Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Yet more elections

Vince Cable has resigned as Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats in order to better focus on his new role in the coalition government. The Deputy Leadership election will be interesting to watch. Will Liberal Democrat members support the coalition and vote for a member of the government, or will they support an outsider from the backbenches? We'll know the result by mid-June.

For now the main talk is about why Vince Cable has chosen to resign - the real reason. The decision is an interesting one as many have said that, if the coalition begins to fall apart, Dr. Cable is likely to be the first to going.

Vince the Cable, as Andrew Neil calls him, is one of the most famous Liberal Democrats in the country, second only to Nick Clegg – and Mr. Clegg only overtook Dr. Cable in popularity during the election campaign. Dr. Cable has stated on several occasions his belief that the two coalition parties are not natural partners.

Cable was once a Labour councillor in Glasgow and many think he would have preferred a coalition with that party rather than the Conservatives. So was today's resignation just a way of allowing himself to resign from the government more easily at some point in the future, if the coalition begins to falter?

The Labour party will be hoping that the coalition stays together for at least a little while as they won't have a permanent leader in place for months. Now Labour have setup a leadership counter on their official website which shows the number of nominees for each candidate. Each potential leadership contender requires the support of at least 33 Labour MPs. As I type this, only the two Miliband brothers have the required numbers. Surprisingly, all the other candidates (including Ed Balls, seen to be one of the favourites) are some way from the number of MPs needed. They have until 9 June to get enough support, and all claim they'll be able to do it, but there is a chance that the field might not be as crowded as some had thought just a few days ago.

Not wanting to be left out, today the Conservatives had their own election. This one was for the new chairman of the 1922 Committee.

As I said in a previous blog, David Cameron had succeeded in changing the rules of the extremely powerful committee in order to allow government ministers to be members. Perhaps sensing the anger this act had caused, the Prime Minister agreed that although Conservative members of the government could join the 22, they would not be allowed to vote in any of its elections.

I wonder if the PM now regrets that decision, as tonight the 22 elected Graham Brady (the MP for Altrincham and Sale West) as their new chairman. Mr. Brady is not what you'd call a great supporter of the Prime Minister. He was once the Shadow Minister for Europe under David Cameron, but he resign in 2007 so he could more easily criticise the Conservative leader over his position on grammar schools. I wouldn't expect the 1922 Committee to be very sympathetic to the Conservative leadership in the times ahead.

Meanwhile, there is one more election to report. Tomorrow the voters of the Thirsk and Malton constituency will go to the polls to elect their new MP. Voting had to be delayed from the general election after the death of the UKIP candidate during the campaign. In the UK, if a candidate for an election dies after nominations have closed, the election is delayed to prevent a dead person being elected - as has happened in some countries.

The newly created constituency should be a safe Conservative seat, with the Liberal Democrats in second place. Reports on the grown say that the fight between the coalition partners is as fierce as ever. Strangely though, whether Thirsk and Malton's voters go for the Conservatives or the Liberal Democrats, the winning candidate will sit on the government benches in the House of Commons.

And some people thought the elections all ended on 6 May.

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