp features outside the meeting room! All hail to the new leader!

Except that Chris Huhne's speech was interspersed with applause several times. Nick Clegg's wasn't. At all. Except at the end when he had finished. Clegg paused for applause on at least one occasion but you could hear a pin drop.

Charisma? Yes, Chris Huhne has it. Nick Clegg sometimes forces it through his pores when he pushes very hard. You can see him straining. Nick Clegg is very good looking - but do looks = charisma? Of course not. This man hasn't been oversold by any remote chance has he?

"Aren't you just Cameron-lite?" - asked one questioner of Nick Clegg, to applause and the odd groan.

Nick Clegg started his speech and ended his last question with the point that "We have to start where people are, not where we think they should be". Excellent rhetorical device. Well done. Brilliant soundbite. But really, not very much substance to back it up. Nick Clegg seemed to spend most of his time stating problems with very little in the way of solutions offered.

Chris Huhne made a very meaty speech and seemed extremely passionate - from the heart.

Nick Clegg did a sort of cardboard passion and, on the subject of immigration, to be fair, one spate of what seemed like real passion.

So, after exposure to an excellent hustings (which we were told was the best attended so far) I have not done what I thought I might do. I thought I might go all Cleggy. I didn't. I still need a drip tray due to my admiration for Chris Huhne and I am still baffled by the use of the word "charismatic" to describe Nick Clegg, who looks like he's left the cardboard in his shirt.

Nick Clegg said "address fears - don't pander to them" - good.

Nick Clegg gave me the impression he is still quite inexperienced at this sort of thing. Whereas, Chris Huhne was a model of impeccable, poised, passionate delivery - Totally in control - Clegg, on the other hand, looked as though he could stumble at any second - and he seemed aware of this.

Both candidates said they would give a major role to the other if they won, and also to Ming and Charles if they want it. Marvellous.

Nick Clegg looked like a thrustingly ambitious head of the maths department, while Huhne looked on like a slightly indulgent and charismatic, perhaps quirky, headteacher.

Chris Huhne managed more passion on climate change and our duty to the world's poorest.

"The boldest options are so often the safest options" - Chris Huhne. It made sense, trust me.

Chris Huhne was by far the strongest on the economy. I can't remember any mention of the economy by Nick Clegg, Apologies if I missed it. My goodness, it's nice to hear a Liberal who knows how to run a business and knows his economics - i.e. Huhne.

Huhne got big applause when he spoke about Trident.

Nick Clegg said that he is "liberal to his fingertips on immigration". Oh. So he's not liberal to his fingertips on anything else, is he? Strange thing to say. It's the kind of thing you leave someone else to say.

Nick did get impassioned when he talked about poor people being mucked about by authorities. Full marks for that. "A lady in much distress told me she got six letters from six different people in the housing department on one day." Yes, he was passionate about that. Didn't get any applause though.

It's just that on virtually every question Huhne managed to get in about 20% more substance and passion than Clegg.

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