I'm at a fringe meeting at the LibDem conference organised by the Fabian Society and chaired by Michael White. It's all about the future of the so-called progressive left. Charles Clarke and David Lammy are speaking, but the reason for this post is that Vince Cable has just issued a clarion call for the LibDems and Labour to think about merging after a heavy defeat for Labour at the next election. Cable made clear that he wants the left to stand together against a resurgent Conservative Party. He didn't, to be fair, use the word 'merger' but it was clear that it is where his thought process is heading.
Conservatives need to be wary of this and those of us who have advocated showing a bit of ankle to Nick Clegg in the event of a hung parliament should stop and think about the level of support there would be in the LibDems for the stance which people like Cable take.
We may be able to make a better judgement tomorrow following the debate on Clegg's tax cutting proposals.
Stephen Williams, the LibDem MP for Bristol West, made perhaps the most telling point. He said that 1997 had provided the opportunity for a real realignment of the left and Blair had funked it. If his discussions with Ashdown had reached fruition who knows what might have ensued.
Interestingly, Charles Clarke has just rebuffed Vince Cable's proposal for a realignment of the Left and said there was no prospect of it happening. In other words: sod off.