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Assessing the mood: Nick Clegg out in the constituencies

Published 08/04/2010

Though they are always the little fellows caught between two big armies, the Liberal Democrats still have the money and accumulated experience to run a tight, professional campaign like the others, but on a smaller scale.

Aside from the leader, Nick Clegg, who is guaranteed more attention at this election than any third party has had before, because he will be taking part in the three televised leaders' debates, the party has three big names to call on.

There is Vince Cable, whose status hovers somewhere between trusted politician and national treasure, and two ex-leaders, Paddy Ashdown and Charles Kennedy. At the Liberal Democrat headquarters in Cowley Street, now crowded out by an influx of volunteer workers, the day begins with a 6am staff meeting.

Mr Clegg's Press secretary, Lena Pietsch, a Press officer, Mike Girling, and his diary secretary, Jayde Bradley, will be with him every time he is out of London. Jonny Oates, who recently rejoined the Liberal Democrats from Bell Pottinger as director of communications, will travel with him sometimes. Back in Cowley Street, the man in charge will be the campaign chairman, John Sharkey, former managing director of Saatchi and Saatchi, aided by chief executive, Chris Fox, a former director of Tate and Lyle.

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