Both the New Statesman & The Spectator are reporting that the Tory MP Nick Boles has called for the reinvention of the National Liberal Party wing of the Conservatives, which existed right up until 1968. It would mirror the same sort of function as the Labour and Co-operative Party arrangement.
While he is claiming this is a way of broadening the support for the Tories in the country as a whole and in 3 way Lib Dem marginals in particular, I wonder if there is another thought in his head. He says....
"Existing MPs, councillors, candidates and party members of liberal views would be encouraged to join. And we could use it to recruit new supporters who might initially balk at the idea of calling themselves Conservative"
Now I wonder if, when he says 'existing MPs' he means existing Tories, or in fact he is talking to disgruntled Lib Dem MPs on the right of the party who have already been asked the question - and rejected the chance to join the Tories in their current form. One obvious potential candidate might be (if you believe the rumours from a few weeks back) Jeremy Browne.
I suspect this is the start of a sustained attack by the Tories on the Lib Dems - timed just as the differentiation strategy really takes hold. We've already alienated many of our former supporters on the left. Now, as we spin left to try and attract them back, we alienate those on the right who have stayed loyal to date. I always said it was a wrong headed strategy. We're beginning to see why.
Anyway, could someone find out if Jeremy Browne is having coffee with Nick Boles in the next few days? I sense a plot afoot...
Just seen this
Just seen this