‘The other leadership crisis’ is the title of an article on The Guardian’s ‘Comment is free’ by Ed Vaizey MP (recently interviewed on ConservativeHome). All Tories are enjoying ‘Tony’s troubles‘ but it has taken a full nine years at Number Ten to produce serious trouble for Mr Blair. Ming was only elected weeks ago but last week’s ‘losing here‘ local election results and his woeful performances at PMQs must have provoked some soul-searching amongst the party that once styled itself as "the real opposition". For Ed Vaizey, last Thursday confirmed "that the Liberal Democrats made a huge error in choosing Menzies Campbell as their leader". "He will not take them through the glass ceiling. They have stalled," Vaizey argues.
Ed concludes his article by inviting the LibDems’ Orange Bookers to climb abroad the Cameron bandwagon:
"Their most talented MPs – David Laws, Nick Clegg, Vincent Cable, Jeremy Browne, and others – must now think seriously about which direction the party should go in. It is time they sat down and looked at the refreshed Conservatives, and decided whether, in the run up to the next election, they position themselves as the guarantors of a discredited Labour government, or part of a coalition to renew British politics."
Vaizey uses the c-word: COALITION. The possible need for a LibCon coalition motivates much of Project Cameron. One of Mr Cameron’s first acts as party leader was to woo LibDem voters. Oliver Letwin has formed a pact on the environment with LibDems. Francis Maude and David Willetts are both big admirers of the Orange Book LibDem MPs. CCHQ is pleased with the progress of the Libservative coalition running Birmingham – England’s biggest metropolitan authority. Ken Clarke has openly discussed the possibility of a blue-yellow government to keep Brown out of Downing Street.
Tory spirits are high after last Thursday but cool heads know that it would be foolish to write off the LibDems and to expect an outright Tory parliamentary majority. That’s why many of the Cameroons are consistently choosing positions likely to increase the possibility of a post-election blue-yellow pact. David Cameron’s environmentalism. The new enthusiasm for civil liberties. The reticence on Iraq. Applied retrospectively the predictive power of the ‘will this appeal to the LibDems?’ test is compelling.