The recent clash over AV has been portrayed as evidence of a rot at the heart of government between Lib Dems and Tories.
In fact, many of the rows within Whitehall since last May have not fallen into a predictable party pattern. If anything, ministers have tended to take a stance based on the department they occupy rather than their party’s pre-election manifesto. Immigration was one such issue, where certain Tories surprised their new comrades by being more liberal than the Liberals.
Take BIS, for example, where Lib Dems Vince Cable and Ed Davey are not exactly showing a herbivore sandal-wearing attitude. Last week, Davey and Francis Maude held private talks with Boris Johnson over ways to tackle the London strikes. It was Davey, I’m told, who showed a tougher outlook than Maude, wondering why Britain couldn’t – for instance – have the “minimum service agreements” (used in Spain) to stop public services being crippled by strikes.
David Willetts made a similar point this evening about the need for both coalition partners to share responsibility for all policy, good and bad. Read more
Security minister Baroness (Pauline) Neville-Jones has stepped down from the government “at her own request”, Downing Street has said.
She was appointed to head the Conservative Party’s security policy group in 2006 and took up her ministerial appointment in May 2010. That means she has served in government for barely a year. Read more
One psephologist has passed on to me the information that Ed Miliband’s victory in Gravesham – the scene of his walkabout on Friday - was not quite as ringing as the Labour leader might have hoped.
UPDATE: But it appears that he is not necessarily right*. Read more