LibDem MP Vince Cable, one of 23 parliamentary supporters of Ming Campbell, has written an interesting article for today’s Telegraph. There are references to his opposition to the Iraq war and support for a more proportional form of electoral system but some of his arguments could easily have been crafted by David Cameron:
Exhibit 1: "I am currently working with a tax commission to produce recommendations for taxation that is simpler, fairer and greener, but not higher. There is, in my view, no public appetite for a higher overall tax burden when the results of significantly higher spending levels by the Labour Government have yet to produce commensurate improvements in public services."
Exhibit 2: "If there is a common thread to reform, it has to be decentralisation and localism. As someone with a background in a large company, I find it inconceivable that any serious private sector operator would manage itself in the highly centralised, micro-managing style favoured by Labour."
He begins his article by rejecting the idea of joining ‘Cameron’s Conservatives’ but his article appears to tease Conservatives with its emphasis on economic liberalism and devolution.
Whatever happens in the LibDem leadership race the two main parties will compete for the favour of the LibDem parliamentary party. Even if the next General Election sees the LibDems lose a third of their 62 MPs (unlikely given the way they fight so hard locally) there is every prospect of the third party holding the balance of power in a closely-fought General Election. That, no doubt, is why Gordon Brown hasn’t allowed David Cameron to make exclusive appeals to the LibDem vote. Last week The Independent suggested that Mr Brown would be offering a very LibDem-friendly package of constitutional reforms. More of the same is very likely.
Expect David Cameron to spend a lot more time wooing Messrs Cable, Laws and Clegg than Messrs Heffer, Hitchens and Forsyth. The talk of the Orange Book liberals formally defecting to the Conservative Party is probably exaggerated but they might be actively sought as coalition partners…