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27 June 2010

Cracks open in the Lib Dems

Rebels prepare to disrupt Budget +++ Vince Cable starts to feel squeezed +++ What will Charles Kenne

By James Macintyre

Most people will be thinking a little more about a certain sporting event happening today than about politics, but there is nonetheless an intriguing story in the Independent on Sunday saying that Liberal Democrat rebels are in talks with Labour over how to disrupt the Budget.

Probably because of conditions of anonymity, the write-up is a bit short on names, but we can guess some of them. One would be Charles Kennedy, who has remained quiet about this coalition since he refused to vote for its formation. Some of his fans are urging him to consider his position, and even think about forming a breakaway group, either back to Labour or a new social-democratic party.

In the end, however, this is unlikely: Kennedy is understood to feel that it is the leadership that has abandoned his party, not the other way around.

Meanwhile, I hear from one of the other panel members on BBC1’s Question Time last week that Vince Cable was deeply uncomfortable defending the VAT rise, the Budget and the coalition in general. I’m told that Cable, who has lately been distancing himself from his party’s “VAT bombshell” poster during the election, “simply got through it by a form of meditation”.

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