Ministers told not to goad Lib Dems

 

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."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power