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I have to say in the spirit of decency in politics I always thought Kennedy was a thoughtful and interesting politician.

It looks like his time has come though.

We must keep the pressure up on Kennedy and the Lib/Dems.Get them to tear themselves apart like our party have done in the past and the party will be half way along the road back to Downing Street.
What the party really needs is a high profile defection. Get that and Kennedy will be toast and the Lib/Dems will start fighting like ferrets in a sack. God it will be a joy to watch. Couldn`t happen to a nicer bunch of people!

Possibly sensible LibDems are getting a bit fed up with all the words on green issues, but no action?

I was interested to read an email sent recently to David Cameron by a LibDem MP. To quote:

"Dear Dave,

Thanks for your email inviting me to leave the Liberal Democrats and join the "modern compassionate Conservative party". You have made a lot of people think again about the Tories...

...I was therefore delighted that you said that "my Conservative party believes passionately in green politics".

You undeniably hit a chord when you say that your party is "committed to decentralisation and localism"... We need to remake our democratic system from the ground up if it is once again to inspire trust. Everyone's vote needs to count equally, wherever people live.

Yours aye,

Chris Huhne - Liberal Democrat MP"

Is that a heavily edited something, Graham?

There must be plenty of serious libdems who want to get small-l liberal ideas enacted who will be having a long, dark night of the soul this evening. Tribal loyalties aside (and they are very strong: else how can I be in the same party as some of the people who post here?!) - a party is just a vehicle for driving the values you believe in, into government. The Liberal party, in its late-twentieth century incarnation, was just a dumping ground for various public sector failures, more a form of social services than a political force. Then in the late 1990s two things happened: we decided, for whatever reason, that the path forward was as a right-wing blimpish rump, while a new generation of sensible centre-right thinkers joined the libdems.

The last election must have been gutting for these new Liberals. They saw two appalling outcomes: they utterly failed to "decapitate" our parliamentary leadership, while the extra seats they gained were as a result of the horrendous pact they formed with anti-war types in Labour seats. In my mind, the cohabitation of the LibDems with the other forces in the anti-war movement is nothing less than a rehashed Nazi-Soviet pact - and the intelligent LibDems must have been aware of this, and uncomfortable about it. So, the result of the election for them was: a fragile constituency made up of unthinking flat-earthers, and a failure to overhaul the Conservative Party at its lowest ebb (Michael Howard's bravura attempts notwithstanding).

Since the election, things have got worse (for libdem thinkers). Suddenly, *pace* various bloggers on this site, the Conservative party has decided to get real about being the centre-right vehicle for power in the country. We are going to be the change. And while people (particularly here!) squabble about the rate at which we'll lower taxes and how we'll best empower the poor, everyone knows that we'll be a Conservative government.

So, imagine you are a thinking, right of centre liberal democrat. What do you do? Wait for a new leader to emerge and hope that you can defeat the Hughesian wing with its ridiculous pro-producer, 1950s policies? Hope that while you're doing this you simultaneously manage to fight off the rejuvenated, decent-minded Conservative party AND hold onto those Labour seats you won by holding hands with Stop The War? Umm ... if it were me, I think I would be thinking "Not in my name"!

The alternative - to come over to us and help form a new centre-right, socialism-busting consensus - might make sound intellectual and even tactical sense. But it will be so hard after all those years of convincing yourself that your party is the heir to Gladstone, to suddenly begin quoting Disraeli.

I seriously hope that some of the decent LibDems do make the move, and that we'll be as welcoming to them as they deserve. Together we could be a truly liberal Tory party, with the right instincts on state control and economic policy, and the electoral numbers to put our ideas into effect after the next election.

Does anyone else remember the excitement around the creation of the SDP in the 1980s? (I am, sadly, old enough to remember it well). We lost a lot of decent Tories to the Alliance. I have a feeling now, though, that the excitement is around the return of the Conservative party as a liberal electoral force, and that if we continue to mean what David Cameron says, then "our people" will be coming home in droves. Maybe those tribal loyalties do matter, after all.

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