A long journey down to Brighton to the Lib Dems Federal Conference and half way between Southampton and the conference centre I started to think Assembly group leader Mike German had a point. He's staying away 'to prepare for the new term'. I did see a sign as I crawled through Sompting: 'GERMAN here' and got my hopes up but that was a shop selling European car parts.
Not that inappropriate, given the Lib Dem Assembly group has started to sound a bit like Team McLaren these days. Not sure who's going to end up cutting up who or on which bend but a friendly, non-Assembly voice outside the conference centre this lunchtime suggested that the only way forward for the leader now is to engineer a 'controlled change' ... in other words, how does he make sure he gets to hand over to his pal, Jenny Randerson and have the last laugh?
She has said consistently and for a very long time that she'd never stand against Mike German. But if here were gone, of course, there'd be nothing to stop her. And would she get it? As caretaker leader for 4 years perhaps? She might well.
By the way you might not have spotted this story but I did. It's from the Wales on Sunday and is about Ieuan Wyn Jones arriving at the Venue in Llandudno and ...
'... being greeted by a slightly lukewarm round of applause from a small gaggle of party activists. This of course wouldn't have made particularly impressive viewing on the evening news. So the BBC kindly asked if the whole entrance could be redone again, this time with the delegates whooping and hollering at Mr Jones' arrival as if he was all four Beatles rolled into one ...'
It goes on: 'This looks bad in the current climate admitted one Beeb man'. Quite right. If it had happened. There is a story about a double entrance from Heritage Minister Rhodri Glyn Thomas on Helen Mary Jones' conference blog and here it is:
Oh, but before I forget, I had the chance to greet Rhodri Glyn Thomas, the new Minister for Heritage, as he arrived at conference. There was a crowd of us waiting outside. It was kind of spoilt by the TV cameras asking us to greet him not once, but twice. Apparently we weren’t whooping and clapping loudly enough, the first time - and Rhodri was a bit embarrassed and went past us all too fast! On the second attempt, some people behind me resorted to screaming. Sorry, back to the serious stuff.'
Make of that what you will. But 'in the current climate' inserting 'BBC' and upping the ante to the Deputy First Minister? Yes, it does look bad.