So say “senior party strategists” to the Guardian today:
Nick Clegg would resist overtures from a new prime minister as strongly as he would the current one, senior Liberal Democrat figures have told the Guardian.
The Lib Dem leader believes Labour is finished regardless of who leads the party, and as one close aide put it: “The sort of discussions they [Labour] need to have can’t take place in government – they need to go into the wilderness to reflect where they stand.” The view damages the hopes of some on the centre-left who believe a change of prime minister would encourage the Lib Dems to pursue a working relationship with Labour, particularly if a deal on proportional representation was on the table.
As the article goes on to point out, yesterday’s PMQs (not covered here, sozza, family birthday) contribution from Clegg was the first explicit characterisation of a new political dividing line:
He [Gordon Brown] just doesn’t get it. His government is paralysed by indecision, crippled by infighting, exhausted after 12 long years. The country doesn’t have a government, it has a void. Labour is finished. The only choice now is between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.