Where's Vince gone?

Former star disappears from website and pulls out of appearance with Clegg.

At the start of the election campaign, it seemed that it would take surgery to remove Vince Cable from Nick Clegg's side.

The pair were pictured together on the front of the party's battle bus and the Lib Dems' website. And around the country, as if the Lib Dems feared leaving their young leader alone, the Tiggerish Clegg was forever trailed by the Eeyore-like Cable. Such was the latter's prominence at the party's manifesto launch that commentators cruelly asked: "who's that bloke standing alongside Vince Cable?".

But all that changed on Thursday when Clegg emerged victorious from the first TV debate and the Lib Dems' poll ratings went supernova.

Then, over the weekend, Cable suddenly disappeared from the party's homepage, replaced by a giant picture of "the most popular leader since Churchill".

Even more curiously, Cable pulled out of a scheduled appearance with Clegg at Cardiff University today, prompting howls of disappointment from students hoping to quiz the party's economic guru.

As he retreats to nurse his bruised ego, Cable may well consider the possibility that his woes began when he chose to compare himself to that well-known socialite "The Elephant Man".

 

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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Labour on course to remain the largest party in Wales

Despite a shock victory for Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood, Welsh Labour will be able to govern without a coalition.

Labour have posted good results in Wales, where the party remains on course to be the controlling force in the Welsh Assembly.

At the time of writing, Carwyn Jones’ party has 24 of the 40 constituency seats, with Plaid Cymru a distant second on 6 and the Conservatives on 5. Among Labour’s notable holds was Gower, which the party lost narrowly at a Westminster level in the 2015 general election by just 27 votes.

There was a surprise victory for Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood in Rhondda, where she defeated Labour cabinet member Leighton Andrews with a swing of 24 per cent. Speaking about the result, a spokesperson for Welsh Labour said:

“The Rhondda result is a really tough for us – we’ve lost a great Minister and one of the most respected politicians in Wales. Clearly the huge national profile afforded to Leanne Wood has had an impact, and Plaid seem to have won this seat at the cost of making progress anywhere else in Wales.

“The other results so far have been good. In particular where we are fighting the Tories it shows the local campaigns have been successful.”

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams held on to her seat in Brecon and Radnorshire, while Ukip have yet to win any seats (although they are likely to get a few on the regional list).