Exclusive: Cable was sidelined in Lib Dem campaign, book will reveal

Amusing extract from Dennis Kavanagh and Philip Cowley.

Paul Waugh has written of how a forthcoming book about the 2010 election -- The British General Election of 2010 by Dennis Kavanagh and Philip Cowley, published by Palgrave later this month -- reveals that "Cleggmania" from the TV debates caused complacency in Lib Dem circles and may have cost the party seats.

And I have got hold of another amusing little extract from the book, too:

Whilst the extra media attention (and accompanying money) from Cleggmania was welcome, foreign correspondents travelling with the Lib Dem team demanded things in return. At one point, a Russian TV station contacted Clegg's press secretary asking if they could be filmed taking a sample of his blood so that they could use the DNA to trace his Russian ancestry. There being relatively few Liberal Democrat voters in Russia, they were politely declined. Cowley Street also organised tours for Vince Cable and Paddy Ashdown, the latter focusing primarily on seats in the south-west. Cable's tours had originally been intended to be more high profile, but with the post-debate attention now focusing almost exclusively on the leader, Cable would occasionally wonder out loud why there were so few journalists present.

Looks well worth a read.

James Macintyre is political correspondent for the New Statesman.
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Are the Conservatives getting ready to learn to love the EEA?

You can see the shape of the deal that the right would accept. 

In an early morning address aimed half reassuring the markets and half at salvaging his own legacy, George Osborne set out the government’s stall.

The difficulty was that the two halves were hard to reconcile. Talk of “fixing the roof” and getting Britain’s finances in control, an established part of Treasury setpieces under Osborne, are usually merely wrong. With the prospect of further downgrades in Britain’s credit rating and thus its ability to borrow cheaply, the £1.6 trillion that Britain still owes and the country’s deficit in day-to-day spending, they acquired a fresh layer of black humour. It made for uneasy listening.

But more importantly, it offered further signs of what post-Brexit deal the Conservatives will attempt to strike. Boris Johnson, the frontrunner for the Conservative leadership, set out the deal he wants in his Telegraph column: British access to the single market, free movement of British workers within the European Union but border control for workers from the EU within Britain.

There is no chance of that deal – in fact, reading Johnson’s Telegraph column called to mind the exasperated response that Arsene Wenger, manager of Arsenal and a supporter of a Remain vote, gave upon hearing that one of his players wanted to move to Real Madrid: “It's like you wanting to marry Miss World and she doesn't want you, what can I do about it? I can try to help you, but if she does not want to marry you what can I do?”

But Osborne, who has yet to rule out a bid for the top job and confirmed his intention to serve in the post-Cameron government, hinted at the deal that seems most likely – or, at least, the most optimistic: one that keeps Britain in the single market and therefore protects Britain’s financial services and manufacturing sectors.

For the Conservatives, you can see how such a deal might not prove electorally disastrous – it would allow them to maintain the idea with its own voters that they had voted for greater “sovereignty” while maintaining their easy continental holidays, au pairs and access to the Erasmus scheme.  They might be able to secure a few votes from relieved supporters of Remain who backed the Liberal Democrats or Labour at the last election – but, in any case, you can see how a deal of that kind would be sellable to their coalition of the vote. For Johnson, further disillusionment and anger among the voters of Sunderland, Hull and so on are a price that a Tory government can happily pay – and indeed, has, during both of the Conservatives’ recent long stays in government from 1951 to 1964 and from 1979 to 1997.

It feels unlikely that it will be a price that those Labour voters who backed a Leave vote – or the ethnic and social minorities that may take the blame – can happily pay.  

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. He usually writes about politics.