Whitehall prepares for policy talks with the Lib Dems

So says today’s Guardian:

Britain’s most senior civil servants are to hold formal talks with the Liberal Democrats on their plans for government as Whitehall prepares for a hung parliament in which Nick Clegg could hold the balance of power after the next election.

In a departure from the Lib Dems’ practice at the last election, Clegg has agreed that members of his front bench will meet Whitehall’s permanent secretaries to discuss the party’s manifesto. The decision to hold the meetings, which are also being offered to the Tories, comes as the “golden triangle” at the top of Whitehall makes preparations for an election in which no party gains an overall majority.

Opinion polls indicate that Britain may be heading for a hung parliament, the first since 1974. The failure of David Cameron to secure a decisive breakthrough in the polls after appearing to build up a lead in the summer has convinced senior figures in Whitehall to make coalition plans…

[But] The Lib Dems say their decision to take part in the Whitehall meetings simply shows they are serious about developing policy. “Taking the opportunity to talk to senior civil servants shows how seriously we are taking the policy-making process,” one senior source said. “We are not talking about a hung parliament.”

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