Nick Clegg shifted his tone in the LBC phone-in this morning, as advertised here in a previous blog of mine.

He’s moved towards the Tim Farron line that the party messed up. He said “serious mistakes” were made, “I’ve got the message,” and “clearly something went seriously wrong.”

He might have been wise to adopt that tone from the start rather than focusing on denials, his own honour and a snap at “self-appointed detectives” which was a gift to his enemies in the press.

He also showed a bit more ankle on the Rennard resignation as Chief Executive in 2009.

He said that the “immediate reason” for Lord Rennard’s resignation was health grounds but that the allegations of inappropriate behaviour “were in the background.”

That naturally prompted the question what allegations? I thought you hadn’t heard any? To which the mantra remains: we hadn’t heard anything specific that potential complainants wanted to take forward.

As I mentioned before, also very much on Nick Clegg’s mind at the time of Lord Rennard’s departure was that he did not buy the idea that Lord Rennard was the right man to grow the Lib Dem vote and he didn’t like his working methods either.

And later in the interview there was another possible insight into that point.

Nick Clegg said Danny Alexander’s message to Lord Rennard back in 2008 when he confronted him about the allegations was “if you’re doing this sort of thing you must stop” (not, note, “if you are doing this we will have you and throw the book at you” … but “you must stop.”).

Nick Clegg also said that the women who were complaining about Lord Rennard’s behaviour at the time “didn’t want to take it forward just wanted the behaviour to stop.”

They would have tolerated Lord Rennard staying in office? If that’s right, that could suggest that the  behaviour wasn’t seen as darkly then as it is now, that potential complainants and senior party figures felt they were discussing a series of misdemeanours, not potential crimes or sackable offences.

If it’s not right, Nick Clegg risks triggering some more interviews from aggrieved women party members.

Lord Rennard strenuously denies the allegations and you can read his latest statement from yesterday by clicking here.

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