Coffee House

Bickering about bickering

7 March 2014

Lib Dems are excitedly travelling to their Spring conference in York, which kicks off this evening with the traditional rally (hopefully a stand-up free one, though). Vince Cable and Tim Farron will be cheering the troops at tonight’s event, with Nick Clegg offering a Q&A tomorrow and his main speech on Sunday afternoon. Party figures expect the conference to be reasonably serene: there are no party rows this year, and the only real bickering is manufactured Coalition stuff, rather than a genuine crisis.

As I explain in my Telegraph column today, one of the things the Lib Dems are increasingly keen to do is to argue that key policies and government victories are all down to them. Danny Alexander will talk tomorrow about the ‘DNA of the recovery’ being a Lib Dem one, and the party is very keen to claim that city deals are all theirs. There has been a fair bit of pushing and shoving over who gets to announce the next round of those deals as they guarantee a nice chunk of coverage in the regional press and are the fun bit of government.

All this is fairly understandable in a coalition. But it’s worth looking out for the personal rows, where it’s not just about policy differences, but also bitter bickering. There’s a big difference between the way the Lib Dems and the Tories interact over Ministry of Justice, issues, for instance, where Chris Grayling has a perfectly amicable relationship with his coalition counterparts, and the Education or Home Office briefs, where relations have soured. The bickering over Education is, as I blogged yesterday, very amusing given the parties do agree on most of the reforms this department is working on anyway. The Lib Dems enjoy bashing Michael Gove, but insist that, contrary to some reports, they have never carried out polling on Gove and wouldn’t pick a fight with him just because the polling told them to. But they can’t even agree with the Tories on this: a Conservative source tells me that the Lib Dems have admitted in conversations at the highest ranks of government that they do have polling on Gove which tells them to attack him but that the Tories shouldn’t take such behaviour personally. Which means the two parties are now bickering about why they are bickering. How edifying.

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Show comments
  • Littlegrayman

    Anyone know the nationalities of the Clegg’s domestic staff?
    Have their Visa/citizenship been fast tracked?

  • Smithersjones2013

    Isn’t one of Alexander’s primary responsibilities public spending and therefore is he not responsible for what is on target to be a £600 billion overspend during this government? If anything it is the profligate weakness of he and the Libdems which has forced this government to miss its deficit targets.

    Alexander hopefully will be repaid for his failure by losing his seat in 2015! Infact it would be no loss to this country if all Libdems lost their seats. They really are a waste of space.

  • CharlietheChump

    Another pointless post on a pointless party that only ever existed to provide a “not the others” choice to a generally disinterested electorate.
    That’s quite enough for a week or so.

  • Terence Hale

    With qualified thought and evidence thereof I think the Dutch are the most stupid people on this planet. Mr. Clegg is half Dutch must I say more?

    • Fergus Pickering

      Oh I think you must. Where do you get your info on the Dutch?. How could they possibly be as thick as the Scots. I mean it’s not on is it?

  • Golben Amduke

    Attacking Gove is just business, not personal eh? Ok how’s this LibDems: you are less use than hole in the air; your policy of devising “policies” that are “equidistant” between Labour and Tory is a morally and politically bankrupt move, characteristic of a party that has lost all principle and belief other than the belief in the Ministerial limousine; and your yipping insistence on claiming perosnal credit for the financial state of the country is a narcissistic endeavour that makes you look like silly twelve year-olds competing for mother’s affection.
    Just business, mind…

  • Daniel Maris

    What recovery? Last time I looked ordinary people’s disposable income was in continued decline.

  • Pip

    The LibDems will lose all their MEP seats in May and most of their Council Seats, I am looking forward to what Clegg and Cable and dopey Ed Davey have to say afterwards.

  • Tony Quintus

    Don’t worry when Clegg has an Ed Balls level crimson collapse during his debate with Nigel Farrage the Lib Dems will cease to exist.

    • Rockin Ron

      I would love to see that but Clegg is a formidable debater and Farage should not underestimate him.

      • Tony Quintus

        I don’t underestimate the debate skills of Clegg, however the ability of Nigel Farage to get under the skin of Europhiles is legendary, and as the myths surrounding leaving the EU start being shattered live in front of a couple of million people Clegg will get testy and it will show.

    • Golben Amduke

      Ed Davey – the one-man wind turbine. I’d forgotten about him, how nice that was.

  • Hello

    And while the LibDems and the Tories are bickering about bickering, because they’ve run the country so well together that they have little else to bicker about, other than a few key manifesto pledges which can be fleshed out later, secretly appreciating how grown up the other is, marvelling at what a natural fit they both are for government, sadly, reluctantly having to pander to their activists, the Labour party is an irrelevant gamble.

  • Frank

    Where are we with nasty Mike Hancock and is Lord Rennard going to the conference?

  • James Allen

    Oh, wake me up scotty when you’ve found some politicians worth discussing……

  • global city

    and yet the MSM are giving this party of freaks and truly weird and nasty people an easy ride, as they attack UKIP relentlessly with material the journos have had to spin into a negative piece.

    • crosscop

      I’m still waiting for the MSM and politicians of every hue ( including UKIP) to point out the deceit that Clegg carried out after Lee Rigby was murdered. Let’s get this straight – he stood before the cameras and deliberately misquoted a verse from the Koran that actually justifies the murder ( 5:32) to make it look like Islam is against such killings. Funny he also managed not to mention the very next verse (5:33) which not only justifies the killing but also the crucifixion and mutilation of people like Lee Rigby. He deliberately deceived the nation and he has been allowed to get away with it. Is it just me? Is nobody else bothered? Isabel?

      • global city

        The fundamental message of the europhiles are based on similar lies.

        If there is one thing that Farage achieves during the debate is to expose that fact. Europhiles should be forced to argue their case from the truth…and their ideological obsessions.

        A project that is based on lies, and our involvement in it being sustained by similar mistruths cannot be justified when the truth is known. Most people would be vehemently opposed to the project if they knew the full political costs.

      • James Strong

        No, it’s not just you who is bothered by this.
        And it’s not just Clegg who has been deceiving the nation about this.
        Cameron did it too.
        And the judge in the trial of the murderers of Lee Rigby said that the murder was ‘a betrayal of Islam’.
        The murderers themselves shouted at him from the dock that he was wrong.
        So: Cameron, Clegg and the judge all deliberately making statements they know to be untrue.
        Why are they doing this?
        We must make sure that their deceit is exposed.

        • crosscop

          I just wish Farage would open his trap about this. I know it would cause an uproar and he’d probably have to start wearing body armour – but it would finish Clegg off and possibly Cameron too and might wake the country up to what Islam is really about.

          Douglas Murray is the only one so far who has come anywhere near pointing out their deceit.

          BTW – Mehdi Hasan also used the very same deceitful misquote in an article in the Telegraph just after the murder. No comments were allowed, of course. Hasan was on QT shortly afterwards with the UKIP lady who came second in Eastleigh and I hoped she might expose his lies. She didn’t.

      • Littlegrayman

        [5.33] The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and
        His apostle and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that
        they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet
        should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this
        shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter
        they shall have a grievous chastisement,

        hmm see what you mean

    • Wessex Man

      The dear old Lib/dums have now shamelessly copied the Labour party and set up a ‘special unit’ to deal with UKip, bless em! Stand by for a fierce mud racking over the next few months with any lie about us a bonus in their minds!

      • global city

        Highlighting the fact that the Lib Dems fully subscribe to the idea of ceding all national political power to an elite in Brussels would surely wipe their support out.

        Why will the MSM not expose these lies when eurofanatics wrap their mad wishes in ‘nationalist’ terminology and pretend that the EU is some sort of intergovernmental organisation concerned with trade?

      • Patricia

        “The dear old Lib/dums have now shamelessly copied the Labour party and set up a ‘special unit’ to deal with UKip, bless em! Stand by for a fierce mud racking over the next few months with any lie about us a bonus in their minds!”
        I believe that any pre-election “special units” set up by the Little Dollies’ Tea Party will be comparable to being thumped with a dead budgie as nobody wants or believes them any more. They are not compatible with real, every-day life.

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