Despite Kennedy's protestations that he wants the party to stay independent, those voices demanding plans for coalition with the Tories (although they don't rule out working with Gordon) are becoming more strident - asking that the party make initial contacts now with the new Tory leadership. Rumours persist that Chuckles may fall/be pushed on his sword before the next election comes around - the May 2006 council elections will be key to this and Charlie isn't helped by the apparent resurgence of a centrist Tory party. Sadly, the names mentioned as a potential successor - Hughes, Campbell, Cable and Oaten - don't include John H. I wonder if any of them will sign the letter to Chuckles next week telling him to shape up or ship out? The Telegraph's best line is actually the (rather accurate) caption to the stern photograph of Chatshow..
Naturally, Charlie's been spinning wildly, denying the accusations that first surfaced with Andrew Neil in 'The Week' on Thursday. More in the Scotsman today, as an anonymous LibDem colleague comments supportively
'I am becoming more and more certain that Charles will resign sooner rather than later... Cameron is another problem for him to deal with. I'm not sure he has the appetite for it any more'
Cameron's supposedly centrist agenda (although I'm not convinced that a flat-rate tax is anything other than a right-wing plan to slice public services) is a huge threat to the Liberal Democrats. They can probably take a little more ground from Labour, but they do need to steal the right-of-centre Tories who have either voted Labour or not voted at all over the past eight years. It seems more likely at the moment that those voters may feel the call of a New Conservative party more attractive than that of a wannabe Tory party in the yellow ties. The writer of the piece concludes,
'For Kennedy, or "chatshow Charlie" as he was once known, the strain is showing. His features are puffy and his manner irritable. Where once he was the fresh face, now there is a new contender who has the likeability factor: David Cameron.'Fraser Nelson added the following biting comment that
Mr Kennedy's mission in politics is to postpone the day when the Liberal Democrats will have to decide what they stand for - so it can carry on as a club for small-state liberals and big-government leftiesIn fact, not a bad time for the expansively-moustachioed Liberal Democrat MP John Thurso to split from party policy on the future of nuclear power. The fact that he has Dounreay within his constituency borders will surely not be the inspiration for this minor rebellion.