Whether the Lib Dem president Tim Farron is ploughing a determined furrow towards eventual leadership we can't know, but he does provide an alternative source of authority to the current beleaguered leader, Nick Clegg, and was far more rapturously received at the Lib Dem conference, as the Telegraph's Peter Oborne points out. If Clegg is doomed by the Coalition, then it is Farron who is most likely to reap the party rewards, as a leader untainted by membership of the government. Mind you, Oborne does contend that, mindful of his difficult position, Clegg is starting to re-evaluate his public stance on the Coalition by being more open about his differences.
Whether that can make up for so signally failing to ring-fence the notorious Lib Dem pledge about student tuition fees remains to be seen. I still suspect Clegg has no future outside the Coalition any more - that may prove to have been his ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of power.