I wrote on Monday that Lib Dem president Tim Farron’s barnstorming speech at party conference would have looked like a leadership bid if he hadn’t gone to such lengths to praise Nick Clegg.
Well his parliamentary colleagues see it slightly differently. I have spoken to many of them in the last few days, including government ministers, and the overwhelming sense is that this was very much Farron’s leadership pitch, albeit for 2015, after the next election.
Farron himself has further fuelled such gossip, telling BBC 5 Live this morning:
I love doing my job and my job is to be the MP for Westland. That is my number one job. I have a mandate from the Liberal Democrats as well to be their president, I have absolutely no ambition other than that.
Of course there is no ruling it out in the future.
My Bloomberg colleague Rob Hutton got it right when we walked into a small side room at Birmingham’s ICC on Sunday to watch Hugh Grant (and others) talk about phone hacking. As we were greeted by an explosion of flashing lightbulbs, he turned to me and commented: “It looks like the ending of Notting Hill.”
Grant was impressive, his clear speaking (punctuated by plenty of swearwords) gave some relief to the political wonkery that usually characterises conference. But at times bluntness began to look like superficiality, such as when he turned on the Met for trying to use the Official Secrets Act to force the Guardian to reveal its sources:
For the [police's new investigatory team] to turn on fellow goodies in this battle is worrying and also deeply mysterious.