Of all the ministers involved in the Coalition negotiations over energy bills, Ed Davey has had quite the worst experience. He has had to water down his conference bullishness about standing up to the Tories to a sort of amiable plea that the Lib Dems really are keeping the Coalition green. When his departmental junior Michael Fallon won ‘Minister of the Year’ at the Spectator awards this year, one of the judges observed that he had ‘kneecapped Ed Davey’. In his interview on Today this morning, Davey went for Labour, and dodged suggestions that he and his party had lost out.
As James reported yesterday, there has been a fair amount of suspicion at the heart of the Coalition that the Lib Dems are briefing out lines from the negotiations ahead of time – and the last that happened, we ended up with the 2012 ‘omnishambles’ budget. So to counter this impression, expect a fair amount of emphasis on unity from Nick Clegg’s lot in the next few days as we head for the statement.
But as for what happens after, well, the chances are that the Lib Dems will want to brief anyone who is listening, especially their members, that they kept their Conservative colleagues honest on the question of green government. Remember that the ideal Lib Dem voter is someone with a keen interest in environmental issues, one who frets a little about whether they are doing the recycling properly. Davey and his colleagues cannot afford to appear kneecapped on this.