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The Chipper Mr Clegg

Nick Clegg has been bounding around the conference like a man half his age. Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

From a reporter's perspective, this Liberal Democrat conference is turning out to be one of the dullest in recent memory. There have been no rebellions, nor even any muttered threats to the leader. From the leadership's point of view, it is all going swimmingly.

This may explain why Nick Clegg looks so extraordinarily chipper. In the aftermath of the climbdown on tuition fees and the controversy over austerity, there were quite long periods when Nick looked tired and drawn and really rather unhappy. But, whilst I don't want to make us out to be weight watchers, the consensus of our team here is that he has lost about a stone and he is bounding around the conference like a man half his age.

Nick Clegg has been bounding around the conference like a man half his age. Credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

In the interview today, he did concede that he had a brilliant summer and had taken a lot of exercise (see; nailed him on the big issue).

To the more difficult questions, I got pretty standard answers (though he sounded vaguely disapproving of Vince's habit of slagging off his cabinet colleagues) and I think the truth is that the Lib Dems are in reasonably good shape.

Indeed, if I was taking over as their marketing director today, I would be pretty confident. They have two very strong messages:

  • You need to vote for us, because otherwise the brutal reality is that you will get those nasty Tories on their own
  • We are the party who fight for the low paid. We took the personal allowance up to £10,000 and plan to take it on up to £12,500

Beyond that, it is quite difficult to see what really cuts through (apart from the counter allegation that they are sell-outs who break promises - though I think the anger over this is fading over time) and they are certainly wrestling with that question here. But it is not a bad start.