Sources in the LibDems tell me that a No Confidence vote in Charles Kennedy could be launched as early as tomorrow's meeting of the LibDem Parliamentary Party. I understand two national newspapers might run the story tomorrow, but LibDem officials are frantically trying to head them off and kill it. Let's see if they're successful. If they're not, I suspect it will be all out war between the Orange Bookers and the Sandal wearers. Expect an Oaten v Hughes runoff. Although if they had any sense they'd go for Nick Clegg or David Laws...or, dare I say it, Norman Lamb!
UPDATE: 22.05 Just spoken to another contact who confirms that there was a heated discussion in LibDem Shadow Cabinet today about the Andrew Neil comment (see below) and that Kennedy issued a back me or sack me threat. I'm told there were many raised voices. The level of unhappiness with Kennedy is, to quote my source, "the worst I have ever known it."
The situation with the Lib Dems is a win-win for the Tories. If Chatshow Charlie stays in place, he will continue to be eclipsed by the revived Cameron-led Conservatives. If he is disloged, the choice of potential leaders is fairly limited, and most of them are uninspiring.
The only person I think who could stabilise the party is Menzies Campbell. I use the world stabilise becuase I think that, at least for now, the Lib Dems have reached their celing. They have little chance of making further progress; the only hope they have is to try and cling on to the seats they already have. At the next election Labour will retake most of the seats they lost to the Lib Dems in May to extraordinary results (eg. Manchester Withington), and the Conservatives have the potential to sweep the seats they have held in the past.
I would have to tip my pal Lembit Opik. He's the perfect opposition star gazer!
Raised voices in a Lib Dem shadow cabinet meeting?Good.They are the biggest bunch of dishonest charlatans in modern politics and as we all know they've got some stiff competition.
Well, leaders who issues "back me or sack me" threats never do well even if they do survive.
Kennedy is in trouble, because the last election was fought on their issues and so they should have done better. As it is, all they can look forward to (unless the Conservtives implode, which is not going to happen)is decline.
Realistically they need to find a way to be more than a repository for protest votes (and votes for local service). That's going to upset one group of their activists either way...
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