‘Apparently Clint Eastwood had an argument with an empty chair regarding its political standpoint, Nick will go one further and address an imaginary political party at an imaginary political conference,’ beamed a Lib Dem spokesman.
Determined to rediscover its roots, the party has already secured the venue: the original phone box, where David Owen, David Steel, Shirley Williams and the other one first made history by gathering enthusiastically for the Party’s inaugural conference and speaking to their followers down a disconnected phone line. The phone box has welcomed the booking. It’s the first time it’s been used since 1988.
Mr Clegg will personally address anyone who’ll listen using that historic payphone for his key-note conference call. However, concerns have been raised that since technology has moved on, coins are no longer accepted and funding is scarce, he may need to use his deputy Prime Minister credit card to do so – a party political purpose which is contrary to expenses guidelines.
Nonetheless, this is a party of renegades and non-conformists and Mr Clegg is apparently willing to give it a go, even if his speech is interrupted by messages saying ‘Your credit is running low’, or asking ‘If you wish to be Prime Minister, press one’, followed by an irritatingly long pause after being asked to ‘Please hold’.
Vince Cable will be there, but as a progressive Liberalist he has declined a major role speaking to the party faithful to concentrate instead on standing outside the venue, chatting on his mobile about ‘freedom of choice’ with Ed Milliballs, and how the addition of a bright yellow bird graphic might bring out the best in the graphical representation of a red rose.
Speaking from the actual phone box after the announcement Mr Clegg said: ‘This is a great opportunity for we Liberal Democrats to set out our stall for the next election and show that there is clear distance between ourselves and our coalition partners. And to do this we will have to…..’ at which point the pips went and, sadly, the call was terminated.