When I left the Welsh hustings last time round I was fairly convinced Ming would win but didn't really look forward to his leadership so two years on and 5 days after the event where has this years version left me.
First up it has still left me to make up my mind and that is in many ways the most positive thing I can think of for our party. Neither candidate scored a knock out blow in terms of hitting what I wanted to hear but nor did either say things that so alienated me that I felt I could not bear to see them as leader.
So why at this point do I find myself leaning more and more towards Chris Huhne?
I think at the end of the day it is down to a strange feeling in my gut.
In Cardiff Chris most definitely got the applause, it was easier going first, but it wasn't populist applause. Right from the start I felt Chris captured the mood of the audience and paced his presentation along with us. Even on areas that may be sticky like Trident there was a feeling of trust engendered.
Nick in contrast relied constantly on the anecdote and challenge of preconception almost for the sake of it. Don't get me wrong there is nothing wrong with talking about the little old lady in Sheffield I use the same style at work to break up a technical presentation. Its just that Nick seemed to use it every other answer. The line me thinks he doth protest to much sprang to mind.
In short I felt a greater level of empathy for Chris than Nick.
But that isn't enough to win my vote as a party we the membership drive policy and the leadership drives presentation and philosophy. Here I felt much more in tune with Chris both candidates stayed largely on established positions for the party but I felt Nick was more comfortable when talking about the state sector in a slightly negative sense.
While I approve of localism in a broad sense and welcome diversity of ideas the vision Nick laid out for decentralising resources was one around let them experiment and if they get it wrong they will be kicked out. As someone who has worked for 15 years in the local authority sector under a variety of roles this smacks of short-termism and avoiding difficult decisions its also true that the 4 year electoral cycle is too short to make real change so this is just a recipe for constant change.
Finally for me is delivery and record both have had two big challenges since Ming became leader Chris on green taxes and Nick on our plans for to move incomers out of the black economy by regularising their immigration status.
In this area I feel Chris is winning hands down that so much has now been accepted in a watered down form by the labcon party shows how correct we have been politically we have won the argument and that is down to the team that we have in environment. Nick on the other hand made a poor fist of the interviews I heard following on the parliamentary launch of the policy on immigration It may have been an off day but it was definitely a missed opportunity.
So where does that leave me, last time Cardiff swung me publicly into the Huhne camp this time he didn't quite manage the clear cut victory. My instinct remains to go that way again but I think I'll give it a few more days before clicking on the confirm and ignore buttons waiting for me on my facebook profile