The Sketch: Was this the Much More Mescalin Manifesto?

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The Independent Online

"Every manifesto needs an idea at its heart and my idea is..." – we leant in to hear the fresh young leader reveal the big Liberal idea – "... I believe every single person is extraordinary."

Was that it? "There's a simple word for this," Nick Clegg said. And yes, that's true. But I can't remember his, and can't print mine. Every single person is extraordinary if you're on mescalin. Is the idea at the heart of his manifesto psycho-active Class A drugs on the NHS? Okay, I'm in.

He certainly has hallucinogenic ambitions. He's going to "change the country for good" was one. I'm not absolutely confident about Nick changing a lightbulb, but the beauty of mescalin is that you find the sight of him trying to do so very, very interesting. He says he'll make it so that Britain will once again "build things rather than bet on things". I'll give you 10-1 he won't.

Parents' bank balances will be less influential on their children's destiny than the children's "hopes and dreams". That's not a programme for government, it's a programme for Channel 4: Nick'll Fix It for 15m under-10s.

"Once again," he assures us, we will "look at Parliament with pride." Yes, it really is the Much More Mescalin Manifesto, with added mushrooms. He's going to turn anger into hope, frustration into ambition, and possibly, water into wine (that'll infuriate the cider drinkers).

Why do they say these vast, visionary things? They think we like to hear it but we all know deep down that people who suffer from complacency and a poverty of ambition are much happier in the long run. They get to stay in the town they were born and buy a house one step better than their parents'.

The Lib-Dems say they're going to break up the banks. That's a good idea, and quite difficult enough to be going on with. Leave out the "hard-wiring fairness into Britain" – you need your certificate and two years experience, and he's not even qualified yet.

The hacks did what they do best: they hacked. The largest tax giveaway in history is to be funded by closing tax loopholes. One asked, is there really all that money waiting uncollected when the Treasury is so desperate for moolah?

Nick said he was surprised we weren't congratulating him for being so unambitious.

Another one suggested this loophole strategy was tried and promised every year but the rich were "a constantly moving target". Also, it seems the money is definitely going out next year, but will only be coming in when they manage to collect it. But no, it's costed, you see. No problem.

How about the £16bn tax break – how much of that will actually go into the pockets of the bottom 10 per cent of earners? I missed any answer there.

Would he back a minority Conservative government? We abruptly ran out of candour, clarity, straightfowardness. The moral authority to govern would go, he said, to "the biggest party". Yes, but was that "bigger" as in more seats or more votes? (Tories could easily have more votes and fewer seats.) It was waved away as "a constitutional nicety". The last thing he wants to do is alienate 75 per cent of his party members by saying he'd support a Tory government.

Fair enough, old cock, but spare us the St Francis of Assissi.