First, let me welcome the hon. Gentleman to his role as acting deputy leader. We all know that the election will take place after today, and I wish him well. The matter is riveting the nation's attention—in fact, on my visit to Hull last weekend they talked of nothing else in the pubs.(Hansard)
Cable has said he's standing down from the post purely because of the time commitments, but it's also notable that as the position is elected by the MPs it is the nearest to an equivalent of the Conservative Chair of the 1922 Committee or the Chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party and thus the best way Liberal Democrat MPs can represent their views to the leadership. And it's hard to do that when the post is held by a Cabinet Minister. So could the new deputy be someone outside the government - maybe this is finally the moment for Simon Hughes? Alternatively the post might offer the chance for a big name to make a comeback - would it be beneath Charles Kennedy or Sir Menzies Campbell to stand?
The election will take place on June 9th so for the moment it could be the most interesting show in town. Anyone care to predict the dark horse candidate?