Huhne in a hurry
Nick Clegg and Chris Huhne spoke face to face, one to one, in Nick Clegg’s office this morning for 10 – 15 minutes. The only subject under discussion was Chris Huhne’s ability to survive accusations that he asked another person to put speeding points he had incurred on their licence. Chris Huhne denied the accusation. So Nick Clegg told him he’d better get out and say that in a public statement on camera.
It wasn’t the most polished performance on camera. Chris Huhne’s voice was quiet and hoarse. It never looks good to walk out on the camera when a question (the third) has been asked. Best, the PR experts say, to do these things as you’re getting into a car so you have an excuse to rush off looking like you’re having to skip off to a meeting and really can’t stop. Mr Huhne did his effort in a corridor in his Department so just looked like he was sloping off at the end. This, I predict, will become an exhibit in future media training classes.
What strikes you today is the lack of gushing support from colleagues. David Cameron didn’t want to say on camera anything more than “he’s denied the accusations” (big deal). Other Lib Dems have not been rushing forward to defend him. Chris Huhne may yet survive this and may even be spared a police investigation if there’s no worthwhile evidence to scrutinise for a speeding offence in 2003. But his longer term political ratings look severely dented. He has always played hard in politics. That’s why so many Lib Dems nearly went for him rather than Nick Clegg in the leadership contest. They thought he had sharper elbows and today, wandering around the Commons checking out his colleagues’ views, you get a feeling for how many people have been hurt by those sharper elbows over the years.
Follow Gary Gibbon @GaryGibbonBlog