In another post about the leadership election on Liberal Democrat Voice Stephen Tall, when discussing the future shape of a post leadership election shadow cabinet, makes this assertion:
“It seems highly unlikely that, whoever wins, the loser will be given the foreign affairs brief, given the stand-off during the campaign over party policy on Trident. “
This sparked off a couple of thoughts in my head. First, I am not sure that this is right. The loser could be given the foreign affairs brief provided that in the after election “coming together” some sort of accommodation was arrived at on the issue.
Second, this made me think that, irrespective of the handing out of shadow cabinet posts, the party will have to go back and discuss our policy on Trident again.
The campaign has, much to my disappointment, raised up the policy on Trident as an issue of controversy. But remember, policy is decided by conference and not by the leader alone. Whoever wins the leadership will have to go back to conference to get an endorsement either of the existing policy, in the case of Clegg, or for a change of policy in the case of Huhne.
It has struck me that it will probably be necessary for Spring Conference in Liverpool to have a debate on Trident on the agenda. This will make it possible for the air to be cleared on this issue and give the party an opportunity to give the new leader’s approach a clear endorsement.
For me this will be annoying as the time could be better spent on more forward looking issues. But for reasons of raw politics and party management it will be necessary and, Conference Committee please note, would be best done quickly.
This content was originally posted on my old Process Guy blog.