By Brian Wheeler
At Bloomberg, City of London
VENUE: Bloomberg financial news service, City of London.
The Lib Dem's manifesto was positively anorexic by their standards
By far the snazziest manifesto launch venue of the three main parties - an uber-cool temple of Web 2.0 financial whizzkiddery, all funky coffee bars, novelty neon signs and discreet security guards. Although the launch itself took place in a dimly-lit conference room deliberately stripped of all razzamatazz. In contrast to the other two main parties who chose a derelict power station and an empty hospital for their launches, the Lib Dems wanted a building that was an actual place of work, said frontbencher Sarah Teather. Not only that it was a place of "vigorous financial scrutiny" which meant that "financial scrutiny has been applied to this manifesto today". In fact, thanks to Bloomberg's glass fronted conference rooms, it was possible to see people actually engaged in vigorous financial scrutiny. Or gazing up at numbers on big screens anyway.
ATMOSPHERE: Sober and purposeful.
VISUAL STYLE: Muted.
The manifesto itself is not exactly the stripped down blueprint for coalition government it was trailed as but by Lib Dem standards, the A5 booklet was positively anorexic. It includes the obligatory picture of "Vince and Nick" on the back cover and the party's four key pledges on the front. It also includes a table of the party's spending commitments and proposed cuts - a first for a party manifesto, which gives it the feel of a company's annual report.
MUSIC: No music, no movies, no parade of frontbench stars and "ordinary members of the public". No "young people". No gimmicks of any kind in fact. Just the leader, his deputy Vince Cable, Danny Alexander, the man who wrote the manifesto, and Sarah Teather. Sketch writers were left scratching their heads.
Treasury Spokesman Vince Cable stole the show again
In his wry, understated way Vince Cable stole the show again. Before Nick Clegg appeared to do his party leader thing for the evening news cameras, the treasury spokesman got the only laugh of the event as he described how he believed the budget deficit was the "elephant in the room" at the Labour and Tory manifesto launches. "That makes me the elephant man," quipped Vince.
DO SAY: They are the only party with the guts to tell it like it is about spending cuts. Vince Cable for chancellor.
DON'T SAY: That's all very well, but who would they support in a hung parliament? Shouldn't Vince be the leader?
KEY SOUNDBITE: "This is a serious manifesto for serious times".
TELLING MOMENT: Right at the very end Nick Clegg lost his cool a little when he was asked, for the umpteenth time in this campaign, what he meant when he said he would support the party with the "biggest mandate" in the event of a hung Parliament. Did he mean most seats or most votes? "I have been referring to votes and seats," snapped Mr Clegg, ignoring protests that it is technically possible, in a close contest like this one, for different parties to win the most seats and the most votes.