James Forsyth

That Charlie Kennedy rumour

That Charlie Kennedy rumour
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What to make of the Charlie Kennedy to defect to Labour rumour? Well, judging from the people I have spoken to this evening, the rumour seems premature. There’s no sense that a defection is imminent and a Lib Dem spokesman was emphatic in his denial of the story earlier. But it does seem that Kennedy has spoken with Labour figures about how unhappy he is with the coalition. These conversations, though, appear to have been more of the crying on the shoulder variety than any kind of formal defection talks.

A former leader leaving the party would obviously be a significant blow to the Liberal Democrats. But the fact that Kennedy has not dealt with the problems that so bedeviled his time in charge of the party means that the personal threat he poses to Clegg is less than at first appears.

The biggest danger to Clegg is any kind of mass defection of MPs. If that happened, then the Lib Dem worries about ‘split and swallow’ would be much closer to becoming reality.

One thing worth noting in all this is that Mark Seddon’s blog, which is where this whole story got started, says that Kennedy might defect and endorse Ed Miliband for Labour leader. If Kennedy were to do that, it would certainly provide a significant boost to the Ed Miliband campaign and give him the ‘big mo’ in the last weeks of the contest.