Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Lib-Lab pact revisited

A while I ago I wondered whether the patterns of Liberal Democrat and Labour council elections - where there seemed to be a tacit arrangement that they wouldn't stand against each other in certain areas - would be of wider significance. Well, it does seem just possible. The aim is to get senior Liberal Democrat MPs to join Government, if not in cabinet, then on a more ad hoc basis.
If Mr Brown was to go ahead with such an audacious plan the Lib Dem candidates might include Nick Clegg, the shadow home affairs spokesman, or Vince Cable, the shadow Treasury spokesman. Mr Brown is due to announce his cabinet next Wednesday after he takes over as prime minister from Tony Blair.
If Nick Clegg goes along with this, then I'll be absolutely astonished. It's reasonably common knowledge that the Lib Dems have trouble with a basic ideological division in the Parliamentary Party - the so-called Orange Bookers on the right and the Simon Hughes-ite left. Clegg is sufficiently rightist as to have been courted by the Conservatives. And there lies Ming Campbell's problem - the closer he cosies up to Labour, the more he risks defections on the right. Closer co-operation between Labour and Lib-Dem in Westminster could conceivably lead to the irrevocable split of the party.
It seems that Ming has twigged to this judging by the whitewash. As his spokesman said:
They [Mr Brown and Sir Menzies] talk all the time, they talk about Fife and other things.
But of course...

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