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Calling the Lib Dems to order.

The Daily Telegraph, as a right wing Conservative newspaper, has shown no loyalty to the coalition. Their columnists, from Simon Heffer, to the increasingly foam flecked Ambrose Evans Pritchard preach a gospel of right wing cant that is definitely at odds with the more forgiving ethos of Coalition politics.

The fact is that as much as in the Labour Party, there are many Conservatives who are bitterly opposed to the idea of political partnership- so it is no surprise that the Telegraph launched a sting against Vince Cable. He fell into the trap- foolishly- and has paid the severe political price of public humiliation. However the question is cui bono?

As the opinion polls show a slight but widening lead for the YES vote in the AV referendum next year, I fear that there will be ever further dirty tricks played against the liberal Democrats in order to derail the process and even destroy the coalition itself. Unless the Lib Dems can get PR for a newly elected Lords and at least AV for the Commons, then the coalition will not be worth it and the huge political bravery that Nick Clegg has demonstrated will come to naught.

The Parliamentary party will need to demonstrate greater political maturity than Vince Cable did last week.

We should be in no doubt that our party is in the firing line, not just from the dinosaurs of the Marxist Left but also from the hard faced men of the Tory right. This is a very rough political game indeed, and it is critical at the highest level that discipline is maintained. The greatest prizes are still within our grasp. If we get there, we can make good the Liberal vision for our country. If we fail, our party will be eclipsed, as so many -on the right as well as the left- wish it to be. After the bruising baptism of fire endured by Liberal Democrats over the past three months, this Christmas is an opportunity to recuperate and steady ourselves for a battle in 2011 that will be even tougher than it was in 2010.

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