Could this plan go horribly wrong?
At the end of what’s been the toughest week for the coalition comes news that plans are being considered for the Cameron and Clegg to speak at each other’s party conferences in the autumn.
According to the Guardian the idea will be discussed at a joint political cabinet next month when the two parties will also decide how to co-ordinate policy announcements and how to sell the success of their first few months.
The plan sounds fine on paper but couldn’t the two leaders be taking a massive risk? The whole media pack, surely, would be looking for any sign of dissent.
What happens, for instance, if just a few in the audience start booing?
And given that the first event, the Lib Dem one, is in Liverpool wouldn’t the PM’s appearance be the target for massive demonstrations outside the hall by civil service unions and others opposed to the coalition’s public sector cutbacks programme?
My guess is that Cameron and Clegg are gambling that conferences are by their nature very tribalistic – they are attended by the most committed – and there is a tendency to get behind their leaderships. That certainly happened at the special Lib Dem conference on the weekend after the coalition deal last month.
There is another big reason why the PM and his deputy might be attracted to the idea – it could over-shadow the impact of Labour’s leadership election – the result of which will be announced on the following Saturday.
For as happens every year the red team’s annual get together is sandwiched between the yellows and the blues.
On support for the coalition generally the Guardian carries a report of a survey it has carried out of Lib Dem MPs. This has found that while there is unease amongst some about aspects of the budget there is backing for the leadership.