Party leader speeches at conferences rarely contain completely untrailed and fresh news. Nick Clegg’s does: that Paddy Ashdown will chair the party’s 2015 general election campaign.
Although his name wasn’t one of those I speculated about previously, it is a logical choice because the party’s plan is to fight a 1997-style general election campaign, with a tough national vote share environment hopefully bucked by very effective Parliamentary by-election style campaigns in around 75 seats. Ashdown was leader during that 1997 campaign, and also for the 1992 election when the question of ‘what would you do in a hung Parliament?’ dominated much of the campaign.
His experience fits the bill for the 2015 campaign very well, and him being a figure seen as much warmer to Labour than Nick Clegg brings a degree of political balance that will reassure more sceptical party activists.