After the usual Lib Dem flim-flammery - desperate fundraising and a video showing ministers scratching their heads ("didn't spend much money on that" was one caustic delegate's comment) - the man himself entered. Nick Clegg began his speech with praise towards Maurice Reeves, the 81-year-old gent whose furniture store had been burned down by rioters last summer. "It takes time, perseverance, resilience" - these were the moral messages Clegg wanted to convey to his audience. Stick it out, he was urging them. To emphasise the point he was quick to switch from gentle pleading (the usual tone) to a hectoring shout. "Be in no doubt," he pleaded. "IF we secure our country's future WE WILL SECURE OUR OW-N."
It felt a little unexpected, that. After several years of reporting on Clegg's speeches I have learned the perils of criticising him for having put in especially lacklustre performances: he is always wooden. He waves his arms around like a scarecrow. He trips up over tricky phrases likeRead More »from Nick Clegg’s conference speech leaves bruised Lib Dems with no options but applause