Remember when Nick Clegg looked into the TV camera during the first televised General Election debate and, hours later, looked as if he had heralded an electoral breakthrough for the Lib Dems? Cleggmania it was called; the Lib Dem leader scoring a popularity rating almost on a par with Winston Churchill in 1945.
The breakthrough never came - despite this they form part of the coalition government - and subsequently Nick Clegg's star has waned spectacularly. In a poll last month, just 20 per cent of respondents approved of his performance as deputy Prime Minister. Quite a turnaround from Cleggmania.
Is there any wonder when voters like their politicians to be straight with them, communicate openly and veer away from the world of unattributable briefings and back-stabbing which seem to have become Clegg's modus operandi.
Research into the newspaper coverage of Nick Clegg's various interventions over the past months have revealed a plethora of stories based on 'sources close to' the Lib Dem leader. Anyone who has worked in or around the media know how these stories are formed. Those attributed to 'sources close to Nick Clegg' are almost exclusively used as a way to back-stab the Prime Minister or other Conservative cabinet colleagues squarely between the shoulders.
Don't take my word for it, here are just five examples where 'sources close to Nick Clegg' was used as cover to attack, mislead or undermine:
- On the AV referendum: Clegg Attacks Cameron Over the Alternative Vote (24 April 2011)
-On proposed NHS reforms: NHS U-turn big win for Lib Dems (11 June 2011)
-On education: Clegg claims victory over Gove (4 September 2011)
-On the EU veto: Clegg rages at Cameron's spectacular failure 11 December 2011)
-On welfare reforms: Cameron attacked on immigration plans (10 November 2011)
Not the kind of bravery fitting for a man once nearly as popular as Churchill.