3 Feb 2012

Is Clegg anointing his heir?

Is Ed Davey now the man to watch in the Lib Dems? Nick Clegg has long had no obvious heir. There are Orange Book true believers with ambition, but Danny Alexander, Treasury Chief Secretary, has a tricky seat to hold and a limited popular base to work from.

David Laws wouldn’t want the job. Vince Cable would not be seen as a true believer by the Cleggites and is now 69. He would only take the job by acclamation uncontested and that probably wouldn’t happen. Chris Huhne held on to the view that he was still a viable (3rd time lucky) candidate a lot longer than others did. But even if he cleared his name, the activists’ low-key reaction to his “we’ll have to Tea Party here” Tory-bashing speech at the last Lib Dem conference suggested to me that the air had already gone out of his support.

Ed Davey isn’t anything like a household name. He entered the Department of Energy and Climate Change this afternoon to press shouts of “can you fill Huhne’s shoes.” He looked nervous, as well he might. Inside DECC some worry that he’ll find it hard to fend off George Osborne at the Treasury and keep his own Tory ministers under control. But one Lib Dem former MP just suggested to me that this was like John Major’s rise, everyone looking elsewhere at the current big beasts while a new one climbs up the pole. One Lib Dem close to Nick Clegg just described Ed Davey as “very, very, very respected” (don’t know why he didn’t say it four times really).

David Laws’ expected promotion is being saved for the main reshuffle, with a central, cross-department role being shaped for him. Wisely, the Lib Dem top team worked out that this was not the best setting as reshuffles go for reviving a career that was knocked back over expenses.

The first Nick Clegg heard yesterday morning about the CPS announcement coming today was when an aide saw it on Sky News. Chris Huhne hadn’t passed on the information even though he’d been given 24 hours’ notice. But that was because Mr Huhne thought he wasn’t meant to tell anyone. Nick Clegg spoke to Chris Huhne last night by phone and again this morning, telling him in private what he said in public, that there was definitely a place for him back at the top table if he cleared his name.

Tweets by @garygibbonblog

7 reader comments

  1. gruntfuttock says:

    no comments? well I wonder why? partisan moderation maybe?

  2. APPLEBLOSSOM says:

    Nick Clegg promising Chris Huhne a lace at the top table if he clears his name. Doing what exactly. Wine waiter?

    Very sorry that Mr Huhne felt he needed to resign over his being charged by the CPP. I thought we all believed in innocent before proven guilty in this country. Clearly not.

  3. JANE-DORA FRASER says:

    I’m glad to hear that Ed Davey is very very very respectable, as opposed to very respectable. If he was just respectable I would have had reservations about him being appointed, but as he’s very respectable X3 we have no need to worry.

    But what of Nick Clegg, How respectable is he these days? The Lib Dems would say respectable boarding on very respectable sometimes. But what of the great British public?

    Respectable, Not I would say, especially regarding the Welfare Reforms where he is conspicuous by his lack of leadership in urging Lib Dems to vote against the government.

    Where does Nick Clegg’s duty lie? With Cameron as he is his deputy, or to the Liberal Democrat ideals. I would suggest the former. No man or woman can serve 2 masters. The ideals and aspirations of the Conservative government are far removed from the Liberal Democrats.

    Huhne was always considered very very very respectable. So respectable, he could have replaced Nick Clegg easily. However, Huhne would not have been willing to be Cameron’s lap dog like Clegg is and therein lies the problem.

    Very X3 respectable is good, but what is needed is a person not afraid to poo in Cameron’s lap to make…

  4. PEANUT says:

    Why is Nick Clegg so keen to make it known that there would be definitely a place for Chris Huhne back at the top table when Huhne could well be a threat to his leadership in the future?

    Chris Huhne would be an excellent, very worthy candidate to replace him. And Huhne would definitely have the bottle to stand up to Cameron, unlike Clegg who is showing he lacks substance and the courage of his convictions.

    It is a great loss that we have to lose such a man of Chris Huhnes stature and experience over a bl… silly speeding ticket. It defies logic and Mr H has not even been convicted of any offence.

    It is not true that a good man or women can easily replaced. We all know every person is unique, and despite Ed Davey’s attributes and his respectability X3 it is still a very great loss when a proven highly competent minister feels he has to resign and over such a silly trifle, for which he has not been convicted!

    1. BUTTERCUP says:

      Well Peanut, you know the old saying ‘keep your friends close, and your enemies closer!’

      One wonders what plans will be afoot on the back benchers now that Chris Huhne has returned to their fold. Will they, after, Mr H has been cleared of all charges be urging him to challenge the leadership of the Lib Dems?

      Never say never in politics!

  5. David Jones says:

    In a word no…..it’s Farron or Lamb

  6. Saltaire Sam says:

    Gary, I never realised you had such a sadistic streak in you! No one should be asked to take over the leadership of the Lib-Dems. Nick Clegg must be made to finish what he has started and be the one to wind it up and consign it to a footnote in history: a party that helped right wing extremists kill of the NHS.

    As to very to the power of three. Your MP had probably been told three is an important rhetorical device – the good, the bad and the ugly – or perhaps, like a small child, he hoped that saying ‘very, very, very’ would make it so.

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