Tim Farron asked Nick Clegg to serve on the Liberal Democrat front bench with a portfolio covering Europe, foreign affairs and defence. Nick Clegg turned the request down.
I think Nick was right and Nick was wrong.
Some say that by declining to serve under him, Nick is giving Tim some space as the new leader. But with the Liberal Democrats down to eight MPs, we cannot afford to lose someone with Nick’s experience of government.
And the country cannot afford to lose his talents. It is by no means certain that David Cameron’s foolish referendum will be won by the pro-EU side. So that cause needs every eloquent advocate it can find.
When I tweeted this the other day, a lot of people told me that Nick had been in the front line of politics for five years and suffered a lot of unfair criticism.
Yet somehow I feel that if Nick’s strategy had worked and we had held the balance of power after the last election, he would have been happy to continue in government.
I sent a second tweet saying that there was a danger that people would see Nick as saying: “If I can’t be deputy prime minister then I’m taking my bat home.”
On reflection, people may now have better things to do than ponder the motivations of Lib Dem MPs. So let me try another metaphor.
Having sailed his ship into the iceberg, Captain Clegg has a duty to take his turn at the oars of the lifeboat.