In today’s Telegraph, Simon Heffer writes the wisest thing I have read so far on that Ashdown offer:

"With the fact of the meeting and the offer being reported in the media, and Sir Menzies having denied that any such offer would be accepted, Mr Brown then chose to ignore him, went over his head, and approached Lord Ashdown direct – not merely offering him a place in the Government, but in the Cabinet itself.

Such a move can, surely, have had only one aim in view, and it would not have been to "de-tribalise" British politics. No: it can have been only to make Sir Menzies look a twit, someone unworthy of having his views taken seriously or respected by the next Prime Minister. And the near-certain effect of this (indeed, it has already started) is to reopen the barely quiescent speculation about his future.

At first glance, this might seem an odd thing for Mr Brown to have done. In much of northern England now, and in our inner cities especially, the two-party politics that exists is between Labour and the Lib Dems. Sir Menzies presided only last month over highly disappointing local election results for his party, thereby proving what an asset he is to Labour.

Surely any move by Mr Brown that destabilises Sir Menzies further is only going to make things harder for Labour, should that destabilisation result in Sir Menzies being deposed and a new, bright, exciting and much younger leader being put in to replace him.

Not necessarily. A very strong case can be made – and it would seem to be one with which Mr Brown instinctively agrees – that the Conservative Party has far more to fear from resurgent Lib Dems than his party does."

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