Public Affairs: Soap box

It was Nick Clegg wot won it. At Mandate's leaders' debate party, Channel 4's Krishnan Guru-Murthy gave us all a 'teach-in' on the winning techniques to look out for.

Guru-Murthy was spot-on, and I suspect the PR and public affairs professionals at our party will have woken up the next day wondering what the increased reality of a role for the Lib Dems means for them.

Well, if a hung Parliament is en route, here are a few questions to test whether any lobbyist worth his or her salt is ready for a key role for the Lib Dems. What do you believe the Federal Executive will think about the different options for a coalition? Do you know which of the overtures of Labour and the Tories is closer to the Federal Policy Committee's heart? Do you have a view on what Duncan Brack is thinking? Or the issues that Baroness Scott will balance as she considers hung-Parliament scenarios and counsels Clegg?

For many, these questions may provoke nothing more than a blank look. But if that is the case, then it betrays a failure to understand key Lib Dem party machinery that will be central to deciding any Lib Dem position on a coalition.

Business people: test your agencies and ask them these questions. For Lib Dem experts, maybe there is some money to be made writing the Haynes Manual of Liberal Democrat machinery.

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