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Clegg relaxed on 'half-term break'

Published 06/05/2015

Nick Clegg goes ten-pin bowling during a General Election campaign visit to Colchester
Nick Clegg goes ten-pin bowling during a General Election campaign visit to Colchester

At times, Nick Clegg's tour of Britain has resembled the world's longest half-term break.

The Liberal Democrat leader has been ten-pin bowling, stroked a hedgehog, handled a hawk, tackled an assault course and visited a soft-play centre.

The only thing it seems he has not done much of during his campaign tour is meeting actual voters.

Despite stubbornly low opinion poll ratings for his party, the Lib Dem leader has described his mood as "chipper" and he has certainly appeared relaxed during the campaign marathon.

He even broke off from the campaign to give his staff - and the travelling press pack - a trip to woodland assault course Go Ape, prompting jokes about appealing to swing voters and walking an electoral tightrope.

With his popularity having plummeted since the height of Cleggmania, it takes a brave politician to be pictured on the long, downward slide of a zip wire.

The succession of staged photo opportunities that has made up the bulk of the tour has been designed to help provide arresting images to help the Lib Dems stand out at a time when the focus has been on the battle for power between Labour and the Tories, with the SNP, Ukip and the Greens also competing for coverage in a crowded political market.

Unlike 2010, when Mr Clegg's TV debate success led to crowds of hundreds at his public appearances on the campaign trail, the Deputy Prime Minister's visits have not involved much interaction with people not already signed up to the Lib Dem cause.

Encounters with members of the public have not always gone smoothly - student Will Carrie suffered an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction as his jeans fell down while endeavouring to have a "selfie" with Mr Clegg in Solihull, and a short walkabout in Surbiton was hijacked by megaphone-wielding hecklers calling the Lib Dem leader a liar over his tuition fees U-turn.

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