Sunday, 14 November 2010


I spoke to a Conservative MEP yesterday. He tells me that he has already had two letters or e-mails from Tory activists urging him to go and help their party's campaign in Oldham East and Saddleworth.

But how, I wonder, will they fight the Liberal Democrats when we are in coalition together in government and in coalition together on Oldham Council?

For the Liberal Democrats, the arguments in this election are straightforward; we need not oppose a single Tory policy. To our thinking the Tories in OE&S are simply irrelevant - they have not one single borough councillor in the constituency and came third at the last general election, albeit with a vote that appears better than would have been the case had Labour not devoted so much effort to smearing the Liberal Democrat candidate.

Phil Woolas was elected by 103 votes. If 104 Tories had supported the Liberal Democrats we would have won. The tactical argument is very clear.

But how, I wonder, will the Liberal Democrats fight when a by-election is called in a Tory-held seat, as it surely must over the next 4 years? How will we attack the policies of the Coalition Government, or criticise the views of individual Tories in ways that will not create unnecessary tensions between all the MPs who sit on the government benches in the House of Commons?

One thing is surely certain; we will be much more polite towards each other!

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