Mind your language
Bournemouth: Think about it for just a minute. Can you imagine a "savage" Liberal Democrat? Nice, yes. Decent, certainly. Well-meaning, some would add a tad patronisingly. But savage?!
Yet Nick Clegg did use that word to describe the cuts in public spending that he says are necessary. He did so, not by chance but with intent - to get your attention, to surprise, to challenge preconceptions.
Thus, Tony Blair added the "New" to Labour and David Cameron talks of "modern, compassionate" Conservatives. Words matter hugely in politics and these days political leaders don't use them without one eye on their focus groups.
So, why add "savage" to Lib Dem? Precisely because that's the word voters are least likely to associate with the party or its leader. Nick Clegg wants to show that he's strong, that he can "tell it like it is" as well as being nice, decent and, well, well-meaning.
The problem he faces is that, unlike Labour members who wanted to be new and modern, or Tories who have always insisted that they are compassionate, Lib Dems do not think of themselves as savage.
That's why this morning Nick Clegg backed away from his headline-grabber, telling the Today programme that "people can use softer, more emollient language if they like".
He was, I suspect, not the only Lib Dem to wince when looking at this morning's cartoon in the Times entitled Savage Cuts. Clegg is portrayed, bloodied-axe in one hand and his own severed head in the other, declaring "I told you I'd get on the news".