You might think this should have been their strategy all along. But just as Labour in Scotland misidentified their primary enemy, concentrating on the Conservatives when they should have been opposing the SNP so Labour in London has spent the past year looking for monsters in all the wrong places. Peeved by being thrown from office after saving the world, Labour have since moaned and whined and whinged about how beastly the Lib Dems are and how, in some rum fashion, it’s unfair that they’ve broken their promises and are dancing with the Conservatives. Never mind that the Tories made a better offer.
Still, while this has not been much fun for Nick Clegg and his camp followers it’s been quite good news for David Cameron. For reasons best known to themselves Labour have chosen to marginalise themselves. Sure, Miliband and Balls are all over the teevee but they’re not central to the principle political narrative of the day. It’s not Coalition vs Labour but Tory vs Lib Dem that receives all the attention. Labour are the wallflowers.
Certainly, the Lib Dems have been squeezed but so, in terms of their weight and credibility, have Miliband and Balls. The British press is not accustomed to reporting on three-way conversations and, despite a year to try and get the hang of it, shows no sign of developing an interest in learning how to do this. So sometimes Labour now get the cursory, I-can’t-believe-we-have-to-pretend-these-people-matter attention previously reserved for the Liberal Democrats.
That’s one benefit of tensions within the coalition. In this respect it is Labour who are squeezed. Now this probably can’t last forever but the longer it does the less likely it is that Miliband will convince the public he has the chops for the top job.