Farron to run for Liberal Democrat deputy
I write this from holiday in Westmorland in Cumbria where I have learnt that the local MP, Tim Farron, plans to stand for deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats.
The current deputy, Vince Cable, the new business secretary in the coalition government, announced last night that he was standing down from the party post to concentrate on his government job.
Farron, increased his majority by over 8,000 at the election, turning Westmorland and Lonsdale from a marginal seat into a safe one.
Surprisingly, however, Farron failed to get a ministerial job in the new coalition.
Strangely, the department he was previously shadowing, Defra, is the only major ministry without a Lib Dem.
Farron, who is firmly on the left of the party, must be in a strong position to win the post of Lib Dem deputy.
In his five years as an MP he has become a popular figure among Lib Dem grass roots activists.
He has acquired the job of making the fund-raising speech at party conferences - tub-thumping yet witty.
A friend claims Farron has "already secured the support of a quarter of Lib Dem MPs including one former leader, and most of new intake".
Liberal Democrat MPs will elect the new deputy leader on 9 June. Farron is not expected formally to announce his candidacy just yet.
Although Lib Dem MPs and activists voted overwhelmingly to back the new coalition at their special conference 10 days ago, MPs may prefer as their deputy leader a figure who is not a member of the coalition, in order to help preserve the party's own identity.
Other strong contenders with such credentials may include the long-standing Bermondsey MP and ex-party president Simon Hughes.
He is expected to declare his intentions later the week.