This morning I was in bed at that stage when you start to get that vague inclination that there is a world beyond the cosy warmth and snuggliness of the duvet but can still pretend it isn’t really happening.
When my phone started ringing, I had to come to rather faster than I’d planned. It was a producer from the Today Programme on Radio 4 asking if I’d talk to Jim Naughtie about the election results and Nick Clegg’s leadership pretty much there and then. Now, when I’ve done these things before, I’ve always got up early, mugged up on what’s being said in the press and, crucially, had a cup of tea. I’d never spoken to one of the UK’s premier journalists before Earl Grey had passed my lips in the morning. I guess I didn’t have time to panic, though.
Key points I talked about were that people were a bit fearful and fretful, it had been a brutal night, and we could see from his interview yesterday that Nick felt that pain with us.
I said that we needed to get behind Nick and get on with working to get a good result in the General Election. I made a distinction between people who had signed the letter, many of whom are my friends and whose anxieties I share, and what looks like a co-ordinated attempt to undermine Nick’s leadership by whoever it was commissioned that poll that was leaked to the Guardian at what was always going to be the worst point in the electoral cycle. To the latter, I have one message. Just stop.
I said that it was important that Nick listened to what the grassroots were saying and he needed to widen the circle of people he took advice from on a regular basis. My view that he should stay was not based on blind loyalty as he gets the sharp end of my keyboard when I think he deserves it.
It’s my view that as the economy is turning the corner and the policies that we have implemented are starting to bear fruit that it would be very unfair to ditch the person who led us into Government and that a leadership election is not what we should be doing, we should be getting behind Nick and working for the General Election because we can do well.
You can listen to the whole thing here from 1 hour 20 minutes in. I am far from being a slick, polished media professional at the best of times, let alone within my first moments of consciousness so it’s pretty stuttery.
Just as an aside, former Liberal Youth co-chair Kavya Kaushik gave Labour student Bex Bailey a total pasting on BBC News Channel yesterday, chiding Labour for wasting time putting out ridiculous attacks on Nick Clegg and us rather than standing up to UKIP. Her blog post on the experience gives a lot of interesting behind the scenes detail.