Coffee House


22 January 2012

There are Lib Dems everywhere today, CoffeeHousers, and they’re differentiating like
crazy. We had Nick Clegg himself on the Andrew Marr show earlier, waxing lukewarm about Boris Island, and there have been moments of
assertiveness from his party colleagues as well. Here’s a quick round-up:

1) Chris Huhne. The embattled energy minister hasn’t taken to the airwaves today, but he is omnipresent nonetheless. A good portion of Clegg’s Marr appearance was devoted to him,
with the Deputy Prime Minister stressing that ‘he has been crystal clear that he denies any wrong doing’ — but not quashing the idea that Huhne would lose his job if those denials
turn out to be false. Meanwhile, the Sunday Times has word of a ‘crucial’ new witness (£) in
Huhne’s speeding case. And ‘friends of Mr Huhne’ appear in the Independent on Sunday to accuse David Cameron’s press secretary, Gabby Bertin, of briefing against him over those leaked
Royal Yacht plans. It’s all rather messy for — ahem — Calamity
Chris at the moment.

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2) Vince Cable. That mansion tax idea just won’t go away. And, surprise, surprise, it’s the Business Secretary who has brought it up again, in interview with the Sunday Telegraph. According to the paper, he’s pushing for a
levy to be imposed on properties worth over £2 million in this year’s Budget. ‘A mansion tax is still very much on the agenda’, he tells them, ‘it is a very good

Thing is, this isn’t just Vince being Vince. Clegg also spoke out in favour of the tax during his
Marr interview, although he has also been downplaying the idea of it making the Budget. ‘This is part of the Lib Dem manifesto,’ he emphasised — which is true but also telling. As
part of their redoubled ‘differentiation strategy’, the Lib Dems appear
to be drawing more attention to which of their own policies they are fighting for within government, whether those policies make it to the statute books or not. 

3) Paddy Ashdown. Benefits were Ashdown’s subject on the Murnaghan show earlier — he said he couldn’t support the coalition’s benefit cap ‘in its present form’.
And he may not have to, either. Clegg suggested to Marr that there could be ‘transitional’ arrangements so that the cap fits better for some claimants. Whether this will be enough to
quell the Lib Dem’s bubbling concerns about welfare reform, I’m not sure. But it’s enough to suggest that the party’s leadership are reacting after last week’s votes on the Welfare Reform Bill. 

Anyway, that’s quite enough LibDemmery for now. Time to start concentrating on the football

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Show comments

    “Can someone please send these schoolboys back to the playground and bring on some real leaders.”

    There are none. And until this country is run as a business [Meritocracy as opposed to the fly-by-night Democratic popularity of snake oil salesmen], there never will be.

  • john miller

    You won’t be surprised to find that the CPS will decide that prosecution is “not in the public interest”.

  • Fergus Pickering

    Begets, Minnie, begets. And it does not. Or not nccessarily. Dickens’ father was a most mediocre man.


    The Liberals have always had an important place in British politics as somewhere to put the rubbish.

  • MilkSnatcher

    This is a vanity project and makes HS2 look like a children’s train set. It is appalling to see these Lib Dems strut their bare-faced sanctimony so blatantly. And Cameron is trapped: each time he caves on another tax raid (50p) the LibDems simply demand yet another tax in the name of that vast squid clamped across the face of politics, the dreadful, indefinable, all-powerful “fairness”. Cameron’s counter-thrusts (blathery speeches about what kind of capitalism he, that brilliant and and experienced economist and businessman, would like to see) have no political effect or make Cameron look even more incoherent than he is already.

    Can someone please send these schoolboys back to the playground and bring on some real leaders.

  • TomTom

    Does Clegg think there should be a Mansion Tax on 10-bedroom French Chateaux owned by British Bankers ? or would his father object ?

  • Dennis

    ‘Ah-but do they integrate’

    Only when they are summing up.

  • Woody

    The Limp Dems are simply not cut out for government and no amount of ‘air-time’ will make the slightest difference.

  • Verity

    First time I’ve read you with your claws out, Pete. As an ailurophile, I must say that was very nicely done! Clean, precise, lethal.

  • Jen

    The Liberals back to loudly advocating progressive lefty values?

    Well, someone has to be an effective voice for the left in British politics, and heaven knows Milliband and Balls aren’t up to the job. Good luck to ’em.

  • Minnie Ovens

    Why bother to comment?
    Mediocrity begats mediocrity.

  • Heartless Curmudgeon

    Limpid Dims are . . . differentiating like crazy . . .

    Ah, – but do they integrate?

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