By Sean Dilley
His personal popularity may be taking a bit of a battering in the polls - but Nick Clegg pulled the crowds in at the Liberal Democrat exhibition centre today during his tour of the stands.
I caught up with the Lib Dem Leader at the Guide Dogs ‘Top Gear challenge’ stand where MP’s and conference goers are pitted against each other to see who can rack up the fastest lap time on the scalextrics replica track.
But sadly for the deputy PM, his fortunes on the leader-board cruelly echoed his fortunes in the polls - ranking fourth at 3.2 seconds behind chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander at 3.1 seconds and John Hemming, of superinjunction fame, at three seconds. A solid performance from John Lyon MEP knocked him off the top-three.
Chris Huhne and estranged wife Vicky have yet to feature at all. Strange that.
Now you might think it’s jolly interactive of Nick Clegg to take time to tour stands on the exhibition floor - but with exhibitors charged anything from £5,000 upwards for the pleasure of attending, it’s tradition for leaders to do the rounds.
And the point of today’s scalextric ‘top gear’ challenge was to show politicians just how dangerous electric cars can be to blind and partially sighted people. OK, it’s a tenuous link - “very” as one Lib Dem members protested. But by managing to attract the busiest crowds today, Guide Dogs were able to call for all cars to be fitted with some kind of audible device equal to the 70Db or more emitted by regular oil driven motors.
It’s an important debate, and one close to my heart as a guide dog owner of 14 years - but for Nick Clegg and colleagues, today’s ‘Top Gear’ challenge may just be the education they need.