The Sketch: Clegg, for all his affable eloquence, lacks bite. Maybe he should get a dog

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The Independent Online

What's to be done with Nick Clegg? Does anything need doing? After his terrible time recently he gave as good a performance in the Commons as he ever has.

Just the same confidence, the same affirmative gestures, the same affable decency – a little less fat? You may be right. And he was wearing the best suit.

All the nice things you say about him are true. And, in addition, he elegantly shut up Peter Bone. That Tory has been asking for months whether the Deputy Prime Minister runs the country "if the prime minister is killed in terrorist attack".

Clegg replied with the sort of fluency admired by the House: "His morbid fascination with the premature death of his leader is probably not a matter for me but the Chief Whip."

And yet it all adds up to "pointless good looks", as women say of actors without sex appeal.

He lacks bite, or stopping-power, or threat. Maybe he needs a spell of cage fighting with ketamine gangsters.

Maybe he should buy a bull terrier. Or grow a beard. I'm not a political strategist, I'll leave it to others to decide.

His rival Chris Huhne sat beside him in a show of solidarity. The show was limited to the sitting, his face showed nothing at all.

Was that a nod of approval? No, it was his chin falling to his chest as if overtaken by a collapse at the calamity that has assaulted the party. "All right, all RIGHT, I'll sit beside you but I'm not going to enjoy it and I won't pretend I am."

Clegg got himself going over the House of Lords reform.

It's one of the few issues with less popular appeal than the Alternative Vote campaign.

Nor will Lords reform ever happen. It's been debated as he says for 100 years. And there's a very good reason for that.

There was a good turnout of Liberal Democrats but one person was conspicuously absent: an alternative leader.

If Huhne succeeds Clegg I'll eat your hat. Cable will be 110 years old at the next election. Farron's such a lefty and... What am I saying? There'll only be three of them in parliament next time round and they'll all want to be leader.

They'll be a tripartite regulatory authority with only themselves to regulate.