Fraser Nelson’s weekly interview for The Spectator (which has a new look website) is becoming indispensable. Last week he discovered that David Cameron might allow taxation to rise during a recession. This week Mr Nelson interviews the Tory leader’s Number 2 – William Hague. Nelson calls him ‘Hague II’ – with all the brainpower, Euroscepticism and hawkishness of ‘Hague I’ but with an added hinterland and less political ambition. The interview made headlines in tonight’s Evening Standard for Mr Hague’s remarks about the Liberal Democrats…
"One question the party may be asking after election day is whether they should enter a coalition with the Liberal Democrats. Unlike Cameron, Hague will discuss the idea. ‘Over the next couple of decades, there is now a greater likelihood of hung parliaments and parties having to co-operate. It’s just the way the electoral arithmetic works out,’ he says. But he points to ad hoc co-operation rather than formal coalition. ‘There are some sensible Lib Dems, but there are others whose instincts are very left-wing. I have no idea whether the split Liberal party, and one now with rather weak leadership, would be willing or able to work with a minority Conservative administration.’"
Mr Hague is the only the latest Tory to discuss a subject that is an enduring concern of the Cameron leadership:
- Last September, in The independent, Francis Maude was the first senior Tory to raise the possibility of a Libservative pact.
- Two months ago, in another Fraser Nelson interview, Ken Clarke said "I’m glad to say the fates could condemn the Conservatives and the Liberals to form a coalition."
- Most recently leading Cameroon Ed Vaizey used a Guardian blog posting to invite Orange Book LibDems to consider being "part of a coalition to renew British politics" (see here).
Visitors to ConservativeHome used this thread from last week to make it clear that they were not keen on any kind of LibCon pact. Yesterday’s reaction to Tim Bale’s post on proportional representation showed that readers were particularly opposed to this central belief of Ming’s party.
Mr Hague’s intervention is significant. Mrs T used her ‘Willie’ (Whitelaw) to keep the Tory left happy. Is David Cameron using ‘his William’ (Hague) – with his net 81% satisfaction rating – to reassure the right that LibConnery isn’t such a bad thing?