Will Nick Clegg’s political career come to a crashing end in tandem with the end of the coalition? In this week’s magazine, James Forsyth examines how the Lib Dem leader has put the coalition cause ahead of both his party and own political career. On the latest View from 22 podcast, James examines the Lib Dem’s strategy shift back to making the coalition work:
‘I think this will be the last Lib Dem conference in which Nick Clegg receives a relatively warm reception. I think even the critics in his party know it’s far too early to change leader. Nick Clegg has decided to double down on coalition. Just this Monday, he was at Chequers with Danny Alexander and David Laws, hammering out what is essentially a second coalition agreement with David Cameron and George Osborne.
‘Clegg has decided the best strategy for the Lib Dems is to actually deliver in government, not to do this differentiation strategy they’ve been attempting for the last year or so — constantly boasting what they’ve stopped the Tories from doing. Instead they’ve decided to come together with the government to create maximalist solutions to solve their problems.’
Isabel Hardman also discusses our anonymous report from a recently sacked minister of what it is liked to be given the boot by the Prime Minister. In particular, James discusses how some of the appointments have widened divides within the Tory party, highlighted by the promotion of Hugo Swire:
‘His promotion [Swire] has really rankled some people in Tory circles because he was number two at the Northern Ireland Office and largely given that job because he backed Cameron for the leadership in 2005. He’s another old Etonian. The Swire family and Cameron family go on holiday together and he’s now been made a Minister of State at the Foreign Office.
‘This has accelerated class war inside the Tory party – the idea that there is a circle of friends of Dave, who are always all right in the end.