Tara Hamilton-Miller: Lib Dem rebrand will be tough job

'The right government for right now,' suggested our Deputy Prime Minister to delegates in Liverpool this week.

Party members may find this lack of permanence hard to accept. If a boyfriend suggested I was 'the right girl for right now', I would leave, immediately.

The problem is that Nick Clegg has no choice. He has to let them know that the arrangement is a temporary one, a fling, a brief affair. But at the same time he has to pledge his allegiance to the coalition.

On Tuesday, Clegg was by far the most awake at 7.10am on ITV's lacklustre Daybreak. He exuded more enthusiasm than the so-called sexual chemistry between presenters Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley. He was clear about where he agreed with the Conservatives and his words were chosen well.

Labour has always claimed that the Liberal Democrats are natural allies, considering them to be misguided types who haven't found their path yet. The Labour Party will be livid that Clegg said this week there is no place for left-leaning Liberals. It was brave.

The Deputy Prime Minister has this week begun to rebrand his party. A tough job when your troops are not behind you; tough also when your party is now diluted by another. The threat of his own colleagues abandoning the project is also a problem. Vince Cable is still causing trouble - the self-styled national treasure is convinced he's a genius but has been nothing but an irritant to Clegg. Little men like Simon Hughes and Chris Huhne also like stirring, but their surly bleats are based on huffy jealousy and Clegg can afford to be utterly intolerant of them. He should be fearless and sideline them until they are bored, or find ways to make their private lives even more fruity.

The Lib Dems have behaved this week at conference but, underneath, many feel they have had a hard deal. Tough. They should be thrilled that for the first time in decades there is interest in the party.

Polls suggest that the Lib Dems are losing support every day. Members would be unwise to start moaning; they should be pleased they have Clegg.

Tara Hamilton-Miller is a political adviser and formerly worked for the Conservative Party press team.

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