Cameron, Clegg and Farage: watch Gary Gibbon’s profiles
David Cameron (Conservative)
Talk to him a few months ago and you heard someone who thought it would fall his way; the other guy was unelectable and the economic lead too strong. Now not so much.
He draws hope from Labour’s difficulties in Scotland and what his team perceives as real weakness in Lib Dem seats where the Tories are second. He takes a text from a Tory MP telling him there are no Tories converting to Labour in his seat: “It’s firming up,” the text says but, like the rest of us, you sense he truly isn’t sure what’s happening.
If he did get back in, what sort of David Cameron would we see? The long gone husky-cuddling eco-warrior won’t make a reappearance presumably. The huge fan of coalition who said it would be a better form of government won’t be doing another turn.
Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrat)
In our profile of Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem leader acknowledges that he and his party were pretty “tight-lipped” about differences with the Tories in the early part of the coalition. Those who wanted to differentiate more were slapped down. Coalition negotiator and former energy secretary Chris Huhne tells us Nick Clegg confused what the role of deputy PM was and saw himself as more of a “split the difference” or “chairman” role when he actually needed to be more feisty projecting his party’s identity.
Nick Clegg says he had no choice, that people forget how much doom and gloom there was about coalition and its viability. He says no coalition partner will ever again have to do what he did and hold back on opinions to project harmony and convince doubters about coalition. He has performed a public service, breaking through a path for future coalitions. Whether he will be part of one is another question.
Nigel Farage (Ukip)
Ask Mr Farage about his central political mission now and he tends to talk about smashing the two-party political system. He used to wax lyrical in private about echoing the insurgent Canadian Reform Party’s reverse takeover of the big sister Canadian Conservatives.
Post the Middleton and Heywood by-election, where Ukip gave Labour a close run for the seat, and you hear him talking about beating up Labour in its heartlands. He galvanises support there by “fusing” the immigration issue with the old and less doorstep-friendly constitutional arguments about the EU.
I asked him if he wasn’t duping voters in Labour heartlands with the beer and fags routine and hiding his true political colours. He insists his views on the NHS, Thatcher etc are no more relevant than what views he held when he was eight years old.
Follow @GaryGibbonBlog on Twitter