Ministers told not to goad Lib Dems
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Wednesday 05 October 2011
David Cameron ordered his ministers not to criticise the Liberal Democrats during the Conservative Party conference, it emerged yesterday.
After senior Liberal Democrats fired a series of broadsides at the Conservatives during their conference two weeks ago, the Tories were expected to return their fire in Manchester this week. Instead, Tory ministers have showered praised on their Liberal Democrat partners.
"The order came down from the very top," one Tory source told The Independent. "We're not trying to be holier than them. It's just grown-up politics. Some activists and MPs wan-ted us to attack the Lib Dems but they will have to be disappointed."
Mr Cameron dropped a line from the draft of his conference speech today, which had a dig at the Liberal Democrats by saying: "They used to shoot our dogs; now they steal our cats." This was a reference to the scandal that forced Jeremy Thorpe to resign as Liberal leader in 1976 and last week's court case in which the wife of John Hemming, a Liberal Democrat MP, was convicted of stealing his mistress's cat.
At the Liberal Democrat conference in Birmingham, Tim Farron, the party president, predicted the "ghastly" Coalition would end in "divorce"; Chris Huhne, the Energy Secretary, warned the Tory right not to become a US-style "Tea Party tendency" and Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, said today's Tories were "the descendants of those who sent children up chimneys".
Mr Cable's claim was challenged by George Osborne, the Chancellor, but he went on to praise "the resolve of the Lib Dems", saying they should share the credit for a deficit-reduction plan "that commands the confidence of world markets and has brought stability at home".
William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, heaped praise on Nick Clegg, saying: "We should recognise the contribution he makes to turning this country around."
Not everyone is happy. Peter Bone, a right-wing Tory MP, said: "I have no idea why we are being nice to the Liberal Party. I think we have gone a little bit overboard. I was feeling slightly sick at times with all the things that have been said."
- 1 Cyclist who knocked down three-year-old girl says his life has been 'destroyed'
- 2 A politically correct lefty goes to see Top Gear live – you'll probably believe what happened next
- 4 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
Cyclist who knocked down three-year-old girl says his life has been 'destroyed'
Woman accidentally shoots herself in the head while posing for a selfie
How China's richest man Li Hejun lost $15bn in an hour - and made a fortune
Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
Snoop Dogg on why he doesn't regret displaying misogyny towards women
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
EU referendum: David Cameron to deny EU migrants and under-18s the chance to vote
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...
£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...