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Liberal Democrats 'will be prepared unlike Conservatives' says Chris Huhne
The former Energy Secretary said the scale of some back-bench rebellions meant the Prime Minister had not properly prepared his party for government.
He also insisted party leader Nick Clegg was “not a quitter” despite claims from some party activists that business Secretary Vince Cable would be more popular in the role.
Mr Huhne was speaking to the Daily Echo in his only interview at the Liberal Democrat party conference in Brighton.
“People underestimate Nick if they think he’s just going to fold up his tent and disappear.”
Despite its woes over tuition fees Mr Huhne said his party had “far fewer” problems staying united than their coalition partners.
It was “quite astonishing” that so many Tories refused to back measures like Lords reform, which was in their own manifesto, he said.
“That does suggest to me that David Cameron and George Osborne didn’t prepare the Conservative Party in the same way as, for example, Tony Blair had modernised the Labour Party ahead of 1997, and I think the result of that is that it is more difficult for them to establish party discipline because the whole party is not signed up to the modernisation agenda.”
The Liberal Democrats have pledged to scupper planned boundary changes as revenge for the Tories refusing to back reform of the House of Lords.
Mr Huhne said it was “simply wrong” for the Tories to believe they can have an “a la carte” approach to the deal between the two parties.
And he said the way the proposed boundary changes carved up his Eastleigh seat was “nuts”.
Mr Huhne said he was not in a position to judge whether Mr Clegg’s high-profile apology last week for the broken promise to axe tuition fees was the right thing to do. Polls suggested voters saw it as a sign of weakness, while a musical remix of the video has entered the charts.
He added: “I think it was a brave thing to do. The apology has its place, when mistakes have been made, the public respects people who are big enough to say sorry.”
He said the Lib Dems should be prepared to form a coalition with Labour if it was the largest party following the next General Election.