I first met Richard Kemp at the Young Liberal Conference in Morecambe in 1971. He was a delegate from Leyland YL's . A couple of years later he moved to Liverpool to work along side David Alton. He has now risen to the exulted position of Leader of The Lib Dems on the Local Government Association. It is this capacity he has written to Nick Clegg urging that Pickles is ditched. As the BBC reports:
In his letter, Mr Kemp urged Mr Clegg to "rein in" Mr Pickles and he accused the two ministers of failing to acknowledge the effect government cuts will have on jobs and services.
Mr Kemp said the men "continually put forward the idea that all the savings at this massively high level can be made by increased efficiency, cuts in a small number of salaries, raiding reserves that are not needed".
"In fact almost every day we get from them a new gimmick," he wrote.
"Their behaviour is a disgrace. Either they really do not know how serious the situation is that they have created... or they are deliberately trying to distract attention from the problems that they have created."
Last week I posted in a similar vein and I am confident that Richard speaks not just for Lib Dems but also many Tories. My colleague Tony Robertson has confirmed that his impression matches mine and has since returned to the topic.
But I am now beginning to wonder whether all the anger at Pickles which Lib Dems are properly voicing maybe counter-productive. Cameron has real problems with his Right Wing head bangers. They are the heirs to those who destroyed John Major. They are furious about the Coalition, Their dream of withdrawal from Europe, the Human Rights legislation have been destroyed. Ken Clarke is a liberal Minister of Justice, the economic policy that is being perused is a long way short of the small state ideas that they want and worst of all the expenses regime in the House of Commons infuriates them. Cameron has problems of party management. In that environment ditching Pickles because Lib Dems demand it would have a real downside. I suspect we should be quiet for a while so the voice of Tories in Local Government can be heard. My hunch is that for the most part they want Pickles gone too.