Politics.co.uk Blog

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Lib Dem discomforts continue to mount

That feeling of discomfort which many Liberal Democrat MPs felt in the initial aftermath of Nick Clegg's decision to enter into coalition just hasn't gone away.

They worried, then, that the party's identity would be eroded. One even admitted fears that the press would call David Cameron's administration the 'Conservative government' rather than the coalition government. That nightmare, at least, hasn't come to pass. But much else has.

Two stories published on politics.co.uk this week reveal the full extent of the malaise. Yesterday we showed how fed up many of the party's mid-ranking MPs are. They've been handed roles as co-chairs of the various parliamentary policy committees, which are supposed to help keep ministers honest by constantly referring to Lib Dem party policy. But the precise purpose of the roles has not yet been pinned down. One even called his committee a "waste of time".

Today we've published comments from an interview with the woman who set up those committees, Lorely Burt. Her job is to chair the parliamentary party. "I think it's a cross between a shop steward and a favourite aunt, really," she tells us, describing her role. "I listen to their moans and groans, I pass it on to the appropriate people."

Nowhere has she been hearing more moaning and groaning than on tuition fees, an issue which has once again leapt to the fore today. Burt has conceded that the issue is simply not one on which business secretary Vince Cable, at least, can afford to abstain on, as per the coalition agreement. She's also backing the leadership's stance over those of the malcontents, as you can read here.

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