Our political opponents will be preaching that the resignation of Liberal Democrat Lord Oakshott as coalition economic spokesman in the Lords, and the letter to The Times signed by 90+ Liberal Democrat councillors arguing that the cuts are too fast and too deep are the first cracks in the unity of the party. They will be proclaiming that history is about to repeat itself, and as has happened twice before, most of those in government will merge with the Tories and the rest of us will resume our post 1920s role as a party of protest and bright ideas with no real prospect of being, or even desire to be, the government.
This is undoubtedly a possibility and we should be aware of it.
However, I prefer to see the two events as an early warning to the Leadership which I hope they will heed. As I have argued ad nausium in this blog, supported by the views of several distinguished economists and commentators, the governments economic policy is plainly wrong, based on the fallacies that the public debt is abnormally great and that the highest priority is to reduce it or we are in danger of losing the confidence of "the markets."
So far the message does not seem to have been heard and it is galling to to hear Liberal Democrat Andrew Stunell repeating the tired mantras about the "woeful" deficit inherited from Labour (which) meant "very tough times" for all public services. Let's hope this is just a front and the leadership are taking to heart the lesson that the Tory economic policy is on the wrong track, and Liberal Democrats in government most distance themselves from it as far as possible, as leading members of the party on whom they depend are already doing.