John Pugh's article over on Political Home has attracted much attention including a spot poll in the Huffington Post on whether Vince Cable should replace Osborne (almost 90% agree as off 12.20pm today). Much of the coverage has concentrated on reshuffling the cabinet to to make Vince Chancellor. My good friend Simon Holbrook from the Wirral wrote a piece for Lib Dem Voice advocating the same move.
Nevertheless I think that the more significant point John made was on the impact on the Quad. Many Lib Dem's have been very anxious about the dysfunctional of the QUAD (Cameron, Osborne, Clegg and Alexander) This was the body that signs off government policy and as such agreed to the unamended version of the Lansley Health Bill without dissent- among other crass misjudgements. Cable replacing Alexander would change the dynamic and restore confidence. Here is what John writes on this issue:
Vince it is true has been unabashed in making clear where he thinks economic policy has gone astray or falls short of its objectives but never in devious or unreasoned or partisan manner. A less obviously partisan and rationally consensual approach to the nation's economic ills would not hurt anyone.
Increasing his role would certainly provoke an awkwardness amongst Conservative critics, but it is arguable whether the veneer of cordiality that currently characterises the Quad has served any better Coalition interests.
Certainly the Quad has proved an erratic mechanism for establishing where the two parties in the Coalition disagree or for that matter agree.The contortions on the Health Bill was a signal example.
Coalition politics is a business that needs to be run well, not a friendship that has to be nurtured and the key factor in that is not empathy or fellow-feeling but trust. The one thing the Murdoch revelations have shown is that despite inducement and pressure Vince can be trusted to behave in a wholly proper way.