Clegg and the media – let’s not get too carried away here.

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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.

7 thoughts on “Clegg and the media – let’s not get too carried away here.

  1. “…is not the disaster that many Huhney Monsters are seeking to portray it as.”

    I think the slight bijou problemette is that you started the ball rolling with:

    “Clegg came off as dramatically weaker than Huhne.

    The difference was obvious. Huhne trotted off a series of clear and concise soundbites while Clegg waffled. It isn’t as if this problem hasn’t been remarked upon before; why hasn’t Clegg sorted it out?

    Assuming he does get elected however, I do hope he will spend the Christmas break working out where he went wrong over the campaign and getting some serious media training.”

    If you hadn’t have written that, I for one would have kept schtum because without your imprimateur behind the “allegation”, noone would have taken any notice of me, and quite probably didn’t anyway!

  2. I stand by everything I said – I just think you can get it out of proportion.

    If I thought he would be an utter disaster, I’d have switched sides. I don’t, see people saying that he will be, and so issued a corrective.

    The problem with contests like all this is that nuance goes right out of the window.

    I don’t ultimately have control over what you write Paul!

  3. Fine. Did I say he would be a disaster? I don’t think so. I just said he was “weak” which was the same word you used (you said “dramatically weaker” I said “very weak”). I said we might be in for a bumpy ride and that he would need training, as you said. But I agree, you’re right to clarify and it is all down to nuance. Obviosuly I am a Huhne cheerleader but I have tried to be fair within the parameters of reasonable comment.

  4. What are you going on about? I never accused you of saying any of those things. What I had in mind were the comments on this blog in response to my post yesterday.

  5. I apologise profusely James. Very sorry. I will now put my head under a large pillow and yell at myself. I am obviously getting ludicrously paranoid.

    Humbled of Newbury

  6. Neither did I say Nick would be disastrous, but the truth probably lies somewhere between weak and disastrous … worryingly bad? And all of this was based on the premise that he continues to stumble over himself as he did on Today, and I accept that this premise isn’t by any means certain. But, as was posted elsewhere on the blogosphere (I think on Cicero’s Songs), I am worried that we may treat the leadership election as an opportunity to pick the candidate with more perceived potential rather than the one nearer to the finished product, which only makes sense if you’re prepared to sacrifice more immediate success for the prospect – again, by no means certain, of long-term future development).

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