The tension between Nick Clegg and his one time rival for the party leadership Chris Huhne is well known, and stems not least from Huhne’s description of his current boss as “Calamity Clegg”.
But still, when Clegg addressed hacks in the press gallery this afternoon, you might have expected him to come out fighting for his energy secretary, who is facing allegations that he passed points on his driving license to his wife. Not so. Instead he used the opportunity to make a cruel, but quite funny joke at Huhne’s expense:
Whatever people say or think about Chris Huhne I don’t know any politician who is better at getting his points across.
Which he followed up by murmuring:
That’s revenge for ‘Calamity Clegg’.
Clegg was in a joking mood, perhaps buoyed by the government’s U-turn on the NHS, which the Lib Dems have managed to claim as their victory. He also turned his comic wit on Ed Miliband:
Whatever I have had to suffer int he media, there are people having a more difficult time at the moment. Look at Ryan Giggs, look at Ed Miliband. One is a fading left-winger who has upset his brother. The other is a footballer.
And finally, there was some joshing at Lembit Opik’s expense, made all the funnier by the prospective Lib Dem mayoral candidate’s presence in the room. When asked by Joe Murphy of the Evening Standard (who was sitting next to Opik) about what qualities were needed for a Lib Dem mayoral candidate, he replied:
Did he (Opik) pay you to ask that question? Well I guess: glasses, Estonian/Welsh background…
But as the laughter died down, Clegg mentioned his real checklist, which included knowing London well. Can that be said of Opik, whose parliamentary seat was based in rural Wales?