Vince Cable is playing a very dangerous game

18 Sep 2013 at 10:31

Poor old Cleggy really doesn’t have much choice in offering his party as the coalition makers. He can hardly argue for a Commons majority with a straight face so he is wise not to try. But it is rather daft to pretend to cosy up to Labour after his comments that they “wrecked” the economy. Miliband and Balls in particular. I wonder at what stage that Miliband will be so desperate that he attempts to love bomb Cleggy.

Well, I am not going to wonder for too long. After all, after his election Miliband was rather clear that he wanted to ‘exterminate’ the Lib Dems and could not work with Clegg. I cannot see any circumstances in which those two could work together.

But what about Cable? This is where it all gets rather interesting. Cable is an old fashioned tax and spend former member of the Labour Party. In his Glasgow speech he boasted that he once was part of the Labour machine in that city. He admits he has had talks with Miliband, “I talk to everybody” and is happy to spend time trashing the Tories publicly and Danny Alexander privately. And what has he done to rein in his representative on earth the awful Mathew Oakshott whose smile could make cream curdle? Nothing.

And there was this weird political coitus interuptus over whether he would support Lib Dem economic policy. Was he in or out? Of course, as a member of Cabinet he had to be in, but he made it very clear that he was holding his nose.

I cannot foresee at this stage of the electoral cycle the possibility of Clegg being removed as leader. But what if Parliament is hung again? Lib Dem grass roots instinctively would support palling up with Labour. A swift coup slipping Cable into the leadership is not something that can be ruled out. And his price? Replacing Ed Balls as Chancellor of course.

But the thought of a Labour/LibDem coalition is too horrendous to contemplate. There would be no checks on the left and the Orange bookers would be out in the cold. The beauty of the present coalition is at least the Lib Dems are a civilising influence perhaps not on the Amish wing of the Tories who are perfectly happy to sulk gibbering and frothing in a corner, but on policy. What really pisses off the swivel eyed loons is that because of the sensitivity of a coalition, policy emerges after discussion and compromise. Not always perfectly, but at least giving the impression that it hasn’t emerged from the back of a fag packet in response to a MAIL headline.

And today is a double whammy for Labour. According to the latest You Gov poll they have a lead of just 4% over the Conservatives. Worse, for the first time since 2010 more people think that the cuts are good for the country rather than bad. In the run up to the Labour conference this is a potential disaster for Miliband.

It will be his personal winter of discontent.

But what is happening in the LibDems is reminiscent of what happened between Blair and Brown. Clegg and Alexander’s economic policy versus Vince Cable’s.

Cable has indicated that the Coalition may not survive until the election, whilst Clegg and Alexander are fully committed on the record to it running its full course.

What may be happening is that Cable is positioning himself for a ‘principled’ resignation so he can cause trouble on the backbenches. It will be nothing of the sort. Just naked ambition. This will not go down well with LibDem grass roots who are keen supporters of the Coalition. This nearly open warfare could be a return to the horrors of 1920.

Cable is playing a very dangerous game which could be catastrophic for the Lib Dems.