Sunday, September 16, 2012

Does Cameron's lurch to the right give Nick Clegg an opportunity?

I was depressed by the changes David Cameron made in his reshuffle, particularly the way they marked the death of any support for localism or green politics in Tory circles.

However, writing in tomorrow's Guardian, John Kampfner argues that those changes have presented Nick Clegg with a welcome opportunity:
What has been found to work is when, publicly but politely, one leader says: "We advocated A, they advocated B, but we agreed to settle on C." All surveys in Europe suggest that the public respects an open airing and settling of differences. 
Yet the Lib Dem leader consistently dismisses this notion. Instead he has fluctuated from the mistaken love-in on the lawn and the kamikaze mission over tuition fees, to visceral anger over Cameron's undermining of the AV campaign and House of Lords reform. 
This month's reshuffle presents Clegg with an unlikely opportunity. He can now have no doubt about Cameron's intentions. The Conservative rump of the cabinet is as red meat as it could be – authoritarian and sceptical about climate change. Some of Clegg's team were taken aback by the changes. They shouldn't have been. 
With the coalition entering the second half of its projected five-year lifespan, the Lib Dem leader needs each and every day to tell the public what his party is seeking to do, what it will put up with, and what it won't. This can be done without petulance – at least on the Lib Dem side. If Tory backbenchers, in denial over their failure to win in 2010, wish to force an early election or go into minority administration, let them.

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