On his ever-interesting blog, the Tory right’s guru and former party chair Norman Tebbit has this to say in relation to recent divisions within the coalition over the Alternative Vote:
It will be interesting to see whether the potential disunity of the coalition benches is greater than the bonds binding the Coalition together. There are some formidable Tory backbenchers, Richard Shepherd, David Davis, Chris Chope, Charles Walker, Anne Main and the newly elected David Kawczynski, who all spoke critically in the debate. Some voted against the Government whip that night. Many others were put out that the debate was too short for them to be called. They may well seek to make amendments which the Government will resist. There may be alliances between the rebels and the official Opposition. And there is the much less predictable House of Lords to be persuaded to give the Bill a fair wind.
At the end of it, we will have a much better idea of whether the Coalition’s whole programme will survive more or less intact, or whether there is real trouble ahead. At the moment the odds are fairly even.
Tebbit is certainly right to highlight the potential trouble of the Tory rebels, and it is interesting to note the individuals he name-checks.
But for me, the real trouble will come from the junior partners in this coalition, the Liberal Democrats. Next week’s annual conference will be calm compared to next year’s, coming as it will after a hammering in the local elections and the possible loss of a the AV referendum itself.