Labour has greeted the government’s Liberal Democrats with jeers and contempt, particularly over the VAT rise, which passed last night without amendment. Now, John Denham, an arch-pluralist who has long dreamt of forming a ‘progressive coalition’, has told the Fabian Review that Nick Clegg would be the price of any Lib-Lab coalition.
Only Mandelson seems to have grasped the brilliance of David Cameron’s ‘full and comprehensive offer to the Liberal Democrats’. It was conciliatory and positive, shunning brash machismo and personality politics. Labour hasn’t appreciated that accommodation will not come of pugilism. The conceit that Liberal Democrats are really Labour voters has not lessened, and the past two months have shown that there is more to the Liberal Democrats than meets the eye. Above all, they are, for the moment, loyal to the leader who has brought them to government.