Whenever I hear about “conventional wisdom” it is time to take a reality check, particularly when it comes from the Tories.
So, notwithstanding the fact that I do think Clegg needs to sharpen up his media act, let’s just consider another senior politician here for a second: David Cameron.
I’m not comparing Clegg to Cameron, merely observing that whenever I hear Cameron on the radio I don’t think he comes across very well (although he has improved). John Humphries in particular seems to be able push his buttons.
Cameron, let us not forget, shot to fame on the basis of a single speech. At the hustings I’ve been to, Clegg was the clear winner in terms of speech while the Q&A was a dead heat. If this leadership contest had been conducted in the same way as the Tory one, Clegg would be being hailed as a media star right now (good old conventional wisdom again).
So his weakness on Today and on other media appearances is not the disaster that many Huhney Monsters are seeking to portray it as.
Another observation: in our interview with Vince Cable on Monday, he didn’t exactly come across as vibrant and inspirational. With Vince, it has all been about content, not style. The same will ultimately apply to whoever the new party leader is.
A few weeks ago, when I was more Huhne inclined, I argued that whatever problems he might have as a communicator, they can be sorted with training. The fact is, he is a much stronger communicator now compared with 18 months ago. So yes, maybe Clegg should have listened a little less to his fan club who were spinning before the start of this contest that he is the Great Communicator and thought a little harder about shaving off those rough edges, but if Huhne can improve, so can Clegg.