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How Hughes will play the coalition

15 June 2010

1:45 PM

15 June 2010

1:45 PM

Simon Hughes is an experienced campaigner, whose reputation is deservedly blemished by a
handful of duplicities – Peter Tatchell, denying a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty and the like. Hughes has just appeared on the Daily Politics and, very subtly, split the Lib Dems from the

It was very simple: the Tories are responsible for all that’s bad and the Liberal Democrats are benevolent. First, Hughes dissociated the Liberals from tax rises:

"I hope that the chancellor’s hearing the voices that says VAT is not the right tax to change in the budget next week."

Those voices are, of course, his ‘colleagues in the Treasury’ – an enlightened check on George Osborne’s excess. But the message is clear: Osborne is to blame if
VAT rises, he should’ve listened to the voices of reason.

Contrast that with a coalition policy that is popular: reducing MPs pension entitlements. Naturally, Hughes presents Nick Clegg as the author of the policy:

"I’m quite clear that we will not be able to continue that regime and Nick [Clegg] has made that absolutely clear…it is unfair and unreasonable."

Clegg has said that, but so too has David Cameron – last summer. Hughes must protect the Lib Dems from the unpopularity of a necessarily austere government. To do so, he will tell half lies at any

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