I’ve been wondering what Peter Mandelson has been doing with all this extending the hand of friendship to the Lib Dems, who they plainly despise.
I think it is this: they are gambling that hyping the Clegg effect even further will pop the bubble sooner.
Mandelson thinks that, if he is clever, he can make the word Clegg synonymous with media hype, with public emotionalism like there was at Princess Diana’s funeral. He thinks he can make sophisticated people sneer at the whole thing and distance themselves from it, before there is a general slide back into cynicism and then, well, we might as well all vote Labour again.
It may work. The reason I think it won’t is that, actually, there was more behind Nick Clegg during last week’s debate than there was behind the others. This isn’t actually a battle between a phantasm created by media hype and some solid, reliable figures, unaccountably passed over. In fact, Clegg had something to say and the others didn’t.