Why not some smart third party politics?
With Maurice Saatchi making coded attacks on David Cameron over “going for the centre ground” and the seemingly extraordinary suggestions about the Tories and Polly Toynbee isn’t it time for some smart opposition tactics from the Liberal Democrats.
They should start be recalling one of the early actions the new Tory leadership. At the start of the year Cameron’s team came up with the novel approach of backing the Labour leadership as it sought to push its school reforms through the Commons. With dozens of Labour MPs rebelling over the Blair-Kelly plans the Tory approach reinforced Labour discomfort by ensuring that the only way this got onto the stature book was as a result of their support.
So why doesn’t Ming Campbell take a leaf out of Dave’s book and take steps to embarrass Cameron in the same way?
For Cameron’s biggest problem, surely, is dealing with the hard-liners and traditionalists – party members who really find the direction that their leader is taking the party hard to stomach. This week’s pamphlet by Lord Saatchi was a case in point.
So why doesn’t Ming starting praising Cameron when his rhetoric moves onto liberal territory? Thus today their could have been fulsome congratulations at the “change in thinking” that led to Polly Toynbee’s name being raised.
Last month after the Tory leader’s conference speech proclamation on same sex partnerships could have been followed quickly by statements from Ming in a non-churlish welcoming this development – reminding people of course of how big a step this was for Cameron in the party that brought us the infamous Section 28.
And when “hug a hoodie” became “tough love for yobs” fulsome praise at the way Cameron was taking the party of Michael Howard’s “prison works” would have appealed to Ming’s Liberal base and embarrassed the young Tory leader.
All this would be much better than the current Lib Dem approach of trying to say that Cameron does not mean it which makes them look so defensive.