Lib Dem leader slaps down Cornish MP. Or does he?

On Monday it was reported that Andrew George had assured those attending a meeting in Penzance last week that a second Tory/Lib Dem coalition was categorically ‘not going to happen’. He elaborated – ‘We have had enough of it … I am sure my party would not go for it‘.

Apparently, they would. According to the Guardian, Nick Clegg said Andrew was well known for ‘shooting from the hip … he doesn’t represented [sic] the Liberal Democrat stance on this’. Any decision taken on another coalition with the Tories would be ‘collective’. Meanwhile, party officials had had ‘words’ with Andrew George and Clegg ominously promised to ‘speak to him’ on his visit to St Ives yesterday.

The Western Morning News seems to be the only other paper to cover this obscure minor party spat. While the source for Clegg’s put down was obviously the same, as the Boring Views sloppily included the same ‘represented’ typo, the tone of Clegg’s remarks was less confrontational. But the paper added a remark from him that ‘it [Andrew’s view] is not what the majority of Lib Dems think.’

George & Clegg in Newlyn on Tuesday. Who's thinking of throwing who overboard?
George & Clegg in Newlyn on Tuesday. Who’s thinking of throwing who overboard?

So were the two at daggers drawn yesterday, Clegg holding the door open for another cruel coalition of confusion and Andrew determinedly wanting to shut it tight? Or is this just a word game? For it suits Andrew George to deny any likelihood of another deal in order to siphon off Green, Labour and MK votes in St Ives; it suits Nick Clegg to float precisely that same coalition as he desperately looks to Tory voters to save his seat in Sheffield (the one up north not near Paul).

So it suits both of them to have this little spat. Moreover, distancing himself from the toxic Clegg hardly does Andrew a disfavour. The problem is that deciphering the words of Lib Dems these days is a thankless task which makes that of the old Kremlinologists look a doddle. The Lib Dems have a record second to none in disingenuously promising one thing and then either not delivering or giving us the exact opposite.

The big unanswered question remains why Andrew still bothers to be a Lib Dem MP, especially given the way they’ve propped up the Tory project to transfer wealth from the poorest and most vulnerable to the rich and comfortably off. Wouldn’t it have been preferable to have given up the whip in 2012 or thereabouts, with time to build support as an outspoken Cornish Independent MP, rather than flirt with the very real possibility of handing the seat over to a Christian fundamentalist Tory? Which course of action – carrying on as a Liberal Democrat or becoming a real tribune for Cornwall – would gain more space in those history books of the future?

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