The Lib Dem Manifesto

I don’t know what kind of demographic targeting apparatus the Lib Dems are packing in this election, but it seems to have determined that there are votes to be had from readers of the Saturday Guardian with a taste for the great masters of modernistic gloom and a relaxed attitude to not namechecking Nelson Mandela. The evidence:

Subjects addressed by party leaders in the Guardian Review’s ‘My Hero’ slot:

Gordon Brown: Nelson Mandela
David Cameron: n/a
Nick Clegg: Samuel Beckett

The Guardian Weekend magazine, 24 April 2010. Question: ‘Which living person do you most admire, and why?’

Gordon Brown: Nelson Mandela (‘for inspiring us never to give up, even in the darkest times, on the fight for justice and, with his wife, Graca, for championing the movement against poverty and for education that has changed hundreds of millions of lives’)
David Cameron: Nelson Mandela (‘for his grace and complete lack of bitterness’)
Nick Clegg: J.M. Coetzee (‘he writes with a simplicity which lays bare what really matters’)

Question: ‘What is your favourite book?’

Gordon Brown: ‘There are so many that have made a big impression on me – the one I've read and loved most recently was about the female winners of the Nobel prize.’
David Cameron: ‘Goodbye to All That by Robert Graves.’
Nick Clegg: ‘Life & Times of Michael K, by JM Coetzee.’

A plug for Kafka or Thomas Bernhard in the next few hours could make all the difference.