LibDem MPs up the pressure on Cameron with query on Philip Green’s tax affairs.
The LibDem HQ spin about Parliamentary MPs being jolly happy with the Coalition was going awry this morning as Liberal Democrat MPs called for a review of government efficiency tsar Sir Philip Green’s tax arrangements .
While LibDem spokespersons have been frantically arguing that “Simon [Hughes] in no way wants to harm the Coalition”, this is not consistent with quite deliberately overshadowing Nick Clegg’s State of the Nation address yesterday. Simon is also busy asserting that there will not be any renewal of the LibCon alliance at the next election, that there will be no reciprocal candidate arrangements, and that he’d like to have a LabLib coalition afterwards – none of which, I would’ve thought, is designed to make the Government look stable.
The latest development about Philip Green’s tax accounts supports the steer I’m getting, and not the one the Indepedent is peddling – that Simon Hughes is merely keeping the Party’s Leftist profile high; I agree with this, just not including the ‘merely’ part. It also backs up the claim made to the Slog last week: that a majority of LibDem MPs are unhappy about a deal whereby they get a few token Cabinet seats….in return for disappearing off the electorate’s radar.
As predicted here last week, Simon Hughes the Deputy LibDem leader is in fact turning up the heat under those finding membership of the Government too comfortable. Vince Cable is this time keeping the agreed low-profile (and keeping an eye on the wind) while Simon starts asking for things he knows perfectly well he can’t get.
Because he’s a shrewd – and in my view, well-meaning – politician, Hughes knows there could be any number of outcomes from his jack-in-the-box media act. His aim, I am told, is from here on to make the Coalition look like a muddled and cynical agreement….thereby helping to rebuild both LibDem and Labour support. But he must know that just one step too far could result in him facing the electorate….with his Party stuck in the Nowhereland between 13-15% of voting intentions.
Although such a development might seem to threaten the referendum on AV, the out-of-tent LibDems are unworried by this: they have an assurance from Labour that they will adopt AV once a Coalition is formed. And as we all know, a Labour assurance is worth….