Here’s Michael White’s verdict on Tim Farron’s Sunday appearances:
As he fielded [party members’] questions (unlike Corbyn at PMQs they got to read their own) Tim played to his strengths: funnier than Clegg, more relaxed than Kennedy, less bossy than trained killer Ashdown, less tentative than the gallant Sir Ming. He’s a natural…
To the dismay of the media Tim was infuriatingly judicious on Sunday. He was kind about owner-occupiers as well as tenants, he is a friend of both Israel andPalestine, and he praised Norman Lamb, his defeated leadership rival.
It was a gaffe-free performance which ended on a self-deprecating note about his teenage infatuation with Wendy Smith, singer in 80s rock band Prefab Sprout. He still has all her records. It may not have been Gladstone’s idea of a peroration, but it went down very well.
No gaffes? It is always a challenge for Fleet St, especially when spoiled by a whole 10 days of Corbynism. But the lads can rise to an occasion. We’ll have to make some up.
Finally, here’s The Guardian‘s editorial on the future for the Lib Dems:
The vacancy is for a party that marries Mr Farron’s campaign themes to a practical account of how to achieve them, with more respect than Mr Corbyn seems to show for the sensibilities of moderate opinion and the practical policy constraints, including finite budgets, and a recognition that the state needs modernisation as well as investment. Tonally, it must eschew the nostalgic, tribal certainties that are found on both left and right.
Since Mr Corbyn dislikes markets and capitalism, the Lib Dems have room to argue, as New Labour once did, that they can be harnessed to progressive goals. Awkwardly, this “third way” looks much like Mr Clegg’s message in an election that ended in calamity – more compassionate than the Tories; more prudent than Labour. Trying to be all things to all people, ending up not pleasing anyone. Mr Farron, free of Mr Clegg’s coalition baggage, must rehabilitate that strategic position but as an expression of free-standing liberalism, defined on its own terms, not simply calibrated to compensate for other parties’ weaknesses.
It will not be easy but, since the alternative is obsolescence, it is the path Mr Farron must walk.