Clegg is setting up a bidding war

Pay close attention to his choice of words.

The conventional wisdom has it that Nick Clegg has fumbled his chance for electoral reform and real political change by reiterating his pledge to back the party with the biggest mandate -- apparently the Conservatives.

However, one senior Whitehall source says that Clegg is merely setting up a "bidding war", of which this could be merely the earliest stages.

It is worth noting that Clegg said the "first" opportunity for a deal goes to the Tories. But not the only one.

James Macintyre is political correspondent for the New Statesman.