The Coalition has seen its share of inter-party firefights (though fewer than some expected). Today’s, though, is quite a corker.
Readers will remember Nick Clegg’s surprise announcement at the most recent Lib Dem conference of an extension of free school meals. Well, it turns out the Conservative part of the Department of Education was quite surprised, too.
We know this thanks to the intervention of Dominic Cummings, former Special Adviser to Michael Gove.
“Officials in DfE were unanimous that it was a bad gimmick and introduced in a way that makes it hard to avoid implementation chaos. Officials were obviously right”…”Clegg only thinks about politics – and starts every meeting saying ‘I haven’t been able to read the policy papers but let’s talk about the politics’ – he assumed that our opposition was because it was a Clegg idea but it wasn’t. Our opposition was because it is a dumb idea badly executed…”
Now, we don’t know the degree to which this is an officially sanctioned attack – to say Cummings has a reputation for straight talking would be an understatement, so it may be borne of personal frustration. Sanctioned or not, it’s artfully timed for the end of the Lib Dem spring conference.