Is his appeal restricted to the party faithful?
Watching Tim Farron’s speech to the Lib Dem conference and the enthusiastic reaction he got from many delegates I got a feeling that maybe we were seeing a yellow version of Rick Perry. Farron’s big moment was when he declared that the coalition was temporary – a message that seemed to resonate.
Perry, of course, is the governor of Texas whose entry to the Republican nomination race last month has been startling. From almost nowhere he quickly shot to the favourite slot and within a matter of days found himself leading in polls of GOP supporters.
Perry’s secret is that is he says what the core Republican base wants to hear and he does it in a powerful and compelling manner. They cheer him on as he does it. The question mark, of course, is whether he can establish a broader appeal that would help his party win key swing states in next year’s White House race.
Farron’s politics could not be further from Perry but the fact that party activists find his approach so appealing is very much the same.
Like Perry Farron is the strong betting favourite and like Perry, I’d suggest, he has the same problem of appealing to a wider constituency beyond his party’s core supporters.
I’ve no idea when there’ll be a vacancy but my sense is that Clegg will lead his party at the general election. Everything thereafter depends on the outcome.
Whatever I find it hard to envisage is the party electing a party leader who has not had ministerial experience.