Peter Hoskin

Huhne on the rack

It may not be reflected in the popular vote, but politics is still mostly about the Liberal Democrats this morning. We have Ed Miliband’s latest sally for their affections. We have the usual veiled threats and dread innuendo from Vince Cable. And then there’s the weird, but piercing, accusation on the cover of the Mail on Sunday: Chris Huhne pressurised others – and, specifically, a constituency aide – to take speeding points on his behalf, as he didn’t want to lose his driving licence.

The accusation, it is said, is inspired by rumours spread across Westminster – and now by testimony from Huhne’s former wife. While, for his part, the Energy Secretary is denying it all. Whomever you believe, the story has flared up at an intriguing time. It was only a few days ago, of course, that Huhne was involved in a ruckus at Cabinet. Only a few days ago, too, that there was speculation of his resignation and an attempt to usurp Nick Clegg. That resignation still might come, but perhaps not, now, under the same circumstances. Rightly or wrongly, this kind of story can tarnish a politician.

If there are wider political ramifications from the MoS cover, then they are two in number. First, it lengthens the odds on a leadership challenge by Huhne, were one coming anyway. Second, it heightens the sense that the coalition is operating in a noxious atmosphere of accusation, counter-accusation and mistrust. The Energy Secretary also has an article in today’s Indpendent on Sunday, again taking it to the Tories – and particularly David Cameron – over voting reform.

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