Chris Huhne – A Risk Assessment
Chris Huhne has been called many things recently, some supportive and some not so supportive, but what do we really know about this controversial figure? The Rt. Hon Christopher Murray Paul-Huhne has a position of authority which many are saying he is undeserving of. Originally active for the Labour Party, then challenging for Liberal Democrat leadership and now in a coalition with the Conservatives; his reputation could tarnish that of many others, so it is not suprising commentators across the spectrum are questioning his place in the Coalition Cabinet.
His controversies have spread over many years. Firstly in 2003, Mr. Huhne was convicted of driving whilst using a mobile phone and more recently he has had to answer allegations of pushing speeding points onto others. Furthermore, he has caused deep offence to many through his extra-marital affair and leaving his wife of over a quarter of a century for his employee-turned-mistress. If the assorted allegations prove to be true then is Mr. Huhne really the role model that Cabinet Ministers should be?
If, for a moment, we forget personal character traits, all allegations and personal history there are still the political questions to address. For example, at a time the Coalition is striving to present a ‘united front’, why is the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change openly criticising far more than the senior Liberal Democrat party line? Why is he encouraging unrest among backbenchers? Is this in the interest of justice? I am personally of the camp that sees backbenchers as vital tools of political oversight and insight but I cannot help but question Mr. Huhne’s motives. Is there a leadership challenge on the horizon? Either way this does not look good for the Coalition or Nick Clegg.
Many put these strains down to May 5th – the Liberal Democrats faced an overwhelming defeat on the issue of AV which Mr. Huhne in particular was a strong advocate of. However, could it be deeper than this? Mr. Huhne seems to be making himself a deliberate enemy of the Coalition, whilst still retaining as much power as possible and due to his heavy involvement from the start of the Coalition talks he secured himself an influential position.
From the Conservative side of the fence, rumblings are many as to whether Mr. Huhne is attempting to sabotage the Coalition. Being openly to the left of the Nick Clegg can only cause tension and many believe the existing Coalition structure may not be repeated if Parliament is again left hung after the next general election. To make matters worse, the recent talks revolving around a potential rebranding of the Liberal Democrats (possibly even incorporating a new name), seem to be based on a leftwards shift to open themselves up to a potential Labour alliance. This is sure to ruffle many right-wing feathers and Mr. Clegg has not been helping matters by trying overly hard to differentiate himself and attempting to portray a tougher side.
Calls are being made for the Prime Minsiter to call a snap election in the hope of being returned on a majority; however, Mr. Cameron strongly believes, as do I, in the need for fixed terms of Parliament and the legislation is currently going through due process. This means that the Coalition will need to function in some form until May 2015, the scheduled date of the next general election. Will Mr. Huhne compromise this or can Mr. Clegg hold firm and how much will the Conservatives be willing to shift before becoming tired of the new, tougher, Nick Clegg? For now, Mr. Huhne’s place in the Cabinet survives another day, the allegations continue and the opposition rises but how much reputation and support this controversial figure retains in the longer run is yet to be seen.
Posted on June 30, 2011, in Coalition Government, Comment, Liberal Democrat Party and tagged chris huhne, coalition, conservative party, david cameron, government, labour party, lib dem, liberal democrat, nick clegg. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.