Liberal Democrat unrest among Party MPs and grassroots workers ‘outside the tent’ is not exactly news. But blundering LibDem leaders in Government followed by an appalling poll result spells serious trouble for Nick Clegg.
The Slog first ran a piece about growing unrest in the Claret & Sandals camp last month, based on some reliable heavy-hitter feedback. Such backbiting was only to be expected – especially in the light of other things we were told about how David Laws ended up one of the shortest-lived ministers in history.
This seems to be different. For one thing, The Slog was getting tight LibDem lips and unreturned calls this morning. Perhaps an unwillingness to phone a French number was to blame. Or perhaps there’s a serious huddle going on.
On what’s left of the Left, there is of course great glee: ‘we told them this would happen’ and so forth. But most of the Labour MPs I knew lost – and anyway, leads from Newishly Old Labour have to be regarded (at least on this issue) as heavily tainted.
More to the point, they didn’t tell the LibDems their support would collapse to 13%. Even I didn’t foresee that one – and it does tend to demonstrate just how flakey the real support for the Orange Party is. This also means, of course, that the last thing LibDems want right now is another election in which they get annihilated.
However, no trustworthy Tories are making themselves available on this either – something I’m taking as a sign that there really is a problem. What I can tell you is that senior Tories in the tent are happy enough to see Vince Cable and Nick Clegg balls up university taxes and PMQs, but they don’t want LibDem MPs staging a riot – and they don’t want another election with the Right ice-picking from behind all the time.
This therefore probably is serious stuff. Clegg got a hammering from most serious Parliamentarians this morning following his Gaffathon at the Despatch Box yesterday, and Vince is demonstrating that one good gag doth not a Chancellor-in-waiting make.
Stay tuned: I think there will be developments