"People Shouldn't write Ming off."
No indeed, Nick, but carelss talk costs political lives... The Times interview is a classic case of positioning. No politician does an interview with someone like Giles Hattersley without knowing exactly what his game is. Clegg knew full well that it would be largely about his own ambitions, with a bit of Home Affairs stuff for appearances sake. And it comes at a time when a LibDem whispering campaign against Sir Ming is already in full swing - well, in partial swing. Here's a bit more from the interview...
But never mind all that, is a leadership race on the cards? Clegg says not. “People shouldn’t write Ming off,” he says carefully. “I think the contrast between Cameron and him will work.” Is Clegg at least sensing the buzz about him? “It is both flattering and problematic.” But you’ll run when Campbell steps down after the general election? “Look, if and when I think I have a serious contribution to make then I’d be daft not to give it serious consideration.” Increasingly with Clegg it seems much less “if” than “when”. As the compassionate Conservatives, with their touchy-feely work/ life balance agenda, encroach further on Liberal ground Clegg is seen as one of the few who can play them at their own game. There is talk that his leanings are so blue, in fact, that the Cons once tried to poach him for their own shadow cabinet.
Now, when I see a similar interview with Chris Huhne in another newspaper I'll know that the whispering campaign really is in 'full swing'. I'm sure I won't have long to wait.