Following yesterday's dull Sky News hustings, Nick Clegg has reached the crash-site. The punters
now have Clegg on 19/1, only just behind Baldie on 17.5/1.
But he's only got another week before nominations close, so just how is Clegg going to elbow Ming aside? Guido
reckons it's going to be the failing health gambit, and that does look favourite. But he could also say "well, I was happy to offer myself if colleagues had unanimously wanted that, but it's now clear they're minded to have a proper shoot-out, and I don't think an old man like me should stand in the way. I'm backing young Clegg who's said I can keep my current job and my gas-guzzling Jag
Will Ming play ball? If not, and given the way LD leadership polls work (single transferable vote) Clegg might decide to go as a fifth candidate. After all as things stand, Si's going to win, and Clegg drawing away some of Ming's first preference votes is not going to change that.
If Si gets more than 50% on first preferences, then all bets are off anyway. More likely is that nobody wins on first preferences, and it's second and third preference that will count.
Assume the bookies are right and Oaten is out on first preferences. Who then gets his "tough liberal" second preferences? Certainly not Si, and probably not Kennedy assassin Ming. Clegg would have just as much chance as the tedious Huhne.
In the next round, Huhne is out. Who would get his second prefs? Again, not Si, and for people who've voted for a moderniser, not the venerable Ming.
By then Clegg is ahead of Ming, who has picked up few of the Oaten/Huhne second/third preferences....catch my drift?
Expect a declaration by the weekend.