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In the tent please

December 21st, 2010 Posted in Liberal Democrats by

There is a well used political maxim that it is better to have your rivals within the tent abluting out than without the tent abluting in. In respect of Business Secretary Vince Cable’s incautious remarks to two Telegraph journalists it might be added, in either case, unzip first.

Some of the wilder speculation on what this all means, has called for Vince to consider his position, or for Cameron to sack him. This would not help the Coalition.

Nick Clegg needs Vince Cable in the tent.

Outside the tent Vince would displace Simon Hughes as the leading senior voice of dissent, and most likely do so personally and by building up Tim Farron as an alternative source of leadership. This would look like a split or the start of an alternate platform for a future alliance with Labour. From this corner, that is not currently an attractive proposition.

A reshuffle move looks unlikely, where would he be better placed than BIS? And whilst it might be attractive to picture such a change as a route back for David Laws, who would be displaced?

Whilst the Coalition rides out some of the most unpopular decisions it needs to make, Nick Clegg will need to hold wavering allies close. After that, assuming growth returns, some of the newer MPs will have been in Parliament long enough to want to step up, and current Cabinet Ministers may feel something of the insecurity currently permeating Whitehall.

At that point Vince Cable might recognise that to threaten a ‘nuclear option’ one should be very clear who is holding the button.

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