David Blackburn

Boles beats his old drum

Boles beats his old drum
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To accompany Fraser’s suggestion that Cameron and Clegg are planning a merger, it is notable that the ubiquitous Nick Boles has renewed his calls for a formal pact. Previously, Boles averred that Liberal Democrat ministers should be protected in three-way or Conservative-Liberal marginals. This time round, his argument is more philosophical. He told Radio 4’s PM:

‘The Coalition has enabled the Conservative party to be more radical than it would have been able to had it formed a government on its own with a small majority... Jacob Rees Mogg who’s a fellow MP who’s certainly not a sort of liberal Tory like I am in the sort of modernizing sense.

In five years time we’re going to have gone through the fire together, and you saw in December with the tuition fees vote and the protest against that. If you’ve been through that kind of experience month in month out for five years, we’re going to have really become a working team with the Liberal Democrats assuming it survives.

It seems to me then completely inconceivable… to stand up and somehow say that we’re going to run a candidate against Nick Clegg or Chris Huhne or Vince Cable, so I think we should just be honest with people, and especially as the new politics… is meant to be about sharing the reality with the voter.

Obviously, that analysis is contestable. Plenty of radical manifesto pledges have been diluted or dropped to accommodate the Liberal Democrats; and I’m sure that Jacob Rees Mogg is sort of, you know, thrilled to have merited distinction from the self-professed doyen of modernity. More importantly, Boles’ implicit assumption is that, thank God, the Conservative party cannot win outright. Boles was very, very close to Cameron at one stage; and if the modernisers still think as he does it will only fuel the Tory right’s coming combustion. Then again, he may just be a crank.