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20 June 2010

Iain Dale defends Chris Huhne against pious right

Idea that climate change secretary is not rated is a myth.

By James Macintyre

Interesting division of opinion over Chris Huhne today. On parts of the right, there is some predictable pious moralising. But here is Iain Dale:

James [Forsyth] says that the Lib Dem members of the cabinet were not properly vetted. This implies that he thinks someone having an affair should never have been appointed in the first place. Rubbish. The rest of the piece is one attack after another on Huhne. He’s called “a busted flush”, “a man with a high opinion of himself” and James thinks his “star is on the wane”.

I think he exaggerates. Huhne is far from a busted flush and if anything happened to Nick Clegg he would still be a good bet to succeed him.

Dale is right about that. One of the allegations made in the hastily formed analysis of Huhne’s position is that — unlike the Tories’ state-slashing darling David Laws — he is not rated inside the Lib-Con coalition. In fact, Huhne, an economist and successful former financial journalist, is acknowledged as highly intelligent by anyone who knows him.

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He came very close to being elected Lib Dem leader, and some of his outriders point out that he might have won, had certain late votes been counted in the contest to succeed Ming Campbell.

I suspect that the fake fury aimed at Huhne is based on the suspicion that he is to the “left” of Nick Clegg. If Huhne was being judged on his abilities to do the job alone, there would be no question — even in the right-wing press — of his resigning, which won’t happen.