A couple of days ago Michael Crick floated the story that Vince Cable is being touted round as a candidate for London Mayor in 2012 (and not just as the LibDem candidate but as the COALITION candidate, but then soft-pedalled vigorously the following day.
However, his suggestion does have some real credibility. Consider the following:
- Vince Cable is clearly hating his current role in the Cabinet. His body language oozes unhappiness. He is visibly miserable about some aspects of Coalition policy and displays none of the relish shown by Nick Clegg, Chris Huhne and the others for ditching major cherished pillars of LibDem orthodoxy.
- Boris Johnson is desperately seeking a way out of contesting the Mayorality again in 2012. It has turned out to be much harder work than he expected and it interferes with his extra-mural activities. What is more, he is terrified of losing and he really, really, really wants to back in the House of Commons making his pitch to be the next Leader of the Conservative Party. Interestingly, he has still failed to state clearly that he wants to run again.
- David Cameron would dearly love to remove Boris Johnson’s platform (of course, he’d probably like to remove other things of his as well) which is used to grandstand on issues that undermine the Coalition while strengthening the standing that Boris has in the wider Conservative Party.
- David Cameron does not want to see a Conservative candidate lose the most high-profile directly-elected position in the country.
- Both David Cameron and Nick Clegg would like to bolster the Coalition and keep open the possibility of a non-aggression pact for their two Parties in the next General Election. A coalition candidate for Mayor might just win and would be a big boost to Coalition candidates being fielded in 2015 (or whenever the General Election takes place).
- The best alternative candidate the LibDems can come up with is Lembit Opik.
- The best alternative candidate the Conservatives can come up with is Kit Malthouse.
- Successfully imposing the notion of fielding a Coalition candidate would put Simon “no election pacts” Hughes firmly back into his box.
It all begins to look scarily plausible ….