I’m developing a liking for the way that Corporal Clegg does business. This morning, the Beeb’s Nick Robinson found out that the Lib Dem negotiators had, as well as sitting down with the Tories’ team, found time to also speak to a Labour team featuring such luminaries as “Auguste” Balls and Baron Mandelson of Indeterminate Guacamole.
What’s the problem? Clegg and his platoon can talk to whom they like. They’re not beholden to the Tories or anyone else, but there have been mutterings from some of Young Dave’s jolly good chaps that the Lib Dems are acting in bad faith. No, they’re not: they’re being open minded and pragmatic, and their behaviour might just put the burner under the Tories.
Meanwhile, there has been a meeting of Lib Dem MPs, which has not given its clear endorsement to any deal with the Tories, but requested “clarification” over policy detail, which is code for someone smelling a rat. Clegg’s MPs are also telling him to keep listening to Pa Broon and his pals. And their leader has had another face to face with Brown today.
Otherwise, the best guess of the assembled punditry is that what is being discussed between Tory and Lib Dem teams is some kind of arrangement stronger than “supply and confidence” but short of a coalition. But the idea of forcing the pace to get an agreement today may be fading: Lib Dem stalwart Simon Hughes has now said that he’s sure there will be a Government “by the end of this week”.Anyone with their head screwed on correctly, then, should own up and admit that they don’t know how it will all pan out. But not one supposedly leading blogger, who has suggested that some of Clegg’s MPs will now jump ship and join the Tories. Who is this clueless fantasist? Have a guess. You’ll only need the one.