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5 February 2012

Mehdi Hasan: More fallout from the Huhne resignation

Ed Davey's rise and the party's potential humiliation...

By Mehdi Hasan

Matthew D’Ancona, one of the most well-informed commentators on the coalition, makes two important points on the fallout from the Huhne resignation in his Sunday Telegraph column today:

1) He identifies Ed Davey as a future Lib Dem leader, on the basis of the latter’s promotion to the Cabinet and closeness to Clegg (a point I made on Andrew Neil’s Daily Politics show on Friday):

Meet Ed Davey, our next deputy prime minister. Well, conceivably so. On Friday, Davey was promoted from the junior ranks of the Coalition to take the Cabinet seat vacated by Chris Huhne. In his new, politically prominent role as Energy and Climate Change Secretary, he will almost certainly come to be seen as a potential successor to Nick Clegg, whose so-called “Orange Book” brand of Lib Dem politics he shares. . . it is perfectly conceivable that the burly, smiling, anonymous figure you saw bouncing into high office on Friday will be a mere heartbeat away from the prime ministerial bicycle clips by the end of 2015. Today’s political Pooter is tomorrow’s dauphin. Of such minor tweaks of fate is history made.

2) He identifies how damaging the Huhne/Pryce trial will be for the Liberal Democrats and how much of a media circus it is bound to become:

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The broader question raised by the Huhne saga is: who stands to lose? The former Energy Secretary strongly denies transferring speeding points to his then wife, Vicky Pryce, in March 2003. The trial will have a theatrical character quite distinct from its legal content. As one senior Government source puts it: “It’s got the lot, hasn’t it? The scorned wife, the ambitious Cabinet minister, a mistress, cloak and dagger with the press… there’s nothing missing, really.” What the Lib Dems fear is that the whole three-ring circus will revive folk memory of past Liberal scandal: the dark underbelly of the party’s public piety.