It was a damn close run thing in the end. Just 511 votes in a low turnout of about 40,000 (about 65% of members). There's a fair chance that if the Lib Dem leadership contest had dragged on for another week, Nick Clegg, the runaway favourite at the start of the race, would have been beaten by Chris Huhne, the rank outsider. Not much doubt that Huhne won the campaign, and has earned the right to a top job in Clegg's team. The contest hasn't had much impact in Montgomeryshire. I was at a local Conservative Christmas lunch at 2.37, when I mentioned the result that was being declared at that precise moment - and no-one knew what I was referring to. And no-one knew anything about Clegg and Huhne, except that they had rather an unpleasant row on television one Sunday morning. So there is a big challenge before Nick Clegg to make an impact - and I don't suppose it being Xmas will help either. Not much interest in politics during the festive season.
But I think it is interesting. But I admit that I also enjoy watching the Eurovision Song Contest results coming in! I 've listened to several interviews by leading Lib Dems commenting on the result, and finished up as unenlightened as Peter Allen on 5 Live's Drive. All these people saying what Nick Clegg stands for (usual stuff around the words 'change' and 'new') and I felt not a bit wiser at the end of it. I also did not here a word that I wouldn't have been happy to sign up to myself. Mike German in Wales told us Clegg was new in that he was for fairness, greenness and for helping people to help themselves. It must have come as something of a surprise to Ming Campbell and Vince Cable that these values were new. I was expecting to hear something about swinging new 'green' taxes, greater European integration, and higher taxes for the rich. But No. Nothing to take issue with. Its all left me scratching my head. How can I attack someone who agrees with everything I do. Even Caroline Spelman, our Party Chairman has issued a very nice welcoming message.
No wonder David Cameron has been talking about a 'progressive alliance' between the Lib Dems and the Conservatives. And there is something a bit odd about this. For as long as I can remember, its been the Lib Dems who have been banging on about coalitions, fair votes etc. etc.. But when it comes to the real thing its the Lib Dems who dive under the desk. They did it is Wales last May (and sank the real prospect of a non-Labour coalition) and they are doing it again today, when the opinion polls are showing a strong possibility of them being faced with a share of power. I just hope that Clegg can instill in the Lib Dems a sense of responsibility and grown-upness - and that it spills over Offa's dyke.