"The election campaign is well under way. All parties are rivalling each other by promising savage cuts. Alistair Darling has said there will be grief beyond anything we can imagine. David Cameron says that, no, the Tories will be even worse. It's the reverse of the usual strategy, the equivalent of politicians going round slapping babies.
"Yesterday Nick Clegg joined in with a massive bonfire of Liberal Democrat party policies. His pledge was to tear up all his previous pledges. Free childcare? Forget it. Scrapping tuition fees? No way. Citizens' pensions? Sayonara.
"The problem with Mr Clegg is that he coins vivid phrases which are so odd that they stop you attending to the rest of the speech. It's like going for a run and having a dog biting at your shorts. "Shopping lists and pledges don't wash any more!" he exclaimed, and you find yourself thinking, no, Pledge is furniture polish, not soap powder."