The unguarded comments of some Liberal Democrat ministers have caused some controversy. Some are not that surprising, or especially worrying. Paul Burstow told the undercover reporters: “I don’t want you to trust David Cameron… in the sense that you believe he’s suddenly become a cuddly Liberal. Well, he hasn’t. He’s still a Conservative and he has values that I don’t share.” Well, that’s something of a relief.
The comments of Vince Cable are in a different category, given that he made comments that prejudice his ministerial quasi-judicial role. The fact that he has had his responsibilities transferred rather than being removed from office has attracted considerable attention. The fact of the coalition imposes constraints on the Prime Minister. Under the Coaltion Agreement for Stability and Reform, Nick Clegg has a right to nominate Liberal Democrat ministers and to be consulted on their dismissal or transfer to other posts. The position of the Prime Minister is not as clear cut as is normally the case.