Mr Ashdown is continually asked to speculate on what his party might do in the event of Tony Blair needing and asking for his support. This requires a considerable amount of conjecture and distracts attention from the Liberal Democrats' efforts to spell out detailed policy.
Mr Major is asked to give clear direction to his government's policy and fails because he cannot command sufficient support within his own party for any position that he might adopt. There is every reason why Mr Major should stop prevaricating. There is every reason why Mr Ashdown should concentrate on policy and leave Mr Blair guessing.
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