Friday, 29 June 2007

Formerly Mrs Shirley Williams

Roy Hattersley tells the story of how, when he was first made a Minister, The Times ran his photograph above the caption "Formerly Mrs Shirley Williams". That was a long time ago. Yet, knowing that he was going to be asked about it on Question Time, Sir Menzies Campbell had to give permission early this evening for Williams to accept the position offered by Gordon Brown. She was obviously going to take it anyway, so there was nothing that he could do.

I honestly think that this week has marked the beginning of the end of the Lib Dems, always an unstable coalition. The few old SDPers who have not already done so are going home, to the party and government of a PM in what they wish had been the Labour succession: Wilson, Callaghan, Healey, Hattersley, Smith, Brown.

But almost stereotypical old Liberals like Ashdown, Garden and Carlile have also been publicly considered for office. What does that say about Ming and his party, that such offers were even being considered, never mind, at least in Ashdown's case, actually made? It says that they are finished.

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