Isabel Hardman Isabel Hardman

What will Cameron say about the Lib Dems?

The Tories are naturally the most worked up about Ukip – while trying to publicly pretend that it doesn’t exist, of course – but when David Cameron gives his speech to conference shortly, what will he say about the Lib Dems? He faces two yellow challenges: the first is to try to stop the Lib Dems claiming credit as the party of the moral high ground without which the Tories would be a rabidly unfair party unconcerned with the needs of the vulnerable. The second is giving the impression that while the Coalition may conduct itself with greater serenity than anyone could have imagined when it formed in 2010, he doesn’t relish the thought of another partnership after 2015.

While the Lib Dems loved talking about the nasty party at their Glasgow conference, there have been fewer revenge attacks from the Tories. Philip Hammond was the most aggressive in his speech, while Boris delighted the activists by talking about the need to cut loose the yellow albatross and watch it plop into the sea. Cameron needs to give the impression that he too shares Boris’s joy in being a Conservative, not being in a Coalition. Many suspect him of the latter. It is one of the curious contradictions of this coalition: that the Lib Dems, a party that believes in pluralism and coalitions, have wrung their hands more about the partnership, while the Tory leadership, in charge of a party that believes single-party government is always preferable, risks appearing too comfortable in a coalition.

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