Last night’s Newsnight interview with Ming summed up the problems the Lib Dems face. First of all, Ming only got 15 minutes at the end of the show compared to the full length, star attraction treatment that Brown and Cameron got. Second, the interview revolved around the Lib Dem’s leadership troubles—a trend Campbell exacerbated by choosing to quibble over every piece of polling data his inquisitors challenged him with. Third, Ming’s performance was poor. (Although, to be fair, he was much better on the Today Programme this morning.)
The conventional wisdom is that the Lib Dems can’t afford to get rid of two leaders inside a parliament; especially as an election still might just be called before the turn of the year. It is also true as Steve Richards and Rachel Sylvester points out in their columns that the Lib Dems would be being squeezed whoever was leader. But it would still be worth the Lib Dems changing leader. A leadership contest would get the party noticed again and the two likely candidates, Nick Clegg and Chris Huhne, are both more impressive media performers than the current incumbent. The Lib Dems also desperately need to seem fresh again, which is about the last adjective you would associate with Sir Ming. Furthermore, a new leader would also increase the Lib Dem’s flexibility in a hung Parliament. But with Ming showing no sign of falling on his sword, the Lib Dems will almost certainly steer shy of a second coup.